2015 Volvo XC60: More under the hood

Staff reports
Farm Forum

Always one of Volvo’s best sellers, the 2015 edition of the XC60 combines comfort, safety, and performance in a handsome package.

Recently refreshed in 2014, the biggest changes for the 2015 Volvo XC60 are found beneath the hood, where, in addition to the carryover of its former six-cylinder engine, the compact luxury crossover is now available with a pair of new “Drive-E” engines and an eight-speed automatic transmission.

The turbocharged T5 (or turbocharged and supercharged T6), four-cylinder engines offer the promise of added performance and economy, with horsepower ranging from 240 to 302, and torque ratings of 258 to 295 lb.-ft. These engines offer “Eco” automatic engine start/stop technology, and are matched with an also new, eight-speed automatic transmission.

Prices for the five-seat SUV start at a suggested retail of $36,200 (for a T5 Drive-E) and range to $50,750 (for a T6 AWD R Design Platinum). The XC60 is offered in front- and all-wheel-drive versions, but only the former offers the Drive-E powertrains. (Pricing does not include $925 destination and delivery charges.)

My test vehicle was a six-cylinder, T6 all-wheel-drive model, with an as-tested price of $52,225. Volvo’s engine terminology is confusing, as T6 is the moniker for both four- and six-cylinder engines. In the case of my AWD test car, the T6 powertrain pairs a 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine with a six-speed automatic transmission.

The turbocharged 3.0L is rated at 300 horsepower and 325 lb.-ft. of torque; good enough to get to 60 mph from a standstill in 6.9 seconds. The engine feels respectably quick, and posts a towing capacity of 3,500 pounds. However, the predicted fuel economy of the six-cylinder engine (17/24 mpg) decidedly takes a back seat to the Drive-E four-cylinder models (24/31 mpg).

Volvo’s all-wheel drive with instant traction promises the best possible grip whether the road is wet, slippery, or completely dry. Volvo’s Haldex AWD system automatically transfers power to the wheels with the best grip, so that when a tire loses traction, power is reduced from that wheel and transferred to the more sure-footed wheels for greater grip.

When your competitive set includes vehicles from Porsche, BMW, and Audi, you know that the bar for sportiness is set pretty high. With its MacPherson strut/multilink suspension setup and nicely weighted steering, the XC60 handles confidently — though with its tall center of gravity it’s not particularly sporty.

Ride quality with the 18-inch wheels on my tester felt comfortably firm, but the smoothness of the available, 20-inch wheel/tire packages depends on the quality of the pavement that you traverse. Try before you buy.

The cabin of my 2015 XC60 T6 AWD model was both stylish and functional. In the tradition of Volvos past, the front seats are quite supportive and comfortable (though the location of the manual lumbar support control is awkward at best).

Praiseworthy is the Harmon Kardon sound system. Available (as of this year) as a stand-alone item ($1,200) or included in the Platinum package ($4,400), this 12-speaker, 650-watt system is a cut above most premium automotive audio options.

Volvo collects most system controls on the center stack. The “mode man” buttons intuitively lead you to the desired air flow for the HVAC. Surrounding controls are straightforward, though they share a compact parcel of real estate on the dash, and require good aim to hit while driving. Some functions are accessed by the Sensus infotainment system, with its center-mounted, 7-inch touchscreen. Unlike capacitive touchscreens, Volvo’s infrared input design means that you can make selections on the screen without taking your gloves off — a convenience in colder climes.

Storage capacity ranges from 31 to 67 cubic feet, depending on how you configure the 40/20/40 rear seats. Liftover height is low, and the floor is fairly level. While the front seating is comfortable for 6-footers, like-size folks will find it a tight squeeze in back.

Options are largely bundled. Those who live where winter means cold may be interested in adding some heat, via a Climate package ($1,550) that includes heated front and rear seats, steering wheel, windshield, and windshield washer nozzles, as well as an interior air quality system.

Volvo has long been strong on vehicle safety, and the tradition continues in the XC60. City Safety — a low speed, collision avoidance system — highlights Volvo’s standard equipment, and a laundry list of available features are bundled into option packages.

The Technology package ($1,500; included in Platinum trim) adds Collision Warning, Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection, Distance and Driver Alert, Lane Departure Warning and Lane Keeping Aid. The Blind Spot Information System Package ($900) groups the namesake system along with Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Change Merge Aid and Front/Rear park assist.

As part of the Swedish company’s ongoing evolution, Volvo’s latest XC60 offers a broad spectrum of performance possibilities, and boasts a 5-star overall rating from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.