Volvo XC60 Review & Road Test

Rating: 8.0
$55,490 Mrlp
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An amazing SUV ruined by a hefty price tag

Model Tested:

  • 2009 Volvo XC60 D5 LE; 2.4-litre, five-cylinder, diesel; six-speed automatic - $65,450 ($77,180 as tested)


  • Metallic Paint $1,550; Drive Assist Pack $5,190; Teknik Pack $4,990

CarAdvice Rating:

I remember it like it was yesterday. It was the guy in the black BMW 5 Series, he flipped me the bird for accidentally cutting him off in traffic and I could see him mouthing it, “bloody Volvo driver”.

That was my first experience as a Volvo driver, behind the wheel of an Volvo XC90 soon after its Australian debut. Until then I was convinced it was simply an old wives’ tale. But it’s true; you’re treated differently if you drive a Volvo.

Fast forward to today and it’s finally here, Volvo’s long awaited Volvo XC60.

If you’re anything like me, you were creaming your jeans at the thought of Volvo’s 2006 XC60 concept car. The stunning lines and ultra-modern interior promised a lot. Unfortunately the trend with most car companies is to produce an incredible looking concept car and then under-deliver when it starts rolling out as production ready.

Luckily, Volvo has bucked the trend, with the final product remaining a spitting image of its concept product.

If you think the XC60 looks good in pictures, it looks even better in person. Our Terra Bronze test vehicle made all vehicles surrounding it in the car park look like they belonged in the dark ages.

A defined front establishes a muscular stance, while the rear embodies all that is Volvo – quirkiness and unique angles.

When you open the driver’s door, you’re greeted with the perfect interior. It’s almost impossible to fault. The leather clad steering wheel sits perfectly in the hand, while the floating centre console contains the right number of buttons, nestled in logical locations.

All vital controls, ranging from cabin temperature through to audio track selection are displayed on the display at the top of the dashboard. Fitted as an option to our test vehicle was Volvo’s satellite navigation system that slots above the audio and temperature controls.

The satellite navigation is hard disk driven, opposed to DVD driven. The advantage of a hard disk based system is quicker search times and improved route calculation speeds. It also frees an addition slot in the CD player, where the mapping DVD would have once lived.

The navigation is controlled by remote control or via buttons located behind the steering wheel. The only downside of the latter is that the controls are impossible to see and take time to get used to prior to use.

While automatic windscreen wipers are standard fitment, Volvo is yet to master – or even offer – automatic headlights. The feature is now standard on many other SUVs in this segment, yet missing from the Volvo line-up.

Interior room is great for the driver and front passenger. Kids and teenagers will find leg and shoulder room accommodating in the rear seats, although adults will be slightly cramped.

The rear seats are fitted with two, two-stage child boosters (outer two seats) that accommodate younger children with safety in mind. The seats are designed to ensure children maintain seatbelt encapsulation in the event of a collision.

The leather clad seats are very accommodating and feel very upmarket. The leather doesn’t feel cheap like the leather fitted to some of the competition, but the Sandstone Beige leather fitted to our test vehicle was starting to show signs of use, attracting any sign of dirt.

Boasting the widest opening in its segment, the XC60 features an impressive 490 litre luggage capacity that increases when the rear row of seats is folded flat into the floor.

Our test vehicle was fitted with both of the available option packages. The Drive Assist package includes: Lane departure warning, Adaptive cruise control and Blind Spot Information System. The Teknik package includes: Satellite navigation system, active bi-xenon headlights, Bluetooth and park assist reverse camera.

Other standard features fitted to the D5 LE include: Panoramic sunroof, 18-inch alloy wheels, electric passenger seat, rain sensing windscreen wipers, interior air quality system, high-performance audio system, 6 stack CD-player, front and rear parking sensors.

The XC60 D5 starts at $58,950, while the LE bumps the price up to $65,450. The Drive Assist and Teknik packages pushed the retail price of our test vehicle up to a somewhat staggering $77,180.

Behind the wheel, the XC60 drives and handles above and beyond its weight range. The 1.8-tonne SUV accelerates with gusto courtesy of a twin-turbocharged 2.4-litre five-cylinder diesel engine. Producing 151kW and 420Nm of torque, the next generation of Volvo diesel is mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox that shifts with ease and caters for a tiptronic manual shift mode.

Fuel consumption is rated at a combined 7.6-L/100km but was impossible to achieve on test, with the final fuel consumption finishing at 8.8-L/100km. The test vehicle was still relatively new, so I’d put that down to needing some extra time to run in.

The well weighted steering offers BMW-like feedback, reciprocating every bump in the road. During cornering, the steering firms in a bid to offer a sporty drive.

Handling is sedan like. If you throw the XC60 into a corner, it holds tight and drills torque into the pavement, barely batting an eyelid at the ordeal. Brake feel is fantastic with progressive feedback and respectable performance.

As an SUV, you would expect the XC60 to perform both on and off-road. There was only one way to find out, so I ventured off-road to see if it was indeed as capable on-road as off-road.

With 230mm of ground clearance, the beautiful Swede held its own on all terrain thrown at it.

Steep hills were taken care of with great ease, as were ruts and grassy fields. Hill descent control is optional ($475) but is highly recommended if you are planning on taking the XC60 off-road.

One of the steep descents I attempted required a substantial amount of brake input. Manually selecting first gear didn’t offer enough engine braking to overcome the descent. Hill descent control assists by variably braking individual wheels in a bid to control descent speed.

Dust suppression is good with dust only entering the cabin during regular door opening and closing.

Aside from the lack of engine braking, the XC60 handled itself incredibly well off-road. It went above and beyond what one would expect of an SUV.

Volvo is known for its dedication to safety and has certainly upheld the trait with the XC60. City Safety is standard fitment across the XC60 range. City Safety uses a laser to monitor up to eight metres in front of the vehicle. If it detects a collision, the system will automatically brake the vehicle and avoid a collision in its entirety.

In addition to City Safety, all XC60 models include: Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), Roll Stability Control (RSC), Trailer Stability Control (TSA), Whiplash Protection System (WHIPS), flashing emergency brake lights, dual stage driver and front passenger airbags, Side Impact Protection System (SIPS), front seat airbags, full length curtain airbags and Intelligent Driver Information System (IDIS).

I was getting ready for a barrage of angry drivers flipping me the bird and cursing me for driving another Volvo, but I think the design got the better of them. 10 years ago nobody would have thought Volvo would be where they are now with an arsenal of impressive machinery.

Volvo has an absolute winner on their hands with the XC60. It’s absolutely impossible to fault and offers great fuel consumption, plenty of features and excellent performance both on and off the black-top.

It had me confused then why our family friends ended up ditching the XC60 and buying a Honda, despite how much I applauded the XC60 for its overall rapport.

It's now apparent that all comes down to price. While the XC60 may be the best car I’ve driven this year, it’s simply too expensive. Comparable vehicles from BMW and Audi offer bigger diesel engines with more torque for around the same price.

The old adage, ‘you get what you pay for’ rings true in this regard. The Volvo XC60 is worth every penny of its price tag, but unfortunately outprices itself in the crowded Australian SUV market.


CarAdvice Overall Rating: How does it Drive: How does it Look: How does it Go: