Volvo’s Midsize Crossover

The Inscription is agile, solid and secure, with room for five people

Midsize crossover utility vehicles continue to soar in popularity, often outselling sedans because they offer greater versatility when it comes to carrying people and things, plus their higher seating position gives a better view of the road. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that the XC60 is one of Volvo’s bestselling models.

One advantage of crossover utility vehicles is that they drive like cars instead of trucks. While the XC60 slots into the same segment as imports such as the Porsche Macan, BMW X3 and Acura RDX, it is a bit less sporty and more practical. It is agile, solid and secure, with room for five people, although four is a more useful number unless the three backseat passengers are youngsters. The cabin is comfortably laid out and has an upscale level of fit and finish. The large rear hatch can swallow up to 67.4 cubic feet of stuff.

The XC60 is offered in front-wheel or all-wheel drive. There are three trim levels—Dynamic, Inscription and R-Design—and a choice of two engines. Prices start at $40,950 for a front-wheel-drive T5 and $46,350 for an all-wheel-drive T6. The R-Design begins at $51,000. The test car from Volvo’s press fleet was an all-wheel-drive T6 Inscription with a sticker price of $53,555.

The T5 has a turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 240 horsepower, and the T6 uses a supercharged and turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 302 horsepower.

Coaxing 302 horsepower out of a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder is a testament to the sophistication of Volvo engineering. That level of power from such a small package is on par with pure racing engines from a couple of decades ago. Plus, the engine still gets excellent fuel economy and meets strict emission guidelines.

Combining a supercharger with a turbo is brilliant because the supercharger delivers low-rpm power and torque while the exhaust-driven turbocharger takes over at high rpm. The engine packs the punch of a much larger powertrain while still delivering respectable fuel economy of 20 miles per gallon in the city and 27 on the highway. The less powerful T5 is rated at 23 mpg in the city and 30 on the highway.

Volvo’s reputation for safety is widely known and is a major consideration for buyers. Items such as antilock brakes, traction and stability control, whiplash protection for the front seats, front seat-side airbags, full-length side-curtain airbags and Volvo On Call emergency telematics are all standard. The test car had options of adaptive cruise control, collision warning with fully automatic braking, pedestrian and cyclist detection with fully automatic braking, lane departure warning and driver alert control.

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The Inscription trim level has walnut inlays and brushed aluminum trim. The metallic-gray test car had cream-colored leather seats that looked terrific but would probably soil easily. The fixed-angle headrests are positioned to help prevent whiplash but they pushed my head too far forward.

The thin center console has graphical climate controls that are easy to understand and use. I can’t say the same about the navigation system. I found that programming an address was way more tedious than with most smartphones.

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The car I drove was equipped with the optional built-in two-stage child booster seats that are terrific for families.

Other interior features include dual-zone automatic climate control, eight-way power adjustable front seats, a split-folding rear seat, Bluetooth phone connectivity and Volvo’s Sensus Connect system with navigation and mobile apps.

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It’s been nine years since the launch of XC60 and the company reports nearly one million units sold. To build on that success, a totally new XC60 was introduced on March 7 at the Geneva auto show. No timetable has been announced for its availability here but there is no doubt that Volvo expects it to be a big step forward with several innovative new safety features.

2017 Volvo XC60 T6 AWD Inscription
Engine: 2.0-liter, 302-horsepower 4-cylinder
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
All-wheel drive
Wheelbase: 109.2 inches
Curb weight: 4,175 pounds
Base price: $46,350
As driven: $53,555
MPG rating: 20 in the city, 27 on the highway

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