Reviewed: 2016 Volvo XC60
Volvo has a reputation for always being safety conscientious, and the 2016 XC60 continues that tradition, with an added focus on efficiency, luxury and performance.
Drive-E engine technology debuted last year on the XC60 and has proven to significantly improve fuel economy in the real world, without sacrificing performance.
We spent a week with a well-equipped T6 AWD Drive-E featuring the Platinum and Climate packages, and came away incredibly impressed by this Scandinavian piece of engineering.
Drive-E – Powerful Yet Efficient Powertrain Technology
Volvo’s R&D engineers in Sweden employed advanced fuel-saving techniques when developing Drive-E engines including friction reduction, advanced boosting and combustion, thermal management and variable valve timing.
The 2.0-liter engine is fitted with both a turbocharger and a supercharger. The mechanically linked supercharger starts to function immediately at low revs while the turbo kicks in when airflow builds up.
Behind the wheel, the combo provides linear output that offers the sensation of a larger, naturally aspirated engine yet with reduced weight and improved economy. Bottom line: 302 horsepower and 295 lb.-ft. of torque plus an observed fuel economy of 26.3 mpg combined.
Drive-E engines are teamed with a highly efficient 8-speed automatic transmission. Additional gears enable the powerplants to operate at peak efficiency for excellent performance and economy. This transmission is designed to deliver smooth shifts for excellent drivability as well as reduced noise.
Engine start/stop, which automatically stops the engine when the vehicle comes to a stop to save fuel and restarts when the driver releases the brake pedal, worked smoothly. We had no desire to turn it off.
ECO+ is exclusive Drive-E fuel-saving technology that optimizes shift points, engine control and throttle response. When activated by the driver, Volvo says that ECO+ can improve fuel economy by five percent depending on driving style, temperature and climate. We tested it and found little affect in urban driving during spring weather.
ECO+ functions include:
Start/Stop – The start/stop functionality is modified to allow the engine to shut down at 4mph (7kph) as the vehicle coasts to a stop.
ECO-coast – Helps conserve kinetic energy by enabling the vehicle to coast. The engine “brake” is disengaged and engine speed drops to idle speed when pressure on the accelerator is released.
ECO-climate – The air conditioning compressor is disconnected to reduce auxiliary loads. Pressing the AC button restarts cooling or the driver can deactivate ECO+.
AWD Control With a Balanced Ride
Volvo’s signature All-Wheel Drive with Instant Traction is an impressive blend of outstanding performance and value, as it comes standard on the T6 XC60.
This AWD system delivers the best possible grip whether the road is wet, slippery or completely dry. The advanced AWD system transfers power to the wheels with the best grip. When a tire loses traction, power is reduced to that wheel and instantly transferred to the more sure-footed wheels.
The XC60 has what’s called Corner Traction Control (CTC) by torque vectoring. This technology is a refinement of Dynamic Stability and Traction Control (DSTC). This system makes it easier to smoothly maintain the desired line on winding roads and on wet surfaces. When driving into a curve, the brakes are applied to the inner driven wheel while more power is transmitted to the outer driven wheel.
Cornering and handling felt more car-like than SUV. The XC60 feels athletic and sporty, eager to perform whatever commands the driver tosses it through.
Dynamic Design with Elegant Style
Volvo refreshed the XC60 two years ago with new styling from the windshield forward. Changes included a new hood, front fenders and fascia that emphasize a wider and more confident appearance. Redesigned xenon headlights with washers flank a bolder grille sporting a larger Volvo Ironmark. Other enhancements included a lower front spoiler with bright trim, vertically mounted LED daytime running lights, front and rear skid plate trim and an integrated exhaust pipe design.
Beautiful 19-inch “Lesath” diamond-cut alloy wheels were fitted to our T6 tester.
From the light pouring in through the panoramic glass roof to the linear walnut wood inlays, the XC60 is a true premium vehicle without feeling pretentious.
The contour seats are supportive yet supple, with several power adjustments, premium feeling leather and instant heat when the heaters are activated.
Luxurious cabin appointments include a standard leather-wrapped steering wheel (ours was heated) with aluminum inlays, wood trim on the front door panels, cloth-covered B-pillars, metal trim around air vents, front door sill plates and a metal threshold for the cargo area.
Rear seating is spacious and comfortable, with easy ingress and egress and HVAC vents provided in the B-pillars.
The digital instrument panel is customizable depending on driving mode and what information the driver wants displayed, in various formats.
First and foremost, the XC60 has earned a 5-star overall rating from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) and is a 2017 Top Safety Pick +, an especially tough standard to meet.
One of our highly recommended safety techs of today’s vehicles is Blind Spot Information System (BLIS). BLIS is packaged with front and rear park assist, Cross Traffic Alert (CTA) and Lane Change Merge Aid (LCMA) on the XC60. The system is based on radar technology installed behind the rear wheels and according to Volvo, will detect traffic from a longer distance than the previous BLIS system.
A larger detection area provides the capability of informing the driver of rapidly approaching vehicles. LCMA utilizes two levels of LED lights mounted in the A-pillar. While CTA uses radar sensors in the rear bumper to monitor traffic when backing out of a parking space, warning the driver of approaching traffic via a visual alert and audio signal.
The Technology Package, standard with the Platinum trim, includes Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection with Full Auto Brake. The package also features Active High Beam that automatically switches the headlights to low beam when opposite traffic is detected, Road Sign Information (RSI) displays traffic speed signs for the driver on the instrument cluster based on the Forward Looking Camera (FLC), Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Queue Assist, Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake (CWAB), Distance Alert (DA), Driver Alert Control (DAC) and Lane Departure Warning (LDW).
That’s a LOT of acronyms, but they all work together effortlessly to making driving easier and safer. The ACC system is fine-tuned to work well in traffic and the Active High Beams switched at just the right time, every time, to not bother oncoming drivers.
The RSI system worked well overall, but it tended to pick up speed signs on the highway for exit ramps, warning us that we were far above the speed limit when we were not. The warning system can be turned off.
The XC60 was the first vehicle equipped with City Safety. This standard advanced technology is a driver support system aimed at preventing or mitigating collisions occurring at speeds of 31 mph or less. It utilizes a closing velocity sensor to help determine whether a collision is likely. Depending on the closing speed, City Safety will either pre-charge the brakes or automatically brake the XC60 to help avoid a rear-end collision or lessen its impact.
Lastly, something that’s almost exclusive to Volvo in the U.S. market is a heated windshield. Yes, the windshield has micro-grid of wires in it to defrost the glass quickly and in-conjunction with the air defrosting system. We had a cool morning where the frost melted away in about 25 seconds, impressive. And if that isn’t enough, the windshield washer nozzles are heated too, ensuring they’ll be ready to spray on snowy and icy winter morning.
Volvo’s Sensus system lets the driver manage information, audio, nav and other vehicle functions, displaying them onto a 7-inch HD display in the upper part of the center console. It allowed us to explore the high-tech features of the XC60 and personalize settings to our liking.
Sensus Connect includes in-car connectivity services including:
- A Volvo-unique cloud developed with Ericsson
- Cloud-based apps including Stitcher, Pandora, Yelp, Glympse and more
- On-screen vehicle owner’s manual
- Internet browser
- Voice control with a speech engine powered by Nuance
Volvo On Call is a sophisticated standard telematics system that includes a driver-activated SOS button, automatic collision alert and GPS location tracking by emergency service operators. If an airbag or seatbelt pre-tensioner is deployed, emergency assistance is notified even if the driver is unable to press the button.
Wi-Fi Hotspot uses the standard 3G-based Volvo On Call plus the car’s regular rooftop antenna giving the driver access to cloud-based Volvo services without a smartphone. The driver can create a Wi-Fi hotspot inside the car so passengers can connect their smartphone, laptop or tablet to the Internet. We found the speeds to be too slow by today’s 4G LTE standards.
Sensus Navigation, standard on Premier and Platinum trims and all T6 models, integrates all navigation functions into the car. The system is easy to use, without taking one’s attention from the road. Unlike using a smart phone as a navigation device, the navigation screen is displayed on the standard in-dash 7-inch monitor. Sensus Navigation has improved graphics including 3D imaging, improved voice recognition, new routing options and built-in apps.
The Platinum trim level includes the Harmon Kardon Premium Sound System. It features innovative Dirac Live sound tuning technology, 12 premium speakers and 650 watts and sounds absolutely sensational. Inputs include SiriusXM, bluetooth, CD, HD Radio, AUX and USB.
Our tester also came with the optional dual two-stage child booster seats with power child door locks–a feature rarely available on today’s vehicles.