Safety matters. But so does comfort, style, and fuel efficiency.
A rainy week is never my favorite week to test drive a new car. I love picturesque sunset skies and clear blue oceans to frame my car photos. But in reality, wind, rain, falling branches, and cascading mud are what make me appreciate my car most. It keeps me distanced from the challenges the weather throws at us.
And when the car is as cushy and comfy inside as the weather is blustery outside, well, that’s when I love my car all the more.
If you’ve ever owned a Volvo, you know. If you’ve never owned a Volvo, then keep reading (keep reading if you’re in the Volvo tribe; you might be surprised at what the brand’s innovators have been up to lately!).
Who This Car is For:
- Buyers who need an all wheel drive SUV
- Buyers who want a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) for added fuel economy or pure electric driving (hello never being totally on empty!)
- Buyers who need higher ground clearance and capability on different terrain including snow, mud, and gravel
- Buyers who want the flexible cargo space of an SUV
- Families or pet owners who need plenty of space for passengers and stuff
- Buyers who appreciate the luxurious look and feel of the R Design package
- Buyers who can benefit from federal and local tax incentives for an EV purchase
What This Car Costs:
- 2019 Volvo XC60 AWD Plug-in base price: $52,900
- Add advanced Pilot Assist technology including adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, head up display and surround view camera: $2,500
- Add 4 corner air suspension, which adjusts the chassis height for various drive modes: $1,800
- R Design package, including suede seat inserts, leather upholstery, upgraded steering wheel with paddle shifters, heated wiper blades, park assist auto parking and keyless entry: $6,850
- Bowers & Wilkins premium sound system: $3,200
- Price of the model we drove including delivery: $69,640
Let’s Talk About That Design
That’s what everyone who rode with me during my test drive wanted to talk about, and it’s no surprise: The Volvo XC60 , which was named World Car of the Year for 2018, is a beautiful car. Slip into the cabin of the XC60 and you notice the streamlined, modern design right away. The leather seats feature suede inserts, there’s a panoramic sunroof that illuminates the cabin and the center console is sublime but functional. The R Design also features gleaming metal accents and a crystal gear selector that simply gleams. That the XC60 gets 50+ MPG is truly a bonus, even to buyers who want flexibility in how they fuel their drive.
Yes, You Can Get 50 MPG in This SUV!
But it takes some work. You have to plug in every day. It can take 6+ hours to charge the battery on a regular household outlet (3 hours on a 240 volt fast charger). It gets an estimated 17 miles on a charge, so unless your daily drive is a short one, it’s not likely you can rely solely on electric. But if you can plug your car in at home or have a charger readily available at your gym, office or Whole Foods, and you’re diligent about it, you can drive mostly on electric.
But that is just the start.
We were also able to charge the battery via the gas engine by choosing the charge option through the systems setting on the touch screen, though we used a lot more gas this way. Still, if driving in the Pure EV mode is important, this is one way to charge the battery.
The best way to alternatively charge the battery, though is to pop the gear selector into B mode and create your own electricity. The Volvo’s battery monitor shows when you’re using the battery and when you’re recharging it. I actually took the battery all the way down to zero and then in B mode was able to recoup about 1/8th of the charge through normal driving. I loved seeing that I was able to add to the car’s range, not just deplete it.
When driving in Pure mode, which uses only the battery, you can drive in all electric. Choosing Hybrid mode offers improved fuel economy, and in sport, you’re putting the full twin turbo to work. We averaged about 26MPG during our drive, impressive considering we never recharged the battery and only drove in the city.
But the reality? If you can add a single full charge to each tank you can extend your fuel usage to 30+ MPG. In a mid-sized SUV, this is a great thing.
Multiple Drive Modes, So You Can Pick Your Experience
Want more fuel efficiency? Econ mode has that covered. Need all wheel drive? Put the Volvo in AWD mode. Feeling like owning the road? Performance mode adds a bit of growl to the engine and grips the road a bit more tightly. Want some of that sometimes, other of that other times? Individual mode lets you customize your settings.
To better accommodate the Volvo’s drive modes, the XC60 offers a 4 corner air suspension option that allows the car’s height to be raised or lowered depending on your need and drive mode. You can hear and feel the system at work as you shift through the modes. Put the XC60 in all wheel drive and the system raises the car a few inches. Open the lift gate and the car’s height is lowered to make getting things in and out easier. Put it in Econ mode and it raises or lowers to the optimal height for fuel efficiency. I can see how this system would come in handy, both for a snowy day or on a steep gravel driveway. It may also serve to delight your kids and friends; we had fun playing with it during our test drive.
Wifi, Apple Car Play, and a Lush Infotainment System
Part of my week was spent in a no-cell-service zone. At first, I thought I was doomed to zooming in and out of range or camping out Starbucks just to keep up with emails and phone calls. But then I discovered the Volvo’s wifi hotspot. Once connected I was able to log onto my computer, send messages and even do bigger things like updating this website.
I really like how the infotainment system is designed: Three basic screens that require you to simply swipe left or right: The far left screen has controls for basic car and safety functions such as lane departure and blind spot monitoring. The center screen has navigation, radio, climate, and phone. Plug in your phone and Apple Car Play comes up as an option. Wifi can be found in the car’s settings, along with many other options, under a two-line menu at the top of the screen.
Staying connected requires being plugged into power; there are only 2 USB ports, both in the center console, which maintains the streamlined look of the cabin but isn’t the most convenient location. There is, however, a 12V cigarette adapter port on the rear of the console for back seat passengers, one up front near the gear selector and one in the cargo area.
The Ahhhhh Factor: Just the Right Size
Here’s the thing I love about a 5 passenger SUV: the eye-pleasing scale and easy driving size. Not too big, not too small, just the right size to accommodate my family and our stuff. And everyone is comfortable; there’s enough room for us and our things so we can spread out, get comfortable and relax.
The XC60’s rear seats fold flat (with the touch of a button, no less) for extra cargo space and there was plenty of leg room; no one felt cramped. We tried out the air lift package to lowers the car for loading, but I’m on the tall side and didn’t feel it was necessary. However, if I were loading small dogs or asking my kids to load their luggage, the option may make things easier for them. I also might choose the option for the extra ride height in deep winter snow storms; an inch or two of added height can make the difference between getting out of the driveway and getting stuck in it.
This is Worth Saying Again: The Most Beautiful Gear Shift You’ve Ever Seen
Yes, the gear shift. Volvo teamed with Swedish crystal maker Orrefors to design what is purely the most beautiful gear shift I’ve ever seen. Ever. It refracts the light in the cabin to become a glowing beacon of shimmering gorgeousness in the center of the car. Like a piece of jewelry you hold in your hand, it’s there waiting to be touched, to guide the car into each gear. Though it’s crystal, it’s not cold or sharp. It has a soft polished, rounded feeling to it that makes you want to hold it. Jewelry for your hand, in your hand. Jewelry that says you are loved, valued, and special. Which is what we want our cars to do for us: Keep us safe, secure and make us feel special.
What We Loved
- The luxury details of the R Design package
- The crystal gear shift
- Awesome heated front AND rear seats
- Leather seats with suede inserts
- Motion activated lift gate–just swipe your foot under the bumper and it opens
- Autonomous parking feature
- The nicely organized touch screen
- Apple Car Play
- Built in WiFi
- Multiple drive modes including all wheel drive
- Plug in Hybrid
What You Need to Know
- This is a plug in hybrid electric car
- Plug In battery has a 17 mile range capacity
- Fuel economy can potentially reach 58MPG, though that requires regular charging
- Gas-only engine averages about 26MPG
- Drivers with short drives may be able to rely mostly on electric; drivers with longer commutes will find that the electric battery ‘boosts’ your MPG
- Seats 5 but more comfortable for 4
- Only 2 USB ports, both in the center console
- Regular fuel can be used
What We Listened to in the Volvo XC40 AWD Plug-in Electric SUV
We love our playlists, but this one is special: it’s modern, fresh and it starts with Electric Love!
Disclosure: Volvo provided the XC60 AWD Plug-in hybrid for this review; all opinions are my own.