Stop in the Name of LÖV
Photo by Mark Elias
by Joe LaMuraglia
In January of this year I was attended an event hosted by Volvo Cars of America where I drove the new 2010 Volvo XC60 (you can read it HERE). While a day behind the wheel of a new car gives a great initial impression, it is always nice to spend more time living with a car in a familiar environment doing more mundane things. Volvo agrees and set up a week-long date with the sexy new XC60 this past June.
If you haven’t seen a Volvo XC60 on the road yet, you are missing out. The new small luxury crossover is arguably the most attractive in its segment – and that is no faint praise when you consider the Swede is competing with the Mercedes-Benz GLK, Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Acura RDX in this beauty contest. The strong shoulder line and sweeping silhouette give it a presence on the road and in your garage.
Unlike many things in life, beauty isn’t skin deep with the XC60. The interior is a exercise in simplicity without compromising sensory reward. The cabin is airy and all the materials and switchgear are top-notch. Our test vehicle was outfitted with two-tone leather that provided contrast and depth to the seating surfaces while feeling and smelling fantastic. The dash with the optional light wood inlay could be straight from a modern design magazine.
In my initial drive earlier this year, I noted that the seats were comfortable but not up to the levels normally associated with Volvos. After a week with the XC60, I stand by that statement. The front perch is still better than many but it does feel like Volvo may have saved some money in seating. Rear seat room is excellent and with the seats folded down, you’d be hard pressed to want more usable room.
Volvo’s recent campaign used the tag line “From Sweden With LÖV” with ‘LÖV’ being the time and effort that Volvo has spent over the years developing and standardizing safety systems in their vehicles. The XC60 is no exception and is the first vehicle from Volvo that comes with their City Safety technology. Using a laser mounted at the top of the windshield, City Safety can help the driver avoid frontal collisions at low speed. If the driver is about to drive into the rear of a vehicle and does not react in time, the car will apply the brakes by itself.
From Volvo’s press release: “Surveys indicate that 75 percent of all reported collisions take place at speeds of up to 19 mph. In half of these cases the driver has not braked at all before the collision, mainly due to distraction. In these cases, City Safety could make a crucial difference. City Safety automatically applies the brakes if the driver is about to drive into the vehicle in front. A collision may be entirely avoided, or if this is not possible, the damage to cars and people can be reduced.”
It sounds little odd but it works brilliantly. Volvo provided some portable barriers in the test car and I spent a few hours one afternoon showing neighbors how it works. All were duly impressed but few were surprised that this technology was being introduced by Volvo; the company that invented the seat belt 50 years ago.
After spending a week with the XC60 in and around the less-than-perfect roads of Northern NJ and NYC, I was impressed with its driving dynamics. It is euro-tight and feels nimble on the road. The 281-horsepower T6 engine was had plenty of power and never left me wanting for more oomph. The XC60 is not a enthusiast’s crossover though so don’t expect to be carving up mountain roads in it. It is also not a soft luxury vehicle either. The suspension on our test T6 AWD was taught and transmitted some serous auditory feedback into the cabin when hitting larger-than-average road irregularities. Rather, the XC60 delivers a nice balance between sport and luxury ‘float’ that reminds you what is going on around you without feeling every imperfection of the road surface.
Our test car was loaded at $44,240 but you can get into to a “nicely equipped” T6 AWD starting at a MSRP of $37,200. If you don’t need all that power and AWD, a base XC60 3.2 starts at $33,845 and that includes Volvo’s excellent panoramic sunroof. All XC60s, and all Volvos for that matter, come with a Safe & Sound plan that includes 5 years of complimentary factory scheduled maintenance, 5 years of wear and tear coverage (brakes, wipers etc.), 5 years of roadside assistance and a 5 year/60,000 mile warranty.
Volvo is a gay-friendly company.
Read other Volvo reviews by Gaywheels.com’s writers