Safe. A Volvo must be safe. It doesn’t matter if the subject of the safety wand is a big sedan, compact wagon, or mid-size crossover like the XC60. Now gripped in Chinese automaker Geely’s chopsticks, the very-Swedish Volvo proves it has the spice and comfy rice that today’s youthful upscalers demand.
When Lexus, Acura, and others began introducing luxury crossovers, cautious Volvo wasn’t especially eager to hurry into anything new. Its cars still looked like the boxes they came in and it was quite happy to keep producing the turbocharged station wagons for which it was renowned. A jacked up V70 wagon became the Cross Country, the company’s first machine that could accomplish some semi-challenging off-roading (I once blitzed a power easement with aplomb). The XC90 three-row crossover, based on its large car platform, showed forever more that Volvo could build crossovers as good as any without losing anything that made it a Volvo. On a little smaller scale is the XC60.
My partner about dribbled his dungarees and dropped his drawers when he saw the voluptuous Passion Red R-Spec XC60 roll into our driveway. That wasn’t because he was all a-gunk over its side curtain airbags. Its mug and shoulders identify itself immediately as one of the Volvo pack, but dressed up with 20″ alloy wheels, gray ground affects, and taillamps that follow body curves from roof to bumper look as ready for the track or Manhattan club as a convention of corporate health & safety managers. Some of Volvo’s classic design cues were melted for modern, but one can still recognize the XC60’s lineage from a continent away. For a couple of homos trying to adopt a baby, the red sleigh would be a perfect Sherpa.
Interior design continues themes set by the S40 and S80, which is to say very Swedish. Major controls are wrapped around the driver, a thin center control stack clears room behind it for small items, and the climate control can be adjusted with a clever “seated human” chrome accent. The Dolby Pro Logic II audio system with 12 speakers and 910-watts of drenching audio thumped the Glee version of Teenage Dream until my partner threatened to ban the show in our home. Navigation, USB iPod input, Bluetooth phone connectivity, and stunningly beautiful blue analog gauges made travels easy. A full array of airbags also makes them safe.
Mother Mary herself must have invented Volvo’s seats. Soft as Martha Stewart’s down pillows, they perfectly support the contours of your back while plushing your plushier regions. They’re also designed to protect you in an accident with whiplash-reducing headrests. Heated cushions – front and rear – soothe in autumn and winter chills.
There’s also safety in performance. In our R-Spec, the six-cylinder turbo engine stamps at the ground ready to storm off in a huff, only held back by the driver’s desire to avoid expensive paper from law enforcement. With the aid of a twin-scroll turbo, the powerplant generates 300-HP and 325 lb.-ft. of torque, enabling a 0-60mph tear in 7.1s on the way to a 130-MPH top speed. A six-speed automatic transmission and torque-shifting all-wheel-drive put all of that energy straight to the pavement. Using all of the powertrain’s mighty force will yield somewhat less than the stated 16/21-MPG city/hwy.
In a crossover the size of the XC60, three centuries of equestrian gallop is more than adequate to get your heart pumping. Speed-sensitive steering, sport-tuned suspension, and large disc brakes ensure the rest of the vehicle is up to the challenge laid down by its engine. At Interstate speeds, the turbo is in its happy place, generating torque and thrust like The Fed prints IOUs.
Fort Knox probably has a patent on the super-thick Volvo doors, but one feels like a stinger missile wouldn’t faze the XC60 from the moment they close. It’s how The President must feel riding inside his Cadillac Beast. Working to prevent accidents are “BLIS” blind spot warnings, rotating headlamps to follow curves, rearview camera, front and rear parking sensors, adaptive radar-enabled cruise control, and electronic stability control. Volvo’s new City Safe crash avoidance technology uses a laser to detect slow moving traffic. Up to 19 MPH, the brakes are pre-charged when danger rears, and if you don’t respond the vehicle brakes automatically. Your momma loves you no more.
Built by a Chinese-owned automaker, the XC60 eats with Swedish cross-sticks. What’s most important is that’s it is every inch a Volvo – ready for a more youthful and style-setting driver. And, safe. Don’t forget safe. Price as tested came to a touch over $48,000, making it competitive with the Mercedes GLK, BMW X3, Cadillac SRX, and Lincoln MKX.
2011 Volvo XC60 R-Spec
6-speed auto. trans