We drive into the night, my family and I. We’ve been visiting my grandmother and uncle, taking them to dinner. My daughter is buckled and nestled into her into her car seat; my husband settled into the right front throne. It’s getting late, but we still have a couple of hours ahead. As we drive into the night, we snuggle into the redesigned Volvo XC60 Inscription.
It’s beautiful. Interior design adopts a Scandinavian ethos finely strewn with light wood, Nappa leather, and laser-etched switches for volume, engine starter, and performance control. Front seats heat, cool, and massage. Rear seats and the steering wheel are also heated. Four-zone automatic climate control caters to all. It all smells like wealth.
The big center touchscreen looks intimidating, but after a few moments, I was swiping through logical screens to conjure entertainment, navigation, and climate controls. Swipe right for a full menu of crash avoidance systems: Lane keep assist, forward collision mitigation with pedestrian/cyclist detection, blind spot warning, and rear cross path detection. Also control automated parking, unparking, and heads-up display systems. It’s easier than ordering meatballs at IKEA.
The Bowers & Wilkins audio system will change your life. It uses air compression to turn the cabin into one big subwoofer that fills the XC with a cloud of sound. I Bluetoothed my phone and luxuriated in Susan Boyle, Audra McDonald, and Elvis’ latest albums with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. I even dreamed of California summer with the Beach Boys. I could have lingered there forever, discovering every song anew.
As we were talking and listening to music while getting our backsides massaged, I noticed the car was slowing. I thought, “What the deuce??!!” I realized the radar adaptive cruise control was adjusting speed to keep from eating the bumper of a truck in our path. I simply moved into the left lane and the XC60 resumed its pre-set speed. When my mind wandered again, and we almost crossed the line into a ditch, the lane keep assist system gently tugged the steering wheel and guided us back into our lane. No drama, no shaking the yolk–just gentle persuasion. It seems the Volvo is always thinking one step ahead with a subtle hand to keep us safe.
Moving us across vast dark interstate was Volvo’s unique approach to powering the XC60 Inscription. Beneath the hood is a 2.0-liter turbocharged and supercharged four-cylinder engine that delivers 316 horsepower to the all-wheel-drive system. What you notice while driving is smooth torque off the line and deep breathing at speed. Fuel economy is rated 21/27 mpg city/highway.
It would be hard to tell from a walk-around all that’s contained within. Even at night, you can tell it’s a Volvo. As typical with the brand, the XC60 has a toothy grille, broad shoulders, subtle chrome, and taillamps that extend into the D-pillars. It looks expensive, but not extravagant–even when slammed over 20” wheels in Inscription trim.
I’m a fan of the S90 sedan and XC90 crossover, but I may like the XC60 even better. It contains all of the understated, yet exquisite Swedish luxury for which Volvo is known, but in a smaller, more affordable package. It’s exactly the crossover Volvo needs to compete with the Mercedes-Benz GLC, BMW X3, Audi Q5, and Cadillac XT5. A base price of $41,500, or $62,280 as tested, puts it in the fold. I’d drive it through any night.
Watch Casey’s video of the XC60 above, then follow him on Twitter and YouTube: @AutoCasey.
2018 Volvo XC60 Inscription
Five-passenger, AWD SUV
Powertrain: 316hp 2.0-liter Turbo/SC I4, 8-speed automatic transmission
Suspension f/r: Elect. Ind/Ind
Wheels f/r: 20”/20” alloy
Brakes f/r: disc/disc
Must-have features: 707hp, Comfort
Fuel economy: 21/27 mpg city/hwy
Assembly: Gothenburg, Sweden
Base/as-tested price: $41,500/63,280