CNHI News Service

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January 28, 2013

Volvo XC60 has luxury feel, plenty of power

—  

 

When I think of Volvo cars, only one thing comes to mind: safety.

It's easy to imagine a bunch of Volvo engineers huddled around a cup

of coffee discussing whether they could install an airbag into a

cupholder and how to make the radio buttons cause fewer injuries.

Volvo is obsessive about things like that.

Driving the XC60 this past week, though, I was reminded that this is a

company known for building luxury cars, too.

Part of that comes from its feeling of solidity. Most cars these daysEven putting all its safety features aside — things like automatic

braking, sensors that see pedestrians, and its ability to read road

signs — it's still one really, really nice ride.

put their focus on fuel economy, so they start to feel flimsy and

hollowed out in an effort to save weight.

The XC60 isn't like that. Its heavy, massive doors close with the kind

of bank-vault thud more commonly found in $100,000 Mercedes sedans. It

feels like you're driving in a tank, wrapped in a cocoon of

high-strength steel.

Gas mileage suffers a bit as a result. It's rated for 25 mpg on the

highway and 19 in city driving, and slightly worse with all-wheel

drive.

The driving feel, though, is phenomenal — assuming you opt for the

turbocharged engine.

Some Volvos I've driven in the past have felt underpowered, but the

3.0-liter, six-cylinder turbo engine in my test vehicle made it feel

like a sports car, with 300 horsepower on tap. Even the base engine

makes 240 horses.

With a taut suspension and sensitive steering, it leaves a

surprisingly sporty impression for something so obviously designed for

family-hauling duties. The powerful engine's roar and zippy feeling in

corners almost make you forget that the XC60 has built-in booster

seats for children.

And that brings us to the heart of the stereotypical Volvo, which is

its ridiculously well-thoughy-out list of safety technology.

Some of its standard features include Ready Alert Brakes, a system

that primes the car for heavy braking if it senses a collision is

imminent, and City Safety, which will automatically stomp on the

brakes to avoid a low-speed wreck.

One optional feature on the XC60 is Road Sign Information, something

I'd never seen before on any car. It uses a video camera to scan the

road signs ahead of you — particularly the speed limits and "no

passing" signs — and displays them in a digital readout in the

instrument panel.

If you've ever forgotten what the speed limit was on a given stretch

of road, you can just look down at the dash and see it. If you choose,

you can also set it to give you an audible warning when you break the

speed limit.

Pricing starts at $34,350 for the base model, or $40,650 for the

turbocharged XC60 with all-wheel drive. It's also available in

325-horsepower R-Design trim for $44,850.

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