For the Volvo Enthusiast

Swedespeed Project XC60 Update: Still Smooth Sailing in May

When we last checked in on our Volvo XC60 long-term test, we’d just added a new set of lowering springs from H&R and were enjoying the slightly firmer and more confident ride. While there’s no argument about the validity of that statement around our office, there is a philosophical debate blossoming about whether or not the sharper ride is a good thing. One admittedly irrational camp feels that everything, even a crossover, should handle well, while the other wonders why a vehicle like the XC60 needs to be anything more than a quiet, comfortable family car. That first group is keeping a close guard on the toolbox, so the suspension will remain at least for now.

This writer developed a different appreciation for the lower ride height, but for an odd reason. The fewer inches between ground and rear load floor meant a few inches less that boxes and furniture had to be raised in a recent move. Yes, that is sad. The XC60 is no lazy mover, however, with impressive space once all the seats are folded completely flat. Thanks to a front passenger seat that also folds pretty surprisingly far, even some very long items went in without having to sacrifice a closed rear hatch. If the cargo hold has one flaw, it’s that the sporty low roofline cuts down on interior height — while the hold was wider than that of the Volkswagen Tiguan we also used in our move, the VW could accommodate some taller furniture standing upright. But our more sensitive belongings did appreciate that the XC60 rear seatbacks were finished with carpet, not hard plastic.

When the XC60 debuted, its big ticket standard feature was “City Safety,” the radar based automatic braking system designed to protect the car from low-speed collisions. Like airbags, it is unfortunately one of those cool features one can’t really test in real world conditions without risking damage or injury. As such, we hadn’t experienced it in action until this past month.

Don’t worry — we didn’t have a near crash with our poor Volvo. It actually went off because of a large speed bump. Weird, yes. We must have created a rare condition of brake dive, a high bump, and a suspension lower than stock that resulted in the system being tricked into thinking a car was ahead. All of a sudden, the City Safety icon popped up on the dash and the XC60 did indeed stop itself. No one was around to be surprised by our stopped car in the middle of the road, fortunately, but it was certainly an odd situation. But at least we can report that the system works (perhaps too well.)

Otherwise, there isn’t much to report about the Volvo. Fuel economy has been holding steady between 16-18 mpg overall, and since our check-in at service for an oil change and recall fixes in February, we’ve had no problems. Still, we are starting to regret going so conservative with our color combination of silver exterior, black interior, and aluminum trim. It looks great and all, but it isn’t as interesting or full of life as the great wood trim, the two-tone leather options, or colors like Terra Bronze or Lemon Grass. In silver and black, the XC60 becomes just another midsize crossover. But the German competition would never offer some of the more interesting choices.

We’ll be racking up some miles in the XC60 in the next week, with the car due for an appearance at the Carlisle Import Nationals in central Pennsylvania. We’re interested to see how our car fits with a crowd quite biased toward S60/V70Rs, S70s, and 850s. We’ll report back, and if you’re planning on going to the show this Saturday (May 22) make sure to stop by and say hello.

There’s one season left in our four-seasons test of the XC60, which ends in September. We’re looking forward to a lovely summer in which to enjoy finally opening the glass roof.

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