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Project XC60: Update 2, Heico Wheels
7,157 miles to 11,335 miles
Well admit that before the XC60 was added to our garage that we remained skeptical about the whole five-passenger crossover segment. Sure, its one of the few growing niches in the automotive sector during this down economy but how fun would it be to drive?
Of course its no V70R in the twisties, so absolute performance nutters can disengage here. However, what the XC60 does offer is Volvos wagon proficiency applied to a marginally smaller and more fuel efficient take on the brands stalwart seven-passenger XC90 matched with the capable T6 turbocharged six and a quick-shifting six-speed slushbox.
Over the past few months weve logged several thousand miles and have determined a prodigious list of likes and dislikes.
On the positive side, the XC60s looks are some of the most appealing in the segment sporty and aggressive in a field including a dowdy Lexus and cardboard box-shaped offerings from Mercedes and BMW.
On the road, the XC60s handling is compliant but not wallowy, and feels downright sedan-like, which is nice. Aggressive use of the throttle from full stop results in slight wheel spin, something we thought had disappeared after Volvo added a non-return valve to Haldexs controller wunderbox back when the XC90 V8 was introduced.
Fuel efficiency has danced around a bit. Settle in at a reasonable highway speed and it will break into the twenties, but city driving rarely returns numbers over 16 mpg. Actual mileage trends about one mpg south of indicated figures on the Volvos MFA. The engines lack of direct-injection technology is touted as a benefit, allowing it to run on any pump fuel, but weve found the Volvo throws a check engine light when you run 87 octane gas. Performance isnt noticeably affected, however. Here’s a table of our fuel economy so far, with the CEL and the addition of the new wheels noted:
The XC60s cabin is handsome, functional and upscale compared to the aging XC90 it sits next to in one editors garage. Seats are as sublime and supportive as weve come to expect from Volvo. Infotainment is a step ahead of older Volvo models with full iPod integration and jukebox functionality though wed love it if parent company Ford would share its wonderful Microsoft Sync system. That our $40,000-plus XC60 doesnt include Bluetooth really leaves us scratching our heads.
Another odd equipment omittance is bumper-mounted proximity sensors that beep when theres an obstruction. Our XC60 has a great camera with built-in trajectory lines but it could still use the added security of the proximity sensors, especially if Volvos programmers are insistent upon forcing text warnings across the top of the screen that ironically partially block the cameras view.
We have only one other gripe about an otherwise very impressive interior and that is the lack of shifter paddles. We dont expect a manual transmission option on an XC60, but shifter paddles have become a standard for manu-matic autos like our XC60s Geartronic setup and such paddles would up the crossovers driving pleasure quotient.
Speaking of enjoyability, weve upped the XC60s game a bit by installing of a set of 20-inch Heico Sportiv alloys shod with new Pirelli Scorpion rubber.
For our silver XC60 weve opted for Heicos titanium wheel finish. The wheels were previously used on Swedespeeds XC90 project car and those looking to make a similar re-use of Heico wheels should note that youll need to replace the hubcentric rings as the center bore from XC90 to XC60 is different. Fortunately, Heico Sport North America was quick to ship out a set that fit correctly.
If youre planning to swap hubcentric rings, Heico gave us good advice. Pop off the center cap of the wheel and tap first at 12oclock, then 3, then 6 and 9 and repeat to evenly move the older ring out of the wheel. Push too hard and too unevenly and were told you can damage the wheel. Following Heicos advice we had no problem.
When it came to sourcing tires for our new alloy setup we went to our good friends at Tire Rack. Known as one of the best sources for a range of tires and wheels, we knew wed find plenty of selection, consumer reviews and ratings of individual aspects of the tires. We even found the XC60 OE-fitment Pirelli Scorpions on sale in our larger size. At the time of our purchase just a few weeks ago, the P245/50R20 Scorpion STR A was just $122 per tire, proving it pays to monitor Tire Racks online promotions if youre trying to budget for a fresh set of wheels and tires for your car.
Installed, changes to the ride of the XC60 were as expected. Turn-in is crisper and ride is more sensitive but never harsh. Grip seems improved and our first experience in snow-covered roads left us impressed by these Pirelli all-seasons.
Another plus of our upgrade is the improvement the more aggressive wheel design brings to the XC60. Where our Volvos stock shoes had all of the sex appeal of the budget aisle of a Hertz lot, a handsome set of five-spoke in such a large diameter really emphasizes Volvo designers intent in making the XC60 more of an athletic and coupe-like take on the XC90 design language. Where our silver crossover once passed anonymously down the road, we now regularly find drivers and passengers in other cars on the road giving the car a second admiring look.
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