For the Volvo Enthusiast



15 July 2017

After a successful eight-years in the U.S, the first generation XC60 continues to generate 30% of Volvo’s global sales. More than one-million XC60s have been sold globally. This is a tremendous accomplishment and speaks volumes about the popularity of the vehicle. Volvo wanted to build on this success, and so began the re-imagination of the all-new, second generation XC60, the first of the 60-series cluster based on the Volvo’s SPA platform.


Departing from the Barcelona airport, we drove out into the countryside of Spain. The XC60 felt comfortable at highway speeds and dynamic on curvy country roads of Catalonia. There was an overabundance of roundabouts along the drive route and I will be happy to never hear the navigation system state, “at the roundabout take the 3rd exit.” Overall handling was good and the Michelin Latitude Sport 3 tires (size 255/45R20) were relatively quiet on various road surfaces.

The exterior design comparison between the 2017 XC60 to the all-new 2018 reveals an evolution. The interior design is vastly improved integrating several 90-series design themes while introducing unique 60-series elements. Carried over directly from the XC90 are the sunroof and front seats; a fun fact for your weekend Cars and Coffee event. I have logged several 500-mile one-day stints with the XC90 and the front seats are Volvo’s most comfortable and supportive units to date. I was pleased to see this exact seat is found in the new XC60.

Volvo addressed the most visible limitation of the first-generation XC60, a modern interior. Volvo is once again competitive and delivering a compelling alternative in the premium, five-seat SUV category. The all-new XC60’s interior introduces unique 60-series themes while also integrating now-familiar 90-series center stack technologies. Volvo’s Sensus infotainment system removes most dials and buttons for HVAC controls from the dashboard and integrates them within the 9.3-inch touchscreen.  The screen works via infrared technology allowing users to wear gloves and still operate the controls.

Initially, the user interface may not appear intuitive for certain quick and simple tasks.  Volvo eliminated most of the physical buttons. As a result, drivers will learn a new user experience without physical buttons.   Some buyers may not like Volvo’s no-button methodology but after some time, the Sensus touch screen becomes more intuitive. Like the 90-series, the key to a successful experience with this infotainment system is to “set it and forget it” and do not consider making changes until your next stop. The Sensus interface is comprehensive. I recommend that new owners take the time with their sales staff to learn the menu navigation and function button placements.

The key features for Sensus Connect include:

  • Centrally mounted vertical 9-inch Sensus Touchscreen standard on all trims
  • 4G LTE connectivity with in-car Wi-Fi hotspot
  • Apple Car Play and Android Auto Standard
  • Patented 4-tile layout featuring navigation, audio, phone and apps. Tiles expand when selected
  • Bluetooth Audio Streaming; tethering via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth
  • USB and AUX inputs
  • Voice Control
  • Sensus Navigation
  • Among the many standard apps included in Sensus Connect are HERE Local Search, TuneIn, Pandora, Spotify, Glympse, Local Search, Yelp, Weather and Wiki Locations.

    Sensus Connect has three different ways of communicating information to the driver. Important and crucial safety information is displayed in the windscreen via an optional Heads-Up display or the Digital Driver Display. Information and commands that can be taken care of at the driver’s discretion are displayed in the 9-inch Sensus Touchscreen in the center console.

    Apple CarPlay
    Sensus Connect’s Apple CarPlay app makes it possible to access an iPhone (5 or later), via the car’s 9-inch Sensus Touchscreen center display. The iPhone can be controlled via the touch screen or by ‘Siri’ voice commands via the car’s audio system. Volvo’s integration of CarPlay via the four-tile layout is unique in that it does not take over the entire screen. Drivers still have all vehicle functions available while CarPlay is running.

    Android Auto
    Like Apple CarPlay, Android Auto makes it possible to access an Android smart phone (5.0 Lollipop or higher) via the car’s central touch screen and voice commands using Google speech technology. Android Auto is designed for a horizontal view, which means it only takes up the lower part of our large 9-inch vertical screen.

    One of the frequently asked questions on the Swedespeed forums is “Should I get the optional Bowers & Wilkins stereo upgrade?” Volvo invested significant research into the acoustics within SPA-based vehicles. Volvo collaborated with Bowers & Wilkins and the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra to recreate the outstanding sound of the Gothenburg Concert Hall in the cabin of the XC60. Fifteen speakers, including the world’s first body integrated air-ventilated subwoofer, provide superior sound with 1,100 watts for the most demanding audiophile. Simply, if you like to listen to music and want to be immersed within your favorite music, check the box on your order sheet for this option. Instrument-based music sounds exceptional with the Gothenburg Concert Hall setting. I sampled, Moby’s “First Cool Hive”, The Eagles “Peaceful Easy Feeling” and Dr. Dre “Nuthin’ but a G thang” – each song sounded amazing and I have an increased appreciation for high-quality sound within a vehicle.

    Overall the interior is impressive, inviting and well-balanced. The dash and door panel materials are high-quality with a nice blend of soft-touch plastics, supple leather and wood trim. The fit and finish are excellent. While the XC60 is almost as wide as the XC90, the interior feels more inviting and cozy.

    Volvo chose the beautiful backdrop of Barcelona, Spain for our test drive of the XC60 Inscription T6 AWD. The interior of the XC60 Inscription trim package provided a unique visual appearance and comfort level. Attractive wood inlays and a color coordinated leather key fob matched our XC60’s Amber Perforated Nappa leather.

    For 2018, the XC60 includes semi-autonomous driving technologies with Pilot Assist, enabling the vehicle to follow marked highways at speeds of up to 80 mph. Additionally, Volvo expanded safety technologies to updates to Intellisafe City Safety, including on-coming lane mitigation and BLIS with steering assist. Run-off road mitigation, which uses auto-steer to help keep drivers on the road. City Safety received an update with Large Animal Detection. The 2018 XC60 also benefits from two years of hardware and software enhancements from the 90-series making Volvo’s in-car connectivity and driver interface system more stable and efficient.

    Equally impressive with unique design and styling cues are the three powertrain options, the T5 with 250hp/258 lb-ft, the T6 with 316hp/295 ft-lb and the T8 hybrid with an impressive 400hp/472 lb-ft. Each powertrain is available with AWD.  

    At launch, the Volvo XC60 comes standard with all-wheel drive. A compact and lightweight coupling (BorgWarner Generation 5) distributes the engine’s power between the front and rear wheels. Under normal, dry conditions practically all the power is distributed to the front wheels. The system constantly calculates the need for torque and can instantly redistribute up to 50 percent of the engine’s torque to the rear wheels. When at a standstill, full all-wheel drive is always engaged to prepare for maximum traction during acceleration.

    The all-new Volvo XC60 comes with four standard Drive Mode settings. They can be chosen via a rotary knob in the center console. Each separate Drive Mode controls engine, automatic transmission, steering, brakes, Electronic Stability Control and Stop/Start functions and gives each Drive Mode different characteristics. Drive mode selection is optional on T5 engines and standard on T6 and T8 configurations.

    T5 & T6 Powertrains

    Comfort Mode (Default)

  • All parameters are set to offer maximum comfort
  • Driver Display is set to Comfort Mode
  • Dynamic Mode

  • Engine and gearbox calibrated for dynamic driving characteristics
  • Quick engine, gearbox, accelerator, steering and brake responses
  • For the T6 version, the supercharger is also more responsive
  • Automatic gearbox up-shifts allows for higher revs; different lock-up schedule
  • Start/Stop Function disabled
  • ECO Mode

  • Engine and gearbox calibrated for lowest possible fuel consumption and emissions
  • “Softer” accelerator response
  • Automatic gearbox up-shifts at lower revs
  • “Coasting” function above 40mph (no engine braking, instead coasting at idle)
  • Individual Mode
    Drivers can tailor each individual element to their liking. The Individual Mode is stored and correlates to the remote-control key. It will be set up when the door is unlocked.

    Off Road Mode

  • Mode can be set at speeds below 25 MPH
  • Maximize the car’s performance on poor roads and/or hill descent
  • Hill Descent Control automatically activated driving down hill
  • Steering is set to comfort mode and differentials are locked
  • Engine and gearbox optimized for traction
  • Note: the default setting at start is always Comfort Mode

    T8 Powertrain

    Hybrid Mode (Default)
    In this mode, both the electric motor and gas engine are utilized individually or in parallel. Their operation is optimized to performance, fuel-consumption and comfort. The engine and automatic gearbox are programmed for maximum comfort.

    Pure Mode
    This mode prioritizes electric operation and low energy-consumption. It helps the driver to maximize driving on the hybrid battery. The dynamic performance is reduced and the air-conditioning unit is partly disengaged (it can be activated fully manually). This mode is active at speeds up to 78MPH.

  • The engine Stop/Start function is activated.
  • The engine, gearbox and climate system are set to Eco mode.
  • The electrical heating of the windscreen, rear window and door mirrors are not activated automatically, if that has been pre-set.
  • The driver gets information via the Driver display about how to drive as economically as possible.
  • Power Mode
    In this mode, the gas engine and the electric motor are working in parallel to ensure the strongest performance and quick response. This also means that both the front and rear wheels are continuously driven.

  • The steering and braking system is set to Dynamic mode.
  • The ESC system is set to ESC OFF.
  • The Stop/Start system is deactivated.
  • The Adaptive Digital Display is set to Sport mode.
  • AWD (All Wheel Drive) mode
    This mode is for improving traction in slippery conditions. The T8 Twin Engine powertrain distributes power from the gas engine to the front wheels and power from the electric motor to the rear wheels.

    Individual Mode
    Drivers can tailor each individual element to their liking. The Individual Mode is stored and correlates to the remote-control key. It will be set up when the door is unlocked.

    Off Road Mode
    Can be set at speeds below 12 MPH to maximize the car’s performance on poor roads. If 25 MPH is exceeded, the Off-road mode is disengaged and it will not be engaged automatically again if the speed is reduced.

  • The accelerator sensitivity is adjusted to reduce the risk of inadvertently exceeding 25MPH when the Off-road mode is automatically disengaged.
  • The power distribution between the front and rear wheels is locked at 50/50.
  • Hill Descent Control is automatically activated when driving down hills.
  • The steering is set to comfort mode.
  • The engine and gearbox are optimized for traction.
  • The Electronic Stability Control system is set to Traction/Sport.
  • The Stop/Start function is deactivated.
  • The Driver display is set to XC mode.
  • Hold and Charge Function
    In addition to the drive modes, the driver can press a Hold button on the center display to keep the current battery charge for later use. The Charge button uses the gas engine to charge the battery to a certain level.

    The first of the all-new 60-series has arrived and is poised to build on the XC60’s first-generation success. Volvo needs the inventory on dealer lots to convince Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLC300 shoppers to give the XC60 consideration. The XC60 is competitively priced starting at $41,500 and it is one of the best looking 5-seat SUVs on the market today.

    After driving the V90 Cross Country through the Arizona freeways and desert trails, I felt it was the best, most practical Volvo built to date. Now that I have driven the all-new XC60, I believe Volvo shoppers have an interesting choice for a five-seater. Depending on the trim-level, options and available discounts, these two models could be within a few thousand dollars of each other. I personally prefer Volvo wagons; however, the take-rate data reveals most buyers put their money on SUVs across the automotive industry. More than a slightly smaller XC90, the XC60 is a better-balanced Volvo with inspired confidence. Volvo delivers Scandinavian design with athletic performance. I am confident luxury SUV shoppers considering Volvo for the first-time will not be disappointed with all-new XC60 T6 AWD.