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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Well, as part of our NEVER-ENDING small SUV shopping for my wife we went out and test drove a few vehicles today. My wife and I have both driven XC60s (3.2 and T6s), and she had drive the Audi Q5 in both 2.0T and 3.2 trims. Neither of us had driven the X3 (we own a few BMWs as I've mentioned in other threads). In short...I wish I could combine the best of these three into one SUV. Our impressions:

1. Powertrain - This was no contest...the T6 RD simply outperformed the Audi 2.0T and X3 28. The shocker for me ( an owner of 3 BMWs) was that it felt significantly better than the X3 35 (also a turbo 3.0). I don't know if it was a combination of the BMW tranny upshifting so dang quickly that it simply lagged, and then hit with a hard downshift when you legged it or what. I would not have believed the difference to have been so dramatic if I had not experienced it. The transmission on the T6 appears well-mated and shifts occurred when they needed to. The Audi's 8 speed tranny was also pretty well matched to the 2.0t (turbo 4), but it NEEDS to be since that motor ideally needs a bit more torque. The BMW - again, a disappointment on the 35. The 28 was better, but only adequate (better than a 3.2 Volvo though). Both the Q5 and BMWs had a weird somewhat sensitive tip-in that was a bit aggravating. Ultimately, the T6 RD performance here is really compelling (esp for a guy who owns an older M3 and M5).

2. Exterior Styling - Frankly, there isn't a bad looking SUV in this bunch. The BMW is muscular looking. The Audi is elegant, and the Volvo is swoopy. From the rear, side and 3/4 rear view the XC60 is pretty nice - but from the front...meh. The Audi looks great from the front and the back isn't too bad either - the side view is more "stubby" - overall, it is probably the one most people would say "looks good, nothing 'wrong'". The BMW has a good overall presence about it, but probably lacks a distinctive specific feature...heck, I think I just forgot what it looked like! Look, this one is going to come down to personal preference more than anything. We test drove a passion red (my preference) which "helps" the XC60 IMO.

3. Interior - This one is tough, but I have to say the BMW and Audi are a step above the Volvo in terms of interior build quality and materials. The BMW appears to be the best, followed by the Audi and then Volvo. From a purely visual perspective the Volvo has a LOT of interest, especially with the two-tone RD seats. The Audi cam across as austere in all-black, but I've seen a cinnamon interior in the Audi and it looks great (and breaks up the sea of black nicely). The BMW seemed to scream "I've got money...and I spent it on this interior". The Volvo had the best rear-seat room and comfort. The Audi's rear seat seemed cramped and the bench was...well...hard! The BMW seats looked and felt great, but I swear they seemed low and I was sitting more "knees high" than the others...I need to go back and compare them again, but that's how it seemed. The durability of the leather has us REALLY concerned on the Volvo. Frankly, we drove a manager demo with a paltry 1500 miles and you could tell the seats were already wearing. I see this noted on other subforums here too. The RD looks like the leather may actually be a tad softer than the already soft XC60 leather...this and the larger bolsters could be trouble. The BMW leather looked to be able to last forever much like my wife's 11 year old 530i with dang near perfect leather. The Audi looked to be somewhere in between, but probably closer to the BMW end.

4. Tech - Volvo Sensus vs. BMW iDrive vs. Audi MMI. So, today was my first time to use any of these systems (the previous XC60's we drove were pre-sensus). Overall, the Volvo system looks to be half a generation behind the Audi and BMW setups. This is consistent with what other reviewers have reported. However, it isn't the end of the world. The Audi system seems to have everything but the kitchen sink in it and a button for everything. Some things, however, are needlessly complex (like adjusting the seat heaters). Frankly, folks, sometimes a dedicated button is just easier/better. I do like how the Audi makes use of the center gauge display as well as the screen. The BMW seemed easier to use than either of them...imagine that...after all these years, a positive review for iDrive. It did have the coolest navigation screen showing the buildings, etc. I did like the dedicated radio station buttons in the BMW and Volvo. (ironic given that the Audi had more buttons total). I would say both Sensus and iDrive are the easier of the two systems to use. Finally, all of this tech stuff is nice, but to me it is kind of a gimmick and I'm not likely to weigh it nearly as heavily as driving dynamics, interior quality, comfort, power, styling, etc.

5. Ride Comfort - The Audi (19" rims) and BMW X3 28 (non-sport) were tied for first here. The T6 RD rode more stiffly with more impact harshness. The BMW X35 also rode a bit harshly. Impact harshness and noise were probably better than the RD, but the general josstling about seemed worse. I took all of them on reasonably long test drives and purposely asked for some rougher roads, freeway, etc. Noise level (wind/road) in the XC60 and Q5 seemed comparable. The BMWs were a touch better.

6. Handling - In all honesty, none of these are sports cars or even sports sedans (despite what the manufacturers would like you to believe). I was actually favorably impressed with all three. The BMW was probably best, but I wasn't like "OMG, BMW IS KING OF ALL HANDLING!" - and the sport package on the X3 35 wasn't worth the ride comfort penalty to me. The Audi was probably the best compromise here, but the steering was much lighter than expected.

7. Build Quality - BMW = #1, Audi = #2, and Volvo = #3. Again, the BMW and Audi are just operating at another level here. I'm not slamming the XC60. It is what it is. The Germans just feel more like they are carved from a solid piece of granite. The doors shut with more of a thunk, etc.

8. Braking - Big surprise here...I give the nod to the Volvo XC60. It came down to brake feel more than anything. It was firm and linear in the Volvo while the other two were a bit grabby and non-linear. Not a decision maker in and of itself...just another data point.

If could combine them, I would probably take the Volvo's engine and tranny, the BMWs steering, suspension and front seats, the Volvo's rear seats, roominess and cargo area, the Audi's exterior (maybe somehow meld it with the Volvo's) and Audi's MMI (I am an IT guy so...).

Anyway, we actually made an offer on the XC60, but were within a $1000 and walked away...and walked right over to the BMW dealer. We test drove the BMWs there, but did not make an offer.

The wild cards here could be a 2013 X3 with the new turbo 4 (I assume the X3 is about to get it like everything else in the line-up) AND the 2013 Audi Q5 which will get the supercharged 3.0 I6.

Ugh...this search is never going to end!

Heaven help you if you read all this! ;>
 

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No BMW X6 M?? C'mon!! :D

Does BMW or Audi offer anything like the Polestar upgrades on their turbo SUVS??
 

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Factor in the Volvo OSD advantages, go to the nice romantic trip with your wife, enjoy life...and forget about secondary differences...

Send me a thank you IM when you come back...:)
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I'm not sure if BMW actually offers any turbo upgrades (aka software tuning) for their 35 but the aftermarket has been offering tunes for that motor in the 335i since about 9 minutes after its introduction. I don't think it is so much the overall power there as it is the way it is mated to that tranny and shift logic...the tip in is another issue on them. If I recall correctly, one of the mags is doing a long term test on an X3 and noted it as well. Regarding, the OSD, it is funny you should mention it. Our salesperson talked it up as apparently Volvo allows the sales staff to pick up a couple of vehicles a year via OSD (for regular sale to customers once they arrive in the U.S.) and he and his wife got to participate in it. He said it was an awesome trip and they loved it.
 

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I'm not sure if BMW actually offers any turbo upgrades (aka software tuning) for their 35 but the aftermarket has been offering tunes for that motor in the 335i since about 9 minutes after its introduction. I don't think it is so much the overall power there as it is the way it is mated to that tranny and shift logic...the tip in is another issue on them. If I recall correctly, one of the mags is doing a long term test on an X3 and noted it as well. Regarding, the OSD, it is funny you should mention it. Our salesperson talked it up as apparently Volvo allows the sales staff to pick up a couple of vehicles a year via OSD (for regular sale to customers once they arrive in the U.S.) and he and his wife got to participate in it. He said it was an awesome trip and they loved it.
The OSD is the main factor that converted the devoted Nissan fan (truly yours, after buying more than a dozen of new vehicles for the immediate and extended family and friends from the same dealership)) into the Volvo fan club, where we (the immediate family of 4 drivers) happily are for the last 13 years...I check on Infinities from time to time, say Hmm, not bad, not bad...and start planning another OSD...

...just a thought...not everything in this world is described in seconds to 60, software upgrades, transmission response mapping, etc...try the OSD once...at the end, you still would end up with one of the 3 top choices...

The well planned Eurotrip is a delight on its own...the same trip in your own brand new car is an order of magnitude more special...from the experience of 3 of those....
 

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I'm sure hoping the OSD program holds up for another year and a half. We're 'planning' a trip in summer '13(likely August unless you guys know why we shouldn't choose that time-frame) to replace our '10 XC60(Dang...it'll have 75K miles on it by then!). The (our) economy will have to perk up a bunch for us to justify the purchase, but we've already kept the '10 longer than any new vehicle we've purchased in the past 10 years!(It'll be "3" at the end of this month...we're usually swapping about now). Dealing with the $45-50K price level sure will get your attention when trading every 2-3 years! ;)
 

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Well written review! we drove the exact same three vehicles before deciding on the XC 60 T6. I agree with many (probably most) of your points.

One thing which may or may not be a factor for you, is the cargo size. The Volvo seemed to have more rear cargo space without having to put the seats down.

We didn;t get the R Design mind you, but we had jsut bought an S60 R Design two weeks before, so our "performance" appetite had just been quenched! lol

Good luck! You can't go wrong with either one of the three!
 

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I'm sure hoping the OSD program holds up for another year and a half.
I can tell you that it is not going to go anywhere but stay where it is!
 

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I can tell you that it is not going to go anywhere but stay where it is!
Xie xie

GV...that would be just our luck for it to change or disappear!
 

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Before I purchased my XC60 T6 (with Polestar), I drove the Q5 (and nearly drove myself crazy trying to decide). I ended up getting the Volvo for these reasons:

- The Audi's cargo space was cheap feeling to me in that it had that cardboard-like tray with the strings that hold onto the back hatch. You have to fumble around and unhook it and put the tray away... it's a mess. I liked the cargo area of the Volvo much better, especially with the easy roll-out cover, and integrated grocery bag holder. There is also a storage compartment under the cargo floor, between the extra tire.

- The Audi had too many buttons. I am a real tech geek, and love technology, but I really liked the simplicity of the Volvo's interior (except for nav... it's still a bit clunky sometimes, but quite easy after using it a week).

- I didn't like the red color of the Audi's interior instrumentation at night. If you haven't yet looked, go look at the cars when its dark out, so you can see how things are lit up inside. See if controls and are easy to find and manipulate for you at night.

- The Volvo is the safest of the bunch.

- Here in the Bay Area, CA, I see the Q5 (and BMWs) everywhere. The XC60 is still one of those cars I don't see often (yet).
 

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Before I purchased my XC60 T6 (with Polestar), I drove the Q5 (and nearly drove myself crazy trying to decide). I ended up getting the Volvo for these reasons:

- The Audi's cargo space was cheap feeling to me in that it had that cardboard-like tray with the strings that hold onto the back hatch. You have to fumble around and unhook it and put the tray away... it's a mess. I liked the cargo area of the Volvo much better, especially with the easy roll-out cover, and integrated grocery bag holder. There is also a storage compartment under the cargo floor, between the extra tire.

- The Audi had too many buttons. I am a real tech geek, and love technology, but I really liked the simplicity of the Volvo's interior (except for nav... it's still a bit clunky sometimes, but quite easy after using it a week).

- I didn't like the red color of the Audi's interior instrumentation at night. If you haven't yet looked, go look at the cars when its dark out, so you can see how things are lit up inside. See if controls and are easy to find and manipulate for you at night.

- The Volvo is the safest of the bunch.

- Here in the Bay Area, CA, I see the Q5 (and BMWs) everywhere. The XC60 is still one of those cars I don't see often (yet).

Here here... on the cargo space and illumination....
and.. there's something to be said about having a vehicle few others have! Priceless!
 

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Just got my annual Consumer Reports Auto Issue on Saturday. The Q5 has the dreaded black dot for reliability. XC60 was average. They did mention Volvo as having made the biggest stride in the last 10 years as far as reliability is concerned. FWIW, I have 2 friends with the Q5, one loves it, the other hates it. I had a horrible experience with my 2008 A4, and then again with my subsequent 2010 VW Tiguan, so much so that I'll personally never consider an Audi/VW product ever again.

I've only owned my XC60 for 4 months, but it's a 2010 with 31,000 miles on it, and there isn't a sign of wear anywhere on the leather, nor have I had a moment of trouble with it. The City Safety feature that a lot of people are up in the air about has already paid off for me and saved me an insurance deductible (and a rate increase), after a momentary loss of focus.

I can't really comment on the BMW, as I've never taken the time to look into the new X3. Consumer Reports seemed to like it. I see a ton of them on the roads here in Long Island. I like having a less common vehicle, but that's just me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Just got my annual Consumer Reports Auto Issue on Saturday. The Q5 has the dreaded black dot for reliability. XC60 was average. They did mention Volvo as having made the biggest stride in the last 10 years as far as reliability is concerned. FWIW, I have 2 friends with the Q5, one loves it, the other hates it. I had a horrible experience with my 2008 A4, and then again with my subsequent 2010 VW Tiguan, so much so that I'll personally never consider an Audi/VW product ever again.

I've only owned my XC60 for 4 months, but it's a 2010 with 31,000 miles on it, and there isn't a sign of wear anywhere on the leather, nor have I had a moment of trouble with it. The City Safety feature that a lot of people are up in the air about has already paid off for me and saved me an insurance deductible (and a rate increase), after a momentary loss of focus.

I can't really comment on the BMW, as I've never taken the time to look into the new X3. Consumer Reports seemed to like it. I see a ton of them on the roads here in Long Island. I like having a less common vehicle, but that's just me.
How did Consumer Reports rate BMW reliability as compared to Volvo and Audi? (Was the X3 rated explicitly)?
 

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How did Consumer Reports rate BMW reliability as compared to Volvo and Audi? (Was the X3 rated explicitly)?
X3 1st, Volvo, then Audi....Rated in standard CR format of circles with red or black in them. BMW had just better than avg, Volvo avg, Audi worse than avg.
 

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We don't 'plan' to leave Volvo for the next purchase; but the Safe and Secure-type program could enter into our decision. It'll be interesting to see how S&S is marketed over the next model year or two. Especially as we are 'leaving' our warranty period on our '10 after just three years, an extended S&S such as the one on our '11 C70 could be of real interest.

Consumer Reports got a couple of model changes REALLY wrong on two vehicles I was considering some years back(when info/mis-info wasn't so readily available) and I've considered them a VERY small part of any product evaluation since. The 1st, 2nd, 3rd ranking of the marques being discussed doesn't surprise me. but there's reliable and dependable and then there's reliable and dependable. If the warranty is covering little things 2-3-4 years into the life of the vehicle, that's quite different from a 'leave you on the side of the road' breakdown in the first couple of years.
 

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We don't 'plan' to leave Volvo for the next purchase; but the Safe and Secure-type program could enter into our decision. It'll be interesting to see how S&S is marketed over the next model year or two. Especially as we are 'leaving' our warranty period on our '10 after just three years, an extended S&S such as the one on our '11 C70 could be of real interest.

Consumer Reports got a couple of model changes REALLY wrong on two vehicles I was considering some years back(when info/mis-info wasn't so readily available) and I've considered them a VERY small part of any product evaluation since. The 1st, 2nd, 3rd ranking of the marques being discussed doesn't surprise me. but there's reliable and dependable and then there's reliable and dependable. If the warranty is covering little things 2-3-4 years into the life of the vehicle, that's quite different from a 'leave you on the side of the road' breakdown in the first couple of years.
I totally agree. For example, I had some fabric that was not pushed all the way into it's panel, so you could see fraying. I had Volvo fix it. I think this type of thing counts against reliability too. To me, it's the bid stuff that's most important and should be differentiated.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Just a quick update...my wife took today off to re-test drive all three makes again. She has been calling me at work after each one and I've been interviewing her (note: her memory fades fast on this stuff and it is best to get her immediate thoughts written down). The Volvo dealer called me back and indicated they would meet my offer, but I let them know we were looking at others...the plot thickens. I have a feeling I know which marquee we'll end up with (and I can already feel the buyer's remorse setting in LOL).

More to come...
 

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Just a quick update...my wife took today off to re-test drive all three makes again. She has been calling me at work after each one and I've been interviewing her (note: her memory fades fast on this stuff and it is best to get her immediate thoughts written down). The Volvo dealer called me back and indicated they would meet my offer, but I let them know we were looking at others...the plot thickens. I have a feeling I know which marquee we'll end up with (and I can already feel the buyer's remorse setting in LOL).

More to come...
Of course, 'they' tend to be a little more 'energized' toward the end of the month! Think you'll wait that long?
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Let the Buyer's Remorse Begin!

Sitting in our driveway (apologies for the poor lighting/angles...it was just after sunrise when I snapped these and I wasn't exactly going for the best shots):









It was a long day for my wife yesterday driving these cars back to back (yeah, yeah, I know -"First world problems"), trying to decide which of the vehicles to choose. The pros/cons for each car were still true. The BMW was still in a class by itself in terms of material quality, rock solid construction, etc. and probably would have been our choice had it not been for the basic "drive" of the car. The throttle tip-in issue was simply annoying. To quote my wife during her test drive "I could probably get 'used to it'...I am driving right now with my shoe off trying to adjust to it" - I'm sorry, but having to adjust to a throttle pedal is just ridiculous. Conversely, she declared the XC60 to simply be "more fun to drive", "more intuitive", "like an extension of me". Keep in mind we own 3 BMWs (well two now) - two of which are M cars (97 M3 and '02 M5)...we are not unfamiliar with BMWs!

The Audis (2.0T and 3.2) were both really nice, but perhaps devoid of a bit of passion. There was nothing inherently wrong with them and we can see why they win all the comparisons.

I knew whichever one we chose would mean regretting something. If we chose the BMW, we would miss the Volvo's power (note: see my disappointment in the delivery of the X3 35s power) and sleek lines. If we chose the Volvo, we knew there would be a ride comfort, build quality and resale value compromise. If we chose the Audi, I would have probably felt we had a nice car, but been ambivalent about it...and I didn't want to feel ambivalent about a $40K+ outlay.

So, here we sit with our new XC60. The ride comfort is definitely the biggest compromise (as noted in my thread on that very topic) with the R-Design. I told my wife "You picked the sports car of the bunch!". She is concerned this morning (classic buyer's remorse) that passengers will find it too rough. I assured her it would be fine, but it is what it is. Keep in mind, she had been driving her non-sport 530i all day which is comparatively cushy. I know this sounds critical, but I didn't want to post some generic "We bought an XC60 and the world is all candy and roses now" kind of review! The power is awesome, the drive is easy, it looks awesome (really, very cool both outside and in), and so far Sensus seems pretty dang decent and is definitely competitive as compared to the other cars (frankly, it is a non-issue).

Our specific model is, of course, a 2012 Passion red with the off-black interior with cream accents (best combo ever...of course my last three cars were Lemans Blue, Devil Yellow and Hellrot Red so you might say I am biased to bright colors), platinum package and cold weather package. This is exactly how we would have ordered one if it hadn't come up locally. We have three Volvo dealers in the area (Dallas/Ft. Worth) and this is a pretty rare combo around here.

My favorite "feature" so far: PCC. Let's face it, not having to mess with your keys is just nice...hardly critical, but nice.

I expect to provide an update to this thread or create a new one as time progresses.
 
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