Friday, March 06, 2009

Test Drive: 2010 Volvo XC60

Wednesday morning, I had the privilege of driving the new 2010 Volvo XC60. (Don't ask me why they introduced a 2010 model in March of 2009—just accept it.) And I don't use the word "privilege" lightly. This truly is a nice car and I was one of the first salesmen to drive it!

Exterior

The XC60 on our lot is a demonstrator model which arrived with Black Sapphire metallic paint and 7.5 x 18" Silver Bright Mantus rims. As expected, black is a good color for this Volvo. The shape and curves of the XC60 are sleek but make you want to sit back and enjoy the ride. Whether you like to drive quickly or at a leisurely pace, this vehicle will keep you smiling.

As I write this article, a 2009 Volvo XC90 is sitting in front of my desk. That leads me to the question everyone else has been asking. How does the XC60 compare in size to the XC90? That's a good question that deserves some pictures.

XC60

XC90

Length

182.2”

189.2”

Wheelbase

109.2”

112.5”

Height

67.4”

70.1”

Width

74.5”

75.2”

According to the specs sheet, the XC60 is a few inches shorter in just about every dimension. But why does Volvo need a smaller SUV? A quick look at the competition and you'll quickly understand Volvo's game plan. It's primary competitors are the BMW X3, Mercedes GLK, and possibly the Saab 9-4x (if it is ever produced). And in today's economy, it pays to be competitive in as many venues as possible.

Engine

The XC60 comes with the powerful T6 engine. With 281 hp and 295 lb/ft of torque, there is every reason to believe that this car will jump when you touch the pedal. A quick drive up the street confirmed that the T6 was the perfect choice for the new XC60. Coupled to the six-speed Geartronic automatic with Haldex AWD Instant Traction, you are sure to retain your footing no matter what the weatherman is reporting.

Safety

With a sturdy body and Volvo's typical safety features, the XC60 weighs in at 4,174 lbs and gets an average of 16 mpg city / 22 mpg highway. While some may complain that mileage is a bit on the low side, they should consider the relationship between weight and safety. Volvo could have produced an economy box but chose rather to continue protecting lives while producing yet another safe vehicle. For instance, the next time you are able to look over a Volvo, open the door and consider the thickness of the doors. They appear to be at least 12" thick. Add to that the many other standard safety features that you don't notice until you need them, such as DSTC, TSA, EBL, HBA, IDIS, WHIPS, SIPS, RSC, EBL, and you will drive with a new found confidence not available to drivers of most other cars.


But Volvo was not content to just sit with their safety awards, they took another step forward with the standard City Safety package. A laser beam mounted in front of the rear view mirror "spots slower moving or stopped vehicles in front at speeds below 20 mph" (The New Volvo XC60 brochure). If you were to become distracted at a stop sign and begin to drift toward the car ahead of you, City Safety is designed to brake the car for you at the last moment thus minimizing the possibility of you rear ending the car ahead of you. Pretty amazing.

And if you want even more safety options, you may add the Collision Avoidance package. This optional package adds Adaptive Cruise Control, Collision Warning with Auto Brake, Distance Alert, Driver Alert Control, and Lane Departure Warning. All of these are very helpful especially for those who tend to be distracted or who fall asleep while driving. If you need it, it's a nice option for an additional $1,700.

Interior

The 2010 Volvo XC60 is available in a number of interesting color schemes. Leather seats are standard but there are four interior color combinations available: (1) anthracite black w/offblack leather, (2) anthracite black with off black/lemon leather, (3) Sandstone beige w/ soft beige leather, and (4) Sandstone beige w/ soft beige/espresso brown leather. As you might have guessed already, our XC60 came equipped with the fourth option. The color reminds me of the leather seats in the 2006 Saab 9-3 Aero convertible we had here last month (only the XC60's seats are more comfortable!). The seats are comfortable and firm at the same time—giving you the feeling that you'll enjoy the ride no matter how you drive.

While opinions will differ as to the color schemes offered, there are a number of standard features that will keep everyone happy.

  • Auto-dimming rear view mirror with compass
  • Bluetooth hands-free capability
  • Dual zone electronic climate control
  • Front fog lamps
  • High performance audio with CD, HD radio, USB, and AUX
  • Hill Descent control
  • leather seats
  • load cover in cargo area
  • Power front seats
  • Sirius satellite radio (w/ 6 mo subscription)
  • Complimentary 3 yrs/36k mi factory scheduled maintenance

That's a pretty good list of standard features. And the way things are positioned, all buttons are within easy reach of the driver or passenger. Speaking of options, one notable change is the location of the GPS system. Instead of having a screen slide up from the middle of the dashboard, the GPS has been relocated to the top of the center console. This makes reading the screen much easier in broad daylight. The temperature and radio readout has been moved to a raised panel on top of the dashboard. The end result is nice and keeps your eyes from wandering too far from the road.

Conclusion

As I have said before, I didn't like the 2010 Volvo XC60 until I saw it with my own eyes. But now that I have had time to see, drive, and experience it, I think it's much better than expected. If you have need of a 5 passenger AWD SUV that drives like a car, this is the car for you. And with so many standard features, you can purchase a nicely equipped vehicle with the Climate package for under $40,000. For one of the safest luxury SUVs out there, that's a very good deal.

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