Stylish and well equipped, the XC60 is one of the classiest ways of surrounding your family with high-tech safety gear. It’s not an off-roader – the all-wheel drive option is best seen as yet another on-road safety aid – but its air of ruggedness is more than just an act.
Depending on the engine you go for, the XC60 can return as much as 62.8mpg and 117g/km. This helps make it one of the cheapest cars in its class to run, and a 1455-litre boot means it’s also one of the most practical.
It’s not the most athletic on the road, however, though the R-Design model has tweaked suspension for a more involving drive. Even then, its dynamics are dominated by grip and stability rather than precision and body control, with the accent firmly on ride comfort.
To make the most of this, the entry-level SE model is ideal. Higher up the range, bigger alloys and lower-profile tyres mean a harder ride – and the R-Design’s chassis gives you better body control at the cost of still less cushioning over the bumps.
As with ride quality, so refinement is best at the lower end of the range. All models are excellent at keeping wind and road noise at bay, but both engine options in the exclusively diesel range get a little loud when you open them up. The five-cylinder D5 unit is the main culprit – the four-pot D4 is quieter all-round, as well as delivering its power more smoothly.
As a consequence, it’s hard not to conclude that the cheapest version of the XC60 is also the best.
Whichever model you go for, at any rate, you’ll get an excellent driving position in a big, very comfortable seat with a superb view of the world. Some of the ergonomic details surrounding you are less than perfect – several of the dash buttons look very alike, the steering wheel could do with more reach adjustment and the electro-handbrake switch is bizarrely positioned – but build quality is imperious. There’s a sensible blend of luxury and toughness, as well as plenty of trim choices – though the multimedia screen mirrors the physical part of the dash by being a bit confusing to look at.
It’s well equipped, though, with cruise, climate, USB, Bluetooth and rain and dusk sensors as standard on all models – as well as a wide range of safety kit including city braking, which guaranteed it a five-star EuroNCAP test result.
Also standard is as much space as you’re ever likely to need in both rows of seats. The 40:20:40 split-fold rears drop down to create a totally flat floor, and even the front passenger’s seat can join the cargo-carrying fun (for a few dollars more on lower-spec models). It’s well shaped for loading, too – so while it’s not quite the most capacious in its class, it’s very usable indeed.
This level of quality doesn’t come cheap, but if you follow our advice and choose the entry-level model it’ll only cost £31,660 – and that’s if you pay list. Volvo dealers are famously willing to negotiate, though, so it’s not a pipe dream to expect a price closer to the mid-twenties.
That looks like very good value for a vehicle with this level of quality running through it. The XC60 doesn’t have quite the same appeal as the alternatives from BMW and Audi, but it’s a genuinely premium SUV nonetheless which deserves to be taken very seriously as a family vehicle.