All of 17 miles into the photo shoot for this 2010 Volvo XC60 T6 AWD, a new addition to our long-term fleet, our photographer sighs and gives up. "Does this silly crossover even have navigation, or is Volvo just trying to screw with me?" he says. But it turns out that Kurt Niebuhr's sense of self importance is as misplaced as the control knob for the navigation system.
Reaching behind the steering wheel, we click one of three hidden buttons twice and the 6.5-inch color screen flickers into life, a small arrow indicating the Volvo XC60's exact location as we're tearing north on the PCH. "I already knew that," he says as we prod the turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 to deliver further speed. "At least it's got motor," he acknowledges.
The 2010 Volvo XC60 T6 AWD certainly does have motor. It also has all-wheel drive, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, collision warning with auto brake and a host of other safety-conscious achievements Volvo is known for.
Impressive in theory, but the real-world benefits of these devices are what's on the table now. In order to give our readers what they ask for, we've broken with our usual policy and accepted an offer from Volvo to drive this XC60 for three months. So we're hammering up the road as fast as we can toward a photo location. We have such a short time with the XC60, so we've got to hit the ground running.
What We Got
A little behind the scenes first, if you'll permit it. Things basically work like this. Car manufacturers give us cars that are meant for long-term tests. They are special-ordered by us for us to our specifications, and we get them with minimal miles on the odometer. There are also regular manufacturer vehicles from the fleet made available to members of the media. These are optioned from the manufacturer in a way that it feels is either representative of the market or representative of its finest work. They tend to be heavily equipped with expensive options and trimmed in colors that add drama to photography, and they're driven by lots of different publications.
When we noted that readers were asking for a few more utility-oriented vehicles in our long-term test fleet and specifically mentioned the 2010 Volvo XC60 over and over again, we put in the call to Volvo for a long-term test vehicle.
Unfortunately Volvo let us know that it has no ability at this time to give us a car built to our specs for an entire year. But Volvo also said it really wanted to be a part of our long-term program and, if we'd take it, had a regular press car coming out of circulation, although it would only be available to us until January 1.
So there were three strikes against this XC60 from Day One: We didn't spec it out, it had been tested before (at least once by us for an Edmunds.com comparison, which it won), and it was arriving with some 4,000 miles on the clock.
At least the XC60 lined up for us was the good one, a well-appointed T6 AWD. The T6 translates to a 3.0-liter inline-6 producing 281 horsepower at 5,600 rpm and 295 pound-feet of torque at a surprisingly low 1,500 rpm. Combined with a six-speed automatic transmission and Haldex-engineered AWD system, this XC60 is good for an EPA fuel economy rating of 16 mpg city/22 mpg highway and 18 mpg combined.
The meat of the Volvo XC60's window sticker is occupied with, as you'd expect, safety features. Stability and traction control are standard, as are roll stability control, a tire-pressure monitoring system (which is mandated by the NHTSA), side curtain airbags, front dual-chamber airbags, a Volvo whiplash protection system for the front seats, two LATCH points, five three-point seatbelts with height adjustment, and integrated foglamps front and rear. Also standard is Volvo's City Safe feature -- at less than 19 mph, if the system detects an imminent collision, it applies the brakes automatically.
But that's not the end of the safety talk. Add $2,695 for the Climate & Child Seat & Technology package, like our tester has, and you'll get overwhelmed with electronic nannies. There's adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, collision warning with auto brake, distance alert and driver alert control. These cover the basics we all learned in driver's ed but have since forgotten. Or they're for the Cyclops in the family with limited depth perception. One or the other.
The Child Seat and Technology bits of that package also got us heated front seats, heated windshield-washer nozzles, an interior-air quality system, power-operated child locks, and some really neat booster seats integrated into the rear seats.
Other options we were surprised to see on our new long-termer were the Multimedia package consisting of a Dynaudio stereo, rearview camera and the aforementioned navigation system with hidden controls and a remote for passenger use.
Terra Bronze Metallic paint adds $525 and the laminated panoramic sunroof, a $1,200 value, is included with this no-charge introductory offer! (No, we're not kidding. That's what it says.)
Add it all up -- don't forget the $825 destination charge -- and you're looking at a $44,240 Volvo XC60 crossover. We're glad they're loaning it to us.
Why We Got It
It's not that we didn't like the Volvo XC60 when we had it in for our Full Test, because we did. It was the fastest crossover we've ever thrown through our slalom and left us all with a new take on Volvo's mission. Safety plus driver control? That's rare.
But this selection for our long-term test fleet can really be chalked up to reader comments and e-mails. You told us you wanted a new crossover utility vehicle (CUV). You told us you wanted us to add a Volvo to the long-term fleet -- something we haven't done since 2005 when we tested a 2005 Volvo S40. It was time, you said, to give Volvo another shot and to get something family-friendly, too. The 2010 XC60 certainly hits both of those points.
3 < 12
12 months, 20,000 miles. That's the Long-Term Mantra. That's the plan. But plans are lame, and being too rigid leaves too few options, so when the Volvo people said, "Three months or nothing," we said, "24 months or no deal!" And then when they didn't respond to our e-mails, we broke.
So three months won't get us to 20,000 miles, but it should be enough to get a taste of daily life with the 2010 Volvo XC60 and put a good deal of real-world mileage on our newest real-world long-term car.
We hope you don't think us weak for allowing this, but we did it for you.
Current Odometer: 5,168
Best Fuel Economy: 19.0 mpg
Worst Fuel Economy: 12.7 mpg
Average Fuel Economy (over the life of the vehicle): 16.6 mpgThe manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.