Full 2011 Volvo XC60 Review
What's New for 2011
For 2011, the Volvo XC60 adds a new trim level: the 3.2 R-Design. The XC60 also gets a bit more horsepower, 5 hp more for the 3.2-liter inline-6 and 19 hp more for the turbocharged inline-6. Finally, the available navigation system has been updated to a more modern, user-friendly design.
Volvo used to be known solely for building vehicles that were ahead of the curve in the area of safety. These days, the manufacturer's lineup stands out not just for safety features but also for distinctive good looks and appealing performance. A perfect example is the 2011 Volvo XC60.
Thanks to distinctive exterior styling and a very modern cabin, the XC60 is one of the most stylish luxury crossovers on the market. Of course, utility is a must for crossover SUV shoppers, too, and the XC60 meets this need with its impressive cargo capacity. We've found there's also ample room for passengers, and those in back get to enjoy one of the most comfortable rear seats in the segment. There's even the option of built-in child boosters.
Standard equipment is another XC60 advantage, with even base models coming equipped with Bluetooth, dual climate control and satellite radio. Naturally the XC60 also expresses Volvo's emphasis on safety. For example, the XC's list of standard equipment includes City Safety, a system that engages at low speeds and can detect stopped or slowed vehicles immediately ahead and automatically apply the XC's brakes to minimize or avoid a collision.
Of course, there's no shortage of worthy luxury compact crossovers to consider. For sportier handling, you could check out the 2011 Audi Q5, the newly redesigned 2011 BMW X3 and the Infiniti EX35. The 2011 Mercedes-Benz GLK350, meanwhile, will likely woo you with its universal, Germanic competence. Still, we're quite fond of the 2011 Volvo XC60 -- it even came out on top in a recent Edmunds comparison test. If you're shopping for a luxury crossover, the XC60 should be high on your list.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2011 Volvo XC60 small luxury crossover is available in four trim levels: 3.2, 3.2 R-Design, T6 and T6 R-Design.
Standard equipment on the base 3.2 includes 17-inch alloy wheels, roof rails, a power driver seat with memory functions, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, cruise control, Bluetooth, steering-wheel audio controls and an eight-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio, HD radio, an auxiliary audio jack and an iPod/USB audio interface. The XC60 T6 adds a turbocharged engine, all-wheel drive, 18-inch wheels, power passenger seat and leather upholstery.
The R-Design variants add 20-inch wheels, adaptive xenon headlights, sport-tuned suspension and steering, a panoramic sunroof, privacy glass and special styling elements inside and out.
A host of option packages are available. The Premium package (3.2 only) adds the panoramic sunroof, privacy glass and leather upholstery. The Multimedia package adds a 12-speaker Dynaudio surround-sound audio system, a navigation system and a back-up camera. Selecting the Climate package gets you heated front and rear outboard seats (not available with the integrated booster-seat option), heated washer nozzles, headlamp washers, rain-sensing wipers and an interior air quality system. The Convenience package adds a power tailgate and parking sensors. Finally, the Technology package adds adaptive cruise control, a driver attention alert system, a collision warning system and a lane-departure warning system.
Stand-alone options include 18-inch alloy wheels (3.2 only), adaptive xenon headlights, keyless ignition/entry, blind-spot warning system, wood inlay for the center stack, a dual-screen rear entertainment system and dual integrated rear booster seats.
Powertrains and Performance
XC60 3.2 and 3.2 R-Design models are powered by a 3.2-liter inline-6 that generates 240 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque. Volvo also offers a version of this engine that meets squeaky-clean PZEV emissions certification; it's rated at 230 hp. Front-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive is optional.
The all-wheel-drive T6 and T6 R-Design models receive a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6 engine rated at 300 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque. All XC60s feature a six-speed automatic with manual shift control. In Edmunds testing, an XC60 equipped with last year's less powerful T6 engine sprinted from zero to 60 mph in 7.1 seconds, which is a good number for this segment. EPA fuel economy estimates are a solid 18 mpg city/25 mpg highway and 21 mpg combined for the XC60 3.2 FWD, while the T6 model drops to a less-impressive 17/22/19.
Stability control, antilock brakes with brake assist, front-seat side airbags, side curtain airbags and whiplash-reducing front seats are all standard on the 2011 Volvo XC60. Also standard is City Safety, which can mitigate or avoid a low-speed frontal impact by applying the vehicle's brakes without driver intervention. Hill-descent control is standard on all-wheel-drive models. Other safety options include a lane-departure warning system, a blind-spot warning system, a driver alert system, a heartbeat monitor that can detect intruders inside the vehicle and a collision warning/braking system.
In crash testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the XC60 was awarded the best rating of "Good" in the frontal-offset, side and roof strength categories.
Interior Design and Special Features
Volvo has been making an effort in recent years to give its vehicles some interior flair, and the five-passenger XC60 is the brand's best result yet. The thin-panel center stack -- which comes with metallic trim as standard and real oak wood trim as an option -- combines with the optional two-tone upholstery to make the XC60's cabin look upscale and inviting.
The straightforward dual temperature adjustment dials and "mode man" pictogram make climate-control adjustments simple and intuitive. The audio system is fairly easy to use, too, though the array of small audio buttons is starting to look dated. The available DVD-based navigation system finally eliminates the complicated back-of-the-steering-wheel controls in earlier Volvos for a more conventional dial-type controller. The interface works fine in practice, although Volvo's navigation software still feels a few years behind.
The rear seat is particularly roomy as small crossovers go, with a high seat cushion, above-average headroom and decent legroom for adults. The available integrated child booster seat is a great feature. To accommodate cargo, the versatile 40/20/40-split rear seat can be folded in a number of different ways and maximum cargo space is a useful 67 cubic feet.
The 2011 Volvo XC60's impressive blend of performance and comfort should satisfy the majority of shoppers looking for a small luxury crossover. The T6's turbocharged engine lacks the aural excitement one might expect of an inline-6, but its smooth and energetic power delivery make it the preferred XC60 engine. Models with the base 3.2-liter engine are noticeably slower.
On the highway, the XC60 is quiet and stable. When driven aggressively around corners, there's a general sense that this softly sprung chassis doesn't want to be pushed, even though it can be. The payoff, not surprisingly, is a comfortable ride. One consequence of so many safety systems is the frequent beep or warning that indicates one system or another is working.