2021 Volvo XC60 Review
Just about any small luxury SUV you research is going to be practical and useful. But is it also stylish? Well, that's harder to come by. Thankfully, the 2021 Volvo XC60 places an equal importance on style. Inside and out, it's one of the most distinctive SUVs in its class. Its overall profile suggests the station wagons that Volvo was once known for, but it also features broad shoulders, sharp creases, and immediately recognizable headlight and taillight designs. The cabin is just as impressive, with a clean, simple look that pulls from traditional Scandinavian sensibilities.
Every XC60 comes with a four-cylinder engine. You might be expecting more from a luxury vehicle but Volvo gives you a choice of one of three versions. The base turbocharged engine goes toe to toe with similarly configured rivals, while more potent versions give you more power. Topping the range is the XC60 Recharge, which is a 400-horsepower plug-in hybrid. To top it off, even a bare-bones XC60 comes with a wealth of driver safety aids that cost extra on rivals. Overall, the XC60's eye-catching design, powerful yet efficient engine lineup, and emphasis on value give it strong appeal. You can read our in-depth Expert Rating below to learn more.
This XC60 is the latest generation of Volvo's best-selling vehicle, and it has never looked better, inside and out. The XC60 is not only squarely in the luxury space now, but it brings something different to a class of familiar segment offerings. This Volvo did more than just impress us during testing. We think it has what it takes to compete in a heavily contested luxury SUV class.
How does the XC60 drive?
The twin-charged T6 engine has the best balance of power and dynamics of the available XC60 models. No one should be disappointed with the amount of power, and the brakes deliver smooth yet responsive stopping performance. The adjustable suspension gives the XC60 some extra ground clearance, which can be especially helpful in inclement weather.
While the XC60 is a solid midpack contender, it does have some flaws worth noting. Surges in power from the twin-charged engine mean some issues with low-speed drivability, but a well-tuned transmission helps even things out. Steering and handling are a bit behind the curve for a luxury SUV, though, lacking some of the precision that rivals possess.
How comfortable is the XC60?
It might not be the sportiest vehicle in the segment, but the XC60 is one of the most comfortable SUVs in its class. Seating comfort is a strong point of the XC60 thanks largely to soft-padded surfaces and available features such as massaging seats. The four-zone climate control is also a rather luxurious optional feature, and it works well in all four zones (even if it does take a minute to get the coldest of A/C temps going).
Cabin noise in the XC60 is relatively hushed, although you may hear some supercharger whine at low speeds if you've got the stereo turned off. And unfortunately Volvo hasn't optimized the air suspension for ride comfort, and the ride can be busy over broken surfaces.
How’s the interior?
Volvo's approach to interior design is clean and simple, but it comes at the expense of convenience and usability. Many functions are touchscreen-controlled. And almost everything takes two button presses when one would normally do, and that becomes a hassle when on the move. Getting in and out of the XC60 can be a bit tough since the floor's step-over height is a little on the tall side and the angled front doors are a little on the short side.
The cabin is pretty spacious, with the exception of a panoramic sunroof eating up a little headroom. Volvo went above expectations when it comes to visibility, with the XC60's thin pillars, excellent (optional) 360-degree parking camera and power-folding rear headrests.
How’s the tech?
Volvo backs up its new modern styling with a ton of well-executed technology. It might not be innovating as boldly as the German manufacturers, but the features and driving aids available here are, for the most part, very useful. The optional 15-speaker Bowers & Wilkins audio system is highly configurable and provides excellent sound quality along with sleek-looking speakers.
Connecting your smartphone is easy, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard. The voice controls work well to execute navigation and phone-call commands, and they even turn on the heated seats. The XC60's safety systems such as adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assist are easy to access and work well on busy freeways.
How’s the storage?
Utility is another strong area for the XC60 thanks to a generous cargo area and smart configuration options. At 29.7 cubic feet, volume is generous for segment, and an innovative cargo cover can either slide up or retract completely. The air suspension allows you to lower the rear-end height for easier loading, and there's both a ski pass-through and 60/40-split flat-folding seatbacks.
In-cabin storage is decent, and there are felt- and rubber-lined door pockets that keep items from clanking around while you're on the road. Installing your child's car seat is relatively easy too, with flip-up seat anchors and enough space for two rear-facing seats.
How’s the fuel economy?
The efficiency of Volvo's twin-charged 2.0-liter may match up with the competition by EPA standards, but it returned lower mpg numbers than we'd expect. The T6 engine is rated at 23 mpg (21 city/27 highway), and we average 22.7 mpg on our mixed-driving loop and 19.3 mpg over two weeks of driving.
Is the XC60 a good value?
Volvo's latest crop of vehicles has certainly elevated the brand's market position and that usually means an elevated price tag. That's true for the XC60, which is priced similarly to other European small luxury SUVs. But the good news is that the XC60 feels well worth the money and even offers you some optional features (such as integrated rear child-booster seats) that aren't typically found in rival models.
The build quality is excellent, and Volvo matches most segment competitors with its warranties. Scheduled maintenance coverage is typical for luxury vehicles at three years/36,000 miles, but roadside assistance is above average at four years/unlimited miles. Volvo also offers free towing for the life of the vehicle, a unique perk regardless of how much you've paid for your car.
We love what Volvo has done with the new XC60 even if it doesn't actually impress us from a dynamic standpoint. But it doesn't have to, because the majority of people buying this vehicle aren't often focused on dynamics first. User-friendly interfaces and driver aids make it easy to log miles, but it's not the car you'd choose first for a windy mountain road. That said, the design is strikingly good-looking.
Which XC60 does Edmunds recommend?
While the T5 engine will be powerful enough for most drivers, the T6 is considerably more fun. Its unusual supercharged and turbocharged layout gives the motor some character, and the punchy acceleration is quite pleasant. The Inscription costs just a bit more than the R-Design, but we appreciate its breadth of added luxury features over the R-Design's sportier setup. The Advanced package is a must-have if you want adaptive cruise control, and the Bowers & Wilkins audio system is expensive but exceptional.
Volvo XC60 models
The 2021 Volvo XC60 is a small luxury SUV. It comes with one of three available powertrains that Volvo calls the T5, T6 or Recharge (last year's T8). These powertrains can then be matched to one of three trim levels that influence how many features the XC60 comes with. The trim levels are Momentum (called Inscription Expression for the Recharge powertrain), R-Design and Inscription.