2010 Volvo XC60 Long-Term Road Test - Wrap-Up

2010 Volvo XC60 Long-Term Road Test

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Ford was in a fiscal crisis leading up to our test of the 2010 Volvo XC60. Blue Ovalites were knee-deep in the sale of the Premier Automotive Group, under whose umbrella were parked its high-end hood ornaments: Aston Martin, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lincoln, Mercury and Volvo. In the shuffle Aston Martin was purchased by British investors. India's Tata Motors bought Jaguar and Land Rover. And Lincoln-Mercury shifted back to direct Ford control. Only Volvo remained on the auction block.

Inside Line's test of the XC60 began with the future of its maker in question. Perhaps this was the reason Volvo initially offered us a mere three-month loan of its newest crossover utility vehicle (CUV). But Volvo liked what it saw, and just days into our test decided to extend our loan to six months. Then the auctioneer's voice called. Halfway through our test Volvo was sold to the Chinese automaker Geely and priorities shifted. Six months passed and our phone didn't ring. At 12 months there was still no word from Volvo.

Why We Got It
For starters, the 2010 Volvo XC60 was an all-new model. With the optional T6 trim we got all-wheel drive and a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 rated at 281 horsepower. This CUV was fun to drive. During our full test the Volvo surprised us all with its dexterity through the slalom. Only one vehicle in its class was faster through the cones. Not only was this car responsive, but it was loaded with safety nannies in case you did get in over your head. In the back of our minds, we wanted the XC60 because it was entertaining to drive. Truth be told, we didn't have a choice in the matter.

Our readers had spoken and we listened. They are the real reason we added the 2010 Volvo XC60 to the long-term road tests. Comments on the blog had pleaded for another CUV in the fleet. E-mails to the editors appealed for a long-term Volvo test, noting that the last Swede to participate in the program was over five years old. We were long overdue for a family-friendly vehicle to boot. There was nothing left but to introduce the XC60.

From a mechanical standpoint we liked how the Volvo drove. We had our reservations regarding the execution of some electronic features, but we'll get back to those. In large part, the engine was our favorite element. Engineering Editor Jason Kavanagh reflected, "Lag? What lag? Our XC60 packs a turbo I-6 but you'd never know from the way it delivered torque from a standstill. It's a robust and hearty (yes, I just ate chili) mill that simply drives like a large-displacement engine. It has a nice, linear pull, even at part-throttle. A tip of the hat to modern twin-scroll turbos like the one tucked away under the Volvo's hood."

Our practical test of the electronic safety assistance gadgetry left a little to be desired. Adaptive cruise control was too conservative for our tastes. It applied the brakes so soon in reaction to approaching vehicles that it created a driving situation more awkward than beneficial. City Safety also had its moments. This attribute was at the forefront of safety technology, capable of applying the brakes up to 50 percent in the event of an unseen obstacle crossing your path. But in some situations we encountered, the system overreacted. One example occurred when it picked up parked cars on a narrow, curving road as obstacles. Once triggered, it emits an obtrusive audible warning and flashes lights on the windshield display. We found steep driveways and hills also caused false alarms. Given a choice we would probably not choose these options.

Inside the cabin, the XC60 proved quite sturdy. Light-colored seats are usually the kiss of death for durability, but not in the Volvo. Its beige-on-brown two-tone leather held up incredibly well to our abuse. Car seat installation was manageable despite the Volvo's midsize SUV stature. And the integrated child booster seats were a welcome sight for more than one parent on staff. If functional competence wasn't enough, the XC60 also satisfied our aesthetic tastes. Numerous compliments went to the easily readable and stylish gauges. And the Volvo's floating dash also received acclaim. Our main interior gripe involved the secondary controls. Their locations are counterintuitive and require too much practice for our likes. They should be more turnkey.

Volvo offers what it calls complimentary factory scheduled maintenance for the first three years or 36,000 miles on all 2010-'12 U.S-registered Volvos. Eligible vehicles receive free maintenance under the program for the first four visits. Our 2010 Volvo XC60 qualified, so we should have paid zilch for regular maintenance. At the first 7,500-mile interval we were too early and it cost us 91 bucks. From then on we learned our lesson. We stuck to the schedule, and all subsequent visits to Volvo of Santa Monica were freebies. Well, then we went and cracked the $1,000 windshield. Depth perception set us back another $5 grand when a sincere idiot tested the laws of physics in our parking lot. Inanimate objects always win. Aside from a seatbelt recall our Volvo remained mechanically sound.

Total Body Repair Costs: $4,904.45
Total Routine Maintenance Costs (over 15 months): $90.76
Additional Maintenance Costs: None
Warranty Repairs: 1 for seatbelt recall
Non-Warranty Repairs: $1,032.89 for windshield installation
Scheduled Dealer Visits: 3
Unscheduled Dealer Visits: 1
Days Out of Service: 31 in the body shop
Breakdowns Stranding Driver: None

Performance and Fuel Economy
Safety is Volvo's claim to fame. It always has been. So we were caught off-guard when the XC60 posted a 65.1-mph speed through the slalom and secured its place as the 2nd-fastest vehicle we've tested in this segment. Most buyers aren't shopping a Volvo for its handling but we found it refreshing to know it's there.

Senior Editor Josh Jacquot noted following testing, "Heavy understeer. Stability control handles the throttle admirably and instantly rather than exceeding the tires' limits, then heavily intervening. When stability control does step in, it corrects rather than punishes." Other performance tests revealed improvement with age. Around the slalom our XC60 generated 0.79g of lateral force. From a stop the Volvo reached 60 mph in 6.7 seconds (with 1 foot of rollout) and completed the quarter-mile in 15.1 seconds at 94.8 mph.

We praised the 2010 Volvo XC60 from a dynamic perspective. But something had to give. When it came to fuel economy the car was less impressive. While our best single tank of 25 mpg was evidence that the Volvo could do it, most tanks fell below 20 mpg. By the end of our test its average wasn't quite 18 mpg.

Best Fuel Economy: 25.4 mpg
Worst Fuel Economy: 11.3 mpg
Average Fuel Economy: 17.8 mpg

Retained Value
Our XC60 was equipped with the optional T6 trim and plenty of extras. Its MSRP was $44,240. Add a little wear and tear, some 27,000 miles to the odometer and plug it into Edmunds' TMV® Calculator. The resulting figure is a private-party sale that still garnered $33,405 from the Volvo. That amounted to 25 percent depreciation.

Previous long-term tests of luxury CUVs position the Volvo in good company. Our 2009 Infiniti FX50 also depreciated 25 percent during its test. Meanwhile, our 2008 BMW X5 was a shade higher, at 26 percent.

True Market Value at service end: $33,405
Depreciation: $10,835 or 25% of original MSRP
Final Odometer Reading: 27,662

Summing Up
Months into our long-term test of the 2010 Volvo XC60, Ford sold Volvo to Geely and our loan shifted to the back burner. We enjoyed the truck so we didn't complain after six months passed, then 12 months without an update from Volvo. By the time we returned to the radar, our XC60 test had grown to 15 months.

Fifteen months and 27,000 miles cast the Volvo in a mostly positive light. No, the XC60 wasn't perfect. It didn't achieve the fuel economy some might expect from a CUV, but it offered unexpected sportiness in exchange. There were some optional equipment-related grumbles and the secondary controls weren't the most intuitive. But the XC60 positives far outweighed the negatives. We really liked its engine. There was more low-end torque than expected from a turbo-6. It was also remarkably nimble. And resale value ranked among the leaders in its class. This car was a hit overall.

Some long-term cars end with a collective, "I didn't even know it was gone." Others earn the preemptive, "Oh, no. It's leaving. Can I schedule it for one last road trip before it goes?" The 2010 Volvo XC60 fits into the latter group. Just as this CUV stands out from others in its segment, the car separated itself from others in our test fleet. All we can hope for now is that the Geely Volvos don't lose anything in translation.

The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.

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Past Long-Term Road Tests