Make / Model Search

Car reviews - Volvo - XC60 - 5-dr wagon range

Our Opinion

We like
Usual Volvo safety, space and practicality attributes, bike-focussed City Safety, lusty turbo I6, gutsy D5 diesel, smooth 17-inch wheel ride
Room for improvement
Roly-poly handling on standard suspension, feel-free steering, T4 needs to be worked hard, hard ride on 20s

31 Oct 2013

QUESTION: What’s Volvo’s bestseller globally? Answer: XC60.

If you couldn’t figure that one out, you haven’t been paying attention in the leafy suburbs across this great nation – and in many others to boot – where the Swedish mid-sized SUV has become a darling of the school-run set.

With good reason too. When launched in 2009, the smartly attired, well equipped and extremely family friendly XC60 gave both BMW and Mercedes a huge fright, wooing the wealthier middle classes away from their hitherto default X3s and ML-Classes.

Developed during the Ford years, and using a variation of the EUCD platform that underpins a bunch of models from the Mondeo and S-Max people mover to Volvo’s own S60/V70/S80 fraternal triplets, the XC60 has proved to be a reliable and dependable proposition.

That the Germans quickly overtook it for dynamic finesse and drivetrain efficiency with fresher rivals such as the Audi Q5 and second-gen X3 hardly mattered. The Volvo is one of those ground-roots right-from-the-beginning tool-for-task vehicles that owners seem to love. It’s a bit like the Labrador of cars.

But all that was almost five years ago, and the need for some botox has become all too obvious in this post Range Rover Evoque day. Infiniti’s here with the FX/QX60 and Audi has pretty much carved out the segment immediately below with the popular Q3. The Series II (or MY14) facelift, then, is more of the same, but with a subtly updated (though some might say blander) nose treatment, and a number of important safety upgrades.

Key to the latter is an improved City Safety low-speed anti-collision braking system that now not only works at a higher 50km/h but also recognises cyclists when something inadvertently strays into its path and the brakes need to be applied instantly. The XC60 pioneered this back in late ’09 and the system is now better than ever.

Likewise the same goes to the improved rear parking radar, upgraded lane-change, and smarter blind-spot alert capabilities.

The instrument binnacle adopts the V40’s adaptive digital display, and there are new colours and trim materials to further freshen up the cabin, but otherwise the roomy Volvo’s lofty driving position, superb seating, solid build quality, and bags of practicality remain defining traits. Why change what ain’t broke?But there are a few wrinkles showing.

First off, the base T4 (using a variation of Ford’s 2.0-litre EcoBoost four-cylinder petrol engine mated to the Powershift six-speed dual-clutch ‘auto’) is a smooth, quiet, and revvy unit – but one that struggles with the nearly two-tonne kerb weight that it needs to haul about.

Around the fine Victorian highland country roads where the launch was held, the poor engine had to be worked hard just to keep up with the more powerful five and six-cylinder turbo versions ahead.

Yet, as an entry-level proposition for the urban run, the T4 is perfectly suited, with a level of refinement and sophistication that owners are likely to appreciate. Maybe Volvo should have let us drive it around the ‘burbs where most of these seem to congregate.

More money buys the 2.0-litre five-cylinder turbo-diesel D4 (Volvo’s engine nomenclature is utterly confusing, we know), which adds that much-needed torque boost. It’s also pretty quiet and subdued, and perhaps a better choice for XC60 buyers on a budget.

Both these units are front-wheel drive only, with an emphasis on ride over handling. This is obvious the moment you push wide through a tight corner, but the Volvo’s chassis grips well despite the propensity for body roll. If you’re an enthusiastic driver who appreciates steering feedback and tight body control, perhaps this isn’t the SUV for you. Otherwise, you have nothing to worry about.

Historically the D5 has been the best-seller, and with the sportier R-Design chassis application (better tied-down suspension, sharper steering, and all-wheel drive), the XC60 becomes a more focussed dynamic performer, with a more confident cornering attitude and even better grip from the fatter rubber on offer.

Plus, there is usefully more poke from the uprated 2.4-litre five-pot turbo-diesel, to better power you through an overtaking manoeuvre. But the R-Design 20-inch wheel and tyre option makes for a hard ride on anything other than smooth surfaces.

For sheer straight-line performance, the 3.0-litre turbo-six petrol stormer really suits the XC60’s premium aspirations, bringing a level of drivetrain refinement as well as outright urge that the other engines simply can’t match.

And, again, while you’d never call it a driver’s SUV, there is enough grip to make this T6 version a bit of a lofty and languid grand tourer. At nearly $80K and with a long list of standard features, it also presents a bit of a value purchase for those wanting a crossover packed with some of life’s little luxuries.

That pretty much sums up the latest XC60 – a safe, swift, and secure upmarket SUV package with just enough change to justify a visit down to your local Volvo dealer.

We wish there was more steering feel, and the ride on larger wheels could be an issue for some, but otherwise the classy Swede’s got what it takes to keep the dynamically superior segment leaders on their toes. Like it’s done so since early 2009.

The Road to Recovery podcast series

Click to share

Click below to follow us on
Facebook  Twitter  Instagram

GoAuto can help you buy a new XC60

Customer Terms and Conditions – New Car Lead enquires


This is an agreement between GoAutoMedia Pty Limited ACN 094 732 457 of PO Box 18, Beach Road, Sandringham, VIC, 3191 (“we/us”), the owner and operator of the GoAuto.com.au website (“the website”) and the person wanting GoAuto.com.au to provide them with a lead for the purchase of a new car (“you”).

By completing a New Car Lead Enquiry, you agree to the terms and conditions and disclaimers and acknowledge the policies set out below.

Terms and Conditions

  • In order for us to effect a lead you must you must complete a New Car Lead Enquiry (“Enquiry”).
  • We will call you as soon as possible after you complete the Enquiry and certainly no later than the next business day. When we call, we will discuss with you your new car requirements.
  • You consent to our passing on the Enquiry and your requirements to an appropriate authorised motor car dealer as a lead.
  • We will contact you again in approximately eight days following your initial enquiry to check on the progress of the Enquiry.
  • While we will provide the dealer with the Enquiry and details of your new car requirements, we take no responsibility for what happens after passing on that material as a lead.
  • You acknowledge that we are a new car information service providing new car editorial information, pictures and prices to our customers as a guide only. Any new car prices published on the website are the manufacturers’ recommended retail prices and do not include delivery charges and on-road costs. Any authorized motor car dealer to which we pass on your Enquiry as a lead will provide you with full details of the price at which the vehicle will be sold to you.
  • You acknowledge that we do not sell motor vehicles. Any sale of a new car to you by a dealer after we have passed on your Enquiry to that dealer as a lead, is a sale by that dealer not by us.

Privacy Policy– New Car Lead Enquires

  • We take privacy very seriously. We understand that you will only complete an Enquiry if you can trust us to protect your personal information and use it appropriately. Our policy is to ensure that the personal information collected when you make an Enquiry is only used for the purposes of connecting you with an authorised motor car dealer.
  • We do not on-sell information collected from you or any other customer.
  • From time to time, we may email you with information or promotions that may be relevant for car buyers. You will continue to receive communications from us unless you tell us that you do not want to receive any advertising or promotional information in the future by unsubscribing from these communications.
* Denotes required field
** Australian inquiries only

XC60 pricing

Motor industry news

GoAutoNews is Australia’s number one automotive industry journal covering the latest news, future and new model releases, market trends, industry personnel movements, and international events.

Catch up on all of the latest industry news with this week's edition of GoAutoNews
Click here