2020 Volvo XC60 T8 E-AWD Polestar: A high-performance, luxury SUV with a bit of fuel economy on the side?

Price: $73,490 as tested; $645 for metallic paint and $800 for 22-inch wheels. (The base price for the Polestar is $71,050.) For comparison, a T5 Momentum front-wheel-drive model starts at $39,200.

Marketer’s pitch: “Dynamic strength and style.”

Conventional wisdom: Edmunds.com likes the “elegant interior design, spacious second-row seating, many standard safety technology features, and available as a plug-in hybrid.” It doesn’t like that it’s “not as fun to drive as most competitors, and too many controls are dependent on a frustrating touchscreen interface.”

Reality: It’s everything to everyone — who can pay the freight.

What’s new: As automakers try to offer the best of both worlds, performance machines get an electric motor added, boosting performance while saving a bit of fuel. It’s easier in the luxury market, where prices like these (almost) don’t draw notice.

Up to speed: Well, yeehaw! This is not your (hippie) grandfather’s 240DL.

The XC60’s 2.0-liter four is supercharged and turbocharged. Add in 87 horsepower from the electric motor and total horsepower climbs to 415. Necks were snapped in the making of this review; I was afraid the Lovely Mrs. Passenger Seat was going to hurt her shoulder, gripping the bar above the door as firmly as she was.

The crossover goes from 0 to 60 in 4.9 seconds, according to Car and Driver, and even that sounds slower than the reality.

I also reported to anyone who would listen that I passed a Corvette on a country road. Of course, big whoop, I was in a legal passing zone, and the driver was going a little slowly. But it could have been a thing!

On the road: This edition of the XC60 handles curves with great ease. Just shift the drive mode into Polestar Engineered and feel the corners of the vehicle flex.

Of course, you’re paying the Polestar premium for the privilege. But, sure, mortgage a few kids and have some fun.

Shifty: The 8-speed automatic transmission functions politely. Paddle shifters are available on the steering wheel, but I didn’t find myself using them too often.

The inside of the Volvo XC60 is luxurious and fairly spacious. Except for the front seats; they squeeze a little.
Volvo
The inside of the Volvo XC60 is luxurious and fairly spacious. Except for the front seats; they squeeze a little.

Driver’s Seat: The controls sit in a well-laid-out and intuitive pattern, and like most Volvos, the gauge pod is a thing of beauty.

Friends and stuff: The Lovely Mrs. Passenger Seat and I agreed — the seats are a little on the firm side.

I also found the wings pressed into my derriere, but wisely I didn’t inquire of her about this aspect. (“Do these seats make my butt look big?”)

Rear seat space is comfortable for the corners, but the center seat has the tallest hump I’ve seen this side of a 1960s Ford Mustang or Mercury Cougar. It’s definitely designed for child seats only.

Play some tunes: First impressions are not always reliable. As much as I loved the iPad appearance of the Volvo stereo system when first introduced, I’ve mentioned before that it can be hard to live with, and that impression is becoming stronger.

Changing stations means swiping across the station list, and the touchscreen is just too fussy to do this well. I either find myself moving not enough, too far, or hitting a station I really didn’t want to hear from.

Saving favorites never became a clear option.

Furthermore, while I initially loved the concert hall and studio sound choices, I yearn for simple bass and treble controls. Sound gets only an A- without those, although the acoustics are pretty neat.

In addition, the touchscreen is not so cooperative in cold or hot weather, of which we experienced both during my November test week.

Keeping warm and cool: You’re headed back into the touchscreen for the cabin temperature control as well, and it’s not all that easy either.

Night shift: The lights illuminate the highway nicely. The interior lights are subtle and don’t interfere with the view of the road.

Fuel economy: The electric motor is expected to provide 17 miles of gasoline-free driving. The vehicle has a combined fuel-economy rating of 28 mpg. I averaged about 24 mpg, but I have to confess I only realized it was a plug-in about halfway through the week of testing. (So if you wondered if a plug-in can be undetectable, there’s your answer.)

Where it’s built: Gothenburg, Sweden.

How it’s built: Consumer Reports predicts its reliability to be a 3 out of 5.

In the end: It’s super fast and super fun, with a nod to fuel consumption. But, oh, that initiation fee.