2021 Volvo XC60 Recharge T8 Inscription: Safe, fun and environmentally friendly?
Price: $71,340 as tested. Advanced Package (adaptive cruise, head-up display, surround-view camera), $1,900; Climate Package (heated seats, wipers, steering wheel), $750; 20-inch wheels, $800; metallic paint, $645, air cleaner, $250.
Marketer’s pitch: “Own the road. Share the planet.”
Conventional wisdom: Motor Trend said, “The consensus? This 2021 Volvo XC60 Recharge T8 is an excellent place to spend a lot of seat time.”
Reality: The XC60 does what it says, though for the price, I’d expect nothing less.
What’s new: Volvo has made a big show of saying its fleet will be fully electric by 2030, and it’s well on the way. The company has been offering hybrid versions of its cars for a while, and of the XC60 midsize SUV since 2018.
So it is not new to this game, for people who like a vehicle that’s out of beta testing. For 2021, blind spot and rear cross-traffic warnings are standard.
Up to speed: The supercharged and turbocharged 2.0-liter engine and a rear electric motor together create 400 horsepower, enough to rocket the XC60 to 60 mph in 5 seconds flat, according to Motor Trend.
Power mode captures the most from this power train, and the SUV zips around other vehicles in a hurry. But if you leave the XC60 in Eco mode, the vehicle will have a tough time even keeping up with 75-mph traffic on a slight grade on US 202.
The vehicle offers 19 miles of pure electric mode, as well, boosting economy in general but especially for shorter commutes.
Shifty: The eight-speed transmission motivates the XC60 pretty well. The pretty crystal shifter adds to the Volvo ambience in the vehicles. Push forward twice for Reverse, and pull twice for Drive. A button sets the vehicle in park.
Everything about the hybrid power train seems smooth and effortless.
On the road: An $1,800 charge for four-corner air suspension may not be money well-spent (although I have not tested a version without it). Handling on winding roads is not exactly fun, but the XC60 holds its own on sharper curves. Highway driving is smooth and easy; a couple trips to King of Prussia showed how the XC60 handles itself at high speeds.
Overall, the steering is a little more jerky than I’d like in all modes — sensitive, like a New Age guy. (Mr. Driver’s Seat raises hand, revealing crystals in it, noting that they match the gearshift nicely.)
In the snow: Tested during February, the Volvo showed that it handles admirably on snow-covered surfaces in Constant AWD mode, but that’s only for low speeds. It does well outside that mode, as well. And, fortunately, it all worked out, or this review could have been a story about the first test car Mr. Driver’s Seat totaled in 10 years of testing.
Driver’s Seat: It’s a Volvo. Comfy, luxurious, pretty. The gauges are handsome, informative, and easy to read.
Friends and stuff: The rear seat is a comfy spot in the corners. The leather seats are nice and feel luxurious. The middle seat feels OK, but the legroom is pitiful.
Cargo space is 49.3 cubic feet with seats folded and 21.2 behind the rear seat.
Play some tunes: Volvo’s 12.3-inch vertical touchscreen remains a standout among infotainment systems. Operation is fairly simple, with a knob for volume and arrows to dial up and down playlists and stations. Scrolling more quickly through lists on the touchscreen can be more of a challenge; I’m often selecting something when I want to be scrolling along.
Sound from the Bowers & Wilkins premium sound system is pretty good, about an A-, though for $3,200 it had better be.
Keeping warm and cool: This could function more simply. Press the buttons in the corner of the touchscreen to activate the temperature setting and heated or ventilated seat.
Unfortunately, the touchscreen does not function as intended before the car is warmed up, so you may not get the desired temperature right away on a cold winter morning. It’s at that point you weep for the 70 grand you splurged, never to get back.
Night shift: Overhead lights are subtle and glow politely above, and don’t interfere with the headlamps.
Fuel economy: I averaged about 25 mpg in a rather sporty — and snowy — round of driving.
Where it’s built: Gothenburg, Sweden
How it’s built: Consumer Reports predicts its reliability will be a 2 out of 5.
In the end: The XC60 falls behind only the Mercedes GLC for Edmunds, and that is a pretty fun but somewhat flawed vehicle in AMG form. Same for the Acura RDX. A 2018 X3 bested it in a Driver’s Seat comparison, but I’m not sure that still holds.
We’ll have to see how the Q5 stacks up after my August test.