Volvo XC60 review

Category: Family SUV

The XC60 is a classy, roomy and well-equipped family SUV but some rivals are stronger in certain areas

Red Volvo XC60 front cornering
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  • Volvo XC60 interior dashboard
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  • Volvo XC60 interior driver display
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  • Red Volvo XC60 front cornering
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  • Volvo XC60 interior front seats
  • Volvo XC60 interior back seats
  • Volvo XC60 interior steering wheel
  • Volvo XC60 interior infotainment touchscreen
  • Volvo XC60 interior detail
  • Volvo XC60 interior detail
  • Volvo XC60 interior detail
  • Red Volvo XC60 front cornering
  • Red Volvo XC60 rear cornering
  • Volvo XC60 interior dashboard
  • Red Volvo XC60 boot open
  • Volvo XC60 interior driver display
  • Red Volvo XC60 right driving
  • Red Volvo XC60 front cornering
  • Red Volvo XC60 front cornering
  • Red Volvo XC60 rear cornering
  • Red Volvo XC60 left static boot open
  • Red Volvo XC60 rear badge detail
  • Volvo XC60 interior front seats
  • Volvo XC60 interior back seats
  • Volvo XC60 interior steering wheel
  • Volvo XC60 interior infotainment touchscreen
  • Volvo XC60 interior detail
  • Volvo XC60 interior detail
  • Volvo XC60 interior detail
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Introduction

What Car? says...

Since its launch, the Volvo XC60 has played a big part in the Swedish brand's transformation from estate-car specialist to SUV success story.

Sitting above the Volvo XC40 in the brand's line-up, the XC60 is based on the same underpinnings as the car maker's flagship SUV, the luxurious Volvo XC90. The XC60 is shorter, several thousand pounds cheaper and comes with five seats rather than seven.

Its rivals include the Audi Q5, BMW X3, Land Rover Discovery Sport and Lexus NX. Higher-spec versions of the Honda CR-V and Mazda CX-60 tread on the XC60’s toes too.

All those models are well-suited to family life, have strong, efficient engines and provide plenty of space and storage, so is the Volvo XC60 up to the challenge of competing with the best family SUVs? Read on to find out...

"The T6 variant of the XC60 is effortlessly fast, it has a beautifully plush interior and it’s packed with kit. However, as a plug-in hybrid, the Lexus NX 450h+ is a better all-round package." – Will Nightingale, Reviews Editor

Overview

The Volvo XC60 is ageing gracefully and can still manage to fend off newer rivals with its roomy, upmarket interior, and a well-judged ride and handling balance. In short it's a fine choice, although the Audi Q5 is an even better all-rounder while the BMW X3 and Porsche Macan are more fun to drive. If you do buy an XC60, we recommend Core trim with the B5 engine (or the T6 PHEV if it's a company car).

  • Elegant and high-quality interior
  • Superb driving position
  • Lots of standard kit
  • Its best rivals are even quieter
  • No sliding or reclining rear seats
  • Uninspiring handling
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Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

Strengths

  • +Comfortable ride and handling balance
  • +Relatively quiet cruiser
  • +Adaptive suspension option

Weaknesses

  • -Light steering doesn’t inspire much confidence
  • -Slightly ponderous automatic gearbox

Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox

There are three engines available for the Volvo XC60 – a mild-hybrid petrol called the B5 and two petrol plug-in hybrids (PHEVs).

The B5 produces 247bhp and is pretty quick, achieving a 0-60mph time of 7.8 seconds in our tests. However, when you’re on the move and need a burst of acceleration, it can sometimes require a bit of planning because the automatic gearbox hesitates before changing down when you plant your foot.

The first PHEV is the T6, with a stout 345bhp and managing a 5.4-second 0-60mph time at our private test track. Then there's the T8, with 449bhp for an official 0-60mph time of 4.6 seconds – a remarkably rapid time for such a big car.

The T8 is also available with an optional Polestar Performance drive mode (another name for Sport mode) that livens up the accelerator pedal response and brings snappier gearshifts. It’s great when you’re on the move and want to briskly accelerate out of a corner exit, but it can be quite jerky when setting off from lower speeds. In reality, the T6 is more than quick enough. 

Both PHEVs can get up to motorway speeds using just their electric motors and have official electric-only ranges of 49 miles – although on our real-world efficiency route, an XC60 T6 ran out of charge at 34.9 miles. The Lexus NX managed 30 miles while the Mercedes GLC 300e covered a healthy 57 miles when we tested them on the same route on a different day.

Volvo XC60 image
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Suspension and ride comfort

The standard suspension fitted to most XC60 trim levels does a good job of dealing with speed bumps and road imperfections with a smooth edge. Expansion joints and ragged potholes tend to send a nasty jolt through the car though – a problem exacerbated by larger alloy wheels (we wouldn’t go above 20in).

If you opt for a top-spec Ultra model, you get air suspension instead. That gives the car a generally composed and well-controlled ride, softening the edges off peaks and troughs at high speeds. An Audi Q5 equipped with air suspension is even comfier.

On XC60s with air suspension, you can tweak the firmness but it doesn't make a huge difference to the ride comfort.

Red Volvo XC60 rear cornering

Handling

If you want a competent-handling SUV that's easy to drive in town, you'll find the XC60 perfectly fit for purpose, but once you've been round a few faster corners, you'll realise it's no driver's car.

It grips hard and contains body lean neatly when pressing on, but the light steering doesn't build a great sense of connection to the front wheels. The BMW X3 and Jaguar F-Pace are far more composed and much easier to position on the road.

The PHEV versions (T6 and T8) are even more sluggish to change direction because of the added weight of their batteries – the Lexus NX is better in this respect. The T8’s abrupt power delivery also causes the XC60 to pitch back on the relatively soft suspension more noticeably than the lower-powered versions, so the car can sometimes feel slightly overwhelmed.

Four-wheel-drive is standard on all versions to help you in slippery conditions, but for an SUV with true off-roading ability have a look at the Land Rover Discovery Sport.

Noise and vibration

Apart from a minor level of vibration when idling, the B5 petrol engine is smooth once on the move, while engine noise settles to a barely perceptible thrum when you’re cruising. The T6 and T8 models run almost silently on electricity alone (provided their batteries are charged), with barely any whine generated by the electric motors during acceleration.

You’ll notice a slight boom from the XC60's regular suspension when you encounter a pothole, while models with air suspension deal with bumps more quietly. There's a bit more road noise than in premium-brand rivals on a motorway, where you'll also hear wind noise from around the door mirrors.

The Q5 is a more peaceful long-distance machine, but the XC60 is still more hushed than a Honda CR-V. The brakes on all versions are pretty easy to use smoothly, plus there’s regenerative braking on all versions to help slow the car down from the moment you take your foot off the accelerator. The PHEVs have a stronger braking effect that can almost bring the XC60 to a stop.

"The T6 PHEV has a longer real-world electric range than an X3 xDrive30e or Lexus NX 450h+, helping keep costs down on an urban commute. It's also effortlessly fast." – Neil Winn, Deputy Reviews Editor

Interior

The interior layout, fit and finish

Strengths

  • +Comfortable seats
  • +Punchy sound systems available
  • +Excellent quality

Weaknesses

  • -Not many physical controls
  • -Driver’s instrument panel looks basic

Driving position and dashboard

When you sit behind the wheel of the Volvo XC60, you look down on most other road users, and for many, that’s key to the appeal of high-riding SUVs. The only rival that offers such a tall driving position is the Land Rover Discovery Sport – and that gets a less supportive seat. 

Seat height and lumbar adjustment are electric on all trim levels, but you have to slide the seat back and forth and recline it manually unless you step up to Plus trim. The central and door armrests are in a near-perfect position for most drivers to rest their elbows on.

The standard 12.3in digital driver's display is clear and can display the sat-nav map but there’s little in the way of layouts or configurability.

Dashboard buttons are kept to a minimum, which gives the interior a clean and uncomplicated look but means you have to use the touchscreen or voice control for most function. Physical buttons and knobs – which the Audi Q5, the BMW X3 and the Mazda CX-60 have – are far less distracting to use when you're driving.

Visibility, parking sensors and cameras

There's an excellent view out of the XC60, partly down to its big side windows and door mirrors. It also has relatively slim windscreen pillars that make it easy to navigate roundabouts and junctions. Even your over-the-shoulder view is good by big family SUV standards.

Every XC60 comes equipped with front and rear parking sensors, and a rear-view camera, making it easier to pilot the car’s considerable bulk into tight parking spaces. Models in Plus trim and above benefit from a 360-degree bird’s eye view camera. At night, bright LED headlights are on hand to light your way clearly.

Volvo XC60 interior dashboard

Sat nav and infotainment

The XC60's large 9.0in infotainment touchscreen is set into the dashboard in portrait, rather than landscape, orientation, with a home button at the bottom (like an iPad's). However, some of the icons are rather small, making them tricky to hit in a hurry.

The sat-nav system uses Google for its maps, and provides a clear and detailed display with real-time traffic information. A DAB radio, wireless phone-charging, Bluetooth and Apple CarPlay come as standard. However, despite the system running an Android operating system, Android Auto smartphone mirroring is not available. Instead, you have to download apps to the car.

The standard 10-speaker stereo sounds great, but music fans will appreciate the 13-speaker Harman Kardon system fitted to Plus models.

The 1,100-watt 14-speaker Bowers & Wilkins stereo on top-spec Ultra delivers seriously crisp and punchy sound quality, but you’ll have to really love your tunes to consider moving up to this trim level just to get it.

Quality

When it comes to interior quality, Volvo can now count itself among the best in the business, and the XC60 is as classy and elegant inside as the Volvo XC90. That's seriously impressive, and there really is precious little to grumble about.

The liberal use of wood or metal trims, especially from high-spec Ultra models, lends the interior a wonderfully polished, premium feel.

Some of the interior panel gaps are not as millimetre-perfect as they are in the Audi Q5, but every surface feels suitably upmarket, reassuringly solid and more luxurious than top-spec versions of the Honda CR-V and Mazda CX-60.

"I found having to use the touchscreen for even basic functions frustrating. The rotary controller in the BMW X3 makes operating the infotainment system much less distracting." – Steve Huntingford, Editor

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

Strengths

  • +Good amount of space for four occupants
  • +Usable boot space

Weaknesses

  • -Limited seating flexibility

Front space

As befits such a big car, the Volvo XC60 gives even very tall occupants plenty of space to stretch out. The front seats slide back a long way to accommodate people who are especially long in the leg, and there’s loads of head room. The Land Rover Discovery Sport is even more generous with interior space.

As for storage, there’s a deep bin beneath the centre armrest and a cubby by the gear lever with a sliding cover to keep valuables out of sight. The door pockets are easily big enough to each take a one-litre bottle of water each.

PHEV models have shallower storage areas in the centre console and under the front armrest.

Rear space

The XC60 isn’t the most spacious SUV in the back, but there’s still enough room for a pair of 6ft passengers to sit behind someone of equal height.

A Discovery Sport offers an extra centimetre of space here and there, while a Honda CR-V allows a 6ft occupant to stretch out their legs, but there’s still more knee room than in an Audi Q5. Head room is impressive too, even if you add the optional panoramic glass roof – you get as much space as in a Lexus NX without a sunroof. 

The XC60 is broader inside than many key rivals. Shoulder room for three adults sitting side by side is surprisingly good, but whoever gets the middle seat will find it rather narrow, and will have to straddle a raised tunnel along the floor.

Red Volvo XC60 boot open

Seat folding and flexibility

The rear seats split and fold down in a 60/40 configuration, with a ski hatch for sliding in long items between two rear passengers. It’s a shame that the seatbacks aren’t split in a 40/20/40 layout – a more flexible configuration available in many rivals, including the Mazda CX-60.

Fold-out boosters for smaller children in the outer two back seats are available as an option, but you can’t have sliding and reclining rear seats (which are standard on the Discovery Sport and CR-V, and optional on the Q5). The Lexus NX has a reclining rear backrest as standard.

Boot space

The XC60 B5 has a 483-litre boot, which is about 10% less than you get in the Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Lexus NX, and the boot is quite shallow.

Capacity drops slightly to 468 litres in the PHEV versions – the T6 and T8 – but the PHEV X3 (the xDrive 30e) loses a far bigger percentage of its boot space to its batteries and ends up with a smaller boot than any XC60.

Even so, there's still enough space in the XC60 for most families’ needs. We managed to slot eight carry-on suitcases below the parcel shelf in non-PHEV versions (matching a CX-60 and CR-V), and seven in the T6 and T8 (the Lexus NX 450h+ also managed seven). There’s no lip at the boot's entrance, and folding down the rear seatbacks gives you a long, flat load bay.

"The absence of a load lip helps when lifting heavy items into, and out of, the boot." – Claire Evans, Consumer Editor

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

Strengths

  • +PHEVs have useful battery range
  • +Should prove very reliable
  • +Most trims are well equipped

Weaknesses

  • -Fuel economy is disappointing

Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2

The Volvo XC60 is priced competitively against the Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Mercedes GLC, and PCP finance offers are often very competitive for the class. You can get some pretty good cash discounts, so it's worth looking out for offers on our new Volvo deals page.

Officially, the XC60 B5 pumps out a little less CO2 than the equivalent Q5 and remains closely competitive with an X3, but if you're considering an XC60 as a company car it’s worth noting that the PHEVs (the T6 and T8) will bring by far the lowest benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax bills. The GLC 300e commands an even lower BIK rate thanks to its longer official battery range.

Just be aware that the PHEVs will need to be charged up regularly to achieve anything close to their official fuel-economy figure. With the battery depleted in a T6, we saw just 30.2mpg on our real-world test route, which is not much better than the mild-hybrid B5's 29.6mpg on the same route during a different test day.

Equipment, options and extras

We’d stick with entry-level Core trim because it gives you all the essentials and quite a bit more on top. Two-zone climate control, cruise control, automatic lights and wipers, and heated leather seats all come as standard, so you may only really need to add metallic paint.

Mid-range Plus is worth considering for a few more luxuries. It comes with a more upmarket interior, fully electric seats, four-zone climate control, a heated steering wheel and front windscreen, 19in alloy wheels, and keyless entry and ignition.

Even with air suspension, a head-up display, adaptive LED headlights and massaging front seats, we wouldn’t make the final step up to the aptly named Ultimate trim. It pushes the XC60’s price into the realm of altogether bigger and better cars, including the Land Rover Discovery and Volvo XC90.

Reliability

In the 2023 What Car? Reliability Survey, the XC60 finished in an impressive third place out of 24 large SUV models. As a manufacturer, Volvo finished ninth in a league table of 32. That places it above BMW, Mazda, Mercedes and Land Rover.

All versions of the XC60 come with a three-year, 60,000-mile warranty as standard, as well as a three-year paintwork warranty and a 12-year warranty for rust. Plug-in hybrid models also come with an eight-year, 100,000-mile policy for the battery pack. That's all par for the course among premium SUVs.

Safety and security

The XC60 was awarded the maximum five stars in its Euro NCAP safety test back in 2017, but it's worth noting that the rating has since expired. Even so, standard equipment on all trims include automatic emergency braking (AEB), lane-keeping assist, driver attention monitor and traffic-sign recognition.

Blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control and Pilot Assist (a semi-autonomous driving function that can help steer the car along its lane on the motorway) comes as standard on Plus trim and above.

Every model comes with an alarm and an immobiliser. Security experts Thatcham Research awarded the XC60 the maximum five stars for resisting theft and four stars for its resistance to being broken into.

"As is fairly typical for PHEVs, the peak charging rate of the XC60 T6 is limited to around 3.7kW. However, the NX 450h+ can charge at up to 6.6kW." – Dan Jones, Reviewer


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Volvo XC60 interior driver display

FAQs

  • The XC60 is available with mild hybrid (MHEV) and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) engines. There will eventually be an all-electric version – called the Volvo EX60 – but there isn't one at the moment.

  • Core trim offers the best value: you get all the essentials, plus luxuries including climate control, cruise control and heated front seats. The B5 makes most sense for private buyers, while the T6 is the cheapest to run as a company car.

  • No. If you want a seven-seater, you'll have to move up the range to the Volvo XC90 or the all-electric Volvo EX90 – or check out our best seven-seat cars page.

At a glance
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RRP price range £47,615 - £69,385
Number of trims (see all)7
Number of engines (see all)3
Available fuel types (which is best for you?)petrol, petrol parallel phev
MPG range across all versions 256.5 - 36.6
Available doors options 5
Warranty 3 years / 60000 miles
Company car tax at 20% (min/max) £784 / £4,550
Company car tax at 40% (min/max) £1,567 / £9,099
Available colours