Last week, I got to spend some quality time behind the wheel of the new for 2018 Volvo XC60. It’s a great car filled with the sort of neat little details that used to be called “character” in the 70s, and it’s powered by an absolutely bonkers little 316 HP four-cylinder engine that is both turbocharged and supercharged (really). Finally- as if there weren’t enough reasons to get excited about driving a new XC60- the one I got for a tester showed up in bright, screaming red.

You can probably see it from space.


2018 Volvo XC60 T6 R Design | Just Look

Needless to say, I love the Passion Red paint on this XC60 R-Design, but there’s a lot more to love. The wheels, for example, are coated in a matte black and then diamond-cut to produce a unique shine that you won’t see in a painted alloy. Inside, the 2018 Volvo XC60 R-Design has special, R-Design-only metal mesh inlays instead of wood and soft leather on the steering wheel and shift knob. The brushed aluminum mirror caps are another R-Design trim level exclusive, and I think they, too, look great.


This is a Really Nice Interior

So, the all-new XC60 is good-looking, it has a nice interior, and it’s powered by an over-achieving four cylinder. That much, and a bit more, I’d already learned in August at Volvo Pride Chicago. At Pride, Volvo executives took different groups out on the streets of Chicago to highlight the XC60’s stellar urban driving dynamics and give us a chance to check out the updated Volvo Sensus infotainment system.


2018 Volvo XC60 T6 R Design | Driving

Pride was great fun, to be sure. Despite that, getting a chance to drive the 2018 Volvo XC60 T6 R-Design in an “unsupervised” setting was a lot more fun.

For starters, the 316 HP engine never feels like a four. Despite my experience with the engine in the previous XC60 and V60, the new XC60, in “Dynamic” driving mode, seems to have done away with that moment’s hesitation between pressing the go pedal and actually going. That brief lag is still there in the XC60’s default “Comfort” and selectable “Eco” modes, however, so my guess is that the throttle mapping is a bit more aggressive in the ’18 than it was in the ’17.

The ride and handling in Dynamic mode is also excellent. It is noticeably stiffer than what you get in Comfort mode, but that’s what you want. You want to feel a difference when you change modes. Even so, it never strays into excessive stiffness, reminding the driver that, while the styling is flashy and the engine is capable, this is a cruiser with a sporting edge. The XC60 is not a sports car.

And that’s OK. Not every car needs to be built to tackle an autocross, after all. If you disagree, I invite you to get comfortable behind the wheel, and let the Volvo’s award-winning Bowers and Wilkins sound system change your mind.


How Green, Really, is the New XC60?

In a fairly candid interview, Volvo Cars’ CEO Lex Kerssemakers described the feeling at Volvo back when they decided to build only four cylinder engines. He said, and I’m paraphrasing, “In ten years, the world will look at us as heroes, or idiots.”

The last time you could buy new Volvo with a V8 in it was about ten years ago, so let’s see how these guys look. That engine was developed for Ford (then owners of Volvo) by Yamaha in Japan. That V8 produced 311 HP and 325 TQ at 4000 RPM and gave back about 15/20 MPG in city and highway driving, respectively. Fast forward to 2018, and the new T6 four cylinder puts out 316 HP and 295 TQ, but at a much more usable 2200 RPM. Fuel economy is way up, as well, with T6 equipped Volvos currently rated at 20/27 MPG.

That 20/27 MPG number may not let the 2018 Volvo XC60 compete on fuel economy with cars like the Toyota Corolla or Mitsubishi Mirage, but it represents a 35% improvement over the old V8 without a dip in performance. Aided by the company’s stop-start tech and ultra-efficient Drive-E engine, the new XC60’s real-world fuel economy is comparable, however, to the 28 MPG figure quoted by Toyota’s hybrid SUVs. If you compare Volvo’s hybrid to Toyota’s, there really is no comparison. The two brands’ offering serve up similar fuel economy figures, but the Volvo has the dual advantages of nearly 15 miles of electric only range and significantly more HP. You’ll find 400 combined HP in the Volvo compared to 306 in the Toyota.


Final Thoughts on the 2018 XC60

Let’s be honest: I was going to like the newly redesigned Volvo XC60 no matter what. I am “Volvo Jo“, after all. Heck, I’m wearing a Volvo hat as I type this sentence and I took these pictures on a phone with Volvo wallpaper! You’d be forgiven, then, for taking this new car review with a grain pound of salt, but you don’t have to. The new XC60 truly is the next major step in Volvo’s renaissance, and it is a better vehicle than the previous, much loved XC60 in every way. My tester, at $57,395, felt a bit pricey when I first looked at the window sticker. A little bit of research, however, showed that comparable models from Porsche, Audi, and Mercedes-Benz were priced even higher. Make of that what you will.

As for me, I’m just glad they let me play with this new Volvo, and will probably spend the next few weeks trying to convince my wife that it’s time to trade in our perfectly good P3 Volvo XC70. Keep checking in to find out how that goes.


Original content from Gas 2, with special thanks to the Autobarn Volvo Oak Park.