2018 Volvo XC60 First Drive

by Heather Platt | Posted on Thursday, June 1st, 2017

The 2018 Volvo XC60 should really elicit a stronger reaction, but it just doesn’t. Blame its 90 series siblings, which already exhausted “wow” reactions that could’ve gone to the XC60. Even excellence can become expected. There’s also the matter of its predecessor – sure, it was dated, but gradual improvements to what was always a solid car allowed it to be Volvo’s best-seller to the very end.

2018 Volvo XC60

So, there’s very little surprising about the 2018 XC60, but that ultimately means Volvo is in a very good place with its second-generation compact luxury SUV. It rides on the same Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) platform as the XC90, S90, and V90, sharing their double wishbone front axle setup and integral link rear axle with transverse leaf springs. Yes, like a Corvette. It can also be specified with the XC90’s four-corner air suspension with automatic leveling and computer controlled dampers.

Yet, despite the similarities in componentry, the XC60 was tuned for what Volvo calls “inspired confidence.” The 90 cars are going for “relaxed confidence.” Marketing talk yes, but it’s on-point. We drove the XC60 and V90 Cross Country back-to-back, and the 60 feels more engaging and slightly playful, with a sharper turn-in and tauter body control. It might even coax you into playing with it on a twisting mountain road.

Sadly, that lower height does chew into overall cargo capacity. Although dimensions from floor to seatback are within a cubic-foot from generation to generation, total cargo capacity has been reduced to 63.3 cubic feet from 67.4. That’s actually still pretty good for a segment typically in the 50s, but if you’re looking to haul bulkier items and stay in the Volvo family, the V90 and XC90 are still the way to go.

Rear legroom is also up by 1.6 inch and despite the lower roof and non-reclining seatback, someone 6-foot-3 still has plenty of headroom below the standard panoramic sunroof. The previous model wasn’t particularly popular with parents (75 percent of buyers were sans child), which probably explains why you can no longer get the integrated child booster seats. Instead, every XC60 gets an under-seat tray for storing tablets or, possibly more likely, hiding garbage.

Indeed, you get an awful lot of car for your money in the 2018 XC60. To get the same standard infotainment and safety tech on an Audi Q5 or Mercedes-Benz GLC300 (both of which have comparable base prices), you’d have to spend a lot more on additional options that would raise the price by as much as $10,000. That gap disappears when you slather on equipment, though, as our T6 AWD Inscription test car with virtually every available option would likely hit the register at $60,640 – a comparably loaded GLC300, admittedly with less power, would be about the same price. A Q5 would be a few thousand less.

But no matter the dollars and sense, the XC60 should definitely be considered alongside that pair or anything else in the segment. It has the equipment, space, quality and safety to be considered a smart buy, along with the style and character to make it an impulse one. Just don’t expect many surprises.

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