Volvo XC60 Review : One of the safest small SUVs

  • Handsome looks
  • Loads of space
  • Incredibly comfortable seats
  • Not exciting to drive
  • Occasionally thumping ride
  • Starting to feel its age

The XC60 SUV is one of the safest SUVs on sale – mostly because all models come with automatic emergency braking – a system Volvo arguably pioneered in affordable family cars. Its smart Swedish design gives it a premium feel to rival models such as theAudi Q5, BMW X3 and Land Rover Discovery Sport

Prices start from £31,660/$47,490 and if you buy your new XC60 using carwow, you can make a huge saving of £4,170/$6,255 on average.

The XC60’s capacious boot will take a pushchair or several flat pack boxes from your trip to Ikea. The cabin is sensibly Swedish with a simple layout and lots of space for passengers, and the seats are incredibly comfortable, even on long journeys. The storage area behind the floating dashboard is a useful cubbyhole that’s unique to Volvo

The XC60 is only available with diesel engines, ranging from the D4 with 190hp to the D5 with 220hp. Opt for a two-wheel drive model to maximise fuel economy. Buyers looking for a fun drive are better catered for by the BMW or the Land Rover, but the Volvo trumps nearly all comers for comfort.

Gadgets that make the driving experience easier include sat-nav, Bluetooth and lane departure warning, as well as blind spot information system.

For the full range of colours available, check out our Volvo XC60 colours guide and our dimensions guide will help when it comes to specific facts and figures.

Cheapest to buy: D4 SE

Cheapest to run: D4 SE

Fastest model: D5 AWD R – Design Lux

Most popular model: D4 SE Lux automatic


Incredibly comfortable seats but a little dated

The cabin of the XC60 is quite a nice place to be, with good quality materials, a smart design and a quirky ‘floating’ centre console. It looks solid, but (in the car we tested in 2015) we found the centre console could squeak if you lean your knee against it.

We also found some of the buttons on the centre console a bit fiddly to use, and most modern rivals have a more minimalist design that is easier to navigate.

Volvo XC60 passenger space

Space is decent all around, with good adjustability for the driver’s seat and plenty of leg and head room in all seating positions. Many reviews praise the XC60 for its comfort, with plenty of support in the seats – travelling long distances is a breeze and Volvo has gained a reputation for offering the most cosseting seats in the business. There’s also an option which allows the rear seat cushions to be raised to form booster seats with two pre-set heights for kids of different ages – it’s a handy feature for keeping children safe.

Volvo XC60 boot space

The boot is a very useful size at 495 litres with all seats up. It is a few litres less than the 540 litres in the Audi Q5 , but if you fold away the rear seats the space rises to 1,455 litres and you have a flat loading surface. With a broad boot opening, loading heavy items is simply a matter of sliding them in.

To see if the XC60 will fit in your life we have prepared detailed dimensions and colour guides to help with your research.


Better on the motorway than it is on a twisty road or in town

With a raised ride height and optional four-wheel drive, it has all the hallmarks of being an off-roader. However, like most of its rivals, the XC60 can’t match proper off-roaders like the Range Rover Sport – its 4×4 system is best for owners who need to get up and down slippery roads in winter rather than tackling fields that are a foot deep in mud. It’s worth considering the 2WD models, since they offer better economy and are cheaper to buy.

The XC60 is far better suited to life on road because it drives nicely, has a generally good ride and is very quiet at higher speeds, making it a superb motorway cruiser. The suspension deals with most bumps, but does occasionally thump over expansion joints and potholes on the road in a way you wouldn’t expect for a high-riding car with off-road looks.

The characteristics that make the Volvo relaxing on the motorway count against it when you encounter a twisting country roads, however. There you’ll find the Volvo’s steering can’t match the feel or directness you’ll get in models such as the BMW X3, and you certainly sense the car’s weight as you enter corners.

Visibility out of the car is reasonable, though, and the handy blind spot warning system illuminates orange lights next to the door mirrors to warn of approaching vehicles that are hidden from sight.


Excellent economy from new 2.0 D4 and D5 engines

The engine line-up was revamped in early 2015 and the new range of four-cylinder diesels are a vast improvement in terms of refinement and efficiency compared to the old ones.

Volvo XC60 diesel engines

The new engines also improve performance. So despite churning out 190hp – enough to push the D4 model from 0-62mph in just 8.1 seconds – it can also return fuel economy of more than 60mpg and costs just £30/$45 a year to tax.

Specifying four-wheel drive gives the car more grip on slippery roads, but has no impact on the standard car’s maximum towing capacity of 1,800kg. Turning an extra pair of wheels also drops fuel economy by about 10mpg and increases your annual road tax bill  to £140/$210.

With 220hp, the D5 diesel offers more power, but as it’s only available with four-wheel drive performance differences are almost imperceptible compared to a two-wheel-drive D4 and fuel economy drops to 58.9mpg.

Another benefit brought with the new diesels is engine refinement, which is vastly improved and helped by the new eight-speed gearbox (replacing the old six-speed version), which means the engine doesn’t work as hard at a cruise.

We tested the D4 4×4 model in 2015 and were impressed by the punch from the engine when going for overtakes and getting up to speed on motorway slip roads – although the automatic gearbox can be a bit jerky on upshifts when accelerating hard. We averaged 40mpg on long motorway journeys – not a million miles from the official figure of 44.1mpg.


Just as safe as you’d expect from one of the world’s safest carmakers

It’s perhaps unsurprising to learn that the XC60 scores a full five-star rating for crash safety from Euro NCAP – Volvo has a strong safety reputation to uphold and invests vast sums of money to ensure that it’s maintained. Protection is good for both adults and children and, like many rivals, less so for pedestrians.

Plenty of safety systems are fitted as standard. Some of the more notable features are a blind spot warning indicator, a vast complement of airbags and City Safety, a system which automatically brakes the car if it reckons a collision with the car in front is imminent.

Value for money

Strong levels of standard equipment

To take on premium rivals such as the BMW X3 and Audi Q5, Volvo has made sure its XC60 comes packed with lots of equipment even on the cheapest models. Automatic emergency braking is a standout feature fitted throughout the range.

Volvo XC60 SE

SE is the entry level trim, but is by no means basic. It gets you climate control, auto-folding wing mirrors, a Bluetooth hands-free kit and DAB digital radio. The XC60 is quite a big car, so standard rear parking sensors are a welcome addition and the power-closing boot lid means you don’t have to worry about closing the heavy rear door.

Volvo XC60 SE Lux

Choosing SE Lux trim brings the bonus of leather seats, which up the feeling of luxury in the cabin and are electrically adjustable for the driver. On the outside, you’ll also find powerful Xenon headlights complete with an Active Bending function (to help illuminate corners in the road) and powerful washers. The 18-inch alloy wheels (up from the basic model’s 17-inches) are also better proportioned to the XC60’s large dimensions.

Volvo XC60 R-Design

R-Design trim is to Volvo what M Sport is to BMW and S line to Audi – basically it’s a sports pack that adds visual appeal to the car’s exterior and interior. The 18-inch Ixion alloy wheels (unique to R-Design models) are polished with black highlights, while the door mirrors are matt silver and the rear bumper has an aero-dynamic-style diffuser. The car’s sports suspension not only gives it a more ground-hugging stance, but also cuts down on lean in the corners. Inside, there’s metal trim, sports seats and an R-Design steering wheel that’s smarter looking than the standard item.


Overall, the Volvo XC60 is a very good car and well worth a look. It’s well built, usefully practical, has plenty of safety kit and is quite nice to drive. However, some rivals offer a better compromise between ride and handling, and some newer rivals (such as theAudi Q3 and Range Rover Evoque) make the Volvo feel a little outdated despite its recent facelift.

It’s not the outright best in its class, but the Volvo XC60 has plenty of positive attributes, and is a worthy choice if you want a quirky yet sensible and comfortable alternative to its more mainstream rivals.


Share on FacebookPin on PinterestTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedIn