There’s an old car joke around gearhead circles that suggests the Swedish Army’s tanks are built like Volvos. Such is the reputation the automaker has for constructing safe, reliable, long-lasting and just generally solid vehicles.
During a weeklong test drive of the 2016 Volvo XC60 crossover, it became clear the company is still building that stability into their vehicles. In the specific case of the XC60, Volvo managed to pack that signature quality into a small SUV with an approachable price.
Available in a brain-spinning 12 trim levels, the XC60 starts at $36,600 for the T5 Drive-E entry level edition. While that’s by no means throw away hatchback money — sitting about $10,000 higher than you might spend for a comparably sized entry level Japanese consumer crossover — that MSRP still saves you about five grand off the cost of the popular Lexus RX and comes in right around the cost of a similarly sized BMW X1 and Mercedes-Benz GLA250.
That $38,100 T5 Drive-E uses a 240 horsepower four cylinder engine offering 23/city and 31/highway MPG. Upgrading to a T5 adds a 2.5 liter, five cylinder power plant producing an additional 10 horses. The T5 Drive-E Premiere runs for $39,850 and stays with toe 2.0 liter four cylinder engine.
Up the food chain, the top trim levels include the T6 R-Design Platinum ($51,050) with a 3.0 liter V6 alongside the T6 Drive-E R-Design Platinum ($51,300). Both produce 302 horsepower. Up and down those trims, the primary enhancements include in-car materials, infotainment and safety features.
However, even the base model T5 Drive-E includes power everything, cruise control, power steering, dual zone climate control, eight speaker audio and AM/FM/Satellite/USB. That’s a respectable set of features for any entry level trim.
The driving experience is exactly as expected — smooth and well-balanced. The power is not thrilling, but it’s not intended to be. It’s a crossover that would work well as an urban transport with a little extra storage space or as a grand touring ride to carry folks cross country in comfort. Though technically an SUV, it’s still a crossover with a more gentle soul and not a prime choice for rougher off-road duty.
Now, in keeping with Volvo’s conservative, yet thoroughly effective European image, the XC60 isn’t the sexiest ride you can buy. Volvos aren’t known for said sexiness. They’re sensible machines boasting a strong build quality. That’s what you get in the XC60. The styling is modest, and the ride quiet in the cabin and from the street.
But, in fairness, it’s in a crossover class rarely known for its sexiness. What these small SUVs are known for is the intense marketplace competition centered on them. The crossover is the fastest growing automotive segment in the world, constantly pulling market share away from bigger SUVs and larger sedans.
The XC60, with its ample cargo space, comfortable seating, strong build aspects and sensible pricing should survive well in the ongoing crossover roads. In fact, while driving it, you might get the feeling it wants to rise above the fray.