Most people know of ABBA, the popular Swedish pop band from the 1970s that enjoyed a recent revival after its songs were used in the "Mamma Mia!" musical and movie. Now it seems there's another Swedish export ready for a re-release -- and it's not Ace of Base. It's Volvo. Yes, Volvo is still building family wagons (how '70s!), but its new 2010 XC60 is as up-to-date and fashionable as a small premium crossover can be.
The popularity of small luxury crossovers has grown in recent years, with an increasing number of shoppers desiring vehicles that offer the utility of a Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4 but in a more luxurious package. Volvo's 2010 XC60 meets this desire with a healthy dose of power and style (yes, really) while also boasting the safety-conscious design for which the brand is known.
In terms of size, the five-passenger XC60 is smaller than the brand's XC90 seven-passenger crossover SUV and roughly comparable to a BMW X3, but it's roomier inside than many other vehicles in this segment. To our eyes, the XC60 is to Volvo's lineup as Anni-Frid Lyngstad is to ABBA's, which is to say, it's the best-looking of the bunch. Underneath the distinctive, cleanly styled sheet metal is hardware related to the brand's latest S80 sedan, including two of the S80 engines -- the base 3.2-liter inline-6 and the uplevel 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6. Like the S80, the XC60 has standard front-wheel drive (on the 3.2 model) and available all-wheel drive (optional on 3.2 and standard on T6).
Even the base XC60 comes packed with plenty of amenities, including a power driver seat, an eight-speaker audio system, Bluetooth and dual-zone automatic climate control. The T6 model adds standard leather upholstery and a power passenger seat as well as the turbocharged engine and all-wheel drive. You can also get cool-looking two-tone upholstery and real wood trim for the center stack to dress up the interior -- a hip Swedish counterpoint to the typically austere German designs. Another item of note is "City Safety." Utilizing a short-range infrared rangefinder, this system can detect an imminent low-speed frontal impact at up to 19 mph and either minimize the impact or avoid it entirely by automatically applying the XC60's brakes.
Could the XC60 be Volvo's "Mamma Mia!" a chart-topping smash that takes discos -- er, the automotive world -- by storm? Well, probably not. There are plenty of other desirable choices in this segment, such as the Acura RDX, Audi Q5, BMW X3, Infiniti EX35 and FX35 and Mercedes-Benz GLK350. Even so, the 2010 Volvo XC60 is a solid hit thanks to its combination of performance, convenience, style and safety. If you take one for a test-drive, just make sure to bring some ABBA tunes along for the ride.
Body Styles, Trim Levels and Options:
The 2010 Volvo XC60 small luxury crossover is available in two trim levels: 3.2 and T6. Standard equipment on the base 3.2 includes 17-inch alloy wheels, foglamps, a power driver seat with memory functions, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, cruise control, City Safety, Bluetooth, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls and an eight-speaker CD/MP3 stereo with satellite and HD radio and USB and auxiliary audio inputs. The T6 model adds the turbocharged engine, all-wheel drive, 18-inch alloy wheels, privacy glass, leather upholstery and a power passenger seat.
The 3.2 model is eligible for a Premium package that adds the T6's additional interior accoutrements, and both models can be equipped with a few other packages. The Multimedia package adds a 12-speaker Dynaudio surround-sound audio system, a navigation system and a back-up camera. The Climate package contributes heated front and rear outboard seats (not available with the integrated booster-seat option), heated washer nozzles, headlamp washers, rain-sensing wipers and an interior air quality system. The Convenience package tacks on a power liftgate and front and rear park assist. Finally, the Technology package adds adaptive cruise control, a driver attention alert system and a lane-departure warning system.
Stand-alone options include 18-inch alloy wheels (3.2 only), a panoramic sunroof, exterior styling enhancements, adaptive xenon headlights, keyless ignition/entry, a light-toned wood inlay for the center stack, a dual-screen rear entertainment system and dual integrated rear booster seats.
Powertrains and Performance:
The XC60 3.2 is powered by, yes, a 3.2-liter inline-6 that generates 235 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque. Front-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive optional. The all-wheel-drive T6 model receives a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6 engine rated at 281 hp and 295 lb-ft. All XC60s feature a six-speed automatic with manual shift control. The XC60 T6 will accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 7.1 seconds, which is a good number for this segment. EPA fuel economy estimates are a solid 18 mpg city/27 mpg highway and 21 mpg combined for the XC60 3.2 FWD. The T6 model drops to a less-impressive 16 mpg city/22 mpg highway and 18 mpg combined.
Rollover-sensing stability control, antilock brakes with brake assist, front-seat side airbags, side curtain airbags and whiplash-reducing front seats are all standard on the 2010 Volvo XC60. Also standard is City Safety, which can reduce or avoid a low-speed frontal impact by applying the vehicle's brakes without driver intervention. Hill Descent Control is standard on all-wheel-drive models. Other safety options include a lane departure warning system, a driver alert system, a heartbeat monitor that can detect intruders inside the vehicle and a collision warning/braking system.
Interior Design and Special Features:
Volvo has been making an effort in recent years to give its vehicles some interior flair, and the five-passenger XC60 is the brand's best result yet. The thin-panel center stack -- which comes with metallic trim as standard and real oak wood trim as an option -- combines with the optional two-tone upholstery to make the XC60's cabin look upscale and inviting. However, the controls for the optional navigation system -- they're mounted to the back of the steering wheel -- aren't immediately intuitive. Overall materials quality is high, let down by just a few hard plastic trim pieces.
The front seats are supportive and comfortable, even on long drives. The rear seat is particularly roomy as small crossovers go, with a high seat cushion, above-average headroom and decent legroom for adults. To take on cargo, the versatile 40/20/40-split rear seat can be folded. Maximum cargo space, at 67 cubic feet, is above average.
The 2010 Volvo XC60's impressive blend of performance and comfort should satisfy the majority of shoppers looking for a small luxury crossover. The base inline-6 is unremarkable, but it will get the job done for those who don't care too much about passing power, and its fuel economy is laudable. The turbo straight-6 lacks the aural excitement one might expect, but it pulls cleanly from low rpm and is certainly sufficient to motivate the XC60's 4,200-pound approximate curb weight. Gearchanges from the six-speed automatic are prompt. On the highway, the XC60 is quiet and stable.
The 2010 XC60 is a capable handler -- in fact, the T6's 65.0-mph slalom speed at our test track is among the quickest in this segment. When driven aggressively around corners, though, the XC60 doesn't feel confidence-inspiring. Body roll is significant, and there's a general sense that this softly sprung chassis doesn't want to be pushed, even though it can be. The payoff, not surprisingly, is a comfortable ride. Some drivers might also take issue with the Volvo's myriad safety features, as their various beeps and warnings are sometimes nettlesome. All can be disabled, however.