It's easy to close your mind when you hear that another SUV is on the market. After all, it's difficult to imagine any SUV taking U.S. consumers' minds away from energy conservation and fears that gas prices will again skyrocket.
Those concerns may well be set aside when the 2010 Volvo XC60 T6 AWD is seen on U.S. roads. The new version of the SUV - which sprang from the 2009 version, which won several auto honors including the 'SUV of the Year'? title from Fleet World Magazine - is sportier and even more luxurious than its older siblings.
Volvo calls this new version the first vehicle built in a contemporary crossover concept. Again, it's a bit sportier and more dynamic than its older sibling, and even the other cars in the Volvo product line, plus it boasts many of the luxurious extras for which Volvo is famous - plush seats, tons of safety features, finely tuned audio - well you get the idea.
2010 Volvo XC60 Exterior
Let's talk about the look of the XC60 for a minute. This is clearly not some stodgy luxury SUV.
The body shape of the 2010 model is fairly masculine. That's not to say that the SUV isn't suitable for women or those with kids, but the vehicle's body suggests sport rather than family.
The SUV's athletic shape is set off a sloping, curving body. Combine that with a large grille, roof rails and a broader shoulder line than the rest of the Volvo line combined and you know you're miles away from minivan territory. Large 'projector beam'? headlights and tail lamps with micro optics and LED technique further the distinctive look.
Clearly, this is no box.
One might even say that the XC60 could easily win 'prettiest sibling'? award in the Volvo lineup.
Volvo offers 10 exterior color choices for this SUV. As you might expect from the Swedish automaker, the colors are from a sophisticated palette such as 'Black Stone'? and 'Barents Blue Pearl.'? Don't look for some shade reminiscent of school bus yellow, because it's not here. Sporty still means classy in Volvo's world.
That's accentuated by the five-spoke aluminum wheels, which measure 18 inches. For the first time, the automaker also offers 20-inch versions.
2010 Volvo XC60 Interior
Anyone familiar with Volvo likely won't be surprised that the design of the XC60 is all about the driver. After all, isn't safety Volvo's watchword? And when you go back to basics, safety means the driver is secure, comfortable and informed.
But don't think of safety as dull or boring. This SUV boasts comfy, very deep leather seats with two firmness levels in both the backrest and seat, a floating center console, and a high-end dashboard with wood insets and 'looped'? styling. The sports pedals are made of brushed aluminum with rubber inserts for precise grip, feel and control. This is a true luxury SUV.
One of the most luxurious interior details is the panoramic roof that replaces the traditional sunroof. It is divided into two sections and gives the interior an airy and fresh feeling.
But unlike some luxury suvs that are trucks in name only, the XC60 is ready to work. Consider the lockable load floor that covers the two storage areas - perfect for wet or soiled items. The three-split rear seat (40/20/40 split) allows 67.4 cubic feet of cargo space. And the optional power tailgate can be opened automatically via remote, a button in the light panel, or a handle in the tailgate. No more juggling kids and keys.
The SUV can also tow fairly large loads; it's rated for 3307 pounds and comes with Trailer Stability Assist, which detects if the trailer 'snakes'? and corrects the oscillation.
2010 Volvo XC60 Performance
The one thing I loathe about some larger SUVs is the feeling they will tip over. Suffice to say that's not a problem with the XC60. Not only does it drive solidly and hug the road, but its front structure has been supplemented by a lower cross member that adapts the front to the height of a normal-sized passenger car. Volvo notes this allows the car's deformation zones to provide sedan-like protection for the car's occupants.
That's important because this car is powerful. I drove the T6 AWD and was impressed with the acceleration, which was very smooth yet authoritative. An unexpected plus is that despite the power, the car was easy to control. I never felt overpowered by this turbo engine, which is transversely mounted and very compact. The engine delivers 285 horsepower and 295 ft-lb of torque, from low up to high revs, according to Volvo.
The same is true for the All-Wheel Drive function. Volvo credits this SUV's stability to the AWD, which electronically controls and distributes engine power between the front and rear wheels quickly and automatically. All I know is the grip - even on rain-slicked roads - was superb.
Volvo said that the new more direct steering gear built into the car allows for a faster steering response. The driver benefits from a more 'alert'? car behavior, which equals more synergy between the car and the road.
2010 Volvo XC60 Safety
Volvo is known for safety and this car is no exception. There are all kinds of bells and whistles that stack up to stellar crash test ratings scores. Here are just a few:
Multi-steel Construction. There are all types of different grades of steel used on the car that protects occupants in case of a crash. Those combined with a number of 'tubes'? and other elements 'move'? the body to the side to help reduce the risk of passenger injury. Side Impact Protection System helps absorb the impact's force, too.
Laminated glass. It's an optional feature that makes break-ins more difficult.
Roll Stability Control. This stabilizes the car and reduces the risk of rollovers.
Hill Descent Control (HDC) for steep inclines. This adjusts the car's speed automatically when driving down steep inclines, making it possible for the driver to focus completely on their driving.
City Safety. This feature senses if vehicles ahead are moving slower or standing still. It then calculates the braking force needed. In a situation where the calculated braking force needed reaches a certain level, and the driver has not reacted, the City Safety function senses that a collision is imminent and will intervene to reduce speed when the collision occurs.
Pre-Prepared Restraints. This prepares/adapts the belts/airbags to an expected crash load in low or mildly severe front crashes before the impact.
Collision Warning with Autobrake. This optional system alerts the driver if the distance to a vehicle ahead suddenly decreases so the driver can react to avoid collision.
2010 Volvo XC60 Conclusion
I spent the better part of the week with the 2010 Volvo XC60 T6 AWD. It has a lot to offer for its list price, which starts at $37,200. Comfort, convenience, and most of all safety are all there.
The fuel consumption rating of 16-mpg city and 22 mpg highway isn't great, but consider what you get with this SUV - generous space, plenty of protective steel and hauling capacity.
As luxury SUVs go, this vehicle deserves a prime place in consideration.