2010 Volvo XC60 R-Design new car reviews

The Volvo XC60 R-Design: sporty yet practical.

Better than: Dodge Nitro
But not as good as: Volvo 740 Turbo
GRM Bang For The Buck Index: 65.74

Yesterday's SUVs are starting to be replaced by today's car-based crossovers. And for those who don't need something so huge, there's the compact crossover.

Volvo's entry into this world is their XC60. It appeared stateside more than a year ago as a 2010 model. Land Rover helped with the off-road setup.

The R-Design package, which we sampled, adds a bit more street to the formula with 20-inch wheels, a sport-tuned suspension and an aero package. It's kind of like a car that's been turned into a truck that's been turned back into a car.

Other staff views

Steve Chryssos Steve Chryssos
Reader

For a wealthy collection of zip codes, the Monterey peninsula hosts a surprisingly large number of hippies. And as you might expect, they're all floating around in carbon monoxide puking VW vans. The last thing I want to drive in Monterey is a gas guzzling SUV. Those duplicitous environmentalists might burn it to the ground. Thankfully, Volvo's trademark design ethos translates well into this crossover. The flowing body lines offend no one. The XC60 does seem car like. Beyond the curb appeal, I really like the R Design cockpit. The seats are comfortable yet supportive. And you really can throw a lot of luggage and cases of Grassroots Motorsports in the back. The sound system rocked.

As a turbo six, the boost has a tendency to kick in right in the middle of a shift at low throttle angles. That was the only annoyance. I could not "learn" how to drive thru the mapping issue without hammering the throttle.

I'm not one for SUV's, but I could live with and enjoy the Volvo XC60.

Joe Gearin Joe Gearin
Associate Publisher

Wow! This machine is striking, especially in red. It isn't often that an SUV/crossover thing comes across as attractive, but this Volvo does. It wasn't just me either, as the XC60-R received positive attention at gas stations, parking lots, etc.

The good looks extend to the inside as well. The interior is artfully laid out with blue-hued gauges as well as that cool "floating" central waterfall that contains the HVAC controls. In typical Volvo fashion, the seats are terrifically supportive even on longer trips.

The turbocharged V6 certainly provides plenty of hustle, especially at highway speeds. The sprint from 65 to 90 mph is a rush of turbo-induced torque, making this trucklet deceptively fast on the freeway. At lower speeds, however, the drivetrain is a bit of a letdown. Somewhere a Volvo engineer must be scratching his or her head, as the interface between throttle and transmission never got quite sorted out. In town, the XC feels sluggish until the transmission kicks down, and then all hell breaks loose. In short, it's nearly impossible to drive this machine smoothly in traffic.

Despite the XC60's faults, I enjoyed my time behind the wheel. For around $35K, this is a very nice, good-looking, reasonable machine. The problem is that the XC-60 R-Design starts at around $42K and heads upward quickly. For that kind of coin there are plenty of smoother-operating, more entertaining machines to be had.

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Comments

View comments on the GRM forums
Shaun
Shaun HalfDork
9/13/10 11:44 a.m.

Nit picky Joe but it is a inline 6 banger sitting along the front axle. Which is a tight packaging job and is offered by volvo in the v70 a s60 as well. Already at 300 HP there is a glimmer of hope that Volvo will offer a performance AWD versions of this drive-train so that people like me who like the comfort, utility, and relative ergonomic simplicity of fast volvo wagons will have something to buy in few years when when they depreciate like led balloons whilst hitting the used market. I like the way inline sixes sound.

Joe Gearin
Joe Gearin Associate Publisher
9/14/10 8:47 a.m.

Good call Shaun, it is a straight six. Certainly nothing wrong with the powerplant in the XC60. If Volvo can figure out how to smooth out the throttle response / transmission operation, this could be a great powertrain. I'd love to see this engine in a smaller-- lighter package.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
12/10/13 12:00 a.m.

Yesterday's SUVs are starting to be replaced by today's car-based crossovers. And for those who don't need something so huge, there's the compact crossover.

Volvo's entry into this world is their XC60. It appeared stateside more than a year ago as a 2010 model. Land Rover helped with the off-road setup.

The R-Design package, which we sampled, adds a bit more street to the formula with 20-inch wheels, a sport-tuned suspension and an aero package. It's kind of like a car that's been turned into a truck that's been turned back into a car.

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