Volvo Launches Second-Gen XC60

To say that the XC60 is an important car for Volvo, would be to vastly understate the case.

To say that the XC60 is an important car for Volvo, would be to vastly understate the case. In the nine years that the first generation vehicle has been out there (yes, that’s a long run in some ways, but there were refreshes along the way, so it’s not like there were simply model year 2009 five-seat crossovers in Volvo dealerships that went without change), the vehicle, on a global scale, has been responsible for about 30 percent of the Swedish company’s total sales (about one-million units). It is the single largest selling vehicle in the lineup. And, according to Lex Kerssemakers, Volvo senior vice president of the Americas and president and CEO of Volvo Car USA, it “is an important car for Volvo in the United States.” In a market where crossovers and SUVs of all sizes and shapes are being sold in volumes that are stretching the capabilities of production plants (and speaking of production plants, the new XC60 is being produced at the company’s plant in Torslanda, Sweden), the XC60 matters greatly to the fortunes of Volvo, both in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world.

It isn’t like Volvo hasn’t been up to anything in the intervening years. Most notably, it has developed what it calls its Scalable Product Architecture (SPA), and has developed its 90 series vehicles on top of it, including the XC60’s big brother, the XC90. The 2018 XC60 is based on SPA; it is the fourth Volvo to use it.

A word about the SPA. The key word is scalable. For example, while the 2018 XC60 has a length of 184.6 inches, a wheelbase of 112.8 inches and a width of 74.8 inches, the XC90 is 194.9 inches long, 75.7 inches wide and has a wheelbase of 117.4 inches. The engineering is similar. The vehicles are clearly dimensionally different.

And in keeping with the overall ethos of what a Volvo is, the XC60 is engineered to be safe. According to Malin Ekholm, vice president, Volvo Cars Safety Centre, it is built with passive safety—she cites the use of materials for the body-in-white that are specifically tailored for their application, from aluminum to boron steel—and there is a suite of active safety systems that are fundamental to the vehicle. Again, this is technology developed for the larger 90 series vehicles that have been ported to the XC60.

There is the City Safety system that has long (speaking in tech years, that is) been a part of Volvo’s offerings (City Safety provides automatic warning and full braking to mitigate low-speed collisions), but for the new XC60, steering support has been added.

A new system offered on the vehicle that Ekholm notes is called “Oncoming Lane Mitigation.” She explains that this system makes use of a camera to detect lane markings and radar to detect on-coming traffic. Should the XC60 driver drift out of the lane, then there are warnings and torque on the steering wheel to keep the vehicle where it belongs. And they are offering Pilot Assist II as an option, which is a semi-autonomous driver assistance system that handles steering, acceleration and braking on well-marked roads up to 80 mph (the driver is still in the loop, with hands on the wheel).

Another commonization strategy that Volvo has taken in in powertrain, where it is using turbo-charged, four-cylinder engines across the board. But there are variants of the base engine.

That is, there is the XC60 T5, which has a 2.0-liter turbo that produces 250 hp. Then there is the T6, which has the 2.0-liter engine, but this one is both supercharged and turbocharged, so it produces 316 hp. And then there is a plug-in hybrid version, which is supercharged, turbocharged and electric motor (87 hp) supplemented, so it produces 400 hp. (Incidentally: all versions of the XC60 are launching as all-wheel-drive vehicles; the system features a BorgWarner Generation 5 coupling that will automatically send up to 50 percent of the torque to the rear wheels should it be required.)

The interior of the XC60 is superbly designed and engineered. Yes, there is a standard  9.3-inch touch-screen that provides control of functions from navigation to audio to HVAC. There is a 12.3-inch display for the driver gauges as well as navigation. There are 10-way front power seats (with available Nappa leather, ventilation and massage).

Alex Tripi, XC60 U.S. product manager, describes the vehicle as “A balance between fun-to-drive and comfort.” And it goes without saying it is also incredibly important.—GSV