I was also very impressed with the Volvo. The exterior is much more refined than previous Volvo crossovers, and the R-Design package in red with the big, five-spoke wheels is a knockout combo. When I saw Mike Ofiara drive by one morning, I thought he was in a Porsche Cayenne. A closer look reveals all the classic Volvo cues but put together in a nicely updated package.
The XC60 confirmed once again that nobody does a better job with seats than Volvo. They're gorgeous, comfortable, and supportive. The rest of the interior is stylish and very well done as well: the grain on the dash, the waterfall console, the door panels and hardware, and the controls and buttons are all beautifully executed.
There were, however, some issues that need mentioning. Although the blue metal bezels on the instruments are certainly stylish, the thin markings on the dials are too difficult to read, particularly at night when they remain too dimly lit. The abbreviated needles to accommodate the inner displays also fail to make things easy to read at a glance. The blocky resolution of the digital displays are a disappointment as well. Volvo needs to do far better on these details in this price range. The Audi blows away the field in this regard, and the ease and clarity of using its controls are a serious point in its favor over the Volvo.
The hidden navigation controls on the back of the wheel seem unnecessary as well. The joystick? Fine. But the enter and exit buttons need to be visible. This also renders the nav system useless to the passenger, another annoyance. [There is, however, a remote control as well. Just don't lose it.]
The cargo area seemed huge compared with that of the Q5 and more accessible through the larger tailgate as well. I didn't try folding any seats since I had child seats installed, but it swallowed a bunch of stuff from Ikea with ease.
The Volvo wins on style and space, but the Audi tech interface is so superior, it'd be a very tough choice if I were buying. Volvo by a better-looking nose...
- Matt Tierney, Art Director