2012 Volvo XC60 R-Design

Matt Tierney

Of the current Volvo offerings, the XC70 is the most station wagon-like of the bunch. But the fact that the XC60 handily outsells the XC70 is proof that what the market wants is different from what many purists and I believe Volvo should be building.

To its credit, though, the XC60 has attractive, modern styling, particularly in the beautiful lamp housings. It drives pretty well as crossovers go, and the turbocharged six-cylinder engine provides plenty of oomph. This Volvo is comfortable and spacious inside. I personally have a hard time falling in love with the XC60 because I love old-school Volvo wagons, but I can easily see how lots of people more hip than I am could dig this car.

I was less than enamored with two of the XC60's high-tech safety features. The lane-departure warning system is overly aggressive and was set to default to the on position each time the car was restarted (fortunately there's a handy hard button to switch it off). The following-distance function, called Distance Alert, shows a red light where you'd find a head-up display in some cars, and it gets progressively brighter as you get closer to the car in front of you. Its threshold also seemed quite conservative, so I found myself turning it off as well.

Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor

Given how much I loved our Four Seasons Volvo S60, it's no surprise that I fell for the XC60 as well; it is, after all, basically a tall hatchback version of the S60. The same clean, elegant, and pleasing design carries over from the sedan to the SUV, as does the same luxurious interior and unflappable chassis. Sadly, the poorly designed infotainment system and a steering column that doesn't telescope far enough also show up in the 60-series SUV.

What is new to us is the R-Design trim, which includes a firmer suspension, racy body kit, and a bump in power over the lesser XC60 and S60 models. That means an additional 25 hp and 29 lb-ft of torque from the turbocharged I-6. The six still sounds sweet and, as I found out when I drove this car in Arizona last winter, power comes on in more of a wallop than a linear thrust. Skipping the R-Design level means giving up the extra power, but I don't think it's really needed -- especially since you also save a couple thousand dollars in doing so.

Donny Nordlicht, Associate Web Editor

I was not a fan of the R-Design initiative as applied to the S60 sedan, but it seems like a more coherent package here on the XC60 crossover. I was smitten by the inline six-cylinder engine's big burst of off-the-line acceleration, even if, as Donny Nordlicht points out, it's more of a wallop than a steady build-up. And I loved the blue-ringed instruments. (It's the little things in life, folks.) But what I really like about the XC60 has nothing to do with R-Design but with the base vehicle itself and the impressive packaging of its rear cargo area. The rear seatbacks fold forward easily and the headrests tumble under, creating a totally flat load floor, and the cargo cover removes easily. These are the sort of crucial features that make a crossover easy to live with day-to-day. One other thing: On a 92-degree day, the mesh cover for the moonroof did a pretty decent job of keeping out the heat.

Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor

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