I hadn’t spent much time in Volvo’s most-recent wares until this past fall, when I had the chance to sample the Volvo V90 station wagon. It is no secret that Volvo is well known for its emphasis on safety, but the Swedish automaker has also been stepping it up in terms of design, both inside and out, impressing with stylish sheetmetal and elegant interiors.
Take the 2018 Volvo XC60 T6 AWD R-Design I lived with for a week, which considerably expanded my Volvo horizon. This example of the second-generation SUV was particularly alluring thanks to its Bursting Blue Metallic color and metal mesh aluminum side mirrors.
The R-Design package, a $3,300 option, adds a multitude of features that spice up the Volvo XC60’s appearance. These include LED fog lights, sporty leather upholstery, metal mesh aluminum deco inlays, illuminated door handles, black headliner, integrated tailpipes with a body-colored lower insert, and a black mesh grille. Other neat features with this trim level are the drive mode settings, Sensus Navigation Pro, a hands-free opening tailgate, and steering wheel paddle shifters. Our tester also came fitted with the optional 21-inch double spoke alloy wheels sporting Pirelli 255/40/R21 summer tires—all for a measly $1,000.
Exploring the Volvo XC60 R-Design’s infotainment system—a far better alternative to zoning out into a smartphone screen—lead me to peruse the additional integrated apps that it contains along with the climate, nav, and entertainment controls. These include Pandora, Yelp, Google Search, Park and Pay, Spotify, and WikiLocations, the last of which sparked my curiosity.
WikiLocations allows you to access Wikipedia-related content of nearby places based either on the geographic position of your vehicle or a set destination. When you conduct a search you are given the options of a full article, summary, photography, and history of a point of interest. WikiLocations is only functional if the car is equipped with both Sensus Connect and Sensus Navigation. Though I felt enlightened by the WikiLocations app, in the age of smartphones, it seems outmoded. Still, kudos to Volvo for including this awesome geo-location app.
Another option on our test car that considerably added to our enjoyment of it is the excellent Bowers & Wilkins sound system, a $3,200 option, which offers adjustable equalizer settings as well as the usual tone adjustements.
To test the system, I created a playlist that I titled Swedish Volvo Soundtrack and signed into my Spotify account via the in-car app—my first time using an in-car Spotify app. With Spotify being a Swedish company as well, and me being an avid listener of Swedish artists, the Swedish Volvo Soundtrack featured only Swedish artists like such as The Knife, Little Dragon, Lykke Li, and Fever Ray. As a hip-hop artist would say, “All Swedish Everything.”
The quality of audio from factory sound systems is an important attribute of a car’s interior. The driver seat is a space in which I spend a good chunk of my life and lousy audio gets annoying quickly. Using the Volvo’s available equalizer settings, I was able to adjust more than just the bass and treble, resulting in a more robust sound. While searching around online, I found a lengthy thread dedicated to the B&W’s equalizer settings in a forum called SwedeSpeed. After putting the Bowers & Wilkins sound system to the test I agree with other Volvo enthusiasts that dishing out the cash for this upgrade is justified.
I drove mostly in Dynamic mode because why not. The Volvo XC60 T6 R-Design has a turbocharged and supercharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine capable of 316 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque and, when set into Dynamic, the crossover thrusts forward with far greater response, especially on the highway. The Oncoming Lane Mitigation system felt a tad bit sensitive, occasionally flashing a warning while driving past parked cars or approaching a car waiting at the median to turn left. When this avoidance collision system activated unnecessarily, I reacted as if something was actually about to happen. This was the only qualm I had with the XC60’s safety features.
The XC60’s automatic braking system seemed ideal for all driving situations and proved its worth during my time with the car. When another driver in cross traffic blasted through a red light—not an uncommon occurrence in Los Angeles—the driver in front of me came to a sudden stop. I nervously punched the brakes as hard as I could but thankfully, the Volvo’s automatic braking system was active and aided me in safely bringing the XC60 to a complete stop. Phew. The auto-hold system proved itself useful, too, making life easier in grueling Interstate 5 traffic en route to San Ysidro, the closest city to the Mexican border.
Opting for a base model Volvo XC60 with no added options puts you at roughly $45,895 with destination fee—not a bad deal for the budget concerned. But if I were making the commitment to purchase this luxury compact SUV I’d be in favor of adding a few options specifically the R-Design package. The XC60’s competitors in similar price range include the BMW X3 and Audi SQ5 both, which I’ve had the opportunity to drive. Though the Audi SQ5impressed me with its extra horsepower, I still prefer the Volvo because it feels more like a true SUV.
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2018 Volvo XC60 T6 AWD R-Design Specifications
|PRICE||$45,895/$59,740 (base/as tested)|
|ENGINE||Direct-injection 2.0L turbocharged and supercharged DOHC 16-valve I-4 /316 hp @ 5,700 rpm 295 lb-ft @ 2,200 rpm|
|LAYOUT||4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, AWD crossover|
|EPA MILEAGE||21/27 mpg (city/highway)|
|L x W x H||184.6 x 74.9 x 65.3 in|
|0-60 MPH||5.6 sec|
|TOP SPEED||130 mph|