By KBB.com Editors
Volvo has a well established reputation for building safe, family-friendly wagons that are as reliable as a Maine winter. Unfortunately, consumers in general have no love for wagons, preferring instead small and midsize crossover vehicles. Given this scenario, the most logical step for Volvo was to create a new vehicle, one with the ride and handling of a wagon, but look and feel of a small SUV. Based on the sporty S60 sedan platform, the 2011 Volvo XC60 fills the void between the larger XC90 and the aging XC70 wagon. Smartly styled and competitively priced, the XC60 is well equipped to take on long-established luxury CUVs like the BMW X3, Lexus RX 350 and Acura RDX, not to mention new comers such as the Audi Q5 and Mercedes-Benz GLK350. Coupled with Volvo's long list of safety and engineering firsts, the XC60 makes a rather attractive prospect, and its numerous trim variations and engine choices enable it to compete with such premium competitors as the Subaru Outback Limited and Volkswagen Tiguan.
If you're seeking a midsize crossover with a strong emphasis on safety that doesn't conflict with the vehicle's sense of style and comfort, the 2011 Volvo XC60 certainly fits the bill. Available all-wheel drive allows the XC60 to tackle all manner of road conditions and even confidently venture off-road.
If you want the security of all-wheel-drive, but without the higher price and lesser fuel economy of a six-cylinder engine, Audi's Q5 2.0-liter quattro is a better choice.
New for 2011 is the XC60 3.2 R-Design, which includes a leather interior, panoramic glass moonroof, HID headlamps with Active Light Bending technology and 20-inch alloy wheels. The base 3.2-liter V6 gets a five-horsepower bump, while the turbocharged models see an increase of 18 additional ponies, bumping output to 300 horsepower.
Driving Impressions We spent equal time in both the base XC60 3.2 and the top-of-the-line T6 R-Design and came away with two distinctly different driving impressions. The base XC60's 240-horsepower engine...has enough muscle to allow safe passage onto freeways or when overtaking slower cars, but once you get a taste of the 300-horsepower turbocharged engine in the T6, there's no going back. The turbo spools up quickly meaning there is no lag in power or sudden rush after the engine reaches a particular rpm. While the driving dynamics improve markedly with the T6, the ride quality seems to diminish exponentially. Riding on 17-inch wheels and tires, the XC60 3.2 provides a smooth and comfortable ride with little tire noise entering the cabin. However, the T6 R-Design's stiffer suspension setup and 20-inch wheels make for a rather firm ride frequently punctuated by rude jolts when encountering nasty road distortions, and slightly more interior noise. During highway driving, we found both vehicles felt stable and well-behaved, tracking straight even on crowning pavement and responding instantly to steering wheel input.
Distracted drivers are becoming more and more frequent these days, which is why we applaud Volvo making the City Safe feature part of the XC60's standard equipment. At speeds below 19 mph, City Safe detects stopped or slower-moving objects ahead and applies the brakes to slow the vehicle helping to avoid or lessen the severity of an impact.
Although the ride can be a bit stiff, we love the power, handling and elegant R-Design styling. For the money, we think the XC60 T6 R-Design is one of the most-alluring crossovers on the market.
Functionally, there is nothing that stands out about the 2011 Volvo XC60's interior, but its aesthetics are notably interesting. Lovely contrasting colors adorn the seats and door panels while a distinctive open-back console plays home to the climate and audio controls. High on our plus list are the extremely comfortable bucket-style seats, and the long list of available electronic safety features that do everything from warn when the vehicle is drifting from its lane, to slow the car before an inevitable front-end collision can occur (this should be particularly helpful to those who can't help texting while driving). Not so impressive are the awkwardly placed and hard to turn manual lumbar adjustments, and the overly complicated screens on the available navigation system that, while artistic, are inferior to the simple touch screen menus found on any $100 Garmin unit.
If there's one place the 2011 Volvo XC60 outshines most of its competition, it's the vehicle's exterior. Where most competitors display squared-off edges and boxy greenhouses, the XC60's slicked back profile, curvaceous sheet metal and highly stylized tail lamps speak to the driving enthusiast in all of us. To achieve the XC60's sleek roofline, Volvo engineers have created roof rails with minimal height, a design that also cuts down on wind noise. An available cross bar system can be attached to the rails and features a number of supports for bikes, skis, kayaks, windsurfers and a cargo box. There's even a gas-sprung lift-arm option to help lift your bike onto the supports. The R-Design models feature larger, more stylish wheels but the performance tires that come with the package lessen the XC60's off-road abilities, prompting us to recommend the base 3.2 or T6 trim over the R-Design if mud or snow is a part of your regular driving routine.
The most basic 2011 Volvo XC60 includes a 3.2-liter six-cylinder engine, six-speed Geartronic automatic transmission, front and rear skid plates and four-year/50,000 mile warranty. In addition to power windows, mirrors and locks, the Volvo XC60 includes heated outside mirrors, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, dual-zone automatic climate controls, cruise control, eight-way power driver's seat, tilt/telescopic steering wheel, Bluetooth, and 180-watt sound system with eight speakers, CD/DVD video playback, HD radio, Sirius Satellite Radio, and a USB input. Standard safety features include front side-impact airbags, side-curtain airbags, City Safe (a system that can slow the car at speeds under 19 mph when an object is detected ahead), electronic traction and stability controls, Trailer Stability Assist, whiplash protection seating and a tire pressure monitoring system.
A nicely-loaded 2011 Volvo XC60 T6 R-Design includes dual xenon headlamps with Active Light Bending technology, aluminum trim on the steering wheel, laminated panoramic glass moonroof with power sunshade, an eight-way power passenger's seat, leather seating surfaces, 20-inch "Cratus" alloy wheels, and R-Design inlays and contrasting interior panels. All-wheel drive is available on 3.2 and 3.2 R-Design models and is standard on the T6 and T6 R-Design. Volvo groups its most popular options into packages, including the Technology Package that adds Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure Alert, and Pedestrian Detection with Full Auto Brake. The Climate Package brings heated front and rear seats, headlamp washers, heated windshield washer nozzles and rain sensing wipers, while the Multimedia packages adds a 650-watt premium Surround Sound audio system with iPod integration and navigation featuring Rear Time traffic, remote control operation and a rear backup camera. Standalone options include BLIS blind spot warning system, Volvo's Personal Car Communicator with Keyless Drive and two-way car communication, rear-seat DVD entertainment, and dual outboard rear child booster seats.
The 2011 Volvo XC60 3.2 is powered by a 3.2-liter in-line six cylinder engine generating 240 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque. This dual overhead cam, 24-valve powerplant is fairly fuel efficient, runs on regular fuel and delivers its power without vibration or coarse sound. The T6 models receive a turbocharged 3.0-liter in-line six-cylinder engine that, like the 3.2-liter, runs on regular fuel yet pumps out an impressive 300 horsepower. Both engines are mated to the same six-speed Geartronic automatic transmission that allows for manual shift operation. And, despite its added power, the turbocharged engine nearly matches the normally aspirated 3.2 in city and highway fuel consumption.
3.2-liter in-line six
240 horsepower @ 6400 rpm
236 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/25 (FWD), 18/24 (AWD)
3.0-liter in-line six, turbocharged
300 horsepower @ 5600 rpm
325 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2100-4200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/22
By Bill on Wednesday, February 11, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 52,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Adaptive cruise, very fine driving car"
Cons: "Gas mileage poor compared to other cars of = wt."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I bought this '10 X60 T6 awd off a lease with 26K miles. I searched country wide for one with the technology package which has the very desirable adaptive radar controlled cruise control. I discovered that I also got a heck of a good car. The mileage could be better-- I drive with a light touch and get > 20 mpg on every tank with lots of local. Believe it or not, the only thing I hate is that the radio only gives one line of XM info at a time! I had to replace a brakelight. I think the sales force has done a poor job of positioning the technology package-- It's great yet you see few that have it."
19 people out of 44 found this review helpful
By 74 mile commute on Sunday, January 25, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 9,500overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "safe, comfortable, ample headroom for 6'2" husband"
Cons: "lumbar support, two small buttons on dash"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Purchased this car last summer and overall have been very pleased. Before buying this SUV, I test drove SUVs from Audi, Honda, Lexus, Lincoln, Ford and Cadillac. I definitely prefer the Volvo XC60 to all of them. Optimal gas mileage is achieved when driving between 30-50 mph on level roads which luckily constitutes much of my commute. The only negatives for this car are that the manual lumbar support is awkward to use and that the gas cap and back door release buttons on the dash are obscured by the steering wheel so that you have to peer around the steering wheel to find them. The local dealership takes good care of their customers. When I took my SUV in for the free oil change last week, they also cleaned and reconditioned my leather seats and rotated / aligned the tires - at no cost!Wonderful!"
25 people out of 51 found this review helpful
By JBatl on Monday, November 10, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 73,000overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "very comfortable ride, comfortable seats, safe"
Cons: "lousy mileage!"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 4
"I guess I drove Audi's for too long because when I bought this Volvo I soon discovered so many little things missing from their design of the vehicle. The inside door handles aren't lit, not enough ambient light lighting the console (catlights) and Volvo service is nowhere near Audi service. I'm now at 73,000 miles and have to replace the brake vacuum pump and a motor mount. Seriously? Normal city driving and I'm far from being a young, aggressive driver. So a tune up and oil change runs $500 plus this puts you in debt for $1800."
37 people out of 69 found this review helpful
By Bob V on Tuesday, September 30, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great ride, lots of power T6"
Cons: "Low Gas Mileage."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"The car rides like a dream. The stereo setup is a little funky and speaker pattern setup is either for front or rear focused, not able to fine tune for even sound coverage forward and aft."
30 people out of 58 found this review helpful
By vstardeb on Saturday, September 20, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 26,010overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "great performance, excellent safety, technology"
Cons: "could have better brakes to stop this fast vehicle"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I was looking for a SUV that not only had great styling and technology features, but also performance/speed. It took me almost 2 years to find a vehicle that met all my requirements. I test drove the 2011 XC60, but was unimpressed with the technology and power. Almost a year and a half later, I went back to my local Volvo dealer and saw the XC60 R-Design on the showroom floor - they had just gotten it in. I immediately took it for a test drive and fell in love with style, performance, speed, technology, comfort, safety and overall appearance of the vehicle. While I was signing the paperwork to purchase the vehicle, a gentleman came running into the dealer and said "I want to buy that XC60 R-Design now!". I looked at him and said "sorry, I just signed the paperwork to purchase it?" He was so disappointed and offered to buy it directly from me and give me an extra $1000 in cash - of course, I said no, and have no regrets - I love my XC60 R-Design!"
23 people out of 42 found this review helpful
By Barbie on Thursday, August 28, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 8,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Handles well, nice interior, lots of safety featur"
Cons: "Poor gas milage!!!!"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"I have had this car for 4 months. I have really enjoyed driving this vehicle. I was worried about the stop/start function, but you easily get use to it. I love the body style, and the interior is very nice, and comfortable. I would very much recommend the BLISS option. It is very helpful. My main reason for buying this car was the MPG rating of 24/32 city/highway. I work out of my car everyday, and average about 100 miles per day in the city. I was hoping to average at least 24-26 in the city, however I am only averaging around 21MPG, which is using 87 octane(which they recommend). I have tried 89 octane several times, and not much improvement. VERY DISAPPOINTING with the MPG!!"
19 people out of 35 found this review helpful