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 Juliana on Wednesday, April 09, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 27,890overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Zippy and super comfortable"
Cons: "Too expensive for this type of vehicle"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"Great car. Super fun to drive. Gas mileage not wonderful, I average 20 around town and tank is small so I fill up often. The most comfortable seats ever, better then my hubby's BMW."
6 people out of 11 found this review helpful
By Craig on Friday, March 21, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 240overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Nice look and great safety features"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I bought this car and have enjoyed it ever since. The outside styling is great, but the interior styling is well designed and thought out. Seating is comfortable and the back seat has more leg room then the Audi Q5. The electronic dash is easy to use and very functionable. Volvo has come a long way and this new style is going to bring folks back into their showroom."
7 people out of 11 found this review helpful
By Hans on Friday, March 21, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 72,500overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great value for the money"
Cons: "fuel mileage"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"Great car for traveling long distance, extremely comfortable. Handles well in all weather conditions. Would have liked to see better gas mileage. Would buy this car again."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By Maggie Mae on Saturday, March 08, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 55,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Excellent handling, very stylish,"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I've owned Ford SUV's, I've sold Toyotas, I've owned Lincoln's, Chrysler's and many other top domestic and imported luxury vehicles. I rented a BMW to compare the ride and performance; will never do that again.... BMW feels like a tin can compared to the Volvo! Hands down the XC60 is worth every penny! Performance and handling are second to none! It looks and drives the same as the first day I drove it off the lot. The sleek styling of the XC60 continues to give me compliments. I am now a very loyal Volvo customer!"
7 people out of 8 found this review helpful
By Dani on Tuesday, February 18, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 37,500overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Pretty, perfect size, durable, reliable"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This car has been all I expected. The only thing I would change if I were to purchase again is to upgrade to AWD and/or turbo, as the 3.2 lacks the initial punch when you accelerate. Service has been easy and convenient. I have only had 1 issue and that was with a battery, not the car. Volvo covered the tow and repair without hassle and no charge to me. Still under warranty, so we shall see what the older years bring, but I plan to drive this car for its life."
6 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By Edward on Thursday, February 06, 2014
I owned and sold this car
Reason: Not reliable,
Pros: "Unreliable, bad on gas, service terrible"
Cons: "No storage, hard ride"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"With less than 2,000 miles it had left me stranded in traffic and had to be towed to dealer. Dealer could not give me a loaner because I didn't buy it from them. At 4,300 miles I was on a tow truck on my way to the dealer again. The following week I sold it. Very un reliable and the service in the Miami area is terrible. Big mistake that won't happen again."
3 people out of 13 found this review helpful