The 2018 Volvo XC60 has won the prestigious North American Utility of the Year Award and for good reason. This luxury crossover SUV combines a handsome design with the latest in safety and infotainment technology in a compact package that’s fun to drive. The XC60 has much to recommend against rivals like the Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Mercedes GLC. Micah Muzio explains it all in this Video Review and Road Test.

2018 Volvo XC60 Video Transcript

At Kelley Blue Book, we're big fans of the midsize Volvo XC90 SUV. What happens when you take that XC90 brilliance and shrink it down a little bit? Spawned from the XC90's core structure the XC60 is aimed at premium compact SUVs like the Mercedes-Benz GLC, BMW X3 and Lexus NX. But, of course, the XC60 has something those cars don't. It's Swedish! An inescapable fact reinforced not only with little Swedish flags but also with the XC60's...well...everything.

If you guessed the interior would express a stark but inviting simplicity you get a gold star. The XC60 doesn't just look nice, it feels nice with excellent material quality throughout, though the matte plastic around the center console seems prone to scratching. Front passengers are treated to a primo view of this lovely dash.

Along with well-contoured seats featuring standard memory and glorious power lumbar support, there's also plenty of space for luggage in the XC60's decently sized, square cargo hold. Drop the seats and you've got more than 60 cubic feet to fill. Spring for the optional adaptive air suspension and the vehicle will even politely lower itself for easier loading. There's also a storage spot underneath the rear seats, more of a slot. That was a secret...until right now. Yeah, yeah the shoot's going great!

Like its XC90 sibling, the XC60 offers three alpha-numerically titled powertrains, each sporting a mostly transparent 8-speed automatic transmission. A T5 badge means there's a decently quick 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder under the hood, while T6 denotes the addition of a supercharger, which brings with it a notable bump in power.

At the top of the metaphorical heap sits the T8 plug-in hybrid, which basically uses the T6 setup to spin the front tires and a lithium-ion battery pack and electric motor to power the rear. Between the electric and gasoline bits this oddly powerful hybrid can run from 0 to 60 miles per hour in around 5 seconds and covers 18 miles without using gasoline. Speedy tree-hugging aside the T8 suffers from touchy, artificial feeling brakes. If you find no greater joy in life then imperceptibly gliding to a stop, stick with the T5 or the T6. Also, maybe get a cooler hobby.

For urban parking adventures, the XC60's light, quick steering works really well. Easy. This is a lot of unnecessary steering but I'm in the lines. In a more open setting that light steering feels a little numb. Nonetheless the well-tuned chassis delivers confident handling and more than agreeable ride quality.

The XC60 lineup is divided into three trims, base Momentum, the sporting R-Design, and the luxurious Inscription. In simplest form the Volvo XC60 T5 Momentum comes with all-wheel drive, leather, LED headlights, dual-zone automatic climate control, an awesome high-resolution backup camera that makes most other backup cameras look like junk and a panoramic moonroof that really opens up the interior. All for about $42,500.

Also standard is a Sensus 9-inch infotainment system with a functional clutter free, dare I say, Swedish layout. Sensus comes standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto but unlike some similar systems Volvo's smartphone integration doesn't completely take over the infotainment screen when they're in use. Well done, Volvo. Also thanks for including a microfiber to clean the smudge prone screen.

Higher up the food chain the T6 Momentum starts closer to $46,000 while the T8 Momentum plug-in hybrid checks in around $54,000. That might seem pricey but the T8 is also eligible for a $5,000 federal tax incentive, effectively dropping its price to $49,000. For a mere $3,000 more than the T6 the faster, more-efficient T8 is a comparative bargain.

Among the enticing features available to XC60 buyers are ventilated and massaging Nappa leather seats, heated front and rear seats, keyless access, which this particular XC60 does not have, a $3,200 1,400-watt Bowers & Wilkins audio system, and optional adaptive cruise control with pilot assist. That last feature is a semi-autonomous system that helps manage speed and steering in traffic jams but sadly does not free the driver from their responsibility to drive. Sorry, that life-altering tweet will have to wait.

If you know one thing about Volvo is that they're Swedish, but if you know two things about Volvo that second thing is that Volvo loves safety. To that end the XC60's standard safety roster includes six airbags, lane-keeping assist, Volvo's city safety automatic braking system with pedestrian and large animal detection, oncoming lane mitigation, which can automatically steer the vehicle away from a head-on collision, and rear collision warning that can flash the brakes to alert approaching vehicles and tighten the XC60 seatbelts if a collision is unavoidable.

If you like safety as much as Volvo, consider added cost options like blind spot monitoring, backup sensors, cross traffic alert, a 360-degree camera system, a fuss free automatic parking system, or dynamic headlights with automatic high beams.

When similarly equipped, prices for the Volvo XC60 stack up well with a competitive set that includes the BMW X3, Audi Q5, Cadillac XT5 and perhaps the Jaguar F-Pace or Alfa Romeo Stelvio if you're feeling exotic. Depending on how much value you place on branding, parking a BMW or Cadillac in your driveway might be more exciting than rocking a Volvo.

Go the other direction and the funds you'd commit to buying an XC60 could secure a much roomier, well-equipped mainstream midsize SUV like the Honda Pilot, VW Atlas, or Buick Enclave. But if you want a premium SUV in a compact package the XC60 is a great choice.

Like all Volvos, its appeal hinges partly on its esoteric, Swedish charm. But that's not the whole story. The XC60 is also a fine driving, comfortable, and stylish SUV. And hey, if you need more justification for your purchase remember, it's also super safe. You're welcome.

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