2013 Volvo XC60 R-Design Review – Video

A premium sports sedan on stilts

2013 Volvo XC60 R-Design Review – Video

Aside from the dazzling looks, the real marvel of this sportier version of the family-oriented yet premium European crossover is its plentiful dose of turbocharged power.


1. The R-Design’s up-rated turbocharged 3.0-liter 6-cylinder makes 325 hp and 354 lb-ft of torque and can hit 60 mph in just 5.8 seconds.

2. Other R-Design upgrades include a sport-tuned suspension, tighter steering, some matte-silver accenting and large 20-inch wheels.

3. Despite the power boost, fuel economy is loses just one mpg in the city compared to regular T6 XC60 models, for a rating of 18/25 mpg.

4. R-Design models start at $44,850 plus destination, with our test car at $48,950.

Despite its hefty 4,225 lb curb weight, the Volvo XC60 R-Design accelerates easily at any speed or on any terrain thanks to all-wheel drive and a 3.0-liter six-cylinder turbocharged engine making 325 hp and 354 lb-ft of torque.

And even with such peppy performance, fuel economy isn’t brutal, with an 18 mpg city, 25 mpg highway rating, for a combined 20 miles per gallon. That’s only one mile per gallon less in the city than the regular T6 XC60.

There is, of course, a catch, and that comes with the sticker price, with the R-Design retailing for more than $10,000 above the base XC60, which starts at $34,350. Starting at $44,850, our lipstick rouge tester equipped with the Platinum package is a lofty $48,950.


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Apart from some R-Design badging there’s little that’s outwardly aggressive about the R-Design model’s styling and yet it certainly pops – thanks in part to the Passion Red paint.

It does, however, appear low and lean, despite an off-road-capable 9.1-inch ground clearance. Credit here goes to the details with matte silver mirror covers and alloy accents along the sides of the body, not to mention chrome tipped tailpipes. Factory tinted rear windows help the sporty factor, while the real kicker are the 20-inch 5-spoke wheels. With other tame color choices, if you do want to stand out and red isn’t your think Volvo also now offers a Rebel Blue paint choice.


2013 Volvo XC60 R-Design interiorDon’t expect the classic wood finishes or inlays of conventional luxury brands inside any Volvo – the R-Design in particular. With unique Scandinavian inspired materials and shapes the XC60’s cabin looks like no other.

At first glance, the tailored look impresses, though it doesn’t hold up to a closer inspection and when practicality and functionality come into play, it’s less than ideal.

Style-wise, it’s unfortunate that the dramatic look of the blue gauges isn’t carried over into other areas of the dash, with the center stack entirely drab. Though the angled center console is well-placed below the 7-inch color display, the function buttons are too small and poorly clustered together. The infotainment system is also problematic, with frustrating controls.

2013 Volvo XC60 R-Design gauges

The consolation to the bad tech are standard items solely available to the R-Design trims like a 650-watt 12-speaker audio system, as well as a navigation system offering real time traffic alerts and a rear park assist camera.

While R-Design models get sporty seating, it’s not overly comfortable and the color combos are less attractive than the promotional material might suggest.

However, gadgetry is not the end all be all of a good ride. The XC60 R-Design’s leathery interior is exclusive to the racy model but the sport-inspired seating is less than attractive and comfortable. Available as black with beige inlays (or the opposite combo) , they resemble a worn pair of Chuck Taylor Converse sneakers.

While spacious enough up front, the same can’t be said of the rear seats, with the area better suited to children than average-sized adults.

A notable convenience feature, exclusive to Volvo, are second row dual-stage integrated booster seats with adaptive seatbelts for an additional $500. Plus, to keep the youngsters happy, you could throw in dual screen rear entertainment system for $1,800. The rears seats also have a convenient 40/20/40 split, easing cargo storage and more.


2013 Volvo XC60 R-Design rear

Piloting the XC60 R-Design, it drives like it looks. And by that I mean fast. Power comes on tremendously, and will blast this heavy ute to 60 mph in just 5.8 seconds.

It’s responsive and torquey at just the touch of the throttle, meaning it will pull ahead easily on the highway without the need to drop gears.

Further driving the message home is the sport-tuned suspension. With stiffer springs, and some wide, low-profile and sticky 255/45/20 summer tires, this Volvo has plenty of cornering potential. Steering is also tightened to match the suspension.

There is, however, a down-side to these performance upgrades, namely, the harsh ride. Keeping the vehicle’s heft in check requires a level of suspension firmness that is far from agreeable in a family-oriented crossover. Some drivers may also find the amount of steering effort excessive. Overall, it’s a fun package, but one that comes with compromises.


2013 Volvo XC60 R-Design grille

An area where Volvo never compromises, however, is safety. Features includes a Blind Spot Information System (BLIS), not to mention a Lane Departure warning alert feature – though it’s incessant chirping can become an annoyance.

To help avoid an accident there’s Collision Warning, not to mention Volvo’s impressive City Safety feature with pedestrian detection and full auto brake, as part of a $2,100 Technology Package. Able to detect a car or pedestrian that wanders into your car’s path, it can autonomously bring the XC60 to a complete stop at speeds below 22 mph. Plus, it includes adaptive cruise control that works even in stop-and-go traffic.

The XC60 T6 AWD R-Design also includes high-end standards like a 7-inch display, Bluetooth with audio streaming, rain sensor wipers, headlamp washers and a panoramic sunroof.



2013 Volvo XC60 R-Design front

The XC60 R-Design is surprisingly un-Volvo. While it does offer the sort of safety and all-weather capability you expect. It’s also brash, even sexy, and a rocketship when you put your foot down.

Less practical, however, and with some daily driving drawbacks, the pricey XC60 R-Design is less a vehicle for soccer moms and more for the business man who really wants a luxury sports sedan, but needs a crossover too.

  • J Mack

    Why the hell would anyone buy this when there’s the BMW X3?

  • Jackson12G

    You cant come out of a bmw or audi into this and not be bored with it in 2 days.

  • Martin

    you’re having a laugh, this leaves any Q5 or X3 for dust no comparison the bmw is boring inside, and the Audi engine sounds like a bag of spanners floating around in the engine compartment

  • BrunoT

    You can get other colors beside the standard passion red (or rebel blue). You just pay $500 for the metallic colors.

    The XC60 is more fun than the Audi Q5 in most similarly priced trims (not the $55K models) and has more “utility” than the somewhat homely BMW X3. The BMW tops it but not enough to matter for those who value safety and a low profile more than their ability to impress the neighbors. This previous owner of two 5 series and one 3 series appreciates those values. If you want max fun factor take your savings from buying a Volvo vs a BMW X3 with the turbo 6 and put it towards a nice used E90 328i with a manual for days when you don’t need the utility. Officially rated at about 6.7 sec to 60mph (before the Polestar upgrade) the Volvo feels much faster in day to day use and only a complete loser drives a SAV/SUV at speeds and in turns where the difference in these models is noticeable. The Volvo did a 67mph slalom for Motor Trend when the R design first came out. That beats a 5 series.

  • BrunoT

    Oh yeah, for an ’11 I paid $43K out the door (6% tax, $500 dealer fee, title, tag) and got 0% financing for 3 years plus 5 years of full (not powertrain) warranty and free service for 5 years under Volvo’s “safe and sound” plan. The X3 we shopped was going to be a slower 3.0 28i model and would cost $3K more and the warranty was 4 years with 3 years of maintenance. Adjusted for that, the BMW was about $5K more.

    My Volvo 3 years later is worth at least $32K (only 2 for sale in the Southern USA, both priced at dealers over $35,500 with much higher miles). So much for the poor resale value. This will be one of the cheapest luxury cars we’ve ever owned.

  • BrunoT

    correction, make that Edmunds. 67.7 mph.

  • Sid V

    Because it’s way better looking inside and out foo. Not cliched either.