2015.5 Volvo XC60 T6 AWD Review

Mid-year Changes Point to the Future of the XC60

2015.5 Volvo XC60 T6 AWD Review

For 2015, the XC60 is amidst a transition that is gripping the Volvo brand as a whole. Every model in the manufacturer’s modest portfolio is being overhauled to accommodate new engines, transmissions and technology. This isn’t an easy feat for any manufacturer, especially a smaller player like Volvo, but I’m happy to report that the future looks bright.

SEE ALSO: Five-Point Inspection: 2015 Volvo XC60 T6 Drive-E FWD

Starting this year, the new family of Drive-E drivetrain components have hit the market and Volvo’s Senus Connect infotainment system became available for all of the company’s models, including the XC60.

Receiving these updates mid-year, the XC60 is officially branded as a 2015.5 model year vehicle. Three new engines join the fold for the compact crossover as well as a new eight-speed automatic transmission. Even trims that may appear to be carryovers, like my XC60 T6 AWD, have had options streamlined and new components added. The question is whether or not these changes can help the XC60 maintain a competitive edge?

Unusual, Powerful Engine

Volvo has a history of engineering unusual mass-market engines and it doesn’t appear that lineage will be ending anytime soon. After sticking to five-cylinder turbocharged engines for what felt like an eon, Volvo is now releasing twin-charged four-cylinder engines into everything from compact sedans to three-row crossovers

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But even the XC60 T6 AWD has an unusual drivetrain configuration. The turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine is mounted transversely under the crossover’s hood. That means all six cylinders fit between the front wheel wells. Power is rated at 300 HP and 325 lb-ft. of torque and can be sent to all four-wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission.

SEE ALSO: 2013 Volvo XC60 R-Design Review – Video

This combination is rated to get 17 MPG city and 24 MPG highway. I was able to average 20.8 MPG during a week with the car and the good news is that even though this is a fairly powerful turbocharged engine, it still runs on regular gasoline.

Power itself is great, as there is plenty of it. But even with a turbocharger strapped to a six-cylinder engine, I did notice a lack of low-end torque compared to the new twin-charged four-cylinder engine I drove in the XC60 T6 FWD. That vehicle feels much punchier down low despite only being a four-cylinder thanks to the additional supercharger.

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The Good and Bad of Sensus Connect

Sensus Connect with a six-month free subscription is now included on all versions of the 2015.5 XC60. The user interface remains familiar to Volvo owners and features a unique, straightforward friendly interface. But I can’t say the same for the infotainment system itself.

Although Sensus is easy enough to use, it’s hard to find certain features within the various menu screens. I feel like it’s been dumbed so much in an effort to make it consumer friendly that there are now far too many screens to cycle through. I’m sure it will be easy enough to use after some time to acclimate, but simple adjustments to certain settings had me cycling through a lot of screens. And, without touch capability for the seven-inch screen, the system trails its competition from a technology standpoint.

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The rest of the interior is more or less untouched. The front seats are comfortable to spend some time in and the rear seats fit adult passengers. The rear hatch offers upwards of 67.4 cubic feet of storage space with the rear seats folded down.

Rides Hard, Handles Well

My XC60 T6 AWD was not the R-Design model and therefore was not equipped with the sportier suspension, which is a good thing. Even with the regular suspension, the ride is on the firm side and larger bumps in the road make their presence known to all occupants onboard. The plus side is fairly nimble handling for a 4,277-lb. crossover, but I’d gladly trade some of this handling for a bit more ride comfort on non R-Design models.

Volvo’s slip-and-grip all-wheel drive system has been improving over the years thanks to advancements with the Haldex center differential. Nearly seamless in sending power to the rear wheels in a straight line, there’s a bit more hesitation during slippery cornering. Despite that, the XC60 trumps a lot of its competition in towing ability as it is officially rated to haul upwards of 3,500 lbs.

152165_Volvo_XC60_Ocean_Race_EditionSafer than an Underground Dropbox

Volvo is making a big deal about advertising that “No one will be seriously injured or killed in a new Volvo by 2020.” Normally I would write this off as automotive hyperbole, but Volvo has a longstanding history of safety innovation and if any manufacturer is going to achieve this claim, it’ll probably be them.

Signs of just how serious the manufacturer is about safety are all over the XC60. It comes built on a strong vehicle structure designed to withstand a large impact. My tester came equipped with an array of safety features like blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, collision warning, forward collision avoidance and a whole lot more.

I’ve sampled a lot of cars instituting crash detection and the system in the XC60 works well. It’s not too intrusive in altering how the vehicle behaves, but I find the constant faint red lights being reflected from the dashboard onto the Volvo’s windshield irritating. This is an indication that I’m following too closely to the vehicle in front when I’m really not. I ended up driving the majority of the time with the system switched off.

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The Verdict

The 2015.5 XC60 remains class competitive as the base T5 Drive-E FWD starts at $37,125 after destination charges. That places it in the middle of the premium compact crossover segment, priced above the Lexus NX and Lincoln MKC, but lower than the Audi Q5 or BMW X3.

As equipped, my XC60 T6 AWD Platinum test vehicle carried an MSRP of $50,175 with the climate and BLIS packages added on, which once again places the Volvo competitively within the class. The XC60 is not without its faults, but there are more positives than negatives. More than anything, it’s hard to beat the XC60 if safety is your primary concern. Add relatively high towing capacity and an attractive exterior and the XC60 is an intriguing alternative to more common premium crossovers.