2010 Volvo XC60 First Drive

Jim Jackson
by Jim Jackson

It is said that being the middle child in a family can sometimes be problematic. Not so for the 2010 Volvo XC60.


1. The XC60 is powered by a 281-hp turbocharged six-cylinder engine.
2. Fuel-economy is rated at 16/22 mpg (city/hwy).
3. Cargo room is 31 cu.-ft., or 67 cu.-ft. with the rear seats folded flat.
4. The XC60 sits between the traditional Volvo XC70 Wagon and XC90 SUV.

Sweden’s leading automaker joins the trendy crossover market with the XC60 comfortably positioned between the brand’s XC70 Wagon and XC90 sport utility vehicle. It’s lighter than the latter, wider than the former and shorter than either.

Safety conscious consumers shifting their transportation needs to smaller vehicles can look to XC60 for Volvo’s signature styling, standard all-wheel drive, and traction and security innovation not found in any other vehicle.


Standard on the 2010 Volvo XC60 is the industry’s first ‘City Safety’ feature that automatically applies the brakes if the driver is about to hit a forward vehicle at low speed.

City Safety is a driver support system aimed at preventing or lessening collisions occurring at speeds 18-miles per hour or less.

A laser sensor mounted behind the inside rear view mirror scans the vehicle distance ahead. If at 18-mph or below, the car in front slows suddenly and City Safety determines a collision is likely, the XC60’s brakes pre-load for the impact.

If the Volvo driver fails to respond, the XC60 automatically applies the brakes to reduce damage to the cars and their passengers.

However, if the scenario occurs at typical stop-and-go rush hour speeds between 2- and 9-mph, City Safety abruptly stops the XC60 without driver intervention within 8-inches of the forward car to avoid the collision entirely.

According to Dan Johnston, Volvo product communications, weather plays a large role in City Safety’s effectiveness noting that under ideal conditions, the 9-mph threshold can be raised to 12-mph.

Forward objects must be car-like in size and shape. City Safety technology doesn’t respond to pedestrians or animals and is limited by fog, snow or heavy rain.

A recent trip to San Francisco helped clear up that point.


During Volvo’s XC60 press preview there, a barrier wall was erected in a parking lot some 40-feet from the procession of a dozen bronze colored XC60s about to enter the gauntlet to test City Safety’s effectiveness.

The nice public relations man from Volvo made it clear. Drivers were to wind their vehicle up to nine miles per hour and hold the speed steady. Don’t lift off the gas, don’t hit the brakes and don’t worry. Easier said than done.

Sure, it sounds easy and 9-mph feels slow – until you get close. Your eyes focus on the stationary object ahead, the distance eclipses from 20-…15-…10-…to 5-feet before slamming into the barrier when your driving instinct screams, “Stop the car!” And at that very moment – it does. The system brakes late and hard to a dead stop. No collision – inches from disaster. City Safety works.

In today’s world of cell phone use, text messaging and other driver distractions, Volvo’s XC60 standard equipped City Safety becomes the modern day mechanical superhero that can literally save the day in close slow moving traffic situations.

A real-time outdoor demonstration of the revolutionary City Safety system is available for consumer testing at Volvo dealers across the country.


Volvo XC60 delivers its City Safety advancement in a stylish package stamped by a large Volvo iron mark slashed across its egg crate grille and the segment’s tallest taillights that serve to enhance illumination and the marque’s signature hip design.

Styling of this newcomer is a real eye opener; particularly for those of us old enough to remember the square corner Volvos from the last century. Stodgy looks have given way to chic design that is attracting younger buyers to the brand.

The Volvo XC60 seats five adults – though if all are tall, some compromises on legroom will be necessary to comfortably accommodate back seat riders.

Occupants ride is style surrounded by a standard leather interior with available two-tone upholstery and Nordic light oak accents. An optional two-panel sunroof adds ambient light and open-air driving pleasure to the daily commute.

Up front, driver and passenger are greeted by a clean Scandinavian dashboard and instrument panel design. Though they certainly serve a dedicated purpose, the buttons on the center stack require pretty good aim to hit while driving.

However, the main controls for heat, ventilation, air-conditioning and audio system are larger, straightforward and intuitive enough to adjust on the fly, without undue distraction. The molded door pockets would be more useful if they were bigger, as would the covered center console bin.


But what XC60 lacks in door pocket stowage, is made up in the functionality of its cargo bay. There, carrying capacity affords nearly 31 cubic feet of space with the split-fold second row in place. Folding the rear seat down creates a flat load floor that can swallow over 67 cu.-ft. of cargo. A power version of the top-hinged liftgate is an available option.

Towing capacity reaches 3,300-lbs. with a trailer stability assist program offered as an option. The system teams with the stability control and anti-lock brakes to right trailer sway back to true form.

Hill descent and roll stability control systems are standard. Popular options include a blind spot information system and a lane departure warning system.

Volvo XC60 is hauled by a spirited 3.0-liter turbo-charged in-line six-cylinder engine mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission for 281-hp and fuel economy that yields 16-mpg in town and 22-mpg on the open road.


The 2010 Volvo XC60 is priced from $38,035. Based on my test drive, I would expect that this new Volvo will get a good, hard look from technology-loving buyers in the small premium sport utility segment.

Segment competitors include the Mercedes-Benz GLK350, Acura RDX, Lexus RX350, BMW X3, Audi Q5 and Infiniti EX35.


  • Chic new design
  • City Safety automatic braking for accident avoidance
  • Excellent cargo room


  • Limited passenger space for five adults
  • Tiny center-stack buttons
  • Small storage compartments
Jim Jackson
Jim Jackson

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