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2015 Volvo XC60 T6 Drive-E crossover maintains its safe car heritage

Volvo's unique tall curvy tailights surely grab the eyes when they're off and on
Volvo's unique tall curvy tailights surely grab the eyes when they're off and on
by Nick Hromiak

Volvo’s have always been known as safe cars as the Swedish company perfected numerous build and safety features before other carmakers had them. And although Volvo is now owned by a Chinese company, the cars are still being built in Sweden. And their latest creation, the 2015 XC60 T6 Drive-E crossover, combines all Volvo’s inherent safety features with new fuel saving technology.

A new smoother grille and lines gives the XC60 a sleek appearance
by Nick Hromiak

The T6 tested was uniquely powered by a supercharged and turbocharged 2.0L, four-cylinder (a six is also offered) that produces 302-hp and 295 lb/ft of torque that sends V8-type grunt to the wheels via an 8-speed automatic transmission. The combination garnered EPA mileage estimates of 22 city, 30-highway mpg.

These figures are achieved thanks to Volvo’s Drive-E ECO system that saves fuel by optimizing trans shift points and throttle mapping along with a start-stop function that can shut down the engine even when the car is slowing to a stop. The engine restarts when the driver releases the brake pedal. The only gripe here is that the system seemed to shut down too often and unexpectantly. But it’s presumed that’s how the car obtains the impressive mileage numbers. That, plus the ECO-climate function disconnects the A/C compressor to reduce auxiliary loads to conserve fuel.

The new 8-speed auto trans also gets some credit for these EPA figures in that the extra gearing enables the engine to operate at peak efficiency says Volvo.

As for performance, acceleration from a standing stop produces an explosion of linear power. It has been 0-60 tested at 6.1 seconds, which isn’t bad for a heavy (4,096 pound ) crossover wagon. There’s certainly no want for power at low or high ends.

After a low 19-inch step-in into the cabin, you’re treated to a lush cabin with color block-type leather seats, which in the test car, were tan with grey panels and white contrasting stitching. The seats are as comfy as any in many homes albeit with the fronts being embellished with substantial lateral support that may be a bit too confining for wide girdled folks. The rears were more flat with ample leg and headroom.

The T6s vertical stack is likened to that in a corporate jet with an array of easy to use buttons and controls and Volvo’s neat man-form air direction buttons. A 6x3.75-inch LCD display shows audio, rearview camera and GPS nav functions, plus the owners manual can also be displayed there. The nav showed local restaurants and filling stations but street details were lacking.

The speedometer, however, conveniently displayed a small speed limit sign for the area. Some other vehicles show it on the large display but Volvo’s placement is better.

Cargo space is spacious. With the rear seats up the area measures 38-inches deep, 40.5 wide and 29.5 high. Flip the 40/20/40 rear seatbacks and depth extends to 68 inches.

The cargo floor also has a nifty lift up panel to stow grocery bags so they don’t fall over or slip around. And beneath it is a shallow compartment for small item storage.

True to its safety conscious agenda, the T6 was loaded with safety features, albeit pricey ones. But the added cost should reflect in lower insurance premiums.

With the $4,000 Platinum package you get nav, top-line audio, rearview camera, power liftgate, powered side mirrors with auto dimming for all mirrors. To that was added the $1,500 Sport package with more heavily bolstered seats and 20-inch wheels.

The Technology package ($1,500) contains the major safety features of Adaptive Cruise Control, Collision Warning with full Auto Brake (will stop the car from speeds up to 30 mph), Bicyclist/Pedestrian Detection w/full Auto Brake, Distance Alert/Driver Alert Control, Lane Departure Warning and Active High Beam with Roadside Information.

For another $900 you get Blind Spot Information System, Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Change Merge Aid plus front/rear park assist. For $800 more there’s Active Dual Xenon headlights with washers, $550 for metallic paint and $500 for heated front seats.

As for ride and handling, the XC60 shod with 20-inch Pirelli tires, rides smoothly and quietly on smooth roads but gets a bit boisterous on rough terrain because of its taut suspension. Handling is on par with BMWs and Benz’s, while parallel parking is easy since the cars turning radius is relatively tight.

For all this technology and safety features, this Volvo is not inexpensive. With a delivery charge of $925, the base price of $40,050 escalated to $50,725 or about as much as the aforementioned Euro machines of equivalent content.
Volvo spices the offer by providing free maintenance for five years. Added to that, government safety ratings for overall, frontal crash and side crash garnered five stars while rollover received four stars. These should impress your insurance carrier.