I have a soft spot for Swedish cars, having owned two Saabs and one Volvo. And Volvo is even more near and dear to me: I learned to drive on my parentsâ€™ 1987 Volvo 740. When a kid rear-ended me at 40 miles per hour while I was at a dead stop, the car crumpled just like it did in those commercials and I walked away fine.
So I was open-minded when it came time to evaluate the latest car that Fields Auto Group lent me to review, the 2013 Volvo XC60. Iâ€™ve always been just a little curious about this car, but I passed it up when buying our 2011 BMW X3. And I remembered how much I liked the '99 Volvo S80 T6 I had a few years back. That car was fast.
Still, Volvo has such a unique sense of style, yet I find myself alternating between like and dislike with this carâ€™s modern lines, sneaky-fast power and quirky interior. For as cool as this SUVâ€™s rear end is, the front looks oh-so-conservative. While its profile casts a similar shadow to a Honda CRV, the Volvo would smoke it under any circumstances, easily running laps around my X3. The interior is unintuitive to me, but itâ€™s spacious and comfortable at the same time.
So what you see with this car is not exactly what you get. Actually, you get more. The XC60 rides low and cushy like a sedan. But it also sports 300 turbocharged horses, 325 pounds of foot torque and fuel efficiency similar to my naturally-aspirated and much punier straight six-cylinder Bimmer.
Thatâ€™s why the XC60 feels to me like a stealthy soccer mom car, or more accurately, a stealthy soccer dad car. For its many comforts and insane safety features, it plows through snow with the power of a much more expensive car. So Iâ€™m split on this one.
To me, the good outweighs the bad. Comparing the XC60 to my everyday car, I appreciate the panoramic moon roof, the quick-to-heat-up front seats and the large rear windows and sight lines, which are a nice departure from that tiny rear slit in my BMW. The blind spot monitoring system comes in handy every day. The car has a floating center stack in brushed aluminum, which is convenient for stashing stuff behind. The power rear tailgate, an option in the "premium plus" package, is very nice.
The XC60 feels quite fast and competent on the road, too. When you floor it, youâ€™re thrown back in your seat, and in snow, it performs excellently, just as a Swedish car (now owned by the Chinese, mind you) should. Over almost two months of mixed driving, the XC60 registered 20.2 mpg, which is a little bit less than the 23.1 mpg I get in my BMW â€“ but this vehicle offers 60 more hp and much more torque.
My experience was not all positive, though, but the XC60's negatives may not be negatives for you. The suspension, for example, is quite soft and cushy. If you like the road feel of a German car, you wonâ€™t appreciate the Volvo. And even after two months, I just couldnâ€™t get used to the consoleâ€™s ergonomics. Though much of the action can be controlled from the steering wheel, the main control button is small and pushed all the way to the right. I donâ€™t understand the purpose of the over-sized silhouette for visualizing heating and cooling, and the many phone-pad-like numbers/letters buttons seem extraneous.
But this being a Volvo, it offers one amazing safety feature that Iâ€™ve never seen before. At speeds under 31 miles per hour, the "City Safety" will automatically stop you if youâ€™re about hit a car in front of you. While I didnâ€™t try it out, thankfully, the car did loudly beep at me a few times when it thought I got too close to someone, too quickly, in heavy traffic. Better to be safe than sorry.
So, would I buy it? Maybe. The base front-wheel drive package starts at $34,350, which is less expensive, though with roughly the same 240 hp engine configuration, as my car. The car I tested, the T6 AWD, costs more than my X3 at $45,395, but is quite a bit more powerful and feature-rich, especially with the "premier plus" and "climate package."
I guess it comes down to personal preference. The XC60 is an impressive, value-driven luxury SUV, but I donâ€™t like it as much as my own car. It doesn't feel quite as refined, if that makes sense.
But this is a very capable, super comfortable, nimble and safe SUV. It's a great family car with tons of room.
Moms and dads of Milwaukee, you could smirk to yourself at those soccer games. The Volvo XC60 is a wolf in a Swedish sheepâ€™s clothing.
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Andy Tarnoff
Published July 11, 2016
Summerfest 2016 may have come and gone, but the memories will live forever - because we at OnMilwaukee took enough photos and video to fill a large hard drive.
Published July 9, 2016
Playing before the Barenaked Ladies and OMD, Howard Jones got the 6 p.m. spot at the BMO Harris Pavilion Saturday night, and while that's not exactly top billing for an artist who had 15 top 40 singles during his career, I'll take it.
Published July 9, 2016
In a word, Paul McCartney was amazing tonight. I feel beyond fortunate that I've now seen him play twice. Now back at the office, at midnight, Bobby is writing the main review, but I have some stuff to say, too. Random stuff, so please indulge me.
Published July 7, 2016
Go ahead; get those laughs out of the way. I'm trying to write a serious review of Anthony Ray's Big Gig show. You, of course, know him as Sir Mix-a-Lot, and unless you listened to his tapes in the early '90s, you probably recognize just one of his songs.
Published June 30, 2016
If you've ever bought an official Summerfest T-shirt, hat or other branded gift, it's first gone through Dan Elias. As vice president of The Specialized Marketing Group Inc., he's managed the merch for the Big Gig for 17 years.
Published June 28, 2016
In college, I had a reoccurring nightmare that I was trapped on a crazy elevator. Lately, that's been replaced by what I call the "fat finger" dream. I've talked to a few people, including co-worker Molly Synder, who has had it, too.
Published June 27, 2016
OnMilwaukee publisher Andy Tarnoff is very impressed with this year's Summerfest lineup, but he thinks the strongest day for the Big Gig is on July 9. For his money, he's especially excited about Howard Jones and, obviously, Sir Paul McCartney. Here are his picks.
Published June 11, 2016
"It's good to be king." Mel Brooks actually said that, quoting himself, to a sold-out show Saturday night at the Riverside. Based on the remarkable stories, the adoring reception and the super-human energy from this soon-to-be 90-year-old film legend, I believe him.
Published May 7, 2016
I won't lie to you: I know nothing about the current state of professional wrestling. But from 1983 to 1989, from about age 9 to 15, I was a huge fan. So big, in fact, that I wrote a fan letter to WWF announcer "Mean" Gene Okerlund.
Published April 28, 2016
Angry readers, self-righteous writers and surly social media speculators are in a tizzy about an uptick in "clickbait," and in many respects, they have every right to be. In lots of cases, it's a bogus attempt to lure gullible readers, and ultimately, it won't and doesn't work.