Given the tremendous success of Volvo's large, seven-seat XC90 SUV it's surprising it took Volvo so long to offer a car beneath it in the line-up. The XC60 is exactly that, arriving in Volvo showrooms in 2008 and having been on sale ever since. A popular choice, it might have chunky off-road looks and stance, but for economy reasons Volvo offers it with all- or front-wheel drive.
With its reputation for making safe, useful vehicles the XC60 was a long-time coming for Volvo, but it has become a firm favourite - with its international sales making it one of the company's most popular models. It's easy to understand why, the XC60 featuring Volvo's smart, slightly conservative style, plus it has a neat interior and clever use of space. It's not the most dynamic or interesting car to drive in its class - which includes rivals like BMW's X3 and the Land Rover Freelander - but buyers seem to appreciate its comfort and simplicity.
The range is extensive, and petrol engines are offered in other markets, but the only XC60s you'll find in Ireland will stop at the diesel pump. The choices include 2.0- and 2.4-litre turbodiesels in five-cylinder guise and a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine option. Both front- and four-wheel drive are offered, front-wheel drive offerings being more economical than their all-wheel drive relations and typically badged DRIVe.
Trim choices follow Volvo's norm, so there's S, SE, SE Lux and R Design, all with a comprehensive specification, the R Design models adding a sharp exterior styling kit. Volvo occasionally sells the XC60 in Ocean Race special edition form, too. Facelifted late in 2013, new cars get a sharper look and wider front grille, as well as enhanced equipment across the range. Unsurprisingly, safety features high on the Volvo's kit list, so the XC60 is equipped with a city crash mitigation system as standard - among the usual electronic passive and active driving and collision avoidance aids.
Space inside is good, if not quite as generous as in a Land Rover Freelander, while refinement can suffer from the five-cylinder diesel engines. Six-speed manual transmissions are standard, with six-speed (eight on the latest D4 181hp unit) automatics optionally available.
The 2.o turbodiesel, badged D3, is the most common offering in the Carzone classifieds and with good reason. More than adequate performance allied with decent day-to-day economy make it the most obvious, and best, choice in the range. Specification comes down to budget, but all come with a comprehensive standard level of equipment, with even base level cars featuring air conditioning and alloy wheels.
Volvo XC60 D3 2.0
Engine: 1,984cc five-cylinder turbodiesel
Maximum speed: 190km/h
0-100km/h: 11.2 seconds
Fuel consumption: 5.3 litres/100km
Euro NCAP: *****
- Practical and comfortable
- Good standard equipment
- Safe family choice
- Not particularly exciting to drive
- Refinement from five-cylinder engines is poor
- Not as economical as the best of its rivals
Volvo might have taken a while to offer a mid-sized family SUV, but it was worth the wait. Comfortable, good looking and spacious, the Volvo might not be the most exciting car in its class, but it's among the very safest. And when you're buying a car to haul your family around in that's arguably all that matters.