Volvo is gearing up to go fully electric in Australia, but there’s still life left in the petrol XC60.
The XC60 and its V60 Cross Country wagon brother are the only models in the Volvo range without an electric equivalent either on sale right now, or coming soon.
We know something electric is coming, but Volvo hasn’t stopped investing in the XC60 as we know it. It’s recently been updated with new, more efficient 48V mild-hybrid engines and a revised range of trims.
Sitting at the top – at least, before you start looking at the plug-in hybrid – is the B5 Ultimate Bright on test here. With a long list of standard equipment, it’s gunning for the BMW X3 and Audi Q5.
Is it the XC60 to buy before battery power takes over?
- 2024 Volvo XC60 Plus B5: $73,990
- 2024 Volvo XC60 Ultimate B5 Bright: $80,990
- 2024 Volvo XC60 Recharge Plus T8 Plug-in Hybrid: $92,990
- 2024 Volvo XC60 Recharge Ultimate T8 Plug-in Hybrid: $101,990
Prices exclude on-road costs
The Volvo XC60 takes on a range of luxury mid-sized SUV rivals. You can see how it shapes up using our comparison tool.
If you want comfort, the XC60 delivers.
We had the car through over the Christmas break, which means lots of driving with lots of stuff in the boot. That’s where this car excels.
Volvo does some of the best seats in the business, and the XC60 is no exception. There’s plenty of support for tall drivers, and it neatly balances long-haul support with soft cushioning. They’re heated and cooled in the B5 Ultimate Bright, and are trimmed in waxy leather.
The wood lining the dashboard is a neat touch, and provides a nice contrast to the aluminium, carbon fibre, and gloss black plastic that dominate in German rivals. The pale leather and blonde wood that’s also available is even nicer, and feels suitably Scandinavian.
Tall or short drivers will be able to get comfortable behind the wheel, and the view over the bonnet is suitably commanding. Vision all around is excellent, thanks in no small part to the old-school profile – no sloping-backed coupe-crossover vibes here.
Volvo’s switch from the Sensus infotainment system to one based on Google’s latest Android Automotive bones looks small on the surface, because a lot of the graphics/menus are similar. But the new setup is much faster to respond, and has up-to-date Google Maps with live traffic.
You’re able to download Spotify directly to the car, rather than plugging a phone in to use it, and it’s compatible with over-the-air updates so the feature set will continually evolve. Hopefully it evolves to include wireless Apple CarPlay at some point.
I tried running without Apple CarPlay, and instead using the native apps in the system for my three weeks behind the wheel. Spotify worked well, and Google Maps is excellent… but I couldn’t make my favourite podcast app work the way it really needed to, and missing out on live text messages through Siri was the last straw.
I lasted a couple of days before cracking and plugging my phone back in. While we’re whinging, missing out on AM radio makes life hard in rural Australia, where FM reception is poor, DAB is hard to come by, and internet connections are flaky.
The audio in our tester also stopped working at one point, and could only be brought back to life with a hard reset of the infotainment system. I’ve not heard about this issue from the few owners I know with a Volvo running Android Automotive, nor have we seen it in any other Volvo testers.
Facing the driver is a pretty simple digital instrument binnacle. You’re given a choice between dials only, or dials with a Google Map in between – but the car lacks the range of options available elsewhere in the segment, or in cheaper cars from the Volkswagen Group.
Storage space could use some work relative to newer rivals. The dual cupholders are good, but the wireless charger sits in an awkward spot if you have a large phone, and there’s less space for coins, keys, or garage clickers than in a BMW X3 or Mercedes-Benz GLC, or even the smaller XC40.
It’s something Volvo will need to address when the XC60 goes electric; the EX30 packs a very clever interior that maximises what limited space is on offer, so it’s safe to assume the EX60 will follow in those footsteps.
Rear seat space is decent, but not class leading.
The rear doors open nice and wide, making it easy to load a child seat (or child), and the upright profile means you get plenty of headroom. There’s enough space back there for adults to sit behind adults on long trips, too.
I took three six-foot passengers along the Great Ocean Road and there were no complaints back there – and kids will appreciate the rear climate controls and air vents on hot summer days.
Parents will also appreciate the inbuilt booster seats which allow you to seat kids (aged around five, as a guide) without loading an external seat in there. They’re a cinch to deploy, and are no doubt handy if you only need to carry kids occasionally.
Volvo gives you air vents on both the centre console and the pillars, which none of its rivals can match, and the dual USB-C points will keep iPads charged on long road trips.
Cargo capacity in B5 models is quoted as 483 litres with the rear seats in use, expanding to 1430L with them folded flat.
It’s slightly smaller than what you get in a BMW X3, but it’s not far off the mark. In typical Volvo fashion it has a flat floor and nets in the sides to keep smaller items secure. Under the floor is a space saver spare wheel.
|Volvo XC60 B5
|2.0-litre turbo 4cyl petrol
|Fuel economy (claimed)
|Fuel economy (as tested)
|8.2L/100km (1250km, mixed)
New to the XC60 is a 48V mild-hybrid system, which essentially gives you a smoother start-stop in traffic.
At one point, Volvo wanted to take on BMW M with sporty cars fettled by its Polestar division. In 2024 though, Polestar is an electric car brand, and Volvo has given up on its sports car dreams in favour of comfortable cruisers.
That’s no bad thing; most buyers who want a Volvo aren’t chasing tenths of a second on the school run.
Around town, the XC60 acquits itself well with light steering that makes it easy to slot into tight parking spaces, and a suspension tune designed to keep pimply city streets on the outside. The B5 Ultimate is still one of the more comfortable luxury SUVs in its class, but isn’t quite as comfortable as cheaper models riding on smaller wheels.
The petrol engine is smooth and reasonably quiet at city speeds. It’s obviously packing more of a punch than the B4 we drove in 2023, offering a more determined shove in the back when you’re in a hurry, and has no trouble getting this hunk of Swedish metal moving even with a full contingent of passengers on board.
Put your foot down uphill at highway speeds and it needs to drop a couple of gears to find the meat of the torque band, but there’s still plenty of performance in reserve here. There’s a bit of engine noise in the cabin when you are in a hurry, but it’s not a bad noise.
With all of that said, a diesel would be a nice option to have if you’re spending a long time on the open road.
The relaxed vibe pays dividends on the highway, where the XC60 is a very comfortable cruiser. It hums along quietly on coarse-chip roads, and the soft suspension tune means potholes and expansion joints waft beneath the wheels.
It can feel a little bit floaty over big crests and dips at 100km/h, taking one, two, three movements to settle down, but this is still a car you could happily drive from Melbourne to Sydney.
Volvo’s driver assistance systems are smartly calibrated, from the confident lane-keeping to the smooth-moving adaptive cruise. Rather than trying to take over, they’re on hand to help when required.
Where the XC60 needs work is on twisty roads. Where a BMW X3 or Audi Q5 can be hustled along quickly without falling apart, the Volvo doesn’t really enjoy being rushed. The bouncy ride will have your head bobbing like a dash top toy on pimply b-roads, and the steering is quite vague.
Although the engine packs a solid punch, the transmission doesn’t have a sport mode. That means it’s constantly dropping out of the gear you want, forcing you to use the awkward gear selector to take charge manually.
Is the average owner going to care? Probably not, given the long list of things the XC60 does well.
But if you are grudgingly handing over the keys of your sports car for a family wagon, this won’t remind you of the good old days like an X3 is able to.
XC60 B5 Plus highlights:
- 19-inch diamond-cut alloys
- LED headlights with active bending
- LED front fog lights
- 9.0-inch Android Automotive infotainment system
- Satellite navigation incl. Google Maps
- DAB radio
- Apple CarPlay, Android Auto
- Digital Service, 4yr subscription
- Wireless smartphone charger
- Dual-zone climate control
- Electric tailgate
- Auto-dimming rear-view mirror
- Electric front seats with memory
- Power-folding rear headrests
- Leather-accented upholstery
XC60 B5 Ultimate Bright brings:
- 20-inch alloy wheels
- Head-up display
- Unique instrument panel display
- Heated front seats
- Heated steering wheel
Options fitted to our tester included:
- Charcoal ventilated nappa leather and real wood dashboard trim: $3150
- Bowers and Wilkins high-fidelity audio system: $4300
- Tinted rear windows: $750
- Panoramic sunroof: $3250
- Metallic paint: $2050
Petrol versions of the Volvo XC60 wear a five-star ANCAP safety rating based on Euro NCAP tests in 2017. Plug-in hybrid models remain unrated.
The XC60 scored 98 per cent for adult occupant protection, 87 per cent for child occupant protection, 76 per cent for pedestrian detection and 95 per cent for safety assist.
Standard safety features include:
- Adjustable speed limiter
- Adaptive cruise control incl. Pilot Assist
- Active lane centring
- Stop&Go function
- Autonomous emergency braking (AEB)
- Forward, Reverse
- Pedestrian, Cyclist, Animal detection
- Blind-spot monitoring
- Rear cross-traffic assist
- 360-degree cameras
- Front, rear, side parking sensors
- Hill start assist
- Hill descent control
Like the wider Volvo line-up, the XC60 is backed by a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty, with eight years of complementary 24/7 roadside assistance.
Recharge models are also covered by an eight-year hybrid battery warranty.
Volvo offers three- and five-year service plans for the XC60 range, priced at $1750 and $3000 respectively. Scheduled maintenance is required every 12 months or 15,000 kilometres – whichever comes first.
We already know the XC60 is a practical, comfortable mid-sized SUV alternative to the BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLC.
This B5 Ultimate Bright is beautifully put together, with a more luxurious interior than the Plus we drove in 2023, but it’s not the XC60 we’d recommend.
By the time you add a few options to the Ultimate, it’s sitting side-by-side with a BMW X3 xDrive30i based on price – and as lovely as the Volvo is, the BMW is a better rounded mid-sized SUV.
With that in mind, the XC60 is best enjoyed in base B5 Plus guise. It’s still a lovely place to spend time, and it still offers a punchy petrol powertrain and all-wheel drive, but it also represents excellent value alongside its German rivals.
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