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2021 Volvo V60 B5 CROSS COUNTRY MHEV owner review

  • Perfect combination of capability and value
  • Standout interior quality and exterior styling
  • Who needs an SUV when you can have an off-road wagon?!
  • Sensus system is well-featured but showing its age
  • The compromised Care Key
  • Middling plastic trim around the centre console

About the Volvo V60

J T purchased this Volvo V60 new with additional options for $73,000 (including all on-road costs). J T would buy this car again because: “The V60 Cross Country is peak Volvo, combining the capability of an SUV and the dynamics of a sedan in a brilliant looking jacked-up wagon. Feature-rich, astoundingly comfortable and solidly-built, it represents an all-around great value when compared against its luxury and non-luxury competitors.”

How reliable has your car been? Tell us about any issues.

The clock is ticking over to week two of ownership, so reliability is impossible to gauge. So far, there have been no problems. Everything mechanical and electrical has worked faultlessly and consistently each time I’ve turned on the car. Let’s hope that remains the case!

What do you think of the ownership experience with your car?

Again, as the car is brand new, there’s not a lot of ownership experience to draw from, so a big grain of salt is required. That being said, apart from a few teething issues I’ll mention in the purchase and aftercare section below, the ownership experience has been great.

Volvo has followed the lead of Mercedes in offering a 5-year, unlimited km warranty and a reasonably-priced 5 year servicing plan, an area where some of its competitors (looking at you, Audi) could and should be sharpening their pencils.

How has the purchase and aftercare experience been with your car?

I bought this car in the midst of the Sydney lockdown. Some elements of the purchasing experience benefitted from the unique circumstances and some went the other way.

In the plus column, the negotiation process was painless and we settled on a price I was happy with relatively quickly out of the gate, all without having to spend hours haggling at the dealership. Like working from home, the virtual buying experience is an unexpected benefit of this terrible pandemic.

Additionally, the just-landed MY22 V60 Cross-Country snuck into the country with relatively little fanfare, so I was able to secure one in-stock and have it delivered within days of signing the paperwork. While that wouldn’t be worth mentioning in a review two years ago, the cars I was cross-shopping were quoting 4+ month delivery delays.

Before moving to the negatives, it’s worth noting that the ongoing Sydney lockdown meant that my car buying process was limited to virtual-only tyre kicking. While a lot of car makers have quickly stood-up online stores, there’s still work to be done in terms of marketing to virtual buyers – particularly in relation to specification disclosure.

As a brand-new model (for Australia), my ability to research the V60 CC was limited to the information published on Volvo’s website as well as overseas reviews. There were a few areas where my expectations didn’t quite line up with reality once the vehicle was delivered.

First, like most car makers Volvo gives you two sets of keys as standard, but one of these keys is what they call a ‘Care Key’. When the car is unlocked via the Care Key, its top speed is limited and some functionality of the infotainment system is locked out, with the idea being that you can give the Care Key to someone who is borrowing your vehicle. Because the infotainment settings and preferences are linked to the key unlocking this car, for situations where there are two adult daily drivers (like mine) this leaves someone drawing the short straw.

Second, there are some features that neither I (nor seemingly the dealer) can confirm whether or not are included in the car. The car’s ability to interface with the Volvo App (to do thinks like unlock with a smartphone or pre-condition the climate control) and to electronically lower the rear headrests from the front seat are both question marks – aftercare support are looking into it. These are features which are referenced in overseas models, but aren’t the kinds of things that would make it onto the bullet points of a spec sheet.

Finally, the car was delivered without the Maps installed. It was a relatively easy process to download the map pack off the Volvo website and install it in the vehicle (took 15 minutes all up), but still something that was probably missed on the dealer’s pre-delivery checklist.

Are you happy with the price and features of your car?

Very happy – the V60 CC ultimately won for me based on its value proposition.

My car search was value-driven as I was looking for the best car I could get around the $70k mark. My long-list was culled down to a shortlist of a few very different contenders: the Jaguar XE, a triplet of Audis in the Q5, A4 Allroad and SQ2, the Tesla Model 3 Long Range and the Genesis G70.

Spec for spec, the equivalent Audi Q5 and A4 Allroad were over $10,000 more expensive than the Volvo, knocking them out of contention. The SQ2 was very attractive and its performance was in another league to the V60, but it was undone by its 3 year warranty (important!) and by the fact its front seats are manually adjusted (pedantic!).

I was willing to take a punt on the newcomer G70, but Genesis tie up too many features I wanted in their exorbitantly priced ‘Luxury Pack’, which priced the G70 out of contention. The Jaguar came closest, particularly with its new XE Black spec which combines a great (on paper) 221kW AWD drivetrain with a phenomenal looking (and feeling) interior.

Unfortunately, the options list is long, and getting one with the features I wanted without the chaff of a bunch of nonsense add-ons required a 6-month lead time.

Volvo are importing the V60 CC in one feature-rich spec, with a long list of standard inclusions. Additionally, mine came with the Lifestyle Pack, which bundles privacy glass, the panoramic sunroof and the uprated Harmon Kardon audio system for a reasonable ~$3k.

Things I love include the Sensus infotainment system, which features a high-resolution screen and modern graphics in a nicely-integrated unit that doesn’t look like someone super-glued an iPad to the dashboard of the car. Shots fired Mercedes…and seemingly every other manufacturer these days.

The Sensus system is complemented by a good digital driver’s display and a great, crisp HUD, both standard fare.

Both front seats are electrically adjustable in a million directions, including power lumbar and thigh extenders, with memory function and heating as standard. The rear liftgate is also powered as standard, and includes that kick-to-open function that car makers seem to think everyone wants. I guarantee I would fall flat on my [back] if I tried kicking under the car while holding something heavy or unmanageable.

Being a Volvo, it’s also kitted out with a million different safety features, all of which are nice to have and none of which have been too intrusive. The V60 includes the semi-autonomous Pilot Assist cruise control and Pilot Park park assist as standard. As someone who previously discounted these auto-park systems, I do appreciate the ‘Park Out’ function which can navigate the car out of a tight parallel spot when someone parks you in (a frequent occurrence in Sydney’s inner suburbs).

On the options front, the panoramic sunroof is absolutely expansive, and stretches from just forward of the driver’s head to past the back of the rear headrest. The Harmon Kardon sound system is exceptionally clear, sounds great and compares favourably to similar premium audio systems I’ve come across (such as the Burmeister system in the Mercedes-Benz A-Class). A more expensive Bowers and Wilkins system is also available, and if motoring journos are to be believed is an absolute cracker.

On the styling front… I mean just look at it. I’m a huge fan of Volvo’s latest styling language and the V60 CC is the best-looking car Volvo make (fight me).

The interior is sublime, with great-feeling stitched “leather” on the upper- and mid-dash, and soft real leather (no quotes) on the chairs. The open pore wood trim feels expensive to the touch, and there are no hard plastics on the lower dash or lower door cards. That being said, there is an unfortunately cheap-feeling plastic siding to the centre console which brings down an otherwise flawless interior.

What do you think of the performance and economy of your car?

For the price point, the V60 punches above its weight performance-wise. It prices up against the entry-level engines from the Mercedes, BMW and Audi mid-size stables, but with 183kW and 350nm it’s closer in power to the next rung up for each of those makes (like the 330i, C300 and A4 45 TFSI).

That being said, it’s trounced by the 221kW Jaguar XE, but you can’t get that in a wagon and obviously everyone wants a wagon (so says the online car journo consensus, no one look at VFACTS).

The engine operates smoothly and has a surprising amount of pulling power. Butt-in-seat, it feels noticeably quicker in in-gear acceleration than our previous two cars (the Abarth 124 and Mini Cooper S). Its quicker than its quoted 6.6s 0-100km time would suggest – because a good chunk of that time is taken up by a very delayed throttle response when flooring it. That delayed response combined with the speed-limiting Care Key makes me think Volvo might care more about safety than hooning—who would’ve thought?

Outside of that delay, though, the transmission is great. It shifts quickly and is completely unnoticeable while driving, which in my view is the best thing you can say about a transmission.

Economy remains to be seen, as I’ve not driven the car long enough (or outside urban areas) to get a good sense of how it performs against its claimed 7.4L/100km. However, early indications are that Volvo are certainly not lying by calling it a “mild” hybrid (mild might even be too generous), although in fairness it’s a heavy car with a reasonably powerful engine.

What do you think of the technology in your car?

The V60CC runs Volvo’s Sensus infotainment system, and not the newer Google-based system it is rolling out to its newer vehicles. The best way I would describe the system is that it is market-leading, if the market is the year 2017.

Feature-wise, it’s well designed with app capability (including Spotify and a great responsive Google app you can use to search business and push their locations to the nav system), and has and iPad-level response time to pokes, swipes and pinches. The screen has a good resolution and the in-built navigation system has high-quality graphics with a live traffic function.

The system is let down a bit by its UX and UI. Like many new cars, Volvo have moved nearly all of the V60’s controls to the infotainment system. The UX in accessing these controls is not as intuitive as it should be, and things take one or two more swipes and taps than they should.

Additionally, the UI is showing its age, although using the ‘Performance’ theme seen in my pictures makes the home screen and menus look a bit more up-to-date than the standard theme. Having had the chance to play around with some competitor’s systems, I can say that Mercedes and BMW are definitely doing it better.

However, both the digital drivers display and HUD are great. The drivers display is clear even in direct sunlight and can be configured to show the maps or current audio, and the HUD is crisp and very useful.

Both Apple CarPlay and a wireless phone charger are standard, but the former’s reliance on a wired USB connection means you’ll get little utility out of the wireless charger if you’re a CarPlay fan. I’ve been impressed with the connectivity of the standard Sensus system (which is internet-enabled when connected to a smartphone via Bluetooth), so I’ve opted to use that instead of CarPlay.

What do you think of the ride comfort and handling of your car?

This is the most comfortable car I’ve driven in, bar none. The combination of the well-padded but supportive seats, off-road heightened suspension tuning and light-but-precise steering make the V60 wonderful to drive.

The cabin is isolated well from outside noise, and the overall driving experience leaves you the impression you’re driving a well-built, solidly put together car.

Visibility outside the car is great, and a huge plus for the V60 when compared to taller crossover vehicles with similar capability.

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Show Breakdown
Technology 7.5
Reliability 10
Ride & Handling 10
Price & Features 9.5
Purchase & Aftercare 7
Performance & Economy 8
Ownership Experience 9
Top Line Specs
Not tested
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