2014 Volvo XC60 D5 AWD Geartronic SE Lux Nav Review – Volvo Impresses Again!

Exceptionally refined cabin, great styling, capable off-roader, high level of safety equipment

6-speed auto shows occasional lumpiness at lower speeds

Volvo XC60?

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Introduced to the market in 2008, the Volvo XC60 was the fresh-faced youth of Volvo’s aim at making their vehicles more appealing to a wider age market, rather than perhaps the narrower one they were selling to then. The XC60s contemporary styling and more compact size to the giant XC90 did exactly that, and sales went from strength to strength year-on-year.

With a facelift and some minor changes for 2014, we were sent the Volvo XC60 D5 Geartronic SE Lux Nav to determine why this car is so appealing and popular…

Exterior. Butt ugly or beauty?

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From the instant I saw the XC60 I loved its looks. It is classy, modern, stylish, sporty, and solid-looking in that rather Volvo-esque manner. As already mentioned, above all the XC60 was the beginning of a new direction for Volvo. Sure, their cars of yesteryear were solid and safe but let’s be honest here, they weren’t exactly appealing to the younger side of the market.

The great thing about this Volvo is that you can spec it depending on your taste. If you want sporty, go for the R-Design version in perhaps the Passion Red hue with some 20″ Candor Diamond Cut style alloy wheel. Outright class? I suggest you look at the SE LUX in Twilight Bronze with optional 20-inch Titania wheels. A mix of both you say? Well, our tester was a good combo of SE LUX in Crystal White with 20″ Inscription Avior wheels look rather fetching.

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Whichever XC60 you prefer, it fits in beautifully anywhere you decide to take it, whether that be parked outside a nice hotel, down a boggy farm track, in a bustling city, or out in the countryside. A design for all occasions, certainly, and I believe it’s truly a good looking car from any angle.

The exterior design is clean-cut with no unnecessary ornamentation, especially the SE version which has less of the plastic trim of the R-Design. It takes cues from its bigger brother – the XC90 – and that’s no bad thing as it’s always been a handsome vehicle. In many ways the body is taught and muscular, giving off a clear message that you’ll be safe surrounded by all that strength.

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Is the XC60s looks as appealing as rivals like the Volkswagen Tiguan, Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Land Rover Freelander 2 (soon to be replaced by the Discovery Sport)? Absolutely, and if there’s one car in the range that well and truly banishes Volvos ‘old & boring’ reputation of past, it’s the XC60.

Interior. Neat or nothing special?

Volvo XC60 D5 AWD 2014 interior drivers seat steering wheel console

As with the exterior, the Volvo XC60 has an interior that blends style, class and elegance beautifully. Every single passenger that rode in the XC60 was blown away by just how nice and well made it is inside, and I’ve no doubt the cabin will last the test of time well, both in wear and design. They look great in even basic spec, but optioning particular leather and trims can make it look even more chic and elegant.

For example, our test car had the optional £2,500 Inscription Pack, which includes luxuriously soft leather seating and greets you with that pleasant, rich scent of expensive leather every time you enter the car. On top of that there are some very tastefully chosen wood and metal trim options. They all add up to make for a stunning cabin that looks and feels at the top end of the crossover market.

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Sitting in the XC60 you’re surrounded by thick, brushed aluminium-edged trim pieces, a soft-touch dash, and switchgear that have utterly perfect actions when you use them. Every part emanates quality, and Volvo have clearly showed great attention to detail in the design and manufacture of the car.

The ‘floating’ centre console looks great but as I mention in our other Volvo reviews there are too many buttons on it and to a large degree it goes against Volvo’s push for having the safest cars on the road as it can be distracting finding what you want. The 7-inch infotainment screen combines super-sharp, contemporary graphics with intuitive menus and a simple, yet brilliant idea: a digital car user-manual! Why is this not on more cars? The driver’s instrument panel features mainly digital gauges and info screens, which are well laid out and highly readable, and they’re also customisable to, with a red ‘Sport’, greeny-blue ‘Eco’, and bright blue ‘normal’ screens.

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The base-spec ‘SE’ version comes with fabric seats, analogue dials, and a small information screen rather than the above set-up, and while the SE may be the ‘base’ XC60, it still offers a good level of equipment and should you want to give it a further upmarket look, the optional wood and metal trim finishes are very reasonably-priced (£225 – £525).

Even though the SE Lux Nav version we were sent is well-spec’d, there’s so many options available that you could end up spending a small fortune. As standard, the SE Lux Nav D5 AWD Geartronic costs around £38,500, but the test car had so many option boxes ticked that the price had pushed up to an eye-watering £53,000. However, the benefit of having so many individual options and packs is that you can pick and choose until you get your XC60 exactly how you want it.

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Up front, the seats are wonderfully comfortable and supportive and not once in the entire time we had the test car (covering around 800 miles) was I uncomfortable on any journey. The rear seats are comfortable overall, with good head and leg room, but passengers felt they would benefit from an adjuster to angle them back slightly more.

The boot space is generous at 495 litres, and with the flat-folding rear seats down there’s an impressive 1,455 litres available. Picking a couple up from the airport, seats up the boot easily stowed their two large suitcases, as well as hand luggage, rucksacks, and much more. Volvo are still good at practicality, then.

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Overall, I can only praise the cabin of the Volvo XC60. The build and material quality is of a very high standard, the design modern and classy, and whatever spec you buy it in, or whatever options you choose to add, the XC60 feels like it is worth every penny of your hard-earned cash. Superb sums things up nicely.

Engine & gearbox

Currently, the XC60 comes with a choice of two diesel engines and one petrol. The AWD version gets the in-line 5-cylinder D4 (181 hp) and D5 (215 hp) turbo-diesels, as well as the in-line 6-cylinder T6 petrol turbo with 306 hp. The front-wheel-drive (FWD) version gets the D4 engine in 181 hp 4-cylinder guise.

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The FWD has a choice of 6-speed manual or the new 8-speed Geartronic ‘box, while the rest of the engines can be had with the manual or 6-speed Geartronic transmission. Aside from the T6 which is 6-speed auto only.

We were sent the D5 Geartronic, so we’ll give the stats for that: the 2.4 litre 5-cylinder turbo-diesel’s power is rated as 215 hp at 4,000 rpm, with 324 lb ft (440 Nm) of torque between 1,500 – 3,000 rpm. 127 mph is the top end, and 0 – 62 mph takes 8.3 seconds. The official Combined UK mpg figure is 44.1, and over almost 800 miles of a combination of motorway, city, and country road driving I averaged 33.6 mpg. Co2 emissions are quoted as 169 g/km. Enough of the stats though, let’s see how it drives.

Ready to roll? Let’s drive!

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Let’s start with the XC60’s D5 engine. I found it has adequate torque and power for getting up to higher speeds, when overtaking, and trudging down motorways. The 5-cylinder sounds nice ‘n’ throaty, it revs freely and still puts out good power even at the top end of the rev range.

The 6-speed Geartronic does the job decently, and is slick enough overall. However, there are a couple of issues I noticed: when the rpms drop at slower speeds (around 30 mph), you physically feel a slight lurch as the XC60 drops down a gear on its own. Very occasionally I noted downshifts being jerky under hard acceleration, and it’s only happened when I’ve gone from chugging along lazily to booting the accelerator.

Our test car had the £1,000 optional Active Four – C Chassis (Continuously Controlled Chassis Concept), and with it the XC60 handles confidently, and it is better than its large size would belie. The Four-C system was developed with Öhlins Racing AB, and each shock absorber is electronically regulated individually, damping from soft to hard in 1:25th of a second, working with the DSTC  (Dynamic Stability and Traction Control) and other sensors which read a massive 500 impulses per second to ensure the S80 is fully composed over bad road surfaces. It minimises body roll around corners and and keeps the body level with the road surface under heavy acceleration and braking, avoiding the nose and tail squatting or dipping.

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The Comfort, Sport and Advanced settings actually serve a purpose and aren’t gimmicky. Often used Sport or Advanced when doing long, high-speed corners on motorways, or down country roads when had rear passengers, simply to have less body roll and thus be more comfortable. The XC60 is surprisingly ‘chuck-able’ around tight bends. It’s planted, and flows superbly well over bumps. No matter which journey I used the XC60 for, it always impressed with its ability to do it comfortably, confidently, and a pleasant, relaxed experience on each.

At high speeds the XC60 is quiet, settled, and refined. I always felt safe and secure driving the Volvo XC60 – there’s a palpable sense of security, perhaps because of an underlying psychological feeling down to just how solidly-made the car feels, but it’s also because of all the safety tech and equipment.

Out tester had the £1,900 Driver Support Pack option. Whilst this is not exactly a cheap box to tick, it’s worth the extra as it takes the car from very safe to super-safe for both passengers and pedestrians. Why? It has Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake, Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection, DAC (Driver Alert Control) with Active High Beam, BLIS (Blind Spot Information System), Lane Departure Warning, Road Sign Information Display, plus my favourite feature: ACC (Adaptive Cruise Control) and Distance Alert and Queue Assist (Automatic only).

The adaptive cruise control is one of the best out there, braking and accelerating both intelligently and fluidly, in a way that feels like it’s a really good driver doing it. Whilst the systems on some other cars are overly sensitive and not quick enough to react, the Volvo version inspires trust and confidence in the system. You can also use it in stop-start traffic by simply pressing a button on the steering wheel to get going again. Clever, and cool.

I’ve always sung Volvo’s Adaptive Cruise Control praises whenever I’ve had a car of theirs on test with it fitted, thanks to just how brilliant it is. It makes long journeys absolutely easy and way more bearable. It allows you to be much more relaxed and almost stress-free, as the XC60 keeps the distance safe and you know it’ll brake hard if the car in front does. So much better than normal cruise control!

When it comes to the AWD system and using the XC60 off-road, let’s be clear that actually it’s quite a capable SUV. Unlike a lot of big SUV’s, the AWD XC60 drives almost entirely through the front wheels, with just 5% of power going to the rears under normal conditions. It uses the outstanding Swedish designed Haldex all-wheel-drive system, and there’s no buttons to push or levers to pull to engage it, as it automatically fires power to all wheels only when slippage is detected. Apparently it takes a wheel just one-seventh of a turn during a loss of traction before the AWD system kicks in to send power to whichever corner is necessary. Impressive.

It uses the same AWD system as the XC90, and this You Tube demonstrates just how good that all-wheel-drive system really is. Jump to: 8:55, 27:10 for the Volvo’s tests. This video also shows the XC60’s ability to cope in the rough stuff up a steep mountain path.

Intertwined electronically with the AWD, there’s also a Dynamic Stability and Traction Control (DSTC) system to bring the XC60 back in line should things go pear-shaped on a slippery bend, plus Hill Descent Control. Volvo show how serious the XC60 is about its off-roading prowess, quoting a wading depth of 350 mm (13.7″) and ground clearance of 230 mm (9.05″).

All said, there’s a lot to like about the way the XC60 drives and handles both on and off road. It’s planted and sits well on the tarmac, is quiet inside even at high speed, and as you’ve read the AWD system is highly impressive too.

Price

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(Prices correct: Oct. ’14) The XC60 starts at £31,260 for the base D4 manual FWD SE, and goes to £43,720 for the T6 AWD Geartronic. Our D5 Geartronic SE Lux Nav is priced at around £36,600 but with many option boxes ticked it came out at almost £53,000. That’s a lot of money, and the big question is does it deserve the asking price?

In short, yes, the XC60 absolutely worth every single penny, whatever spec you go for. There’s no denying that this Volvo is high quality, and there’s nothing to suggest otherwise.

What similar-sized crossovers can you get if your budget is smaller? Try any of these: Mazda CX-5 AWDKia SportageToyota RAV4Subaru ForesterHonda CR-VMitsubishi OutlanderSuzuki SX4 S-Cross ALLGRIP.

Overall

I’m going to keep this short: The Volvo XC60 is a truly superb car, and I love it. It is brilliant in almost every department, from the way it rides and handles to the stylish and classy exterior and interior, and the fact it’s extremely safe and will even tackle rough terrain rather proficiently should you get the AWD version. What’s not to like.

Do you own a Volvo XC60? What are your views on it, and what are the best and worst points? Share your thoughts and leave a comment below!

Exterior  8.5
Interior  8.5
Engine (D5)  8
Gearbox  7.5
Price  8
Handling  8
Drive & Ride  8.5
AWD & off-road ability  8.5
Overall Score  8.0 / 10

Specs

Model (as tested)  2014 Volvo XC60 D5 Geartronic SE Lux Nav
Spec includes  Power heated, folding, and adjustable door mirrors, rear park assist, LED running lights, electronic climate control, cruise control, high performance audio system with 8 speakers, 4 amps, USB, AUX, Bluetooth & DAB, 7″ infotainment screen with Sensus Navigation, diver/passenger/curtain/SIPS airbags, ABS, FBS with HBA & EBD, RAB, EBA, DSTC, City Safety, Hill Descent Control See website for more info
Options you should spec  Driver Support Pack: £1,900, Active Four-C Chassis: £1,000, Rear Park Assist Camera: £375, Front & Rear Park Assist: £325
The Competition  Suzuki SX4 S-Cross ALLGRIPMazda CX-5 AWDSubaru ForesterToyota RAV4Honda CR-VMitsubishi OutlanderKia Sportage, Volkswagen Tiguan, Audi Q5, BMW X3
Price  (Oct. ’14) £31,260 – £43,720. As tested (including options): £53,000
Engine  Diesel, 2.4 litre, 5-cylinder, turbocharged
Power, Torque  Power: 215 hp @ 4,000 rpm | 324 lb ft (440 Nm) of torque between 1,500 – 3,000 rpm
Drive, Gears (as tested)  All-Wheel-Drive | 6-speed Geartronic (automatic)
Ground clearance, Wading depth,  Towing Capacity  Clearance: 230 mm (9.05″) | Wading: 350 mm (13.7″) | Braked towing: 2,000 kg’s (4,409 lbs)
Top Speed, 0 – 60 mph, Euro NCAP  Max speed: 127 mph | 0 – 62 mph: 8.3 seconds | Euro NCAP rating: Adult: 5-stars (2009 model rating)
Fuel economy (UK mpg), CO2  Combined: 44.1 | CO2: 169 g/km
Weight (kerb) 1816 kg – 1935 kg (4,000 – 4,266 lbs)
Websites  Volvo UK, Volvo USA, Volvo global

Read more Volvo car reviews here

Words: Chris Davies | Tested by: Chris Davies | Photography: Chris Davies, Matthew Davies

3 responses to “2014 Volvo XC60 D5 AWD Geartronic SE Lux Nav Review – Volvo Impresses Again!”

  1. SteveP

    I own a 2014 R-Design D4. I’m in my 3rd year of ownership and it has been trouble-free. Excellent interior. Even the base sound system is good. The City Safety auto-braking works – it decided I was approaching a French toll barrier just a little too briskly 🙂

    I’m on 18″ wheels, which are stylish but don’t ruin the ride. I get 38mpg overall (80% motorway) – not bad, but I was hoping for 40.

    I think the steering could be just a bit quicker (not so many turns lock-to-lock). The standard battery, like many cars today, seems to run down quickly if the car is not driven. The R-Design instrument panel is very cool, but lacks the ability to show kph as the main display when on the Continent (how hard could that be? There is a tiny subsidiary display.) The engine has no dipstick and even the dealer service manager takes two or three tries to demonstrate how to properly check the level. (Engine must be warm, off for several minutes, level, ignition on, moon in waxing phase, month with an R in it…) The indicator bulbs (it is mandatory to carry spares in many countries) appear to be proprietary to Volvo – Halfords was totally mystified as the number given in the owner’s manual does not match.

    On the plus side, halogen headlamp XC-60s do not need headlamp deflectors on the Continent (according to Volvo). Of course, the local police may not know that. Oh, and that owner’s manual is 200 pages of nothing related to the car you bought – concerned mostly with the highest level optional equipment and very little with ordinary use.

    My biggest complaint with what is overall a very nice, very capable car is the total lack of standard reversing safety. Despite the all-out auto-braking system being standard, I had to pay a guy £80 just to get reversing sensors installed. Volvo wants £800 for the reversing camera – standard on every cheap hire car these days.

    I have rented the XC60 in the USA and must agree – that center “waterfall” console really digs into your right leg in LHD form, since your right foot must remain on the accelerator except on Cruise. Cruise control works very well, BTW, not one of those rubbish systems that lets you go 90mph downhill.

    I looked at the VW Tiguan, Skoda Yeti, Honda CRV and Toyota RAV4 but preferred the XC60by far.

  2. John Kingsley

    I have just bought the XC60 D5 SE lUX POLESTAR and have been pleasantly surprised as I was a forma Mercedes driver only. The car from word go has always delivered and kept my family safe with extra to spare.
    The performance from the auto is excellent, the paddles took some getting used to, but with the extra go from Polestar even when fully loaded the car delivers.
    I have a friend who had one as a company car, was retired and then went out and bought another.

    Keep up the good work Volvo.

    Regards John

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