2022 Volvo XC60 Review and Test Drive
There's plenty to like about the updated 2022 XC60, plus this SUV has a personality all its own.
Historically, Volvos were primarily known for two things. The first was safety, and Volvo built that well-deserved reputation on a string of automotive safety innovations, not the least of which was the first three-point seatbelt that debuted back when John F. Kennedy was running for president of the United States. To this day, Volvo prides itself on designing, engineering, and selling some of the safest cars and SUVs you can buy.
The second was design, as in the brick-like styling that married safety-engineered boxes to sets of wheels. The automaker's station wagons of the 1970s and 1980s are still affectionately known as "bricks," and though modern Volvos don't qualify for the reference, they're nevertheless style leaders in their segments.
Though the automaker still sells station wagons (see the V60 Cross Country and V90 Cross Country), the popular Volvo XC60 compact crossover has replaced the "bricks" of yore with the SUV form and function today's car buyers seek.
And while it hasn't seen a complete redesign in half a decade, Volvo isn't allowing the XC60 to go stale, thanks to several important updates for the 2022 model year, including minor styling updates, new infotainment technology, and fresh powertrain selections.
Volvo switches from using T5 and T6 to B5 and B6 model designations to signal the new mild-hybrid powertrains on offer. The B5's turbocharged engine makes 247 horsepower, while the B6's turbocharged and e-charged engine cranks out 295 horsepower. The Recharge plug-in hybrids still use a T8 designation, and with the new extended-range battery that arrived mid-year, they're more powerful and efficient while supplying almost twice the electric driving range.
For this 2022 Volvo XC60 review, I test-drove the B6 AWD R-Design in Southern California. It came with extra-cost paint, 21-inch alloy wheels, the Climate package, the Advanced package, a 4-Corner Air Suspension, and a Bowers & Wilkins premium sound system. These extras brought the Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) to $65,690, including the $1,095 destination charge. Volvo provided the vehicle for this XC60 review.
2022 Volvo XC60 Review: The Design
China's Zhejiang Geely Holding Group now owns Volvo, but the proud Swedish brand is steadfastly adhering to the tenets of classic Scandinavian design. The XC60's styling derives from the same award-winning look introduced by the groundbreaking 2016 XC90 SUV.
From the grille's Iron Mark logo to the distinctive Thor's Hammer running lights to the vertical LED taillights, the 2022 XC60 looks terrific. That is especially true when the SUV is fitted with larger wheels and tires, but the 21-inchers seen on the test vehicle come at a cost to ride quality.
Exuding quality and style, the XC60's cabin is undeniably upscale and emphasizes minimalism. Unfortunately, it is perhaps too simplistic as far as controls go, a problem compounded by their unclear labels and graphics. Fortunately, changes for 2022 include a new Android-based infotainment system equipped with conversational voice recognition, so you can avoid some of the confusion and frustration by simply speaking to the XC60 as you might your smartphone's digital assistant.
As is expected in a Volvo, front-seat comfort is outstanding. During my week with the XC60, I had to drive from California's Ventura County to San Diego and back, and the Volvo was perfect for spending hours behind the steering wheel. However, aside from large lower door panel bins and a big glove compartment, storage space is on the stingy side. Also, the test vehicle's four-zone automatic climate control system blew loudly nearly the entire time, despite using Auto mode during relatively moderate weather.
The XC60's back seat isn't as comfortable as the front chairs because the bottom cushion is too low. Presumably, this is to ensure the flattest load floor possible after folding the rear seat down to maximize cargo space. The test vehicle's two-zone rear climate system and heated outboard seat cushions help maximize comfort, and thoughtful features include reasonable storage and handy coat hooks.
The legroom is generous enough that four adults can ride in the XC60 without complaint. Foot room is mighty impressive, perhaps to accommodate the clunky winter boots frequently necessary in the XC60's home country.
Open the power liftgate (with available hands-free operation), and you'll find 22.4 cu-ft of cargo space behind the back seat, and 63.3 cu-ft with it folded down. There is a netted storage area to the left, hooks perfect for plastic grocery bags, and with the 4-Corner Air Suspension option, buttons to lower the rear of the SUV for an easier time loading heavy items. Unfortunately, there is no underfloor storage due to the spare tire and the mild-hybrid powertrain's 48-volt electrical system components.
2022 Volvo XC60 Review: The Technology
For the 2022 model year, Volvo installs a new Android-based operating system for the XC60's infotainment technology. Though the 12.3-inch digital instrumentation screen and the 9-inch center touchscreen look similar to what you'll find in older XC60 models, the software powering them differs and dramatically improves the user experience.
From the graphics and layout to the natural voice recognition and Google embeds, it's terrific tech. The center screen even includes infrared sensing so that it works when you're wearing gloves.
Yes, the 9-inch center screen is small by modern standards, and I'm not a fan of how the climate controls are married to the display rather than presented separately. In addition, when attempting to program a destination with a Spanish-language street name, I had to pronounce the street phonetically rather than naturally, saying "Calley" instead of "Cai-yay" for the word "calle."
Furthermore, during my week with the SUV, the system would sometimes automatically play Pandora internet radio (my preference) and sometimes default to old iTunes tracks that I still have in my music library (not my preference). Lastly, Pandora sometimes glitched, refusing to play, causing confusion while driving and simultaneously trying to sort the problem out.
Nevertheless, this new Android-based setup is superior to the previous tech, and you can operate a wide variety of functions by speaking naturally with the native digital assistant. Also, the optional Bowers & Wilkins high-end audio system is nothing short of outstanding. Therefore, I think it is worth the price if you love music and spend lots of time in your vehicle.
Switching to the XC60's driver-assist systems, the available Pilot Assist tech is impressive. It combines adaptive cruise control and lane-centering assist for semi-autonomous driving assistance. Of course, you must keep your hands on the steering wheel for Pilot Assist to work, but it is so smooth and accurate that you'll barely notice it operating in the background.
However, if you run Pilot Assist using the closest gap setting to vehicles ahead, it may not react in time to sudden braking in traffic. For example, while driving into Los Angeles with the mid-morning masses, a slow-moving truck cut into the lane ahead, causing drivers to react with heavy braking.
Unfortunately, Pilot Assist didn't see this situation developing, and just as I lost my patience with the system and stepped on the brakes myself, I got a taste of the XC60's forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking system. It is incredibly effective. Then, after this, I activated Pilot Assist again and added more gap distance. That change invited even more people to tuck into the space ahead of the XC60, but also resulted in a smoother and safer drive.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the 2022 Volvo XC60 earns a Top Safety Pick+ designation. The SUV receives the highest possible ratings across the board except for two Acceptable scores for its headlight performance and ease of using the child safety seat LATCH anchors.
Meanwhile, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives the 2022 XC60 five-star ratings in every assessment except for rollover resistance, which nets the SUV a four-star rating. Between these crash-protection scores and its effective driver-assist systems, the XC60 appears to be a safe SUV.
2022 Volvo XC60 Review: The Drive
With 295 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque, the 2022 Volvo XC60 B6 feels quick under typical driving situations. Unfortunately, full-throttle acceleration does not produce as rewarding a sensation, and while Volvo says this model should rush to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds, getting there isn't always grin-inducing.
To add a bigger smile to your face, you'll want the XC60 Recharge T8, which can achieve that velocity in as few as 4.5 seconds. Just remember that Volvo caps the top speed of all of its vehicles at 112 mph, so you won't be able to boast of your XC60's thundering Autobahn skills.
Every XC60 uses an eight-speed automatic transmission, and the B6 and Recharge T8 models include standard AWD. Only the B5 offers a choice between front-wheel drive (FWD) and AWD. An electronic shifter resides on the XC60's center console, and like other designs of similar ilk, it takes some time to acclimate to how it works. But, again, Volvo's dedication to safety shines through in this regard, requiring you to double-push on the shifter to choose reverse or drive. Otherwise, it lands in neutral.
Regarding performance, the transmission is the least refined thing about the 2022 XC60. I experienced an occasional low-speed driveline shudder in the test vehicle, and on two occasions, it shifted surprisingly hard from first gear into second gear. Also, Volvo doesn't provide paddle shifters or a Sport mode, so if you drive enthusiastically, you'll sometimes feel a momentary delay in the power supply when accelerating out of a curve or a corner.
Volvo equips the XC60 with adaptive power steering. I liked the weighting, the responsiveness, and the smooth, accurate feel from behind the wheel. The test vehicle's brakes, however, turned in a troubling performance. It didn't take much for them to heat up and emit an audible grumble and pulsing at the pedal. They never faded, but considering the moderate weather temperatures and how they displayed this behavior in both L.A. stop-and-go traffic and while coasting down a local mountain road, it seems the test vehicle needed a visit to the dealership.
The test example had the available 4-Corner Air Suspension and optional 21-inch wheels wrapped in 255/40 Pirelli Scorpion Zero all-season tires. The grip was fantastic, and the air suspension successfully balanced ride and handling qualities while eliminating most unwanted body motions. Still, despite Southern California's generally smooth roads, the shorter tire sidewalls contributed to more impact harshness than some Volvo drivers might prefer.
On sharper bumps, impacts reverberated up through the seat and steering column, and at speed on sectioned-concrete freeways with wide expansion joints, the tires delivered a rhythmic thwack-thwack-thwack to the cabin. This behavior is par for the course with oversized wheel-and-tire combinations, but requires mention so that you know the compromise associated with the choice.
I put about 600 miles on the XC60, much of them traveling on SoCal freeways. With all of the highway driving (including rush-hour traffic), the test vehicle returned 25.8 mpg. Later, on my usual testing loop, it averaged 21.7 mpg. The official EPA fuel economy rating is 24 mpg.
Is the 2022 Volvo XC60 a Good SUV?
If you prioritize safety, design, comfort, and plug-in hybrid propulsion, a new Volvo XC60 is a good choice for a compact luxury SUV. Despite some dissatisfaction with the B6 test vehicle's transmission, brakes, and ride, I think the XC60 is a likable choice among compact luxury SUVs. Overall, its pros far outweigh the cons. And the quirks.