Ten years is long time for a car to soldier on without any major changes, but that’s about to end with the unveiling of the second-generation 2018 Volvo XC60. It’s about as comprehensive a redesign as we can remember, as only the name and the Volvo logo remain unchanged.
It starts with significantly revised dimensions, and the XC60’s engineers really got into the spirit of the longer, lower, wider approach. It’s nearly 2 inches longer, just over 2 inches lower and a full 4.3 inches wider. In addition, the wheelbase has been stretched by a full 3.6 inches, a move that reduces the visual mass while it improves interior space, particularly rear legroom, which is now plentiful. The overall effect is the tall, skinny and gawky look of the old XC60 is history, replaced instead by a graceful and flowing new shape that makes for one attractively proportioned crossover SUV.
The extra width does wonders inside, too, where hip- and shoulder room are more relaxed. The new leather seats feel super accommodating, the interior materials are quite handsome and the switchgear has a quality feel. The liberal use of shiny piano black trim is the only choice that gives us pause. Sure, it looks great when it’s clean, but we can’t help thinking it’ll turn into a fingerprint magnet. It uses a portrait-oriented touchscreen display in the dash similar to the larger XC90, so expect similar pinch-to-zoom and swipe functionality.
Despite the extra size, the XC60 is no heavier than the car it replaces, and some versions are a bit lighter. It also benefits from an all-new suspension at all four corners. Up front you’ll find a double wishbone front suspension that enables the new XC60 to execute tighter U-turns despite its longer wheelbase. Out back, the rear rides on a multilink setup that uses a low-slung composite transverse leaf spring, similar to what you’ll find under a Corvette. It’s an interesting choice that minimizes intrusion into the cargo compartment. Air suspension will be offered as an option.
Three engines will be available, with all-wheel drive as standard. Two of them are conventional gasoline powertrains like we’ve seen before, but with more power and torque. The T5 model has a 2.0-liter direct-injected turbocharged four-cylinder engine that makes 250 horsepower, while the T6 uses a turbo- and supercharged version of the 2.0-liter engine that makes 316 hp. The third option is known as the T8, and it’s an interesting plug-in hybrid. The electric motor drives the rear wheels and the T6’s gasoline engine drives the fronts, with a 9.2-kilowatt-hour battery pack occupying the tunnel in between where the all-wheel-drive propeller shaft would normally run. With a full battery, the T8 starts off in rear-wheel drive. The range has not yet been revealed (we’re guessing 18 to 20 miles), but if you floor the throttle both ends will work together to the tune of 378 hp. Once the juice runs out the gasoline engine keeps it going as a front-drive machine, with electric rear-drive (sustained by power generated under braking) joining in as needed.
Volvo has of course built its reputation on safety, so if you’ve heard of a safety system, the XC60 probably has it. This year it has added steering assist to its City Safe low-speed automatic emergency braking system and it has also combined it with blind-spot warning to make a lane-change crash avoidance system. They’re even used in a way that could minimize head-on collisions. But the most interesting option is called Pilot Assist, an “advanced semiautonomous driver-assist system,” which sounds an awful lot like Tesla’s Autopilot. Volvo says it can handle acceleration, braking and steering on “well-marked roads” at speeds up to 80 mph.
Specific release timing and pricing information is not available yet, so expect to wait another few months for those details.