Automobile - - All - Stars 2018 -

How do you fol­low such a bril­liant take on the mod­ern fam­ily SUV as the Volvo XC90? The Swedish au­tomaker has re­sponded with the new XC60, based on the XC90’s Scal­able Prod­uct Ar­chi­tec­ture but with two rows of seats rather than three.

The T8 E-AWD is su­per­charged and tur­bocharged and a plug-in hy­brid with bat­tery elec­tricpow­ered rear wheels. Although the XC60 PHEV is smaller and lighter than the XC90 PHEV, it de­liv­ers 1 mpg com­bined less than the XC90 on gaso­line only and 3 mpg-e less on a full charge. Its pure-elec­tric range of 18 miles is 1 mile short of the big­ger SUV’s EPA es­ti­mate.

The re­spon­sive pow­er­train earned some praise.

“The XC60’s charms lie in its unexpected plea­sures: co­pi­ous, fat, guilt-free torque, a strik­ingly mod­ern cabin, and a liv­abil­ity that makes you like it more with ev­ery mile,” Wasef said.

Added Pil­grim: “Bet­ter ac­cel­er­a­tion than ex­pected.”

Nel­son noted that it’s easy to over­look how dra­mat­i­cally dif­fer­ent the XC60 is. “And that’s a shame,” he said. “Maybe be­cause the XC90 stole the spot­light last year and lit­tle brother isn’t as re­mark­able?”

No­orde­loos was less im­pressed. “One of the worst cars of the group to ac­tu­ally drive if you’re an en­thu­si­ast,” he ar­gued. “It’s so tame, and the steer­ing is dead and ul­tra-light. The chas­sis has very lit­tle grip, and the torque steer is both­er­some.”

No­orde­loos holds out hope that the non-PHEV’s con­ven­tional AWD might prove a bet­ter pack­age. The PHEV driv­e­train works bet­ter in ev­ery way in the XC90, the Volvo that im­pressed us so much last year. — TL

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