2008 Geneva Motor Show: 2009 Volvo XC60

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  • Competes with: BMW X3, Land Rover LR2, Acura RDX
  • Looks like: Safe comes to the compact luxury SUV market
  • Drivetrain: 281-hp, turbocharged six-cylinder
  • Hits dealerships: Early 2009

Volvo is jumping into the small luxury SUV game with the XC60. It joins an ever-growing group of very good vehicles, like the BMW X3, Acura RDX, Land Rover LR2, Infiniti EX35 and Mercedes-Benz’s upcoming GLK. Can Volvo play the safe card and win buyers?

That’s what the company says it isn’t doing, at least with the design. While it certainly isn’t boxy, we’re not sure if the lines are as universally appealing as the Infiniti EX35 or as true to their brand as the Land Rover LR2. At first glance the interior looks similar to other Volvos, but the floating center stack is actually off-center, skewing toward the driver. It’s an odd effect, but it might turn out to be quite practical.

Under the hood is the energetic turbocharged T6 six-cylinder pumping out 281 hp — more than any other SUV in this group — we recently tested in the Volvo S80 sedan. It will be the only available engine in the U.S. when it goes on sale in early 2009. All-wheel drive will be standard, which makes us worry that the entry price might be high. But considering that parts of Volvo’s lineup — like the S80 and XC70 — are priced well below the competition, we’ll have to wait and see.

As for safety, the XC60 comes with a crash-avoidance feature that can tell if you’re about to run into the car in front of you, and it then applies the brakes to avoid the accident. Volvo is calling it “City Safety” in the XC60, but it sounds much like the collision warning system in other vehicles in Volvo’s lineup, sometimes as part of a $1,700 option package. City Safety is standard in the XC60.

Check out more photos below and let us know if the looks work or not.

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