The 2013 Volvo XC60 is a stylish compact crossover that can only be described as sensible. While it's a luxurious five-passenger family hauler, it failed to thrill me during my weeklong test drive.
My test car, an XC60 T6, had a 300-horsepower, turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine. It didn't have a problem getting up to speed and passing cars on the highway. However, there were moments when the ride felt less than smooth. Maybe it was the endless construction on my local thoroughfares, but I noticed it on roads that weren't littered with construction debris. The XC60 doesn't always offer as comfortable a ride as its minimalist looks might imply.
There were days that I wanted a little more from the XC60. Perhaps I hit the doldrums because fuel economy isn't great in the XC60. The XC60 T6 with all-wheel drive gets an EPA-estimated 17/23 mpg city/highway. Its all-wheel-drive competitors, the Lexus RX 350 and Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class, both best the XC60 with 18/24 and 19/24 mpg, respectively; the Cadillac SRX falls short on city mileage with 16/23 mpg.
The XC60's cabin is nicely appointed with attractive two-tone leather upholstery and a clutter-free floating center stack. This design creates a handy storage space behind the center stack that can hold your gadgets or a small diaper bag or purse.
For a compact crossover, the XC60 is surprisingly roomy and comfortable. Rear legroom is plentiful at 36.4 inches. It's great for children, but even a couple of adults could survive a longer trip sitting in the XC60's rear seats. The 40/20/40-split folding backseat is always appreciated for its flexibility with kids and their corresponding gear, and it offered plenty of flexibility for seat configuration. My children, ages 3, 4 and 6, had no problems climbing in and out of the XC60, though some did it more gracefully than others.
Only two child-safety seats fit in the XC60's backseat, which is a bummer for this three-car-seat family. However, a child who no longer needs a safety seat could fit relatively well between two safety seats. My son, who uses a booster seat, had no problem buckling up independently thanks to the XC60's seat belt buckles on stable bases.
The 30.8-cubic-foot cargo area handled our demands well, swallowing up groceries and even some summer planting items that thankfully remained upright. With the rear seats folded, the cargo area grows to 67.4 cubic feet. The XC60's cargo area numbers beat the GLK-Class' 23.3/54.7 and the SRX's 29.8/61.1. However, the RX 350 puts all three competitors to shame with its 40.0/80.3 dimensions.
Volvo has built its reputation on safety, which is a draw for many including those with families. The XC60 has Volvo's City Safety feature that detects a stopped or slow-moving car — 31 mph or less — in front of you and applies the brakes automatically. And you can even opt to top it off with features like built-in booster seats ($500).