2013 Volvo XC60 T6 R-Design Road Test Review

Simon Hill - CAP staff
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Easing smoothly out of a tight switchback corner and accelerating with an effortless rush up a particularly steep, rain-slicked section of a mountain highway, I couldn't help but think that this was exactly the sort of road Volvo's designers had in mind when they created the XC60 T6 R-Design compact crossover.

My destination for the day was the Yew Lake Trail, an easy and picturesque walk in the park. But thanks to the XC60's highway prowess the drive up the mountain was itself a walk in the park, despite the wet leaves and loose gravel littering the route. With its turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 engine hooked up to a six-speed automatic gearbox and churning out 325 horsepower and 354 lb-ft of torque, the XC60 T6 R-Design is a real performer, launching from standstill to 100 km/h in just over six seconds. Big, sticky 20-inch tires work with the all-wheel drive system to provide confidence-inspiring grip, letting me relax and enjoy the mountain scenery and the magnificent views from the various lookouts.

Later in the day my agenda called for a drive along a rutted, rocky, mud-slicked trail to a wilderness cabin, and here again the XC60 proved to be entirely in its element. Its fifth-generation Haldex all-wheel drive system quickly and seamlessly distributes power to whichever wheels have traction, so despite some stomach-dropping ascents and descents along the trail, the XC60 never lost its grip and never missed a beat.

Of course life isn't all mountain getaways, but with its spacious crossover layout the stylish-looking XC60 is an equally accommodating partner for the daily city slog. City fuel economy ratings for the T6 R-Design are a little higher than for the base model, it's true (the T6 R-Design is rated 12.1 / 8.5 city/hwy versus 11.2 / 7.8 for the base model), but the plentiful power underfoot makes it easy to tackle the cut-and-thrust of busy city traffic. Take the XC60 for a run to the local mini-storage facility and you'll be impressed by the 40/20/40 split folding rear seat that provides a variety of cargo configurations, and folds perfectly flat to allow box after box after box of household goods to be slid effortlessly into the spacious luggage area.

Thanks to its nicely weighted speed-sensitive steering and built-in stability control system the XC60 T6 R-Design is as happy negotiating city streets as it is tearing along the highway, and even when traffic is snarled the ride remains enjoyable due to comfortable two-tone leather front sport seats and the roomy back bench, which is one of the most spacious in the segment. Program your destination into the GPS navigation system and then select some favourite music on the rich sounding 650-watt 12-speaker premium audio system, and the city bustle fades to a suitably muted background murmur.

Helping foster a relaxed driving environment are the XC60's outstanding crash ratings and extensive list of advanced safety gear and driving aids. Volvo has long been a leader in this regard, and the XC60 represents a culmination of the company's expertise, earning perfect five-star scores in National Highway Traffic Safety Administration crash tests and a "Top Pick" recommendation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

The list of safety gear in the Volvo XC60 is nearly as long as a typical family grocery list, and includes not only staples such as antilock brakes, dynamic stability control and an extensive array of airbags, but also a laser-based City Safety system that works at speeds up to 50 km/h to pre-charge the brakes if a slower-moving vehicle is sensed immediately ahead and automatically apply the brakes if a collision is imminent. In addition to this there's an optional $800 blind-spot information system to warn of cars in adjoining lanes, and the available $2,100 Technology Package goes much further, adding a lane-departure warning system, distance alert if you're following too closely, adaptive cruise control that automatically brakes and accelerates in stop-and-go traffic, and an advanced radar- and camera-based collision warning system with auto-braking that works at higher speeds than the City Safety system and can even spot pedestrians and apply the brakes to avoid them.

For 2013 Volvo has added a few new features to the XC60 lineup, plus some revised colour options including new Rebel Blue paint for R-Design models. Additional standard features for 2013 include headlight washers, rain-sensing wipers, keyless ignition and 18-inch Merac alloy wheels. Available equipment added to the Technology Package for 2013 includes automatic high beams and a Road Sign Information system, which uses the car's forward-looking camera and navigation system to detect and display traffic signs to the driver.

The XC60 starts at $41,065 (destination fees included) for the base front-wheel drive model with the non-turbocharged 3.2-litre V6 engine, while the AWD T6 R-Design Platinum test car tops the range at $60,115 (destination in) plus options. With this price range the XC60 goes head-to-head with other premium compact crossovers including the BMW X3, Audi Q5, Mercedes-Benz GLK and Lexus RX. What the Volvo brings to the showdown is its exceptionally good safety ratings wrapped in a stylish, comfortable and ultimately very practical package. It's little wonder the XC60 has proven to be a hit for Volvo and become its top-selling model in Canada (in the U.S. the S60 sedan takes top-spot honours).

©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Crossover, Volvo, 2013, XC60, $40,000 - $49,999, $50,000 - $74,999, Compact,

Organizations: Volvo

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