Eager to portray itself as a forward-thinking automaker, Volvo has said it will only sell electric vehicles from 2030, which is earlier than most of the competition. So far, the brand has two EVs in its stable: the XC40 Recharge and its mechanical twin, the C40 Recharge. Its other Recharge models, the XC60 T8 and XC90 T8, are plug-in hybrids, which could be seen as a half step towards a battery-powered future. Now, the two mainstream versions of the Volvo XC60 (the brand’s most popular model), along with the S60 sedan, S90 sedan and V90 Cross Country wagon, are adding hybridization to their powertrains, but it s it is a 48-volt hybrid system, the smallest baby step on the road to electrification.
As before, the XC60’s powertrains all use a 2.0-liter inline-four. However, the arrival of the 48-volt hybrid system was accompanied by a change in nomenclature. The T5 base is now known as B5, while the T6 booster becomes B6. (The unchanged plug-in hybrid variants, which offer 19 miles of electric-only range, continue as the T8 with 400 total horsepower, or 415 in the Polestar Engineered model.) All models continue with an eight-speed automatic. The B5 is front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, with AWD standard elsewhere.
The 48 volt system does not increase the output power of the B5 or B6. The base powertrain, which is turbocharged, now produces 247 horsepower (down from 250) with the same 258 pound-feet of torque as before. The turbocharged and supercharged version, which also replaces its old belt-driven compressor with an electric-driven fan, goes from 316 horsepower to 295 horsepower, but sees its torque increase by 295 pound-feet to 310.
The hybrid system helps the XC60 achieve minor fuel economy gains. EPA ratings for the base front-wheel drive car improve by 1 mpg in city and highway tests, to 23/30 mpg city / highway. The all-wheel-drive B5 and B6 both add 1 mpg in the city compared to their 2021 predecessors, with ratings of 22/28 mpg (B5 AWD) and 21/27 mpg (B6).
In a long-term test of an XC60 T6, we averaged 23 mpg over 40,000 miles. We also recorded a time from 0 to 60 of 5.4 seconds. Volvo reckons the new B6 version will drop a few tenths, but says it should feel more responsive at low speeds, as the 48-volt starter-generator boosts horsepower and torque at lower engine speeds.
Without driving the two powertrains back-to-back, it’s hard to confirm, but the XC60 B6 we drove didn’t feel slow going through Manhattan or on the Palisades Parkway through New York and New Jersey. In addition, the electric assistance masks well any delay of the turbo. The response to light throttle applications is now more linear and less abrupt, whether it’s calling for a little more speed or starting from a standstill.
Speaking of the latter, the starter-generator also allows for seamless automatic restarts, which can prevent more drivers from disabling the automatic stop-start system. Still with regard to driving with stops and starts, the switch to an electric braking system, to maximize regenerative braking, is imperceptible from the driver’s seat, because the modulation of the brake pedal is no different from ‘a conventional braking system. . And finally, there’s a new alert to notify an inattentive driver when the vehicle in front of you has started to move, although they won’t act as quickly as the New York cab driver behind you.
The suspension of the XC60 remains unchanged and the R-Design car we drove had the optional 4C adaptive shocks. Adaptive dampers do a good job of suppressing body movement, except for some initial lean when cornering. But rolling on the optional 21-inch wheels, the XC60 still feels its foot heavy on the broken pavement.
The current XC60 has been around since the 2018 model year, and with 2022 marking the traditional mid-cycle refresh point, Volvo is forcing with further changes beyond the mechanics.
The mid-term makeover features a subtle exterior nip-tuck consisting of a new grille texture, redesigned lower fairing, new wheel designs, and a new rear bumper that hides the tailpipes . The most polished exterior feature is the one you can’t see: the logo in the center of the grille is now heated, to prevent ice build-up that would block the sensors inside.
Inside there is new wool-blend upholstery, which is part of Volvo’s trend towards more leather alternatives. (The company recently announced that its electric vehicles will be leatherless.) It’s a no-cost option on the Inscription model. The aftermarket Scandinavian interior remains largely as before with enough room for four adults, a cargo hold that falls into the middle of the bag in this segment, and just minimal stowage space.
The only significant in-cabin update is that Volvo’s infotainment system is moving to a Google-based operating system. Google Maps is now your navigation system, Google Play streams music, and the Siri-style Google Assistant is on hand to answer your questions. The vertically oriented 9.0-inch touchscreen is physically unchanged, and the home page (accessible via the only physical button on the system) continues to feature four horizontal tiles, for navigation, audio, phone, and phone. google assistant. The system can receive updates over the air, and it will need them, as the first production cars we drove lacked satellite radio as well as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, all set to become available via a update.
The Google Maps navigation system uses Volvo-specific fonts and the graphics look great, both on the screen and in the standard 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster. As before, the latter offers a choice of bimodal display: with or without card.
There is no change to the (very) limited set of buttons below the screen, which means that for the audio system, there is a volume button, buttons to seek up / down, and not much. else. A tuning button would be welcome, as it currently takes multiple presses of the Seek button or multiple scans to go from, say, 93.9 WNYC to 107.1 WFUV.
A change in the screen layout is that at the very base of the screen there is now a point of contact to call up the panoramic camera, meaning you no longer have to search through them. menus. Better yet, the camera now appears automatically when the car comes to a stop on the curb, just as it does when the car is in reverse.
Prices start at $ 43,745 for the front-wheel drive XC60 B5 in Momentum trim. The B6 skips the base trim and starts at the R-Design level for $ 56,195 with standard all-wheel drive. Things peak at $ 70,595 for the XC60 T8 Recharge Polestar Engineered.
The XC60’s latest evolution towards electrification brings minor improvements in handling and fuel economy for mainstream models. This should help keep the brand’s bestseller up to date until the brave new battery-powered future arrives.
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