2011 Volvo XC60 Introduction

The Volvo XC60 adds up to attractive all-purpose transportation. It's a smaller addition to Volvo's existing stable of XC70 and XC90 crossover sport-utilities. Volvo XC60 seats five and competes well with compact SUVs such as the Acura MDX, Audi Q5, BMW X3, and Mercedes-Benz GLK.

The 2011 Volvo XC60 gets some significant updates. Power increases slightly for all 2011 XC60 models. The 2011 Volvo XC60 line-up expands to four choices, including two racier R-Design variants with firmer suspension settings. The XC60 was completely redesigned for 2010.

For growing families, or active singles who want flexibility without bulk, the XC60 makes a lot of sense. The XC60 looks like a smaller version of the XC90, and it doesn't shout family-mobile. The XC60 seats four quite comfortably, five with a bit of coziness, and it offers more cargo space than nearly all its competitors.

The Volvo XC60 is not the sportiest vehicle among compact SUVs, but we found it handles well on city streets and highways. It's easy to park, particularly with the optional rearview camera. The XC60 rides comfortably, and its brakes are superb.

The standard 3.2-liter six-cylinder engine, now delivering 240 horsepower, is up to all the demands of daily driving, and it delivers the best value, in our view. The upgrade 300-hp turbocharged engine adds a bit of excitement for those who put a premium on quick acceleration. Both engines come with a well-tuned 6-speed automatic transmission.

Volvo's fulltime all-wheel-drive system works smoothly in the daily grind without a huge penalty in fuel economy, and it's truly welcome when the weather gets foul or on gravel or even in bumpy corners. Yet buyers who don't really need all-wheel-drive capability can choose an XC60 with front-wheel drive.

With all-wheel drive and 9.1 inches of ground clearance, the Volvo XC60 offers as much off-highway capability as most sport-utility buyers will ever need. It can handle some backcountry trails, and the computer-managed Hill Descent Control makes creeping down steep inclines more securely. With either engine, the XC60 can tow 3300 pounds, a snowmobile or personal watercraft.

Inside, the Volvo XC60 is attractively finished and pleasingly understated. Its knobs and buttons are easier to use than those in most of its competitors. The seating arrangement is flexible, and the cargo compartment has tie-downs and other useful accessories. It offers nearly all the features you'd expect in a luxury vehicle, including heated rear seats, rear-seat video and superb surround audio.

Volvo devotes significant resources to research aimed at improving occupant protection, and its reputation for safety engineering is largely deserved. The XC60 offers the full array of active and passive safety features, including standard City Safety. This braking package is programmed to stop the car independent of the driver when it senses an impending encounter with a car in front at speeds up to 18 miles per hour, mitigating crash impact or avoiding a rear-ender altogether. The XC60 is available with a full array of blind-spot, lane-departure and driver alertness warning systems.

Shoppers who put a premium on comfort, safety and value will find it worth a test drive.

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