The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Top News

February 1, 2013

Volvo XC60 has luxury feel, plenty of power

— When I think of Volvo cars, only one thing comes to mind: safety.

It's easy to imagine a bunch of Volvo engineers huddled around a cup of coffee discussing whether they could install an airbag into a cupholder and how to make the radio buttons cause fewer injuries.

Volvo is obsessive about things like that.

Driving the XC60 this past week, though, I was reminded that this is a company known for building luxury cars, too.

Part of that comes from its feeling of solidity. Even putting all its safety features aside — things like automatic braking, sensors that see pedestrians, and its ability to read road signs — it's still one really, really nice ride.

Most cars these days put their focus on fuel economy, so they start to feel flimsy and hollowed out in an effort to save weight.

The XC60 isn't like that. Its heavy, massive doors close with the kind of bank-vault thud more commonly found in $100,000 Mercedes sedans. It feels like you're driving in a tank, wrapped in a cocoon of high-strength steel.

Gas mileage suffers a bit as a result. It's rated for 25 mpg on the highway and 19 in city driving, and slightly worse with all-wheel drive.

The driving feel, though, is phenomenal — assuming you opt for the turbocharged engine. Some Volvos I've driven in the past have felt underpowered, but the 3.0-liter, six-cylinder turbo engine in my test vehicle made it feel like a sports car, with 300 horsepower on tap. Even the base engine makes 240 horses.

With a taut suspension and sensitive steering, it leaves a surprisingly sporty impression for something so obviously designed for family-hauling duties. The powerful engine's roar and zippy feeling in corners almost make you forget that the XC60 has built-in booster seats for children.

And that brings us to the heart of the stereotypical Volvo, which is its ridiculously well-thoughy-out list of safety technology. Some of its standard features include Ready Alert Brakes, a system that primes the car for heavy braking if it senses a collision is imminent, and City Safety, which will automatically stomp on the brakes to avoid a low-speed wreck.

One optional feature on the XC60 is Road Sign Information, something I'd never seen before on any car. It uses a video camera to scan the road signs ahead of you — particularly the speed limits and "no

passing" signs — and displays them in a digital readout in the instrument panel. If you've ever forgotten what the speed limit was on a given stretch of road, you can just look down at the dash and see it. If you choose, you can also set it to give you an audible warning when you break the speed limit.

Pricing starts at $34,350 for the base model, or $40,650 for the turbocharged XC60 with all-wheel drive. It's also available in 325-horsepower R-Design trim for $44,850.

Derek Price is an automotive columnist for CNHI News Service. Contact him at carcolum@gmail.com.

1
Text Only
Top News
  • John Hood A year after 'chaos'

    It happened two hours after John Hood finished his run. Like many, he thought the loud boom was just the sound of cannons going off, something that shook the ground. It was odd, but Hood — a 1989 Clinton High School graduate — tried to make it logical, associating the noise with another good happening at the Boston Marathon.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Why do wolves howl?

    Of all the myths that dog the wolf, none is more widely accepted than the idea that wolves howl at the moon. Images of wolves with their heads upturned, singing at the night sky, are as unquestioned as a goldfish's three-second memory or a dog's color-blindness (both also myths).

    April 18, 2014

  • Biggest student loan profits come from grad students

    This week, the Congressional Budget Office projected that the federal government would earn roughly $127 billion from student lending during the next 10 years.

    April 18, 2014

  • AGENDA: 4-22-14 Clinton City Council

    The Clinton City Council will meet Tuesday at 7 p.m. followed by a committee of the whole.

    April 18, 2014

  • Judge asks pointed questions in gay marriage case

    A judge in Colorado who will play a pivotal role deciding whether gays should be allowed to wed in the United States asked pointed questions Thursday about whether Oklahoma can legally ban the unions.

    U.S. Circuit Judge Jerome Holmes is seen as the swing vote on the three-judge panel that heard the Oklahoma appeal and a similar case from Utah last week.

    April 18, 2014

  • NASA's moon-orbiting robot crashes down as planned

    April 18, 2014

  • Eyewitness testimony no longer a gold standard

    The American legal system offers few moments as dramatic as an eyewitness to a crime pointing his finger across a crowded courtroom at a defendant.

    The problem is that decades of studies show eyewitness testimony is only right about half the time — a reality that has prompted a small vanguard of police chiefs, courts and lawmakers to toughen laws governing the handling of eyewitnesses and their accounts of crimes.

    April 18, 2014

  • Blagojevich campaign account donates final dollars

    A federal campaign account for imprisoned former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich is now empty, two years into the Chicago Democrat's prison term.

    The (Arlington Heights) Daily Herald reports Friends of Rod Blagojevich donated $709.85 to a Serbian Orthodox Church monastery earlier this month.

    April 18, 2014

  • GOP lawmaker objects to 9-0 vote for Obama library

    A Republican lawmaker is protesting after an Illinois House committee recorded a 9-0 vote to commit $100 million for President Barack Obama's library and museum, even though the committee's four GOP members weren't there.

    Rep. Ed Sullivan of Mundelein says he didn't expect a vote during Thursday's hearing. He told WBEZ radio and the (Arlington Heights) Daily Herald he would've voted no.

    Sullivan says "the legacy of the Obama presidential library shouldn't be kicked off in a cloud of controversy."

    April 18, 2014

  • Prosecutor says 6 felon voting cases will proceed

    A prosecutor pursuing several cases against felons charged with voting illegally says an Iowa Supreme Court ruling shouldn't impact them.Assistant Black Hawk County Attorney Linda Fangman said Thursday the prosecutions will "proceed as is," despite Tuesday's ruling suggesting that not all felons lose their voting rights. She's handling felony election misconduct cases against six offenders accused of voting in the 2012 election even though they lost their rights. A seventh may plead guilty Monday.

    April 18, 2014

AP Video