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
  • Celebrity quack moms are a terrible influence on everyday parents

    On April 15, the actress Alicia Silverstone released a book called "The Kind Mama: A Simple Guide to Supercharged Fertility, a Radiant Pregnancy, a Sweeter Birth, and a Healthier, More Beautiful Beginning." It's chock-full of attachment parenting lessons and dangerous misinformation.

    April 24, 2014

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg What will happen in NFL draft? No one really knows

    Despite the hours spent interviewing coaches, watching film and developing well-reasoned mock draft lists, the truth about the 2014 NFL draft remains a mystery, well-guarded by teams that have nothing to gain by publicly sharing their innermost thoughts.

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • American sunscreens need an upgrade

    The last time a new sunscreen ingredient came on the U.S. market, the Y2K bug was threatening to destroy our way of life. Intel had just introduced the Pentium III processor, featuring an amazing 500 MHz of computing power.

    April 24, 2014

  • 20140424-AMX-COFFEE24.jpg Coffee growers' prayers for rain met with threat of deluge

    Brazil's drought made arabica coffee this year's best-performing commodity. Now, farmers are facing a downpour that is once more threatening crops.

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Iowa man accused of torturing, killing bald eagle

    An Iowa man has been charged with torturing and killing a bald eagle.

    A federal grand jury in Des Moines returned an indictment Wednesday against Jason John Thomas.

    April 24, 2014

  • Affirmative action ruling challenges colleges seeking diversity

    The U.S. Supreme Court's support of Michigan's ban on race-based affirmative action in university admissions may spur colleges to find new ways to achieve diversity without using racial preferences.

    April 24, 2014

  • 10 Things to Know for Today

    Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today:

    April 24, 2014

  • 4-23-14 Northey Burkens committed to ag education CLINTON -- As the Iowa Secretary of Agriculture, Bill Northey said his department doesn't hand out the Good Farm Neighbor Award arbitrarily. Only 10 acknowledgements are bestowed each year. On Wednesday, the honor went to a worthy family in Clinton C

    April 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • World Book Night 1 Clinton Public Library hosts largest World Book Night event in the country

    CLINTON -- With more than 21 titles and 800 copies to give away, what reader wouldn't adore an event like World Book Night? Organizers at the Clinton Public Library wondered the same Wednesday, and were pleased with turnout for the third annual event

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Amid Russian warning, Ukraine's in a security bind

    Ukraine's highly publicized goal to recapture police stations and government buildings seized by pro-Russia forces in the east produced little action on the ground Wednesday but ignited foreboding words from Moscow.

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned that Russia would mount a firm response if its citizens or interests come under attack in Ukraine. Although he did not specifically say Russia would launch a military attack, his comments bolstered wide concern that Russia could use any violence in eastern Ukraine as a pretext for sending in troops.

    April 23, 2014

AP Video