2020 Volvo XC60 Recharge Review


Ever since Volvo streamlined its production line with the Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) platform, they have consistently delivered great vehicles with the company’s unique Scandinavian approach. 

The second generation XC60 is a mid-size luxury SUV that is built on the same platform. It competes with other luxury SUVs like Audi Q5, BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLC. The first generation XC60 is a huge commercial success for Volvo, selling almost 1 million units globally. Does the second generation XC60 have what it takes to fill the shoe of its predecessor?

Thanks to Volvo Canada, I was loaned the 2020 XC60 T8 Recharge for one week to find out. The T8 PHEV drivetrain gives the XC60 31km of pure electric range. Below is my unbiased review.

The XC60 looks distinctly Volvo with its iconic “Thor’s Hammer” LED headlights, vertical-fin grille, and Volvo Iron Mark at the front. Lower air intakes are accompanied by angular air deflectors that resemble the front end of a stealth fighter jet. 

The side profile of the XC60 is more conservative, but still very modern looking. The lower door panels are chiseled, and our tester also comes with chrome lower door mouldings that bear the Recharge logotype. Massive 20” 5-double spoke wheels compliments the beefy wheel arches for a powerful posture.

I can’t decide if I like the rear profile of the XC60. One on hand, the XC60 looks sporty with its wide stance, integrated lip spoiler, and dual chrome exhaust tips. One the other hand, the light signature looks a bit busy with two wrap-around tail lights, a third brake light in the roof spoiler, and two slim reflectors on the bumper. 

In any case, the exterior of the XC60 is a good looking car. With a slightly more mature vibe, it should appease a broad audience. 

You would be forgiven if you can’t distinguish one Volvo from another from the inside. Other than some customizable trim selections, the basic layouts of modern Volvo vehicles are almost identical. And that is not a bad thing. The company has taken the Scandinavian interior design philosophy to create a clean, visually pleasing, and highly functional cabin. By sharing the same basic layout, the company is able to reuse many components to reduce cost. 

The layered deck features customizable inlays for different looks. Our tester comes with the driftwood ribbon inlays that look unique and premium. The center console features a portrait style display and vertical air vents. Chrome highlights and beautifully crafted speaker grilles are accompanied by the Sweden flag logo both on the chrome trims and on the seat. These are nice little touches to highlight the quality of the XC60.

Below the portrait style screen is a row of physical switch gears that provide quick access to control audio volume, track playback, emergency light, and windshield defrosters. In the center console is a traditional lever style shifter and a knurled twist knob to start and stop the engine.  

The front seats are nicely contoured to provide excellent lumbar and lateral support. They are very comfortable even for long drives. In the rear cabin, the heated rear seats provide decent legroom. The headroom is also generous. A massive panoramic sunroof gives the rear passengers an excellent outward view. Our tester has the option for the driver to electronically fold the rear headrests down with the touch of a button. Restoring the headrest to its upright position is a manual affair though.

The Volvo XC60 is equipped with the same infotainment system as the XC90 we reviewed before. The Sensus infotainment system is centered around the portrait style 9” touch screen. The screen is sharp and responsive. A home button below the screen allows you to access the main page wherever you are in the menu system. Operating the Sensus system is as intuitive as using an iPad, the on screen buttons are nicely organized into respective pages. I wish some cabin climate controls, including the steering wheel heater, can have their dedicated physical buttons. With the current design, you will have to dig into the menu to change their settings. 

Android Auto and Apple Carplay are available through the provided USB port. The portrait style screen leaves some real estate to display other vehicle information while Android Auto, or Apple Carplay are projected onto the screen. The built in navigational system is excellent, and the portrait style screen allows more map area in the direction you are heading to be shown. 

The 12.3” digital instrument cluster is large and easy to read. Two analog looking dials display vehicle speed and engine rpm. The middle portion of the screen is reserved for either media information or the navigational map. Only a small portion at the bottom right of the display can be interacted via the buttons on the steering wheel. I wish Volvo would utilize the middle portion of the screen for more customizable functions. 

Safety and Driver Assistance
Volvo has a great reputation for vehicle safety. With the SPA platform, the company claims that it has achieved the strongest cars to date because of extensive use of boron steel. 

Standard City Safety combines automatic braking functionality and collision avoidance systems to cover a range of potential accident scenarios. It is the only system on the market that detects pedestrians, cyclists and large animals such as moose and deer.

The Pilot Assist driver assistance system, optional on the XC60, works up to 130 km/h on clearly marked roads. It works very well on the highway with natural brake feels and excellent lane keep ability. However, it has trouble recognizing curbs when driving in the city. 

The 2020 Volvo XC60 earns a 5 star safety rating from NHTSA and Top Safety Pick award from IIHS.

The XC60 recharge is designed to be a PHEV from the outset. The T8 drivetrain uses a 2.0-litre 316hp four-cylinder petrol engine that is both turbocharged and supercharged to drive the front wheels. An electric motor is added to drive the rear wheels, pushing the total horsepower to 400hp and total torque to 472 lb.ft. The engine power is coupled to the wheels through an 8-speed automatic transmission. It is a potent combination that is able to push the car from 0-100km/hr in less than 6 seconds. 

The drivetrain feels smooth even with such a complicated power configuration. The electric motor gives the XC60 that extra low end torque and is more than capable of lugging the car around in pure electric mode. When the accelerator is pushed hard, the gasoline engine kicks in and you can hear it come to life from within the cabin. 

In terms of ride quality, the suspension system does a decent job of absorbing road bumps while providing stiff handling. The higher ride height does translate to a smoother ride compared to a Volvo sedan, but the large 20” wheels do bounce back with more kinetic energy when hitting a road bump. If ride comfort is your main concern, stick to the standard 18” wheels.

The steering wheel is quite light, and I would prefer a little more feedback from the road. The other annoyance is the lever shifter. To switch from drive to reverse, you will first need to go into neutral. In operation, that means you will need to pull the lever twice, and vise versa. It is particularly annoying when navigating inside a parking lot. 

Finally, let’s talk about the plug-in hybrid system of the XC60 Recharge. The 11.6kWh battery pack provides a pure EV driving range of 31km. It is quite achievable in the real world if the road is relatively flat. I like how Volvo lets you decide how you want your hybrid system to behave. You can choose to charge the battery with the gasoline engine, or to hold the battery charge for later use. With both options combined, you can decide when to best utilize the PHEV system. For example, you can choose to hold the battery charge on the highway, and to utilize the hybrid system only for city drives.

The XC60 comes with a 4.5m three-pin cable that can be plugged into a standard 120VAC household outlet. With nightly charging, our one week test drive observes a fuel economy rating of 4.3L/100km.

Cargo Space & Storage
The XC60 Recharge is a very practical car. There is 468L of cargo space behind the second row seats. With the 40/60 rear seats folded, that cargo space is increased to 1395L. A ski pass-through lets you store longer items without folding the rear seats down. The power tailgate can be foot activated, and there is a 12V charging port in the trunk. Under the trunk floor is a tire inflation kit. This is also store where you can store your charging cable.

In-cabin storage is decent for a PHEV. The glove compartment is decently sized, so is the center console storage bin. The front door pockets are quite large, but the rear door pockets can only handle a single water bottle. Rear passengers also enjoy mesh pockets behind the front seatbacks and a storage tray behind the center console. Additional storage trays and cup holders can be found in the center folding armrest.

The Volvo XC60 Recharge is an excellent PHEV SUV. It is just perfectly sized for many Canadians: Small enough to easily navigate the city and large enough for outdoor adventures. The smart styling, clean, yet premium interior adds to the overall appeal of the car. What really sets the Recharge apart is its ability to go 31km on pure electricity. The battery is small enough to be easily topped up at home, and the range, while limited, proves useful for people that don’t have to travel far daily. Even with the premium price tag, it is still thousands of dollars cheaper than its rival luxury PHEV SUVs with similar safety options. If you don’t absolutely need the plug-in hybrid option though, its R-Design gasoline powered sibling is a great alternative.

Test Vehicle
2020 Volvo XC60 Recharge Inscription Expression

$76115 CAD as tested

Crystal White


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