Volvo's least expensive SUV, the XC60, is updated for 2017 with all fuel-efficient four-cylinder turbocharged engines and simpler trim levels for easier buyer choices.
Unfortunately, the shuffling of trim levels and engines also boosted the starting retail price from $37,595 in the 2016 model year to $41,945 for a base, front-wheel drive, 2017 XC60 T5 Dynamic or Inscription model. The lowest starting retail price including destination charge for an all-wheel drive 2017 XC60 is $43,945, up from $39,095 for a 2016 model.
The five-seat XC60 is due for a major update, but the 2017 version still is a recommended buy of Consumer Reports magazine and scored five-out-of-five stars in crash tests by the U.S. government.
Among the attractive features of the XC60 are optional, built-in, back-seat child booster seats that are unique because they can be adjusted to two heights to accommodate children as they grow. These seats are part of a $1,550 climate package that also adds heated front seats, steering wheel and windshield.
Another noteworthy feature, and one that is standard on every 2017 XC60, is City Safety. It uses an infrared laser to monitor the closing rate of the XC60 to the vehicle just ahead in slow-speed driving between 2 and 18 miles per hour. If the driver takes no action, the system can apply the brakes abruptly to try to avoid a crash or mitigate one.
Also standard on the base XC60 for 2017 are leather seats, a panoramic sunroof and blind-spot monitoring that is an option on many competing SUVs.
The XC60 is right-sized and friendly for many families. At 15.2 feet in length, the XC60 is on the large side of compact, with 41.2 inches of front-seat legroom and 67.4 cubic feet of cargo space at the rear. The back liftgate opening is sizable to allow for easy packing, and back-seat legroom of 36.4 inches is decent.
The 2017 XC60 is beefy looking, yet easy to maneuver in tight spaces, with the steering mostly needing a light touch.
There is a definite Scandinavian flavor in the wood inlays inside and in the older-style, Volvo ventilation controls.
With the elimination of the five- and six-cylinder XC60 engines this year, all engines now have four cylinders and U.S. government average city/highway fuel economy ratings range from 22 miles per gallon to 26 mpg.
Buyers get a 240-horsepower, 2-liter, turbocharged four cylinder with 258 foot-pounds of torque in 2017 XC60s with front-wheel drive. A 302-horsepower, 2-liter, turbocharged and supercharged four cylinder with 295 foot-pounds of torque is standard in 2017 XC60s with all-wheel drive.
The XC60s with the lower-powered engine carry the T5 moniker, while the SUVs with the turbocharged and supercharged engine have a T6 label. Both engines use an eight-speed automatic transmission.
The test XC60 T6 AWD Inscription was a mid-range model that, with options, topped out at more than $53,000.
Leather-covered seats provided fatigue-free resting spots and every passenger had a properly positioned head restraint. The rear-seat, pull-down, center armrest/cupholders/storage spot was unexpectedly wide so elbows of outboard passengers didn't bump into each other.
The standard panoramic roof gave an airy feel to the interior. With passengers sitting up a ways from the pavement, views out the vehicle were good.
Fitted with optional, 20-inch tires, the tester was a competent city driver and highway cruiser where some road imperfections and noises were transmitted to the passenger cabin.
The turbocharged and supercharged four cylinder powered the hefty, more than 4,170-pound XC60 well, though turbo lag was noticeable.
In demanding driving that was a majority of the time in city and suburban traffic, the test vehicle averaged only 18.5 miles per gallon, which was nowhere near the federal government's rating of 20 mpg in city driving and 27 mpg on highways. This amounted to just 342 miles of travel on a single tank of fuel.
Some 2017 XC60 were among 74,027 Volvos recalled last November because seat belt buckles might separate from their brackets. This could lead to front-seat passengers not being properly restrained during crashes.