2018 Volvo XC60 T8 Plugin Hybrid Review

The all-new 2018 Volvo XC60 is an affront to bland-looking vehicles if there was ever one. Volvo has come surging back to relevance with the release of a trio of sport utilities including the XC90, XC60 and XC40.

There is a bit of confusion as to which categories these vehicles fall into but I can set the record straight. The XC40 is a sub-compact crossover and competes with other sub-compacts such as the BMW X1 and Mercedes GLA (among many others). The XC60 is a compact crossover competing with vehicles such as the BMW X3 and Mercedes GLC. The large XC90 goes head to head with other mid-size SUVs like the BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz GLE. I have to point this out because the brand characterized the XC40 as a compact when, in fact, it’s a sub-compact but I suppose in the grand scheme of things it’s not that important.

Volvo’s new design language has been widely praised and it’s not hard to see why. The new look turns heads and is both sport and classy. Whether it’s a sedan, wagon or SUV, the looks are striking.

The new “Thor’s hammer” LED daytime running lights are in the shape of a “T” on its side. The amber LED front indicators are similarly shaped and very visible. Same goes for the rear brake lights and turn signals which follow Volvo’s L-shaped theme on their new SUVs which run as high as the roofline.

Volvo has invested heavily in technology to back up the good looks. Underneath the sheet metal is the new Drive-E architecture based on a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine. They’ve done wonders with the engine so do not be leery of the smaller size.

For the XC60 we have three engine options available: the 250 horsepower T5 turbocharged engine, 316 horsepower T6 turbo and supercharged engine, and the 400 horsepower T8 twin-engine plug-in electric hybrid. The XC60 is also available in three trims: Momentum, R-Design and Inscription.

The test vehicle pictured here is the T8 Inscription. It has a combined total of 400 horsepower and 472 lb-ft of torque coming by way of the dual-motor setup. The 2.0-litre four-banger is both turbo and supercharged (at the same time) and puts out 313 horses while the electric motor puts out an additional 87 horses. The power is put to the ground via an eight-speed automatic transmission.

When fully charged, the XC60 T8 can do about 25 kilometers using battery power only. If you have all the electronics and heater blasting then the gasoline motor kicks in to deliver the needed power. The switch is a bit more abrupt than I would like. Often times I noticed a slight hesitation or delay between when I stepped in the gas pedal and when the vehicle actually got going. It’s a decent system that can save fuel if you do short jaunts. In my week of mainly city driving I got combined fuel consumption down to about 8 L / 100 km. While fast enough, I didn’t feel that the XC would be able to out-handle much of the competition. It’s a bit soft in the corners and I just didn’t feel completely in tune with the road.  

The interior of modern Volvos has also come a long way with living room style comfort. The high-end seats of the inscription are very comfy for long drives. The minimalist design of the cabin is very contemporary. Whenever possible, Volvo has opted to have as many functions as possible done via the infotainment system.

This system has a tablet-like design that is actually very good save for a few issues. In cold weather the touch-response becomes very slow. This poses an additional problem because all the climate controls are handled through here. If you want to get the seat warmer fired up and the heater blasting, you’ll need to wait half a min for the screen to respond. There is a setting where you can program the default options on start but this is still something that needs to be addressed.

I also must take away marks for the climate control system itself. Having to do several taps of the screen in order to alter the fan setting is frustration and required the driver to divert their attention from the road. A simpler knob for temperature and fan speed would be a godsend. Aside from that, the system is quite handy once you get the hang of it.

The XC60 remains a fine package that is carving out a place nicely in the compact luxury segment. It’s technological prowess, modern looks and extreme comfort levels are sure to sway many buyers.

The XC60 T5 Momentum carries an MSRP of $45,900. Pricing for XC60 T6 Momentum, R-Design and Inscription is $52,200, $55,450 and $57,050 respectively. The XC60 T8 offers two trims – R-Design and Inscription – and carries an MSRP of $69,550 and $71,150 respectively.