Volvo XC60 2022 Moves Toward Electrification

Volvo's XC60 crossover's base powertrains include a 48-volt hybrid system, but you're more likely to notice the new Google-based infotainment system.

Volvo, eager to establish a reputation as a forward-thinking automaker, has stated that it will begin selling only electric vehicles in 2030, a year ahead of most competitors. The brand currently offers two electric vehicles: the XC40 Recharge and its mechanical twin, the C40 Recharge. Other Recharge models include the XC60 T8 and XC90 T8, both of which are plug-in hybrids—a first step toward a battery-powered future. The two mainstream versions of the Volvo XC60 (the brand's best-selling model), as well as the S60 sedan, the S90 sedan, and the V90 Cross Country wagon, now offer hybrid powertrains. It's a 48-volt hybrid system, a minuscule first step toward electrification.

As previously stated, the XC60's powertrains are all 2.0-liter inline-fours. However, the advent of the 48-volt hybrid system necessitates a change in nomenclature. The base T5 is now referred to as the B5, while the step-up T6 is referred to as the B6. (The unchanged plug-in hybrid variants, which offer 19 miles of all-electric range, remain available as the T8 with 400 total horsepower or 415 in the Polestar Engineered version.) All models retain an eight-speed automatic transmission. The B5 is available with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, with AWD as standard in other markets.

The 48-volt system has no effect on the B5 or B6's power output. The turbocharged base engine now produces 247 horsepower (down from 250) and the same 258 pound-feet of torque as before. The turbocharged and supercharged version, which also replaces the belt-driven supercharger with an electrically driven blower, loses 316 horsepower to 295 but gains 310 pound-feet of torque.

The hybrid system does assist the XC60 in eking out marginal fuel economy improvements. The EPA estimates for the front-wheel-drive base model increase by one mile per gallon in both city and highway tests, to 23/30 mpg city/highway. Both the all-wheel-drive B5 and B6 add one mile per gallon in the city over their 2021 predecessors, with estimates of 22/28 mpg (B5 AWD) and 21/27 mpg (B6 AWD) (B6).

We averaged 23 miles per gallon over 40,000 miles in a long-term test of an XC60 T6. Additionally, we recorded a 5.4-second time to 60 mph. The new B6 model we tested reached that mark in 6.6 seconds, and its 15.0-second, 93-mph quarter-mile pass is a full second and 7 mph slower than its T6 predecessor's. The Audi Q5 45, BMW X3 30i, and Mercedes-Benz GLC300 all accelerate to 60 mph more quickly.

Subjectively, the new XC60 B6 feels faster, owing to the 48-volt starter-generator, which boosts the engine's horsepower and torque at low engine speeds. Additionally, the electric assists effectively mask any turbo lag. Light throttle applications now respond more linearly and smoothly, whether you're requesting slightly more speed or accelerating from a stop. And when the hammer is slammed down at 30 mph, the time required to accelerate to 50 mph is slightly shorter than previously.

The suspension of the XC60 remains unchanged, and the R-Design car we drove featured the optional 4C adaptive dampers. With the exception of a slight initial lean in corners, the adaptive dampers do an excellent job of damping body motions. However, even with the optional 21-inch wheels, the XC60 feels clumsy on broken pavement. We measured a respectable 0.86 g on the skidpad, which puts the Volvo on a par with the Q5, the X3, and the GLC300 in terms of cornering grip.

The current XC60 debuted in 2018, and with 2022 marking the traditional mid-cycle refresh point, Volvo obliges with additional changes beyond the mechanicals.

The midpoint facelift features a new grille texture, a restyled lower fascia, new wheel designs, and a new rear bumper that conceals the tailpipes. The most innovative exterior feature is one that is not visible: the logo in the center of the grille has been heated to prevent ice buildup from obstructing the sensors contained within.

Inside, new wool-blend upholstery is available as part of Volvo's push toward more leather alternatives. (Recently, the company announced that its electric vehicles would be leather-free.) It is a complimentary feature of the Inscription model. The sparse, Scandinavian interior remains largely unchanged, with ample space for four adults, a cargo hold that ranks midpack in this segment, and a bare minimum of cabin stowage.

The only significant update to the interior is the transition of Volvo's infotainment system to a Google-based operating system. Google Maps now serves as your navigation system, Google Play serves as your music store, and the Google Assistant, a la Siri, is available to answer your questions. The 9.0-inch vertically oriented touchscreen remains physically unaltered, and the system's lone physical button continues to access the system's homepage, which features four horizontal tiles for navigation, audio, phone, and Google Assistant. The system is capable of receiving over-the-air updates, which it will require, as the early-production vehicles we drove lacked satellite radio, as well as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay—all of which are scheduled to become available via software updates.

Volvo-specific fonts are used in the Google Maps navigation system, and the graphics look fantastic on the screen and in the standard 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster. As before, the latter provides a bimodal display option: with or without a map.

There is no change to the (extremely) limited set of buttons beneath the screen, which means that the audio system is comprised of a volume knob, seek up or down buttons, and not much else. A tuning knob would be appreciated, as it currently requires multiple presses of the seek button or several swipes to transition from, say, 93.9 WNYC to 107.1 WFUV.

One change to the screen layout is the addition of a touchpoint at the very bottom of the display for accessing the surround-view camera, which eliminates the need to hunt for it in menus. Even better, the camera now activates automatically when the car approaches the curb, similar to how it does when the car shifts into reverse.

Prices for the front-wheel-drive XC60 B5 Momentum start at $43,745. The B6 skips the entry-level configuration and begins at $56,195 with standard all-wheel drive. The XC60 T8 Recharge Polestar Engineered is priced at $70,595 in total.

The XC60's latest electrification effort improves the mainstream models' drivability and fuel economy slightly. This should help the brand's best-seller remain current until the brave new battery-powered future arrives.

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