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2019 Volvo XC60 Inscription – Overtly Refined & Elegant, Subtly Swedish

2019 Volvo XC60 Inscription – Overtly Refined & Elegant, Subtly Swedish

Back in 2002, Volvo build their first SUV, the XC90. It drew on design elements from the wagons. From that point, Volvo’s aesthetic evolved from its boxy beginnings to what must be some of the best looking, most refined cars on the road.

EXTERIOR 

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The XC60’s looks have a subtle nod to some all-weather performance but it doesn’t look bulky or overtly off-roady. Instead, it looks sophisticated and capable.

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Black and silver 19-inch alloy wheels complement the Pine Grey metallic paint. The vertical taillights are a holdover design elements from old Volvo wagons. I’m a sucker for dual outlet exhaust and the Volvo checks this box.

INTERIOR 

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As pleasant as the exterior is, the real story of the XC60 is told inside. I’d question the motives of anyone buying a car with white upholstery. And you’d have to be nuts to buy one as a family car. But good lord it is gorgeous inside. Set in the dash is the nine inch touch screen that controls everything from the seat massage, to navigation to the optional Bowers and Wilkins premium sound system.

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Every surface is sumptuous. The materials are all exceptional and the craftsmanship is something you can appreciate for the life of the car. For example, the airconditioning vents controls are not just silver-colored plastic. They’re aluminum. That means they were machined to fit and function, not squirted into a mold. It also means you’ll feel the quality each time you reach to adjust the vent. It’s cold or hot to the touch rather than the dead feeling plastic offers. There’s room in the back for adults and there’s ample cargo space behind the second row.

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There’s an evident pride taken design and execution here. I especially like the subtle nods to this car’s nationality throughout the cabin.

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THE DRIVE

The ride and drive are as refined as the interior accommodations. Air ride at all four corners ensures the ride is buttery smooth. I love that the ride height can be adjusted on the go by fiddling with the drive mode settings. Volvo’s 2.0 liter four-banger takes advantage of a super charger and a turbo. This double puffer set up means the XC60 has 316 horsepower to play with.

Using a super charger and a turbo allows the engine to get the benefits of both. The super lends it’s linear, predictable power and the turbo gives you the punch in the higher revs. It makes for above-average performance. The Volvo is whisper quiet on the freeway. And Volvo claims it’ll get 27 mpg on the highway and 19 around town.

THE DIRT

I love the direction Volvo is going. They’re truly special. You feel it when you’re seated behind the wheel. They’re not setting the world on fire with outrageous designs that will be dated next year. The sense of pride and craftsmanship on the part of Volvo designers is evident throughout the car, especially inside.

This XC60 with these features has a price point just shy of $65k. That’s a lot of money, especially considering it’s not even Volvo’s biggest SUV. However, it’s dead nice to drive and to behold. Now, if you must have a new XC60 but you don’t have that kind of dough don’t despair. If you’re willing to suffer the indignity of a non-heated steering wheel, or perhaps you could drag yourself into a car without Nappa leather you can save $750 and $2,200 respectively. Continue with the austerity measures and you can whittle to price down to a paltry $45 grand.

 

2017 Volvo S90 T6 AWD – Making Safety Look Sexy

2017 Volvo S90 T6 AWD – Making Safety Look Sexy

It’s no secret that Volvo has stepped up its game in the looks department. They’ve been subtly refining a shape that gets better with each iteration. In 2015, the S90 got a face lift. The aggressive looking grille and predatory looking headlights were a departure from the handsome but relatively sedate aesthetic of the previous model. Fast forward to 2017 and we’re still looking at the same body work and it’s holding up nicely.

The press car featured a creamy off-white leather interior trimmed with beautiful materials and excellent fitment and finish. Oddly, the driver and passenger can have the heated and cooled seat functions turned on at the same time. Volvo’s commitment to clean, contemporary design really shined through in the cabin. The symmetrically designed dash features walnut trim and so does the console.

Cleverly concealed LEDs illuminate the interior door panels after the sun has gone down. The interior is roomy, the front power seats are comfortable, and there’s evidence of top-notch build quality throughout. One thing that could use improvement is the smartphone-inspired infotainment interface. It’s distracting to use, and it’s the only option for adjusting the climate controls. The system uses a nine inch touch screen and is rather nice, and the sound quality from the stereo is exceptional.

As previously stated, the S90 is no slouch when it comes to looks. It’s a physically imposing vehicle from the outside. The grille is made up of vertical pillars that remind one of the toothy maw of some predator. The headlights, which work stunningly well, look like eyes which have narrowed to slits in preparation for attack.

In profile, the car’s body lines work to give it a slightly forward raking appearance, and the 19 inch wheels fit into the big-car aesthetic. The long hood and graceful roofline are complimented by a tight, relatively short trunk area. The back of the car is a lesson in simplicity and symmetry. There are contemporary blocky taillights bracketing the simple lines of the rear sheet metal. Dual outlet exhaust tips round out a remarkably elegant posterior.

Under the hood resides a two liter four cylinder engine that makes 316 horsepower at the flywheel. The dual overhead cam mill uses a supercharger fed by a turbo to cram air into the intake side of the engine. This set up allows drivers to feel the off-the-line pep of a super charger and benefit from the efficiency of a turbo set up. This is backed up by Volvo’ s smooth shifting eight-speed transmission.

The drive is predictably smooth and quiet. Acceleration is good, as is fuel efficiency. The EPA estimate for this car is 25 combined mpg. Overall, the ride and driving experience is very good. However, the steering is quite light and insulated from any road feel. The lane keeping assist is also somewhat obtrusive on anything but the wide lanes of the interstate. It can turn a Sunday cruise into an arm wrestling match. Thankfully, it’s easily switched off. Our press car featured Volvo’s parking assist feature. It’s designed to allow the driver to pull up to an open spot, punch a couple buttons and hey presto the car parallel parks itself. I only tried it once and the right rear tire ended up on the curb. On a lighter note, the radar cruise control worked flawlessly.

Volvo has put together a wonderful machine. As a car its shortcomings are greatly outshone by its beautiful body, luxurious interior, clever engine, and overall quality feel. There is a common thread among its few faults, they’re all related to the technology. I understand that many cars offered today feature what is essentially “bridge technology.” Cars can’t quite drive themselves yet, but they’re on their way.

The lane keeping assist that indiscriminately follows the lines even to the point of heading the car down an exit ramp, the parking feature that curbs the car are clever ideas and work well the majority of the time. Until they work all the time though, features like the impossibly complicated touch screen A/C controls should be made simpler so driver’s eyes can stay on the road rather than swiping through an infotainment screen. I recognize the value in new tech, but until it can do the job of driving as well or better than I can, I’ll still be switching it off.