2013 Volvo XC60 SUV - FROM $34,350
The 2013 Volvo XC60 is a well-rounded small luxury SUV that's also one of the top choices for families.
What's New for 2013
For 2013, every Volvo XC60 gets standard automatic headlights and wipers, while both T6 trims receive keyless ignition/entry and a sport mode for the transmission.
Every company in the luxury business has recently developed midsize crossovers with plenty of comfort and convenience features. But let's not forget that crossovers are meant to deliver utility as well, and it's this quality that makes the 2013 Volvo XC60 a top choice for families.
Chief reasons include a comfortable cabin, unique family-friendly features and top-notch crash scores. If these descriptors sound pulled from a Reagan-era review of a Volvo wagon, it's no mere coincidence. Although the crossover (car platform-based) SUV has essentially replaced the station wagon as the go-to family vehicle, the basic requirements haven't changed. With its handsome, sleek styling, the Volvo XC60 certainly won't be confused with your aunt's trusty old 740 wagon, but it really plays the same role in family life.
The modern look carries over inside the XC60. Soft curves and interesting details express the distinctive qualities of Swedish furniture, while a variety of high-quality materials and classy trim accents give off a uniquely upscale vibe.
While the 2013 XC60 might not look like a Volvo of old, it still puts a priority on safety. It is one of the few vehicles to earn a perfect five stars in the government's recently revamped crash tests. Of course, avoiding a collision in the first place would be preferable to taking the hit and, rest assured, the XC60 has plenty of features designed to prevent an accident from occurring.
And we weren't exaggerating about the appeal the XC60 has to families. Dual, built-in booster seats in the back mean that mom and dad no longer have to go to any trouble to convert the backseat from family-friendly to a night out with friends. The adults will like the backseat as much as kids, since it's more accommodating than the rear seats in most of the XC60's rivals.
As for those competitors, the well-rounded Audi Q5 comes closest to matching the XC60's family friendliness, while being a tad more luxurious as well. The Mercedes-Benz GLK350 isn't as roomy or family-friendly as the Volvo, but it boasts unrivaled build quality, added refinement and a similar emphasis on safety. You could also consider SUVs from non-premium automakers, such as the Ford Edge or Nissan Murano. These are good choices all, but when it comes to providing family-friendly transport in a stylish, luxurious package, it's hard to beat the 2013 Volvo XC60.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Volvo XC60 is a luxury SUV that seats five people. It is available in 3.2, T6 and T6 R-Design trim levels. Each is available in standard, Premier Plus and Platinum sub-trims, while the 3.2 gets an additional Premier sub-trim.
Standard features on the XC60 3.2 include 18-inch wheels, roof rails, automatic headlights with washers, automatic wipers, heated mirrors, cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, an eight-way power driver seat with memory functions and adjustable lumbar, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, "T-tec" fabric upholstery, a leather-wrapped wheel and shifter, a split-folding 40/20/40 backseat, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, and an eight-speaker sound system with a CD player, HD radio, satellite radio, an auxiliary audio jack and an iPod/USB audio interface.
The 3.2 Premier and T6 add silver-painted roof rails, tinted rear windows, keyless ignition/entry, a panoramic sunroof, leather upholstery and an eight-way power passenger seat. The T6 differs with its more powerful engine.
Added perks of the Premier Plus sub-trims include active xenon headlights, front and rear parking sensors, a power liftgate, a cargo cover and power-folding rear head restraints.
Springing for the top Platinum trims adds a rearview camera, a navigation system, real-time traffic and a 12-speaker surround-sound audio system.
The R-Design model pumps up the T6 with extra power, a sport-tuned suspension, 20-inch alloy wheels, special styling features, twin chrome exhausts, special interior trim, a sport steering wheel and sport seats.
Optional packages include the Climate package, which adds heated windshield washer nozzles, heated front and rear seats and an interior air quality sensor. The Technology package adds adaptive cruise control, a collision warning and active brake system, a distance alert system, a driver attention warning system, a lane-departure warning system and a Road Sign Information display. The base 3.2, 3.2 Premier and T6 are eligible for the Tailgate package, which includes the power tailgate and the rearview camera.
Stand-alone options include 19-inch wheels, a blind-spot warning system, integrated rear booster seats and a dual-screen rear entertainment system.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2013 Volvo XC60 3.2 comes with a 3.2-liter inline-6 that produces 240 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic and front-wheel drive are standard, but all-wheel drive is optional. Volvo estimates that the 3.2 takes 9.1 seconds to go from zero to 60 mph, which would be quite slow for the luxury SUVs against which it competes. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 19 mpg city/25 mpg highway and 21 mpg combined with front-drive and 18/24/20 with all-wheel drive. Both are average for the segment.
The T6 gets a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6 good for 300 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed automatic and all-wheel drive are standard. In Edmunds testing, a T6 hit 60 mph in 7 seconds, which is average for the class. EPA fuel economy estimates are 17/23/20.
The T6 R-Design gets a more powerful version of this engine good for 325 hp and 354 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed automatic and all-wheel drive are also standard. In Edmunds testing, it hit 60 mph in a rapid 6.2 seconds -- only the BMW X3 xDrive35i is quicker. Volvo says the R-Design's fuel economy is identical to the regular T6.
Every 2013 XC60 comes standard with antilock brakes, traction and stability control, front side airbags, side curtain airbags and whiplash-preventing front seats. Also standard is City Safety, which can mitigate or avoid a low-speed frontal impact by applying the vehicle's brakes without driver intervention. Optional features include integrated child booster seats, blind-spot warning, collision warning and active braking, distance alert, driver attention warning, lane departure and a heartbeat monitor that can detect intruders inside the vehicle.
In Edmunds brake testing, an XC60 T6 came to a stop from 60 mph in 119 feet, which is a bit better than average. In government crash tests, the XC60 received a perfect five stars for overall crash protection, with five stars for both overall frontal impact and side crash protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety also gave the XC60 its highest score of "Good" in the frontal-offset, side-impact and roof strength tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
Volvo has been making an effort in recent years to give its vehicles some interior flair, and the five-passenger XC60 is the brand's best result yet. The thin-panel center stack -- which comes with metallic trim as standard and real wood trim as an option -- combines with the optional two-tone upholstery to make the XC60's cabin look both modern and inviting.
The straightforward dual-temperature adjustment dials and "mode man" pictogram make climate-control adjustments simple and intuitive. The audio system is fairly easy to use, too, though the array of small audio buttons is starting to look dated. The available DVD-based navigation system's interface works fine in practice (especially when operating the included iPod interface), but Volvo's navigation software still feels a few years behind.
The rear seat is particularly roomy as small crossovers go, with a high seat cushion, above-average headroom and decent legroom for adults. The available integrated dual child booster seats are a great feature. To accommodate cargo, the versatile 40/20/40-split rear seat can be folded in a number of different ways and maximum cargo space is 67 cubic feet -- one of the most generous in the class.
The 2013 Volvo XC60's impressive blend of performance and comfort should satisfy the majority of shoppers looking for a small luxury crossover. Thanks to its engine's smooth and energetic power delivery, the T6 is our preferred model. In R-Design tune, the T6 is quicker than almost every other compact luxury crossover. Models with the base 3.2-liter engine are noticeably slower.
On the highway, the XC60 is quiet and stable. It also has one of the most comfortable rides in its class. Although this makes it feel a little soft when going around corners, the XC60 nevertheless remains poised even when rushed.