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Volvo XC60 D5 Teknik 2011 review

The XC60 looks fit and handsomely slender; perhaps it did a lot of sit-ups as it shed its weight.
EXPERT RATING
7

MORE safety and creature features have revved up the Volvo XC60 range to prevent a mid-life sales lull.

The smallest of the Volvo SUVs ranks fourth behind the comparably sized Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Lexus RX, but it's still an important model for the company as their biggest-selling SUV. So the Swedes have thrown a bunch of new kit into it and given the popular diesel more oomph.

This should renew interest in the car and, with a smaller all-wheel-drive still some time away, it should help ward off challenges from smaller urban-biased SUVs such as the Q3, X1 and newcomer Range Rover Evoque.

VALUE

There are three 2.4-litre, five-cylinder turbo diesel XC60s with six-speed automatic transmissions from $60,990 for the base model, $65,990 for the Teknik we tested to $68,990 for the R-Design. The first SUV in this category was the Lexus RX back in the late '90s, but it doesn't have a diesel variant and the hybrid RX450h is way more expensive starting at $96,900 up to $108,900.

The BMW X3, introduced in 2004, has two diesels starting at $62,200 for the 2.3-litre four-cylinder and $74,900 for the three-litre six-cylinder, both with eight-speed auto. The two diesel Q5s start at $61,700 for the two-litre to $73,714 for the three-litre V6, both with seven-speed autos.

Volvo has improved value by adding a rear camera, powered tailgate and new infotainment system to all XC60s, while the Teknik and R-Design models get Blind Spot Information System (BLIS), satnav with voice control, and Active Bending Lights (ABL).

The Teknik may cost $5000 more than the base model, but it adds a powered front passenger seat, the bending lights with washers, satnav and BLIS which would cost $10,450 if ordered separately.

TECHNOLOGY

A lighter crankshaft and camshafts in the 2.4-litre twin-turbo diesel engine and a more efficient cooler have resulted in a slight power boost from 151kW to 158kW while torque is up a significant 20Nm to 440Nm. In power and torque, the XC60 slots in neatly between the four-cylinder and six-cylinder Q5 and X3.

At the same time, the XC's economy has improved 10 per cent to 6.9L/100km and CO2 emissions are down 18g/km to 183g/km. That is better than the smaller-capacity Audi, but not as good as even the six-cylinder BMW. 

Inside, the biggest improvement in technology is the new multimedia centre with a 5cm larger screen (now 18cm), DVD instead of CD, 12 speakers with Dolby Pro Logic II surround sound and Bluetooth now with audio streaming and voice control on phone calls. These features are expensive extras in the German SUVs.

SAFETY

Need we say that safety is a key factor of all Volvos? The XC60 has a five-star crash rating and now gets added crash prevention technology with lights that follow the car around a corner, sensors that alert drivers to a vehicle in their blind spot and a rearview camera which should be mandatory on all SUVs.

It also includes City Safe which comes to a full stop if the car detects an obstacle in its path when driving at under 30km/h. For an extra $4175 you can get the optional third-generation Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) which includes Queue Assist, Pedestrian Detection and Full Auto Brake. This system will automatically adjust the car's speed in traffic and avoids collisions with pedestrians.

DESIGN

Except for the Lexus, all models in this category are scaled-down versions of the larger models that pre-dated them. Rarely does this lead to good design. The X3 and Q5 look like a Biggest Loser contestant who has shed a lot of bulk but has unwanted skin hanging around.

The XC60 looks fit and handsomely slender; perhaps it did a lot of sit-ups as it shed its weight. From the rear, the body outline is almost sexy with a slender waist and curvy hips. In its mid-life years, it doesn't really need an external makeover, so only the R-Design models get a few external flourishes and bigger wheels.

DRIVING

The five-cylinder diesel engine is not the quietest or smoothest around. Together with the six-speed auto that seems in two minds about changing up for economy and hanging on for power, the powertrain tends to groan when cruising and sound dissonant under full power.

But when it all comes together, there is rapid progression with hardly turbo lag that hounds many single-turbo diesels. Even though it doesn't look it, the XC60 is the heaviest of these SUVs at 1819kg yet it feels frisky and light, only feeling its weight when turned abruptly such as dodging urban potholes.

Handling is not as precise as the Q5 or X3, but ride is better, although not as plush or forgiving as the RX. The new technology proved a little fickle: The Bluetooth audio streaming function was recalcitrant at times, asking to find the device on some occasions and pairing up quickly on others, while BLIS kept identifying phantom cars.

As for the City Safe crash protection system, it came to a dramatic automatic halt as I rapidly approached the rising electric garage door. It came as a bit of a shock, but at least I know it works. Accommodation is high and wide with firm but fair seats, plenty of headroom and an airy feel.

VERDICT

The Volvo may not be as sharp as a road tool as the Audi and BMW, but it gains votes for safety, ride, styling and features.

VOLVO XC60 D5 TEKNIK

Price: $65,990
Warranty: 3yrs/unlimited km
Service: 12 months/15,000km
Resale: 55 per cent
Engine: 2.4-litre twin-turbo diesel, 158kW/440Nm
Economy: 6.9L/100km
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
CO2: 183g/km
Safety: 5-star rating, 6 airbags, ESC, ABS, EBD, EBA, TC BODY 5-door, 5-seat
Dimensions: 4628mm (L), 1891mm (W), 1672 (H), 2774 (WB), 230 (Clearance) WEIGHT 1819kg
Wheels: 7.5 x 17"

Pricing Guides

$17,990
Based on 30 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$12,888
Highest Price
$19,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
3.2 3.2L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $12,320 – 16,500 2011 Volvo XC60 2011 3.2 Pricing and Specs
3.2 Teknik 3.2L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $13,530 – 17,820 2011 Volvo XC60 2011 3.2 Teknik Pricing and Specs
D5 2.4L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $16,995 – 19,990 2011 Volvo XC60 2011 D5 Pricing and Specs
D5 R-Design 2.4L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $17,600 – 22,330 2011 Volvo XC60 2011 D5 R-Design Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7
Pricing Guide

$10,999

Lowest price, based on 6 car listings in the last 6 months

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