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Volvo XC60 R-Design D5 2018 review

EXPERT RATING
8.1
Anybody who has ever towed a caravan or anything else knows nothing quite beats diesel pulling power and the fuel saving advantages that go with it. But this XC60 D5 is way more than just a tow car.

A Volvo XC60 R-Design D5, eh? Not only are you looking at a Volvo, but you’re looking at a diesel one, too.

So, you’re thinking out of the Benz and BMW box, but with a practical element as well, because as anybody who has ever towed a caravan or anything else knows, nothing quite beats diesel pulling power and the fuel saving advantages that go with it.

Of course, the XC60 D5 is more than just a tow car, way more. Read on to find out what I found out after living with this SUV for a week.

Volvo XC60 2018: T8 R-DESIGN (HYBRID)
Safety rating
Engine Type2.0L turbo
Fuel TypeHybrid with Premium Unleaded
Fuel Efficiency2.1L/100km
Seating5 seats
Price from$80,080

Is there anything interesting about its design?   9/10

The XC60 is a beautiful beast – long bonnet, the raked windscreen and set back cabin make for a sleek profile. I’m a fan of those carved-out door panels and the wing style rocker panels, and those famous Volvo hallmarks are strong with this model – that stately grille with is giant badge and the vertical tail-lights.

The R-Design D5 looks almost identical to its petrol twin the R-Design T6 and top-of-the-range R-Design T8 hybrid with its 21-inch matte black and polished alloy wheels and the matte silver mirror caps.

The R-Design D5’s interior is modern and minimalist. The R-Design Sports seats look like those super expensive office chairs that are good for your posture, although I don’t find them overly comfortable (the office chairs and the D5’s seats).

The R-Design D5’s interior is modern and minimalist. (image credit: Richard Berry) The R-Design D5’s interior is modern and minimalist. (image credit: Richard Berry)

The 9.3-inch vertical touchscreen isn’t quiet as impressive as the giant display in the XC90, but it’s still a unique looking set-up. With that screen taking care of air-con, vehicle settings and the media system the cabin has been de-cluttered, with minimal buttons on display. An aluminium mesh trim snakes its way along that cleanly designed dash, around that display, and the oversized air vents.
    
The XC60 is a mid-sized SUV with dimensions similar to its Audi Q5, Mercedes-Benz GLC and BMW X3 rivals. The XC60 is 4688mm long, 2117mm wide and 1685mm tall.

How practical is the space inside?   7/10

The XC60’s cabin is spacious but not overly so, with plenty of head, leg and shoulder room, while in the back, even at 191cm, I can sit behind my driving position with about 30mm to spare. Headroom back there is excellent.

Storage inside is good, with two cupholders and large door pockets in the front, and two cupholders and smaller door pockets in the back. The centre console storage area under the centre armrest is also a decent size. 

A boot capacity of 505 litres (with rear seats up) isn’t huge. Rivals such as the Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLC have 550 litres of cargo space.

The D5 has a boot capacity of 505 litres with rear seats up. (image credit: Richard Berry) The D5 has a boot capacity of 505 litres with rear seats up. (image credit: Richard Berry)

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   8/10

The XC60 R-Design D5 lists for $73,990, which positions it high up in the range for this model. While the D4 and T5 engine variants are available in a couple of trims, the D5 only comes with the R-Design treatment, which includes the R-Design steering wheel, sports seats, pedals and carpet.

The standard features list is extensive. There’s the 9.0-inch vertical touchscreen and a 12.3-inch driver display, sat nav, 360 parking camera, auto parking system, head-up display, 10-speaker stereo system with digital radio, leather upholstery, four-zone climate control, power adjustable driver and passenger seat, proximity key, paddle shifters, roof rails, LED headlights, power tailgate and 21-inch alloy wheels.

The XC60 R-Design D5 comes with 21-inch alloy wheels. (image credit: Richard Berry) The XC60 R-Design D5 comes with 21-inch alloy wheels. (image credit: Richard Berry)

All XC60s come with an armoury of advanced safety equipment – you can read about it in the safety section below.

At this price the D5-Design is good value, and you’re getting more features for your money than the T8, which I reviewed as well.

How does the XC60 compare to other SUVs? Well the Mercedes-Benz GLC 250d is a good match for size, features and price at $73,200. There’s also BMW's X3 xDrive 20d M-Sport for $73,450, and Audi’s Q5 2.0 TDI Quattro Sport for $70,700. 

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   8/10

The D5 has the most powerful and torquey diesel engine in the XC60 range – a 2.0-litre twin-turbo which makes 173kW/480Nm.

Using two turbos sequentially means turbo lag is reduced, with the first spooling up to 'pre-charge' before the second kicks in at higher revs.

The D5 has a 2.0-litre twin-turbo diesel which makes 173kW/480Nm. (image credit: Richard Berry) The D5 has a 2.0-litre twin-turbo diesel which makes 173kW/480Nm. (image credit: Richard Berry)

Acceleration isn’t bad at all, with Volvo saying the R-Design D5 will do the 0-100km/h sprint in 7.2s.
 
The transmission is the same one all XCs use – an eight-speed automatic, which shifts smoothly.

I need to ask you a personal question: why are you thinking of buying the diesel? Please say it’s because you tow. If so, then it’d be a good choice because all of that 480Nm of torque comes in low at 1750rpm and that provides good pulling power.

The braked towing capacity of the XC60 is a respectable 2400kg.

How much fuel does it consume?   8/10

Volvo says the XC60 D5 should use 5.6L/100km of diesel over a combination of open and urban roads. The trip computer in my car said I averaged 9.4L/100km after a roughly 120km test drive through The Royal National Park (south of Sydney), highways and inner city. While I was using the stop-start system to save fuel, I wasn’t driving to conserve it either.

What's it like to drive?   8/10

The XC60 D5 feels special just to sit in with its well-crafted, stylish interior and the driving experience goes a long way to matching that high-quality impression, too.

Steering is effortlessly light but accurate, acceleration is swift, and those brakes are responsive, with great pedal feel.

It’s not all perfect, though. That turbo-diesel engine is noisy, but the cabin is so well insulated you’ll only notice it if you accelerate hard or you put the window down (like I did, to stop and talk to a mate who then told me the engine was loud).
 
But then the diesel in the X3 xDrive 20d I drove to work in today is also noisy. Even in 2017, that’s the nature of these engines.

Steering is effortlessly light but accurate, acceleration is swift, and those brakes are responsive.

The other issue you’ll find with diesel engines is the need to shift up through the gears low in the rev range to take best advantage of the torque on offer. That makes for a busy time on the shifting paddles if you want to have a blast through twisty roads.
 
The sequential turbo set-up reduces lag impressively – although response is not instantaneous.

The D5 comes with a 'sports-tuned' chassis, but it’s on the firmer side. If you’re planning to spend money on options, throw it all at the air suspension for $2490 -  the T8 I tested had it, and the ride was cushioned and composed.

Those LED headlights are excellent and cut through the darkness ahead with impressive brilliance.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

3 years / unlimited km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   10/10

Safety is Volvo’s ‘thing’ and the maximum five-star ANCAP score it was awarded this year doesn’t reveal just how impressive its safety performance is. 

This new generation XC60 is fitted with AEB, which can detect and stop for animals, humans and other cars. Plus, there’s steering support, blind spot warning, front and rear cross traffic alert and adaptive cruise control.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   7/10

The XC60 is covered by Volvo’s three-year/unlimited km warranty. Servicing is recommended every 15,000km or 12 months.

Volvo offers two service programs: the basic 'SmartCare' and the more comprehensive 'SmartCare Plus'.

The SmartCare three-year/45,000km plan is $2225 (SmartCare Plus costs $3050); a four-year/60,000km version is $3500 ($5200 with SmartCare Plus) and the five-year/75,000km agreement costs $4230 ($6400 with SmartCare Plus). 

Verdict

The Volvo XC60 R-Design D5 is an alternative take on the prestige mid-sized SUV. There’s the cabin that feels more like modern art, the pioneering safety technology, and it’s easy and enjoyable to drive. The diesel engine can be noisy, and you’ll be busy shifting gears to keep the grunt under your right foot, but in return you’re getting great pulling power.

Would you chose the XC60 R-Design D5 over a Mercedes-Benz or BMW rival? Tell us what you think in the comments.

Pricing Guides

$69,990
Based on 115 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$54,790
Highest Price
$86,990

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Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
D4 INSCRIPTION 2.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO $56,990 – 82,990 2018 VOLVO XC60 2018 D4 INSCRIPTION Pricing and Specs
D4 MOMENTUM 2.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO $57,500 – 59,990 2018 VOLVO XC60 2018 D4 MOMENTUM Pricing and Specs
D5 R-Design 2.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO $65,880 – 83,888 2018 VOLVO XC60 2018 D5 R-Design Pricing and Specs
T5 INSCRIPTION 2.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO $59,990 – 86,990 2018 VOLVO XC60 2018 T5 INSCRIPTION Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
8.1
Design9
Practicality7
Price and features8
Engine & trans8
Fuel consumption8
Driving8
Safety10
Ownership7
Richard Berry
Senior Journalist

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