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Volvo XC60 2023 review: Recharge

  • DrivetrainPlug-in hybrid
  • Battery capacity18.8kWh
  • Battery typeLithium-ion
  • Electric range77km WLTP
  • Plug TypeType 2
  • AC charge rate3.6kW
  • Electric motor output107kW/309Nm
  • Combustion engine output233kW/400Nm
  • Combined output340kW
  • Petrol efficiency1.6L/100km
  • Electric efficiency19kWh/100km
Complete Guide to Volvo XC60

Have you been tempted to hop into a fully electric SUV? With fuel prices the way they are, it’s understandable. But what if you’re not ready for the jump? What if you want the convenience of combustion with the ability to drive emissions free day-to-day?

A plug-in hybrid might be for you, and Volvo’s freshly updated XC60 offers a lot of appealing features in its electrified form.

It has to be more than just another plug-in hybrid, though, since the luxury mid-size SUV segment is one of the most competitive for this type of technology.

Does the new and improved XC60 Recharge have what it takes? Read on to find out.

Price and features - Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with? 7/10

This is currently the most expensive XC60 you can buy. Wearing a base price of $100,990, before on-road costs, at the time of writing, the Recharge plug-in hybrid sits atop a three-variant range, which also consists of the base B5 ($72,990) and B6 ($85,990) mild-hybrids.

It competes in the luxury mid-size SUV segment, which is most congested in Australia for plug-in hybrids. Rivals include the BMW X3 xDrive 30e ($107,000), outgoing Mercedes-Benz GLC 300e ($94,124 - the PHEV one won’t be replaced when the new generation arrives), and the latest arrival to the space, the Lexus NX 450h+ ($88,323).

  • Inside is a 9.0-inch portrait-oriented multimedia touchscreen. (Image: Tom White) Inside is a 9.0-inch portrait-oriented multimedia touchscreen. (Image: Tom White)
  • The XC60 features a 12-inch digital instrument cluster. (Image: Tom White) The XC60 features a 12-inch digital instrument cluster. (Image: Tom White)

The PHEV is only available in the ‘Ultimate’ XC60 trim level, which, as the name suggests, is the most feature-laden. While it is significantly more expensive than the standard versions of the car, Volvo throws in some serious, otherwise-optional kit to tempt you to go PHEV.

Standard gear includes massive 21-inch alloy wheels, full LED head and tail-lights, leather-accented interior trim with power adjustable front seats, charcoal interior colour scheme with aluminium mesh detailing, dual-zone climate control (the PHEV is the only one to get dual instead of quad), a 9.0-inch portrait-oriented multimedia touchscreen with wired Apple CarPlay (but no Android Auto as it runs the Android Automotive operating system), a wireless phone charger, a 12-inch digital instrument cluster, and a 360-degree parking camera as part of its comprehensive safety suite.

  • Standard gear includes massive 21-inch alloy wheels. (Image: Tom White) Standard gear includes massive 21-inch alloy wheels. (Image: Tom White)
  • The XC60 features full LED head and tail lights. (Image: Tom White) The XC60 features full LED head and tail lights. (Image: Tom White)
  • The 360-degree parking camera is part of the comprehensive safety suite. (Image: Tom White) The 360-degree parking camera is part of the comprehensive safety suite. (Image: Tom White)

Adding to the value equation, and closing the gap with the next grade down, the Recharge scores otherwise-optional gear, including an extremely good Bowers & Wilkins audio system (normally a crazy $4300 option), the very welcome air suspension ($2700), and a panoramic sunroof ($3250). 

This option-added strategy is replicated by its rivals, although it still places the XC60 as the second-most expensive of its peers. As with all PHEVs, though, there’s more to the story when it comes to range performance, and charging, so you’ll need to read further to see how the XC60 compares.

Design - Is there anything interesting about its design? 9/10

To me at least, the Volvo XC60 is one of, if not the best design in the luxury mid-size SUV segment. This is a car which effortlessly exudes its premium nature, unlike many of its rivals straying away from the temptation to hammer you over the head with sporty flourishes.

Simple lines and limited application of chrome pair with big wheels, tastefully applied gloss black highlights, and the Swedish brand’s signature ‘Thor’s hammer’ headlight profile to make for something friendly and approachable, but distinctly upmarket and uniquely Volvo.

This is more true than ever when this car is viewed from the rear, where it maintains Volvo’s signature upright tail-light designs, and text rather than a logo across the boot lid, which, for the record, the brand was doing before it was trendy.

Simple lines and limited application of chrome pair with big wheels and tastefully applied gloss black highlights. (Image: Tom White) Simple lines and limited application of chrome pair with big wheels and tastefully applied gloss black highlights. (Image: Tom White)

On the inside this Scandinavian pragmatism continues with a brilliantly simple dash shape, with delicate highlight elements finished tastefully in patterned aluminium. There might be a touch too much piano gloss for some, this is a surface which is hard to keep free of dust and fingerprints, but the real highlight piece of the dash is the portrait touchscreen.

Offering slick Android software with mostly, mercifully large touch elements, and transitions mostly free of jarring lag, it feels good to use, too.

While the seats are sportier than some may expect from Volvo, they still have the comfort which the brand is well known for in the plush trim.

I wish more premium cars were designed like this Volvo. It’s distinctive, luxurious, and as you’ll find out next, practical, too.

Practicality - How practical is the space inside? 8/10

The XC60 matches its squared-off exterior angles with a big interior. The driving position offers a high roof and plenty of adjustability, and while it compares well in terms of space compared to its rivals, there are electric mid-size SUVs which are now opening cabins up even more by deleting the raised centre console area.

While we always like to see a set of tactile buttons and dials, particularly for climate functions, there are shortcuts for the front and rear defogger, and a nice big dial for volume control.

Thanks to big windows and wing mirrors, the XC60 is easy to see out of in every direction, bolstered by its amazing 360-degree parking camera. For a mid-sizer, it’s a well equipped city-slicker.

  • Thanks to big windows and wing mirrors, the XC60 is easy to see out of in every direction. (Image: Tom White) Thanks to big windows and wing mirrors, the XC60 is easy to see out of in every direction. (Image: Tom White)
  • The rear seat offers plenty of knee room and sufficient headroom. (Image: Tom White) The rear seat offers plenty of knee room and sufficient headroom. (Image: Tom White)

The rear seat offers plenty of knee room for me behind my own seating position (at 182cm tall), and although the seat bases are higher than they are in the front and there’s a panoramic sunroof, I still had sufficient headroom.

The middle seat is an unfortunate story, as a large transmission tunnel (which now houses the battery pack) consumes any semblance of legroom, making it hardly suitable for adults.

Proving its family credentials, though, the XC60 range offers a built-in booster seat on the outboard rears, alongside the usual array of dual ISOFIX and three top-tether mounts.

  • The boot capacity is 468-litres (VDA). (Image: Tom White) The boot capacity is 468-litres (VDA). (Image: Tom White)
  • The XC60 easily fits the whole CarsGuide luggage set in the boot. (Image: Tom White) The XC60 easily fits the whole CarsGuide luggage set in the boot. (Image: Tom White)

In terms of storage there are nets on the backs of the front seats and small bottle holders (will fit 300ml cans or bottles but not 500ml ones) in the doors, with a further two in the drop-down armrest (as well as a ski port behind - naturally). There are also adjustable air vents in the B pillars, although the climate functions can only be controlled via the central touchscreen in the front. Finally, there’s an odd small shelf and dual USB-C outlets on the back of the centre console.

The XC60 has a boot capacity of 468-litres (VDA) which is big but not huge for the mid-size SUV segment. It easily fit the whole CarsGuide luggage set, and there’s a helpful amount of room under the boot floor for the storage of charging cables. This area also hosts the compressor for the air suspension and a tyre repair kit. Cleverly, when you park the car or open the boot, the air suspension lowers for best access.

Drivetrain - What are the key stats for the drivetrain? 9/10

The plug-in hybrid world is just as, if not more complicated than the fully electric world, mainly because there are so many ways to implement a system which blends an electric motor with the driving force of the combustion engine.

In the case of the XC60, the solution is particularly clever. Up front is a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine, which produces 233kW/400Nm. As though this wasn’t already enough performance, there’s an electric motor on the rear axle, producing a further 107kW/309Nm.

The XC60 has a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine. (Image: Tom White) The XC60 has a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine. (Image: Tom White)

Interestingly, there’s no all-wheel drive hardware, with the centre tunnel being filled with battery instead. This means the XC60 theoretically has better balance than some of its rivals which simply place the battery under the boot floor, but it also creates the strange situation where this SUV is rear-wheel drive when driving in electric mode, but front-wheel drive under combustion power. The two blend nicely using software to facilitate all-wheel drive. 

The combustion engine drives the front wheels via an eight-speed traditional torque converter automatic.

The battery is particularly large for the segment at 18.8kWh, allowing the XC60 Recharge a 77km purely electric driving range according to the WLTP standard, which is ahead of its rivals.

Energy consumption - How much does it consume? What’s the range like, and what it’s like to recharge/refuel? 8/10

Like many PHEVs the XC60 has an impressively low official fuel consumption of just 1.6L/100km. This, however, assumes the battery gets charged. As with any PHEV, you’ll want to ensure you have a place to charge it, too.

This is primarily because the XC60, despite its long electric range and large battery, has a 3.6kW inverter, limiting its charge time (from the base level to full) to between four and five hours, no matter where you plug it in.

  • The XC60 is a PHEV which needs to be charged in a garage overnight. (Image: Tom White) The XC60 is a PHEV which needs to be charged in a garage overnight. (Image: Tom White)
  • If the battery gets charged, fuel consumption is impressively low. (Image: Tom White) If the battery gets charged, fuel consumption is impressively low. (Image: Tom White)

A charge speed so slow means it is difficult to maintain a level of charge using public AC sockets. This is a PHEV which needs to be charged in a garage overnight. If you live in a unit or have to make do with on-street parking, the Lexus NX 450h+ is a better pick, with its battery charging at twice the speed on a public outlet.

Once it is charged, though, the XC60 has one of the longer ranges for a PHEV in its class, with the 77km WLTP range working out for me to be about 65km in the real world. Not bad.

My consumption numbers for the week came out as 3.4L/100km of fuel, and 18kWh/100km of energy. Decent figures, especially since I ran it out of charge on more than one occasion.

Driving - What's it like to drive? 8/10

The XC60 Recharge is an interesting car to drive. The first thing you’ll notice is how quiet it is. The sound deadening is impressive, as is the smooth and silent electric drive, and even the engine, unless pushed hard, is quiet enough that it’s hard to tell when the car switches between its two power sources.

The steering offers a pleasant balance of electrical assistance and mechanical feedback, suited to the character of the car, and the ride is similarly forgiving despite the large alloy wheels.

This is a hybrid which hides the additional weight of its batteries well, again courtesy of the air suspension, which actively balances out the sway of the additional heft, and filters out what could otherwise be a crashy ride.

To give you an idea of the way this car feels, it’s nowhere near as sharp or sporty as the BMW X3 xDrive 30e, but feels better balanced, less cumbersome, and rides better than the Mercedes GLC 300e or Lexus NX 450h+. 

The software is very clever, not only seamlessly blending the combustion front axle with the electrified rear, but also having the digital dash showing you the cut-off points for both the engine turning on and where the mechanical brakes will take over from the regenerative braking.

Volvo’s freshly updated XC60 offers a lot of appealing features in its electrified form. (Image: Tom White) Volvo’s freshly updated XC60 offers a lot of appealing features in its electrified form. (Image: Tom White)

On this topic, the XC60 doesn’t have single-pedal regenerative braking, at least not in the default hybrid driving mode, relying instead on a fully blended system. This means it will blend the regenerative properties in with the mechanical properties depending on how hard the brake pedal is pressed.

While this is a clever piece of software trickery, like seemingly everything in the XC60 Recharge, it seems to be designed to make the drive experience similar to combustion versions. This makes it approachable, but to extract the ideal level of efficiency from the electric features, you’ll need to factor in the ideal stopping distance from traffic.

With the battery charged it’s lovely as an electric car, but the combustion engine is a strong performer, too, with the two combining to make for a very fast SUV in a straight line.

Finally, in terms of altering the drive experience, the XC60 Recharge offers fully electric, hybrid, and fully combustion driving modes, with settings to offer control over the charge level. Want to drive it as a Toyota-style hybrid? You can; just put it in hybrid mode and ask it to maintain battery level. Want to run only combustion to save your charge for when you exit the freeway and are driving around town? You can do that, too. You can even ask the car to use the combustion engine to charge the battery. Not the most environmentally conscious feature, but one not all PHEVs offer.

There’s a lot to like then, it’s quick but not too sharp, focusing instead largely on being comfortable, familiar, and quiet, suiting the family-friendly appeal of the Volvo brand.

Safety - What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating? 9/10

Another pillar of the Volvo brand is safety, and the XC60 wants for almost nothing on this front.

Active items include freeway speed auto emergency braking with pedestrian, cyclist, intersection, and even large animal detection, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, driver attention alert, and traffic sign recognition.

There is a standard array of airbags for the first and second row, as well as the expected electronic stability, brake, and traction controls.

The XC60 range was awarded a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating in 2017, although the plug-in hybrid versions are excluded for the time being.

The XC60 range was awarded a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating in 2017. (Image: Tom White) The XC60 range was awarded a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating in 2017. (Image: Tom White)

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

The XC60 is covered by a five-year and unlimited kilometre warranty, and there are four years of the Google connected services included, too.

The high-voltage components are covered by an eight year warranty.

Service plans are available in either three or five year forms, the pricing for which is at the more premium end of the scale.

A three year pack costs $1750 ($583 a year) while a five-year plan costs $3000 ($600 a year).

You get four years of Google’s online services included for the multimedia functions, and Volvo warns ‘additional costs’ may apply after this period to keep the car online.

  • DrivetrainPlug-in hybrid
  • Battery capacity18.8kWh
  • Battery typeLithium-ion
  • Electric range77km WLTP
  • Plug TypeType 2
  • AC charge rate3.6kW
  • Electric motor output107kW/309Nm
  • Combustion engine output233kW/400Nm
  • Combined output340kW
  • Petrol efficiency1.6L/100km
  • Electric efficiency19kWh/100km
Complete Guide to Volvo XC60

The XC60 continues to be a suave European premium SUV, which doesn’t need to try too hard to be sporty or luxurious, because it just is.

The electrified features of this Recharge version fall to the wayside behind the wheel, enhancing the quietness and comfort of the XC60 without making it feel too foreign for first-time electric car adopters, yet beneath the surface there’s still a level of engagement to be had for enthusiasts looking towards a zero-emission future.

While plug-ins will continue to be a hard sell for Australians into at least the near future, this one nails the Volvo brand promise of being an approachable family SUV.

$89,200 - $114,990

Based on 15 car listings in the last 6 months

VIEW PRICING & SPECS

Score

4.1/5
Price Guide

$89,200 - $114,990

Based on 15 car listings in the last 6 months

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