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Volvo XC60 2022 review: B6 R-Design

The exterior styling differences may be subtle, but there have been some important changes here.

If you look around your local supermarket carpark and spot a Volvo, there’s a good chance it will be an XC60.

This mid-size SUV rival to the Audi Q5, BMW X3, Mercedes GLC, Genesis GV70 and Lexus NX is one of the brand’s most popular models. In fact, in 2021, it outsold the smaller XC40 by one single vehicle to be the brand’s bestseller.

And now, this go-to Volvo model has seen some updates, with new electrified powertrains, updated Google built-in infotainment, and exterior styling changes, too. The prices have shifted as well, and so have the names of the variants - the T5, T6 and T8 Polestar are gone, replaced by B5, B6 and Recharge Plug-in Hybrid.

The one we’re in here is the B6 R-Design, which sits near the top of the range. In this review, I’ll tell you what it’s like as a family SUV - myself, my partner, and our seven-month-old daughter got to know it very well.

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What does it look like?

Minor. Subtle. Squint-and-you-might-miss-it. Those are all ways to describe the styling changes to the updated XC60’s exterior design, but the adjustments have slightly freshened up the model’s look.

  • For me, the XC60 is the ultimate in elegant, luxurious style (Image: Matt Campbell).  For me, the XC60 is the ultimate in elegant, luxurious style (Image: Matt Campbell). 
  • For me, the XC60 is the ultimate in elegant, luxurious style (Image: Matt Campbell).  For me, the XC60 is the ultimate in elegant, luxurious style (Image: Matt Campbell). 
  • For me, the XC60 is the ultimate in elegant, luxurious style (Image: Matt Campbell).  For me, the XC60 is the ultimate in elegant, luxurious style (Image: Matt Campbell). 
  • For me, the XC60 is the ultimate in elegant, luxurious style (Image: Matt Campbell).  For me, the XC60 is the ultimate in elegant, luxurious style (Image: Matt Campbell). 
  • For me, the XC60 is the ultimate in elegant, luxurious style (Image: Matt Campbell).  For me, the XC60 is the ultimate in elegant, luxurious style (Image: Matt Campbell). 
  • For me, the XC60 is the ultimate in elegant, luxurious style (Image: Matt Campbell).  For me, the XC60 is the ultimate in elegant, luxurious style (Image: Matt Campbell). 

I’ve long been a fan of this generation of XC60, and to my eye it still looks modern and contemporary, despite this shape / generation of XC60 having launched internationally in 2017. 

Since then, there have been plenty of changes to rival SUVs, newcomers have emerged, and what’s considered on-trend has shifted, too. But for me, the XC60 is the ultimate in elegant, luxurious style. 

I particularly love the LED headlights with the Thor’s Hammer signature daytime running light inlays, the whole shape of the front end is really nice. In profile it looks very sharp, too, with a sleek, laid-back appearance that is almost anti-SUV like, harking back to the long-roof wagons of Volvo’s past.

I particularly love the LED headlights with the Thor’s Hammer signature daytime running light inlays (Image: Matt Campbell). I particularly love the LED headlights with the Thor’s Hammer signature daytime running light inlays (Image: Matt Campbell).

This model, being the R-Design, gets a lower body kit, massive 21-inch alloy wheels with racy Pirelli P Zero tyres, and the front bumper is unique to this grade, with more exterior black highlights that some of the less-sporty grades miss out on. Just try not to notice that, from front-on, the bumper design looks like a curly-tipped moustache… Sorry.

This model has air suspension as well, and it can be set to lower automatically when you get in and out of the car, or you can jack up / drop the boot if you’re loading items in/out. At the rear the design changes are minimal, with a slight change to the bumper design. 

There are a few more changes in the cabin, with a similar looking dashboard that actually houses a few new screens, though the general air and ambience of the cabin design remains largely unchanged. 

How does it drive?

If you buy the R-Design you likely expect it to have the sportiest drive experience of the lot - but what surprised me was that there’s no “sport” or “dynamic” drive mode to choose. Instead, the new media system allows you to select elements of the drive experience you might want to tailor to a sportier sensation - the steering can be Light, Standard or Firm in its feel, and the optional adaptive air suspension ($2600) can be set to Standard or Firm, too.

The R-Design isn’t quite the pinpoint sports SUV you might expect (Image: Matt Campbell). The R-Design isn’t quite the pinpoint sports SUV you might expect (Image: Matt Campbell).

I had the preference to set the suspension on the firmer stance, as that meant it was less likely to wobble about - something that was noticeable in the normal mode on city streets and country backroads, largely because of those huge wheels and low-profile tyres. The steering was best left in Standard, because it doesn’t really offer very much feel to the driver’s hands, and the firmer setting just makes it a bit heavier.

It isn’t quite the pinpoint sports SUV you might expect, but then again, if you’re buying a Volvo and expecting the cutting edge in driving dynamics, your priorities are a bit mixed up.

It steers nicely enough, the suspension copes well when it comes to handling corners, and it’s generally a nicely sorted thing to drive, be it on the open road, twisty mountain tarmac, or tootling around town. In fact, I appreciated the lightness of the steering in urban settings, and it’s pretty easy to park, too (thanks in no small part to the surround view camera - which you can switch to a rear/front/left/right view as and when required).

When it comes to the engine and transmission, they’re more potent than you might expect, and probably where the sportier element of the drive experience shines brightest.

Under the (massive, very high opening! - watch the video to see what I mean) bonnet is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine, and it combines with a 48-volt mild-hybrid system. That system can recover energy that would have otherwise been lost when braking, recharging the battery pack, and that 0.4kWh battery can then boost the performance of the petrol engine from a standstill. Volvo calls it an E-charger, and its 10kW boost is welcome, though the electric motor doesn’t power the wheels at all.

The total outputs of the powerplant are 220kW (at 5400rpm) and 420Nm (from 2100-4800rpm), and it has an eight-speed automatic transmission with all-wheel drive. That means it can slingshot from 0-100km/h in just 6.2 seconds, which was hot-hatch domination territory a decade ago!

Interestingly, the top speed is limited to 180km/h, in line with Volvo’s global safety push. We obviously didn’t go near that speed, but the acceleration of the B6 powertrain is rapid, offering plenty of punch - be it from a standing start, or during overtaking moves.

The auto transmission is mostly fine, though it can be a bit fussy with gears up hills.

Speaking of fussy, the cruise control isn’t as refined as some, at times fluctuating by 5km/h either side of the set speed - just be aware of that if you’ve set the cruise to the speed limit and happen to drive through a speed camera zone down a hill!

Braking performance is good though the pedal feel does have a touch of squelchiness as is common for cars with regen braking setups. 

How spacious is it?

My family consists of me, my partner, our seven-month old daughter, and two small dogs. I thought this size of SUV would be suitable for our needs, though I was left thinking “maybe the bigger XC90 would be better”.

That’s largely because our daughter is still in a rearward-facing child-seat, which really eats into a lot of space in the cabin. My partner could fit in the passenger seat, but not as comfortably as you might expect. The sports seats of the R-Design model seem a little bulkier in their form, and we found it more of a squeeze than expected.

That said, if you have a forward facing seat, or a booster seat, it could be fine. And there’s a really neat feature in the second-row of the XC60 - integrated booster seats. If your child is between 15kg and 36kg, taller than 95cm, and over the age of three, they can use these boosters - and they can choose which side, too. They are height adjustable depending on the age/weight of the child, too. Very nice.

There are the requisite ISOFIX child-seat anchors in the outboard seats, too, and three top-tether points as well. Plus this grade has quad-zone climate control (with two individual temperature zones in the second row) plus there are adjustable air-vents in the centre and in the side pillars, ensuring plenty of air flow.

If you have older kids or ferry adults around more regularly, the rear seat space is pretty good. I sat behind my own (182cm/6’0”) driving position and had enough knee, foot and headroom to sit comfortably. It’s wide enough across the back to theoretically fit three abreast, but it might be a squish.

If you have older kids or ferry adults around more regularly, the rear seat space is pretty good (Image: Matt Campbell). If you have older kids or ferry adults around more regularly, the rear seat space is pretty good (Image: Matt Campbell).

Amenities in the back are good, with bottle holders in the doors, map pockets, a flip down armrest with pop-out cup holders, and a USB charge point. 

Now, what about front seat accommodation? There is a really lovely covered cup holder section between the seats with a wireless charger section in front (plus a very small nook with a 12-volt outlet ahead of that), a covered centre console bin, and pockets in the doors with bottle holders. A bit more storage up front wouldn’t go astray.

In the front there is a really lovely covered cup holder section between the seats (Image: Matt Campbell). In the front there is a really lovely covered cup holder section between the seats (Image: Matt Campbell).

The seats offer a decent amount of adjustment, and they’re comfortable - if a little firm. That’s because this is the R-Design. The Inscription or Momentum models have softer, cosier seats.

Boot space is an important factor for any family SUV, and the XC60’s cargo zone is a decent size, but far from class-leading. It has 505 litres of luggage space with the seats in place, and 1432L with the seats folded down. That’s okay, but some rivals have heaps more volume, and while we managed to fit the demo CarsGuide hard luggage set (36L, 95L, 124L), there wasn’t much room for anything else. We also did it with the largest case and a folding pram, but again, it was tight. Like I said, families with really young children (where portacots and prams are vital) might find this a bit too compromised.

How easy is it to use every day?

If there’s one thing you won’t want to live without as a parent of a young child, it’s keyless entry. In fact, the Volvo XC60 has the very handy proximity unlocking, so you don’t even need to push a button on the door to unlock it (front or rear), and there’s an electronic tailgate with a ‘kick to open’ hands-free action, too. Love that.

Other things that make it easy to live with include that adaptive air suspension system, which - if chosen - can lower the car when it’s parked to make getting in and out easier. There are little buttons in the boot to lower the load area using that air suspension, too. Neat!

There’s a wireless smartphone charger, which is always handy, and the panoramic sunroof has an electrostatic sliding control - so you slide your finger back, and it will slide back the screen cover and then the glass. 

Thinking of towing with your XC60? The unbraked towing capacity is 750kg and the braked towing capacity is 2400kg, which is good for this class of luxury SUV.

How safe is it?

Volvo is synonymous with safety, so it comes as no surprise that the XC60 comes comprehensively equipped with safety technology and equipment.

It has forward auto emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian, cyclist and large animal detection, rear AEB, lane departure warning, lane keeping assistance, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, a 360-degree surround view camera system with switchable view (reversing camera, front camera, side cameras), front, rear and side parking sensors, a head-up display, hill start assist and hill descent control and more.

There are six airbags - dual front, front side, and full-length curtain.

What’s the tech like?

Are you a Google lover? This will be right up your alley. The XC60 debuts the brand’s Google in the Car interface in Australia, and that means you can say “hey Google” and it will answer your search queries, search Google Maps and get navigation, or recommend well-rated local restaurants and cafes. There’s also Google Play integration, and Google Maps is the native sat nav unit now, too - so you never have to worry about your maps being out of date.

However, because the system uses an inbuilt internet connection, or Digital Services Package, you will have four years of access to unlimited data. After that, you’ll have to sign up to a new data plan.

While you might be impressed that the Volvo infotainment unit is basically going to offer you tablet-like levels of internet capability, it comes at the expense of smartphone mirroring technology. As such, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are not equipped at the time of writing. Apparently the tech could come at some point, but nothing is confirmed as yet.

The loss of the smartphone-mirroring tech, which was fitted to the pre-facelift XC60 and is still available in models like the V60 Cross Country, is a negative. Sure, you can use Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, and the controls for this are mostly fine, but it requires a bit of thinking beyond what a simple mirroring system does.

The portrait aspect 9.0-inch touchscreen is abnormal in this segment, with most offering larger landscape units. Like a tablet, there’s a home button at the bottom and you can swipe left or right on the screen to go to different menus. There are buttons down the bottom of the screen for temperature settings, and they stay there - that’s good, because there are no hard buttons or dials for the main climate functions.

That does take getting used to, but after a week, I was okay with the screen. I sure missed CarPlay, though.

The 12.3-inch digital driver info screen has a new look to it, too, and while the steering wheel- and stalk-mounted controls aren’t quite as intuitive or expansive as some rivals (Mercedes seems to have the most multifaceted driver info screens), the display is crisp, clear and smart looking.

How much does it cost to own?

The list price for the Volvo XC60 B6 R-Design is $82,490 (all prices MSRP, before on-road costs and options). 

The list price for the Volvo XC60 B6 R-Design is $82,490 (Image: Matt Campbell). The list price for the Volvo XC60 B6 R-Design is $82,490 (Image: Matt Campbell).

There are more affordable options, including the B5 Momentum ($69,490) and the B6 Inscription ($76,490). Above this grade is the Recharge Plug-in Hybrid, which lists at $97,990 - this one used to be called the T8 Polestar, but the Polestar-tuned version no longer exists, as the Polestar electric car brand is now a standalone fixture here.

Anyway, the B6 R-Design we had was also fitted with a number of optional extras, including the Lifestyle Pack ($3900) with the panoramic sunroof, tinted rear windows, and a Harman Kardon sound system, plus it also had the air suspension with Four-C Active Chassis ($2600), metallic paint, steeply priced at $1950, plus an Advanced Air Cleaner ($500) and the Climate Pack ($400) which comprises a heated steering wheel and headlight cleaners.

Total: $91,840 plus on-road costs. So we’re looking at about a hundred grand on the road. Ouch!

Thankfully the ownership costs are a bit lower, with a choice of service plans - three years/45,000km at $1500, or five years/75,000km at $2500. Roll those fees into the finance payments and you’ll barely notice them.

Plus there’s a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty and the battery pack is also covered by an eight-year warranty. You get five years roadside assist included, too.

The official combined cycle fuel consumption figure for the B6 R-Design is 8.0 litres per 100 kilometres - which, if you’re thinking “hybrid”, might be a little higher than you expect. In our extensive real-world driving, comprising hundreds of kilometres of urban, city, freeway, highway and country driving, we saw an at-the-pump return of 8.6L/100km. Fuel tank capacity is 71 litres, and it requires 95RON premium unleaded petrol at a minimum.


The Wrap

The updated version of the Volvo XC60 still offers plenty of appeal for buyers looking for an alternative to the Big Three German luxury brands. Admittedly, there are some elements that won’t please everyone, but it is a likable SUV with plenty of tech and cred, a stylish look, a luxurious interior, and a few family-friendly features.

It mightn’t be perfect if your child is still in a rearward facing child-seat, but those integrated second-row booster seats could prove a winner for the right buyer.

Likes

Still a gorgeous design
Punchy powertrain
Luxury feel

Dislikes

Could be roomier
No smartphone mirroring tech
Mild-hybrid benefits negligible

Scores

Matt:

4

The Kids:

4

$82,490

Based on new car retail price

VIEW PRICING & SPECS

Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication.  Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.