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Volvo XC60


Subaru Forester

Summary

Volvo XC60

If this was 10 years ago I’d be making jokes about Volvo drivers, IKEA and ABBA, but those those stereotypes are all irrelevant now. Safety is not nerdy, and Sweden really is more than flat-packed furniture and catchy pop music. Yep, a lot has happened in the 10 years since the Volvo XC60 first arrived, and now a decade on the second generation of the mid-sized SUV is with us.

The most popular Volvo SUV in the world, the XC60 may not be the first SUV people think of when asked what you might compare a BMW X3 to, or an Audi Q5 or Mercedes-Benz GLC, but that’s their loss. 

Could the XC60 quietly be the best mid-sized prestige SUV on the road in terms of value, design, comfort, safety and driving? Let me help you with that question – read on.

Safety rating
Engine Type2.0L turbo
Fuel TypeHybrid with Premium Unleaded
Fuel Efficiency2.1L/100km
Seating5 seats

Subaru Forester

The Subaru Forester is a well-known SUV that most people probably assume is pretty good, because it’s been around a long time and there are lots of them about, so it must be doing something right.

But there are so many mid-sized SUVs around now, like the Kia Sportage, the Hyundai Tucson and Mazda CX-5. So, what’s the truth about Subaru's Forester? Is it good value? What’s it like to drive? How safe is it?

Well, the new one has just arrived, and I have the answers to those questions and more.

Safety rating
Engine Type2.5L
Fuel TypeRegular Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency7.4L/100km
Seating5 seats

Verdict

Volvo XC608.3/10

The XC60 is an outstanding mid-sized all-wheel drive SUV. A great selection of engines and a plug-in hybrid means buyers can better suit their purchase to lifestyle. Super safe, stylish and effortless to drive. The best value is to be had lower in range with the sweet spot being the Inscription grade.

Would you choose the XC60 over a BMW X3 or Benz GLC? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.


Subaru Forester8/10

The Forester is now one of the older SUVs among its rivals, such as the Sportage, Tucson, Outlander and RAV4, but it’s still the best to drive of that lot, and the best value.

Sure, it’s not as modern and good looking as the Sportage and doesn’t have a third row of seats like the Outlander, but the Forester is still practical and has a tough look.

Design

Volvo XC60

Remember when Volvos were boxy? Well they’re back baby, but in a better way that the 240 GLE from 1992. No, this is sexy.

There’s that long, sculpted bonnet with the cab set back and the heavily raked windscreen makes for a pleasing profile. The concave door panels and the mirrored wings in the rocker panels below add more toughness to this elegant beast.

There’s also that stately grille wearing its famous Volvo ‘sash’, those Thor’s hammer LED headlights and the very Volvo vertical taillights. This is a prestige SUV but not one of the BMW, Benz and Audi usual suspects.

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 do you tell the difference between the grades visually? Well that’s a tricky one. From the outside you can spot at R-Design T8 by its sunroof while the Momentum D4 and T5 both have 19-inch wheels which look a tad too small for those wheel guards.

Inside all XC60s are exquisite, bordering on modern art with that minimalist dash decluttered of its buttons thanks to most of the functions being moved to that stunning 9.0-inch vertical touch screen.

There are nine colours to choose from including Fusion Red, Passion Red, Bursting Blue Metallic, Onyx Black Metallic, Osmium Grey Metallic, Bright Silver Metallic, Crystal White Pearl, Electric Silver Metallic and Ice White.

The accessories list for the XC60 is huge there’s everything from towbar hitches and floor mats to roof boxes, kayak cradles, and tablet holders for rear seat entertainment - but not bullbars.


Subaru Forester7/10

This generation of Forester came into the world in 2018 and now Subaru says it’s given the mid-sized SUV a mid-life makeover. A generation tends to last for about seven years, so 2022 is halfway through, but as far as makeovers go the changes are from a reality-show transformation.

It’s in the headlight design where you can really see the difference. This new Forester now has headlights with a more pronounced LED ‘eyebrow’. Subaru also says the grille, bumpers and foglights have been restyled, although I can hardly see it. When the PR people at Subaru say the changes are ‘subtle’ you can be assured they are extremely minimal.

So, the Forester keeps its distinctive boxy, rugged looks, which, while not all that pretty to my eyes, do give the SUV a capable and practical feel that its rivals don’t have. I mean the new Kia Sportage is stunning, with its intriguing design, but it looks afraid of mud, and so does the Mazda CX-5, which favours form over function.

Nope, the Forester looks like it should be sitting on a shelf in an adventure shop, alongside carabiners and hiking boots. I like that.

The Forester that stands out most in the range is the 2.5i Sport. This sporty grade was added a couple of years ago and gets bright orange pinstriping along the side skirts, while the cabin gets the same dayglo trim. 

Talking of the Forester’s cabin, it’s a plush, premium feeling place and the 2.5i-S I drove had layer upon layer of different materials on the dash with textures ranging from a mesh-like rubber to soft leather upholstery with stitching.

The cabin isn’t as modern as newer SUVs such as the Sportage, and there’s a busy feel to the design which is a bit crowded and confusing with all its buttons, screens, and icons, but owners will get used to this quickly.

The Forester is 4640mm end to end, which is about the length of your thumb shorter than a Kia Sportage. A more interesting measurement is the Forester’s ground clearance – it’s 220mm, which is 40mm more than the Sportage’s and that gives it better off-road capability. So, actually rugged and not just rugged looking. 

The Forester comes in 10 colours including Crystal White, Crimson Red Pearl, Horizon Blue Pearl and Autumn Green Metallic.

Practicality

Volvo XC60

How many seats does an XC60 have? The answer is five and no there isn’t a seven-seater version. I have a small family with just the three of us, but if you have a lot more take a look at the bigger XC90. 

The XC60’s cabin is spacious, but not XC90 spacious – this is, remember, a mid-sized SUV. Still there’s plenty of legroom in the back seats for me even at 191cm to sit behind my driving position and good headroom even with the panoramic sunroof in the T8.

Let’s talk about the boot space. A luggage capacity of 505 litres isn’t huge not compared to rivals such as Audi’s Q5, BMW’s X3 and the Mercedes-Benz GLC which all have 550 litres of cargo space. But XC60s with the optional air suspension like the T8 I drove can lower themselves to make loading the boot easier.

Cabin storage 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. 

You won’t find a sunglass holder in here though – but does anybody actually use those anyway?


Subaru Forester9/10

The Forester feels like it’s been created with practicality in the front of the designer’s minds. There are large doors, which open super wide for easy entry and exit, great rear legroom for even me, at 191cm tall, and a decent-sized boot with 498 litres (VDA) of luggage space to the cargo cover. That’s bigger than the Mitsubishi Outlander’s 477-litre boot but smaller than the Sportage’s 543-litre cargo capacity.

Cabin space is good with massive door pockets, four cup holders (two in the rear and two up front) and a large centre console box under the armrest. Still, it could be better – the hidey hole in front of the shifter, which is obviously designed for a phone, is too small for mine and ever since I drove the new Toyota RAV4, with its innovative shelves carved into the dash, I wonder why all cars and SUVs don’t have them.

All Foresters have rear directional air vents, which is excellent, and these, combined with the tinted rear glass and the two USB ports in the second row, mean kids back there will be cool and have power to charge their devices.

Proximity unlocking and push-button start mean you don’t need to get the keys out and this is also standard on all Foresters.

Finally, the chunky roof racks are also on every grade and you can buy cross bars ($428.07 fitted) through Subaru’s enormous accessories department.

Price and features

Volvo XC60

The XC60 comes in three trim levels: there’s the entry-grade Momentum, the Inscription is the mid-point and the R-Design lords over all of them. So how much does an XC60 cost? Let’s look at a price list. 

The most affordable XC60 in the range is the D4 diesel variant in Momentum grade which lists for $59,990 (RRP) while its T5 petrol sibling is $62,990.

Stepping up to the Inscription there’s the D4 version for $66,990 and the T5 petrol for $69,990. 

You can have an R-Design with the more powerful D5 diesel for $73,990, the gruntier petrol T6 for $76,990 and the petrol-electric hybrid for $92,990 sits at the top of the XC60 range.

As for driveaway prices for the XC60, put the pressure on the dealer and you’ll be surprised what they can do.

The XC60 is great value … depending on which grade you go for, because even the lower priced ones come with an extensive list of standard features. 

All XC60s comes standard with a 9.0-inch vertical touch screen with Apple CarPlay for your iPhone and Android Auto, a 12.3-inch driver display, WiFi hot spot, Bluetooth, sat nav (gps navigation), 360-degree parking camera, auto parking system, front and rear parking sensors, a 10-speaker premium sound system with digital radio (DAB), leather upholstery, power adjustable driver and passenger seat, proximity key (keyless entry), roof rails, LED headlights and a power tailgate.

That 9.0-inch screen is for more than just for multimedia and infotainment – many of the car’s functions, gadgets and the owner’s manual are controlled through the display.

The Inscription adds four-zone climate control, adaptive cruise control and 20-inch alloys.

The R-Design D5 and T6 come with 21-inch alloy wheels and R-Design treatment to the steering wheel, grille, pedals and leather seats.

And the R-Design T8 comes with a panoramic sunroof, crystal gear shifting knob, and only dual-zone climate control.

So the R-Design T8 is not great value, but the Momentum T5 and D4 really do represent good features for the money. 

All XC60s come with LED headlights and the Thor’s hammer daytime running lights – no xenon headlights here, thankfully.

If you want heated seats it’ll cost you $500 for the front ones and $350 for the back row, while a heated steering wheel is $350. Ventilated seats are a $2950 option, but you’ll get leather perforated upholstery with them. Tinted glass is a $650 option and the 15-speaker Bowers & Wilkins stereo costs $4500. Oh and a CD player is a $160 option, but you can’t have it on the R-Design T8.

The $2490 air suspension is also an option, but a very comfortable one as I found on the T8 I road tested.

A quick model comparison shows the XC60 is priced well – the Mercedes-Benz GLC ranges from $67,500-$99,900 (more for the AMG), the Audi Q5 ranges from $65,900 to $86,611 and the BMW X3 starts at $62,900 and top out at $87,700. 

A lack of full-sized spare tyre is disappointing. Sure a space saver spare (which comes with all XC60s apart from the R-Design T8) is okay in the city and so is the puncture repair kit on the T8, but in Australia it can be a long way between towns. 


Subaru Forester9/10

Look, I don’t want to lose you this early in the review, but the next few paragraphs are going to sound a bit like gobbledegook, and I blame that on Subaru for giving the individual grades in the Forester range unimaginative names. But it’ll be worth sticking around because I can straight up tell you now the Forester is good value, like really good value...

The entry grade in the Forester range is called the 2.5i and it lists for $35,990 and comes with dual-zone climate control, an eight-inch media touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a 6.3-inch display for vehicle info, and a smaller 4.2-inch screen in the instrument cluster, cloth seats, a proximity key with push button start, plus tinted rear windows, LED headlights and daytime running lights and 17-inch alloy wheels.

The next grade up is the 2.5i-L for $38,390 and frankly it’s identical to the 2.5i except for one hugely important difference – it comes with more safety tech. If it was my money, I’d skip the entry grade and go straight to the 2.5i-L. Oh, and it also comes with heated seats.

The 2.5i Premium is the next up the ladder at $41,140 and comes with all the features in the grades below but adds 18-inch alloys, premium cloth seats, sat nav, powered front seats, and a power tailgate.

Hang in there, we’re almost through this.

The 2.5i Sport for $42,690 has the Premium’s features but has 18-inch wheels with a black metallic finish, there are orange highlights to the exterior and interior trim, water-repellent cloth seats and a power sunroof.            

The 2.5i-S is the fanciest grade in the range at $44,190 – it’s the one I tested in the video at the top of this review. Along with all the features of the lower grades there are also silver 18-inch alloy wheels, leather seats, an eight-speaker Harman Kardon stereo and X-Mode, which is an off-road system for playing in the mud.

Finally, there are the two hybrid grades – the Hybrid L for $41,390 whose feature list mirrors the 2.5i-L’s and the Hybrid S for $47,190, which has much the same standard features as the 2.5i-S.

Engine & trans

Volvo XC60

The XC60 range has four engines and one petrol-electric unit, but you can’t get them in any grade you like.

The Momentum and Inscription come with the diesel D4 and its petrol sibling the T5. Both are lower-powered versions of the D5 diesel and T6 petrol variants found in the R-Design grade.

The D4 has a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel making 140kW and 400Nm, which according to Volvo is enough mumbo for a 0-100km/h sprint time of 8.4 seconds. 

The D5 is powered by a 2.0-litre twin turbo diesel making 173kW and 480Nm, which according to Volvo is enough mumbo for a 0-100km/h sprint time of 7.2sec. 

The T5 is the 2.0-litre turbo petrol variant which makes 187kW and 350Nm, and has a 0-100km/h time of 6.8sec.

The T6 is also a 2.0-litre turbo-petrol variant but a higher horsepower version with a supercharger that helps it make 235kW and 400Nm, and it has a 0-100km/h time of 5.9sec. That’s an impressive performance figure.

And finally the T8 – this is the big daddy and uses the same 235kW and 400Nm 2.0-litre twin-turbo-plus-supercharged petrol that’s in the T6 in combination with a 65kW/240Nm electric motor. The T8 is a plug-in petrol electric hybrid.

All XC60s use a smooth shifting eight-speed automatic transmission - you won’t find a manual gearbox here.

The XC60 comes as all-wheel drive only, there’s no front-wheel drive (4x2) version. That said this isn’t four-wheel drive and you wouldn’t take it places you’d go in a hardcore 4x4.

I didn’t experience any automatic transmission problems or any other issues but keep an eye out for our XC60 problems page for any faults, complaints, maintenance or reliability issues that crop up.


Subaru Forester7/10

You can get the Forester with a straight petrol engine or a petrol-electric hybrid system.

The straight petrol engine is a 2.5-cylinder four cylinder making 136kW and 239Nm.

You might know already that Subaru uses ‘boxer’ engines, which are rare in that the pistons move horizontally to the ground rather than up and down vertically as in most engines. There are advantages to the boxer set up, mainly the fact that it keeps the car’s centre of mass low, which’s good for stability.

The hybrid system combines a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine making 110kW/196Nm with an electric motor producing 12.3kW and 66Nm.

Both power trains use a continuously variable transmission (CVT) which is super smooth, but makes acceleration feel sluggish.

Fuel consumption

Volvo XC60

After a combination of urban and open roads, Volvo claims the diesel D4 will achieve 5.4L/100km and the more powerful diesel D5 should need 5.6L/100km. Meanwhile, the petrol T5 should use 7.8L/100km and its big brother the T6’s official mileage is 8.0L/100km.

The eco-warrior of the range is the petrol electric T8 with its impressive claim of 2.1L/100km. This isn’t an EV, you’ll need to fill it up with petrol as well.

If somebody tries to sell you a new LPG XC60, be suspicious ... very suspicious. 

When I road tested the R-Design D5 my fuel economy was 9.4L/100km, and this is where it gets embarrassing: my mileage in the R-Design T8 was 14.0L/100km. That’s because I never re-charged using the cable, instead I let the regenerative braking add charge to the batteries. This meant I forced the SUV to mainly use the petrol engine and carry myself along with 200kg of batteries and electric motor around. This - and me taking full advantage of the great acceleration at every traffic light - would have something to do with my high fuel usage.

Yes, if you go for the R-Design T8 make sure you charge it regularly and drive conservatively otherwise you too will use lots more fuel than Volvo’s serving suggestion.  


Subaru Forester7/10

According to the official ADR combined test that aims to replicate a combination of open and urban roads, the 2.5-litre petrol engine should use 7.4L/100km while hybrid petrol-electric Forester with the 2.0-litre engine should use 6.7L/100km.

My test of the 2.5-litre petrol, which combined urban commutes into the city, as well as forays onto dirt trails and country roads, returned 12.5L/100km. So in the real world, the Forester - even the hybrid version - isn’t particularly fuel efficient.

Driving

Volvo XC60

I’ve road tested the R-Design D5 and the R-Design T8 and so can only vouch for the driving experiences of them.

First, the D5 – there’s much to like, such as all that 480Nm of torque barrelling in low down in the rev range at 1725rpm, the responsive brakes, the tranquil cabin, and good fuel economy. 

The downside to the D5 is a noisy diesel engine, particularly under heavy load. The diesel isn’t best suited to sporty driving either – I found myself busy paddle shifting constantly to keep the revs in the torque band which ends at 2250rpm. The twin-turbo set-up in the D5 is designed to spool up one to ‘pre-charge’ to reduce lag before the second kicks in – the result is an almost instantaneous power delivery.

Now, the R-Design T8. 

This is an impressive beast. The combination of that powerful supercharged and turbocharged four-cylinder and the electric motor provides grin-making acceleration. The optional air suspension in our test car turned the ride cushion-soft but kept the car composed.

Just to sit in, the D5 and T8 both feel special and the driving experience goes a long way to matching that prestigious impression from the light and accurate steering to the great pedal feel and the responsiveness of the powertrains.  

A well-insulated cabin cuts out most of the diesel clatter in the D5, not to mention the T8's road noise - it is common for tyre roar to be noticeable in hybrid and electric cars, which don’t have a noisy engine to cover it up. 

The adaptive cruise control with steering assistance worked eerily well for me, it’s almost - but not quite -self-driving autopilot. That head-up display is one of the clearest and least intrusive I’ve seen.

Good visibility and a turning circle of 11.4m also help make the XC60 effortless to drive.


Subaru Forester8/10

This is, quite simply, one of the best driving mid-sized SUVs for the price. Yes, the CVT makes acceleration feel lacklustre, but that is the only downside.

The ride is comfortable, the handling is good, and the steering is spot on. Great visibility, excellent ground clearance of 220mm and a superb all-wheel-drive system make the Forester hard to beat.

I drove the 2.5i-S with the 2.5-litre petrol engine. I have driven Subaru’s hybrid previously, however, and can tell you that it tends to offer more oomph in acceleration thanks to the extra and instant electric torque.

Perhaps the only other negative point was the brake pedal in my 2.5i-S, which seemed to need a decent amount of pressure from me to pull the Forester up quickly.

The braked towing capacity of the petrol Forester is 1800kg and for the hybrid it’s 1200kg.

Safety

Volvo XC60

Have you seen the Volvo XC60 TV ad? It’s full on, but I didn’t cry – there was just a high pollen count that day and… anyway it drives home how safety is Volvo’s ‘schtick’.

The five-star ANCAP score it was awarded in 2017 doesn’t reveal just how impressive the safety systems are on the XC60. This new-generation SUV is fitted with AEB (City Safety) which can detect and stop for animals, humans and other cars, there’s steering support, blind-spot warning, front and rear cross-traffic alert - and that’s on all XC60s. Adaptive cruise control is added to the Inscription grade and above.

You’ll find two ISOFIX points and three top-tether anchors for child and baby car seats across the rear row, too. 

Where is the Volvo XC60 built? Volvo is owned by Chinese car giant Geely, but Australian XC60s are made in Torslanda, Sweden.


Subaru Forester9/10

The Subaru Forester was given the maximum five-star ANCAP crash rating in 2019.

All grades have AEB, which can detect cyclists and pedestrians, and there’s also lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assistance, rear cross traffic alert (with braking on all grades above the entry car), and blind-spot warning as well.

For child seats there are three top-tether mounts and two ISOFIX points in the second row.

Ownership

Volvo XC60

The XC60s has a three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty. Servicing is recommended every 15,000km or 12 months, whichever comes first. 

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). 


Subaru Forester8/10

The Forester is covered by a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty. Servicing is recommended at 12 month/12,500km intervals and over the course of five years works out to be $2400. That’s quite expensive.

The hybrid’s battery is covered by an eight-year/160,000km warranty.