A larger battery and more powerful motor improve range and performance for this hybrid family
We all have a hill we’re going to die on. A matter of minor importance that we will not simply back down from.
To me, it’s the indisputable fact that proper physical dials for heater controls are better than any touchscreen-based, voice-activated nonsense.
Automakers are desperate to bury every function inside a touchscreen in the name of progress, but having to repeatedly swipe at a tiny bit of a plastic panel just to turn down the heat is dumb.
It was the one thing I hated about the Volvo XC60 for several months in early 2021, and now that the car has been improved, it’s still the only thing I hate about it. In fact, I hate it more because in a much improved touch screen system, Volvo has made the heater controls a lot more difficult to operate.
Yes, to make room for the Android Automotive interface on the 9-inch screen, the icon to show the heat setting is getting smaller and harder.
I know I don’t have to get hung up on those little details but a) it really is, truly annoying and b) it stands out more because of how good the rest of the car is.
One of the biggest changes in this fairly simple update is the update to the car’s infotainment system. The heavy Sensus is gone, replaced by a reduced operating system based on the same Android Automotive software that powers the great system in the Polestar 2. The Volvo arrangement isn’t quite as smooth as the Polestar but it simplifies things while putting the most important functions front and center. It also offers a responsive Google voice assistant and gives access to thousands of apps through the Play Store.
The bigger news than that is a new battery for the plug-in hybrid model. The older car’s 11.6 kWh unit was replaced by an 18.8 kWh unit. This expands its official all-electric range from 32 miles and 48. The relatively short period I had with the new model wasn’t long enough to fully measure its real-world performance, but based on the reliable 24 miles range I used to get from the old model, I was expecting about 35 miles of a real electric motor in the new engine.
Also new for this year is a more powerful rear-mounted engine. Combined with the 2.0-liter petrol engine, which is transported unchanged, the XC60 T6 PHEV now offers 345 horsepower all-wheel drive.
This means that this large SUV can surprise with its straight stride and acceleration. Zero to 62 mph takes 5.7 seconds like a Volvo, but that won’t do much for your range or economy.
If you can do without a traffic light drag race, the official economy is a ridiculous 217-282 mpg, based on your usual unrealistic PHEV usage cycle. On actual roads, the long-running device, which claimed 113 mpg, returned 44 mpg and with a larger battery and regular recharging, I expect slightly better performance from this new version.
Alternatively, if 345 hp isn’t enough for you, the T8 Hybrid churns out 449 hp from its gasoline/electric hybrid system with no difficulty with range or economy.
The updates didn’t bring any chassis tweaks, so quick in a straight line, the XC60 isn’t an SUV. The ride is controlled and comfortable but much happier than cruising between corners by wannabe Stig Blomquist.
Aside from the new infotainment and larger battery, this update for the XC60 is very slight.
Visually, the new model has a redesigned bumper that completely conceals the exhaust tips – a nod to Volvo’s ambition for all-electric cars. Regardless of that and some new digital tools, you’ll be hard-pressed to spot the big difference. This means it’s still cool, spacious and airy, with super comfortable seating and family-friendly space.
So it’s practical, stylish and more desirable than ever with more EV capacity. Aside from those awful heater controls, what’s not to like?
Volvo XC60 Rechargeable Hybrid T6 AWD R-Design
price: £54,975 (£59,650 dependent on testing); engine: 2.0 liter, four-cylinder, turbocharged, petrol electric motor; Energy: 345 hp torque: Unavailable ; Connecting: eight-speed automatic, all-wheel drive; maximum speed: 112 mph 0-62 mph: 5.7 seconds Economie: 217-282 mpg CO2 emissions: 23-30 g/km