Parkers overall rating: 4.1 out of 5 4.1
  • Engine choices generally powerful
  • Fastest model is the Recharge T8 PHEV
  • B4 diesel is responsive, good all-rounder

The Volvo XC60 is not a vehicle you are likely to buy for high-performance thrills, even though a large proportion of the range produces in excess of 200hp. Regardless of any electrical assistance through the hybrid systems, all XC60s feature 2.0-litre engines and are fitted with eight-speed automatic gearboxes.

Plus, models produced from summer 2020 have an electronically limited top speed of 112mph as part of Volvo’s safety drive to reduce serious and fatal injuries.

Engine Power and torque
0-62mph time
Top speed
B5 FWD (P) 250hp, 350Nm 7.0secs 112mph
B5 AWD (P) 250hp, 350Nm 6.9secs 112mph
B6 AWD (P) 300hp, 420Nm 6.2secs 112mph
B4 AWD (D) 197hp, 420Nm 8.3secs 112mph
T6 PHEV AWD 350hp, 350Nm 5.7secs 112mph
T8 PHEV AWD 455hp, 430Nm 4.9secs 112mph

View full Volvo XC60 specs

Diesel XC60 is popular

Mild-hybrid diesels were introduced in 2019, in the forms of the B4 (D) and B5 (D) models, although the latter was short-lived and taken off sale by 2021. They add electrical components that recuperate energy when braking, which is then stored and used to assist with acceleration later on.

This B4 is no slouch and overtaking is a doddle. The standard all-wheel drive system also benefits traction so you can put the power down effectively. The switch between electric power and diesel is virtually undetectable, although the diesel engine is still pretty loud on startup.

Punchy petrol choices

The B5 (P) and B6 (P) immediately feels quicker than the diesels, but as we’ve described earlier, this can prove to be a thirsty engine –  this isn’t so much of a surprise given its power outputs or its 0-62mph time.

Recharge plug-in hybrids

Previously called Twin Engine, Volvo renamed all of its plug-in models as Recharge in spring 2020. All have a petrol engine mated to the electrical components, with AWD as standard.

Kicking things off is the Recharge T6 which has more than enough power for most. The electric motor provides plenty of shove at low speeds to shift the XC60 along. Opt for the Recharge T8 for an incredible turn of pace.

When fully charged, they can be left in hybrid mode, and will spend most of its time running as an EV only, which means short journeys will see you getting 100+mpg. Beware, that soon drops to a real-world 28mpg once the battery pack is flattened.

Indecisive automatic transmission

The eight-speed automatic gearbox isn’t quite as convincing as the engines, somehow it never quite seems to be able to make up its mind which gear it should be in, with an irritating habit of changing them in the middle of corners. Neither petrol nor diesel models feel completely matched with the transmission – the BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLC both feel much more responsive and settled in this regard.

2019 Volvo XC60 gear selector

Paddleshifters would help with this indecisiveness, allowing the driver to take momentary control when required, but Volvo doesn’t fit them as standard on every model. Instead you are forced to use the less-intuitive gear selection lever. The small paddles shifters that are available, though, are discreet but effective for taking manual control from time to time.

The XC60 does feature a choice of driving modes, however, which allows you to influence the engine response, the gearbox programming and – where fitted – the air suspension and adaptive dampers.

Engines no longer available

With front-wheel drive only, the entry-level diesel was badged D4, with 190hp and 400Nm of torque at 1,750-2,500rpm. This cracked 0-62mph in 8.4 seconds, which is commendably swift, yet somehow it conspires to not always feeling as quick or responsive as you’d expect on the road. Chief culprit here is the gearbox, which is smooth, but sometimes hesitant.

How does it handle? 

  • Three suspension setups 
  • Adaptive suspension worth having… 
  • It’s best for comfort and balance

There are three suspension systems available on the Volvo XC60 – a standard conventional set-up, as fitted to Momentum and Inscription models, a sportier R-Design version of this that features 30% stiffer springs and thicker anti-roll bars, and an optional air suspension system that also includes adaptive dampers

The standard set-up is softly sprung, and handles bumps in the road with aplomb. Mega comfy it is then, but it also rolls heavily. This manifests itself in the way it handles. Pitch it into a set of fast bends and you’ll feel yourself slosh around in your seat if you approach too quickly. 

Is air suspension worth it?

This offers a choice of Comfort and Dynamic driving modes. In our experience Dynamic mode is great on realy smooth, quick roads, since in Comfort we found the body control too soft during even moderately spirited driving. It even remains quite pitchy in the Dynamic setting if you try to go a bit quicker, rolling around in the corners to such an extent that you soon decide to slow down.

This despite the fact that Dynamic not only stiffens the suspension, it also lowers the car by some 20mm to reduce the centre of gravity. Should you really want to take your XC60 off-road, the system can also raise the suspension by 40mm.

Rivals more fun?

Rivals such as the Audi Q5 and BMW X3 certainly offer a more rewarding driving experience in the corners. The steering is a little numb off-centre and the lack of weighting doesn’t inspire much confidence when you initially enter a corner. You’d hope for a little more indication in grip levels.

Still, with all-wheel drive as standard, the XC60 has more than enough traction to deal with the strength of its engines, and in compensation for the slightly relaxed attitude to cornering you do get plenty of ride comfort.

We found the chassis of the petrols to feel somewhat tighter and less prone to rolling around than the diesel, even when both cars are fitted with the air suspension option. We suspect this is due to the additional weight of the diesel engine over the front wheels, and this is borne out driving the Volvo XC60 extensively on UK roads.

Polestar Engineered performance flagship

If all those choices weren’t enough, there’s also a range-topping Recharge T8 Polestar Engineered model.

It uses the same powertrain as the regular T8, but with a range of Polestar performance parts to improve the drive. Specific performance-focused Ohlins shock absorbers allow you to manually set the car up, but we’re not sure how likely most buyers will be doing this.

Out of the factory, it’s quite a firm and bouncy experience, but when altered there’s a pleasing balance between moderate comfort and stiffness for impressive cornering. However, light steering still leaves you feeling a little detached rather than engaged with the experience.