Guest Contributor: Craig Fitzgerald
- The XC60 marries everything we always loved about a Volvo wagon in a plug-in hybrid package
- All your around-town driving on the plug, with none of the range anxiety
- Almost midcentury modern in its aesthetic
- Smooth, capable, and quick in all driving situations
- Small enough to park anywhere
- A step up in comfort from your average crossover
- It ain’t cheap
- Adaptive Cruise Control is in a package that costs over $2,000
Who is This Vehicle for?
Tenured college professors.
There’s quite a bit new going on for the 2022 model year, including changes to the battery:
- Refreshed exterior styling
- New wheel designs
- New exterior colors
- Next-generation infotainment with Android operating system
- New sensor system for onboard driver assistance features
- A new long-range battery with a third row of cells, increasing total output to 455hp
For many years now, we’ve wondered why plug-in hybrids haven’t caught on with the public. They offer the best of both worlds: You can conceivably plug the car in and do all of your local driving on full electric power, and have a potent gas-powered engine to eliminate any of the imaginary range anxiety the EV curious still seems to have.
The Volvo XC60 Recharge T8 Inscription (how’s that for a model name?) may be the best example of what a plug-in hybrid can offer. With its all-new for 2022 battery pack, it combines with the gas engine to deliver 455hp, a delightfully entertaining combination when you’re merging onto the freeway. But in the Pure mode (what most other manufacturers label “ECO”) you can drive up to 41 miles on nothing but electric power. And since the battery is only 18.8kWh, you’ll have no problem recharging it overnight with just a standard 110V wall socket.
And despite being wholly owned by a Chinese company, Volvo has lost none of the Scandinavian aesthetics inside and out, making you feel like you’re actually driving something different than the zillion other crossover SUVs on the market.
The only issue we had was the price, which ventures into well-equipped BMW X5 territory. However, the tax credit may help to offset the sticker price.
You can be excused for looking at just about any crossover SUV on the market today and not knowing exactly which brand that’s sitting in front of you. There’s a relentless sameness to this category that’s difficult to reckon with. But the Volvo XC60 stands out, with a family resemblance to all of the Volvo cars since the 240, while never looking like some kind of fake throwback to the ‘60s. It’s a Volvo wagon, for sure, but it’s completely modern in its appearance.
In all of Volvo’s cars, there’s always been a level of minimalism that sets these vehicles apart from the chrome-bedecked cars it competes with. Even BMW – which went for years with unmistakable cars – has fallen into the trap of exterior excess. But not Volvo. This is a clean, purposeful design with minimal chrome details, and careful attention to quality.
If you want EV styling, Volvo reserves that for its Polestar brand. The actual grille on the XC60 probably doesn’t need to be there, since the car is pulling most of the airflow it requires for the radiator through a lower grille opening, but it serves to distinguish this car from the EVs that Volvo markets through its separate brand.
There isn’t a misstep in any of the exterior styling. It’s a good-looking vehicle that you’re not going to lose in a parking lot.
“Why do the seats look like sweatpants,” asked my 18-year-old daughter as she opened the passenger door. They’re a more heavy-duty cloth material called “Tailored Wool Blend” in the trim level that we’re driving, but she’s right, they do look like sweatpants. But we’ll hand it to the designers: this car stands completely alone in interior design. No other vehicle has materials like this, and no other manufacturer builds a better driver’s seat. The color of the upholstery has us wondering what it’ll look like after a large regular from Dunkin’ Donuts gets spilled across the seat, but fresh out of the wrapper they look great.
The XC60 has seating for five, with a console splitting the front buckets. The gearshift lever on Volvo vehicles has been a piece of LED-illuminated crystal for several years now. It’s a very cool appearance, though the way it operates is a little frustrating, probably made worse by the fact that I only have a week to get used to it. Each gear selection requires two motions. For example, to shift out of park into reverse, you push the shifter forward once, then a second time to engage reverse. It eliminates any rushed reverse-to-drive damage to the drivetrain, but when you’re trying to parallel park on a busy street in Somerville, Massachusetts, it’s challenging.
The next-generation infotainment interface doesn’t really feel all that different from the iPad-sized screen that was there in earlier cars. The key to making it work effectively is to remember the location of the Home button. No matter how lost you get in sub-menus, the home button always takes you back to a central starting location. Over a week of driving around New England, we never found it difficult to operate, either with a phone plugged in, or pairing it through the Bluetooth function.
One note: Most cars on the higher end – Volvo included – are now switching to USB-C outlets, so you may need to change your cables. Much as we hate built-in obsolescence, the USB-C is a better plug than the universally loathed USB-Bs, which seem to be wrong no matter which way you try to plug them in the first time.
The Volvo XC60 isn’t an “EV” per se, but it operates like one around town if you want it to. The car has a significantly more potent 18.8kWh battery pack for 2022, which increases its all-electric range up to 35 miles. According to online insurance provider Jerry, the average round trip for American commuters is 41 miles.
The idea here is that you can plug your XC60 in at night – into a conventional 110V wall socket – charge the battery fully, and do all of your work commuting on the battery alone, saving the gas engine for longer trips when necessary.
We had no issues getting the XC60 fully charged overnight with the wall socket in the garage normally reserved for drop lights and extension cords. Plug in at 7:00 pm, and the battery is fully charged by morning. If you happen to work in an office with a charging station, even better: You’ll never get anywhere near depleted if your one-way commute is in the neighborhood of 25 miles.
The other thing we liked about the XC60 Recharge is that the fuel capacity is 18.8 gallons. The combined range of the gas engine and the electric motor is over 450 miles. As much as we liked the Hyundai Tucson Plug-in Hybrid, its gas tank only holds nine gallons, meaning on longer trips, you spend more time at a gas station than you normally would.
With the gas engine and the hybrid motor working together in the car’s more performance-oriented mode, you’ve got 455hp on tap thanks to both a turbocharger AND a supercharger. That’s enough to send the XC60 Recharge to 60 miles per hour in just 4.5 seconds. The acceleration is impressive, especially in something that has all the earmarks of a suburban mom’s car.
Handling is decent, too, though you need to remind yourself that you’re driving an SUV here, and not a low-slung sedan. It takes a corner well, but there’s a price to be paid for the XC60’s upright stance and relatively tall ride height.
Most of the technology in the XC60 is standard at the base price of $62,250 for the Inscription trim level. That includes the 12.3-inch progressive digital driver display, a nine-inch integrated touch screen, a four-year subscription to Volvo’s Digital Services package (including Google Automotive Services), and a Harman Kardon Premium Sound system, plus advanced safety equipment like Collision Avoidance, Lane Departure Warning and Lane Keeping Aid, and Automatic Emergency Braking.
What it curiously doesn’t include is adaptive cruise control, which is rapidly becoming a standard feature, and when it’s optional, it typically comes in cars that cost tens of thousands less than this one does. Instead, Volvo packages it in the Advanced Package, which contains a head-up display, a 360-degree camera, and advanced cabin air filter. This package is $2,050, which seems like a lot of coin to spend on a feature that’s included as standard equipment on just about every Honda vehicle produced.
2022 Volvo XC60 Recharge T8 Inscription
- $72,840 (including $1,095 destination charge) – as tested
- $62,250 – base price
- How we’d spec it: We’d opt for the Inscription trim with the $750 Climate Package, the $2,050 Advanced Package, and leave the other five options our tested car comes with out of our order.
There’s not a lot of room to save money here, but the $3,200 Bowers & Wilkins audio system seems extravagant, and the $1,800 air suspension’s noisy pump had us mistakenly thinking we left the car running every time we got out.
|2022 Volvo XC60||Price: (Not including $7,500 tax credit) |
|Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged/supercharged DOHC inline four-cylinder|
Motor: 18.8kWh electric motor
|Vehicle Type: Midsize crossover|
|Transmission: 8-speed automatic||Dimensions: |
Width: 74.9 (including mirrors)
Passenger Volume: 102.9
Cargo Volume: 25.8 cu.ft. (63.3 maximum)
Curb Weight: 4,760 pounds
|Horsepower: 455hp – combined||EPA Fuel Economy: 57 MPGe|
|Torque: 523-lb.ft.||Warranty: |
Basic: 4 years/50,000 miles
Powertrain: 4 years/50,000 miles
Battery 10 years/100,000 miles
|0-60 mph: 4.5 sec|
Craig Fitzgerald began his automotive writing career in 1996, at AutoSite.com, one of the first online resources for car buyers. Over the years, he’s written for the Boston Globe, Forbes, and Hagerty. For seven years, he was the editor at Hemmings Sports & Exotic Car, and today, he’s the automotive editor at Drive magazine. He’s dad to a son and daughter, and plays rude guitar in a garage band in Worcester, Massachusetts.