DETROIT — Volvo’s XC60 is a real-world utility vehicle. It snowed here, then got bone-chillingly cold — I’m talking about single digits. Thus, a lot of the vehicle’s technology didn’t get tested.
Forget about all the nomenclature and let’s get to the root of the matter. In Volvo-speak, most T8s are plug-in hybrids. In the case of the XC60, that means a 2.0-liter supercharged turbocharged four-cylinder engine is teamed with an electric motor and a lithium-ion battery.
In the broadest terms, the engine and the motor are capable of working in tandem to lessen fuel consumption and increase horsepower. The battery has to be plugged in for recharging, though there were regenerative breaks. The XC60 had a range of 35 miles in full electric mode, that’s when the battery is fully charged; the gasoline engine is also capable of operating alone.
The downside of a plug-in hybrid is that you should have access to a 240-volt power outlet, although it can be charged with a 110-volt household electrical household outlet. But that takes about eight hours. The 240-volt outlet can fully charge the battery in roughly half the time. You can find chargers at upscale hotels, some dealerships and selected municipal parking lots. But the most convenient charging place is at home.
Here’s the upside of a plug-in hybrid: working in tandem with an electric motor boosts the output of a gasoline engine and diminishes the amount of fuel it burns. The combination gives the XC60 T8 an output of 400 horsepower while making 472 pound-feet of torque.
It can get to 60 mph from a standstill in 5.0 seconds and it has a top speed of 140 mph. If that is not impressive enough, using just the gasoline engine is rated at 26 mpg. In tandem with the electric motor, it can get the equivalent of 58 mpg. An eight-speed transmission certainly helps with mileage.
The R-Design is Volvo’s sport trim package. That means a gloss black mesh grille, matte silver mirror caps, integrated tailpipes and 19-inch alloy wheels. Inside there were contoured seats in leather and a suede-like covering with adjustable seat cushion extenders and aluminum inlays.
It had heated and cooled seats, a much appreciated heated steering wheel, paddle shifters, and the nine-inch side-to-side slide touchscreen. There was also a 12.3-inch digital driver display screen.
Volvos of all stripes, no matter the year, have always been exceedingly comfortable and easy to drive. It is part of their safety moniker. The most important piece of safety equipment in a car is the driver. Volvo has never said that but it is evident in the layout of the cars and the ease with which its products can be driven.
The R-Design is more energetic and road-hugging, so says Volvo. The trim package comes with a sport chassis, stiffer springs and dampers for more responsive handling and less roll when cornering. None of that comes into play when it is 12 degrees and the remnants of three inches of snow and ice are in the streets.
The important equipment became the XC60’s all-wheel-drive system that instantly halted whatever slipping and sliding that occurred. The heated seats warmed rapidly and could be turned down with three settings; so could the heated steering wheel and the charging plug which could be disconnected rapidly and tossed — um, stored — in its tray just beneath the floor in the cargo bay.
The panoramic roof was great. But I chose not to retract it and I really could not get the full benefits of its transparency because it was covered with snow and ice most of the time. But the climate control system kept the interior warm and that was important.
I’ve always thought that Volvo was pretty good at little things like the three ways the XC60 alerted me that the speed limit was being exceeded. The XC60 R-Design had a memory passenger seat, a black headliner, heated wiper blades with integrated washers, power folding sideview mirrors, rear headrests, rear seats and blind-spot alert with steering assist and cross-traffic alert, keyless entry, a navigation system which I didn’t use and a $3,200 premium sound system.
There was a four-corner air suspension, heated rear seats, full LED headlights, a surround view camera, a heads-up display and pilot assist, a semi-autonomous drive system that works in conjunction with adaptive cruise control. The cold weather prevented its testing, too.
Volvo has certainly entered the ranks of luxury crossovers. And the 2019 XC60 T8 R-Design certainly has the right stuff to justify its $69,640 sticker. It also had the right stuff to deal with the foulest weather and the creature comforts to take advantage of the most pleasant climes.
Frank S. Washington is editor of AboutThatCar.com.