2017 Volvo XC60 T6 Inscription Review

An oldie but still very much a goodie

Amos Kwon, Editor-In-Chief

Positives: Smooth ride, handsome exterior still looks good after all these years, excellent seats, solid build quality, top-notch safety scores and equipment, a sensible ride that's not for attention hogs.
Negatives: Gaps upset the suspension, light and vague steering, seriously dated controls.
Bottom Line: Though the XC60 is pretty dated, it's still a very good European crossover that's a solid option for families looking for comfort, excellent safety and looks that have aged well. With the new version coming out soon, you'll likely get the 2017 model for a good price.
 View Our 2017 Volvo XC60 Overview
The XC60 has been around for a decade, and that's a long time. But it has worn well, and it's a testament to the original design, as well as the engineering of the Swedish crossover. Those customers who want a solid alternative to the Germans or Japanese, the XC60 should be a serious contender. That being said, the new, totally redesigned XC60 is just over the horizon and should bring the crossover well into the 21st century. It's high time the XC60 was redone, too, since fierce competitors like the Audi Q5. Lexus RX and the BMW X3 are newer and better.

Driving Experience



Fuel economy suffers slightly, but probably not enough to be a deal-breaker. Regardless of engine choice, the eight-speed transmission delivers smooth shifts and the available all-wheel drive makes it a capable handler in cold weather climates. Around town, the XC60 easily soaks up road imperfections and provides a comfortable ride quality. Think twice about the available 20-inch wheels, though, as you could find the resulting ride to be a touch too firm. As for handling, the XC60 is competent, but it's not the segment's sportiest entry. Largely because newer and sportier models have come along in recent years, the XC60 can seem out of its element on tight, twisting roads, and its steering is overly light.

Ride Quality: For the most part, the XC60 is a comfortable ride in urban and highway settings. Its suspension doesn't seem to manage expansion gaps well, though.

Acceleration: In T6 Inscription format, the XC60 is quick, getting to 60 mph from a standstill in 6.4 seconds.

Braking: The XC60 has good, strong brakes with progressive braking and good pedal feel.

Steering: The XC60 has light steering that could use more feedback and effort.

Handling: There's a fair amount of body roll, but it feels manageable. Even the predictable understeer wasn't awful. The XC60 isn't especially heavy, which helps.




The XC60’s infotainment system is its Achilles' heel since it's so outdated. The selector knob can be easily confused with the audio knob and two climate control knobs, which are exactly the same size, feel and look. The lack of both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto makes the technology a bit Cretaceous.

Infotainment System: Volvo Sensus looks, feels and operates like a system that's a decade old, which is a big part of why buyers might look elsewhere.

Controls: Easily the worst part of the car. Too many buttons, four knobs that all seem the same, and more time with the system doesn't make it any easier to use.

Bluetooth Pairing: No problems pairing or remaining paired. Music streaming was also easy.

Voice Call Quality: The XC60 was clear on both sides of the call, and volume levels were good. We could hear calls well at highway speeds.




We won't call it beautiful, but Volvo is more about sophistication and sensibility rather than visual punch (at least with the older generation cars). We like the revised fascias that give the Volvo a bit more presence, and the body is well-sculpted like any modern CUV should be. We like the fact that Volvo eschews busyness in their design language, and even when this car is replaced with the next-gen version, it will still look handsome.

Front: The wide Volvo grille isn't overly tall like so many other cars today, keeping it clean with simple headlights and a crisp lower fascia. Though bigger grilles are the trend, the XC60 looks good.

Rear: We love Volvo's L-shaped taillights on their wagons and CUVs, and the rear is easily the best aspect of the XC60's design.

Profile: Very wagon-like, but that's not a bad thing at all, in our opinion. The single dramatic crease on the front door and the longer one at the beltline give it the right amount of drama. Not too little, not too much.

Cabin: The waterfall center stack still looks good in spite of all the buttons and crappy knob controls. The seats and the rest of the cabin materials are properly Swedish in their appearance and have held up well over the course of the XC60's ten year run.




Volvo takes the time to do their Contour seats just about perfectly, and we wonder why other automakers can't do as good of a job with support and bolstering. If you're going to take a long trip in a car, these seats are pretty much perfect. We laud Volvo for not sacrificing comfort for aesthetics, though these seats are pretty attractive.

We like the Swedish flavor of the interior despite the somewhat dated look. Ergonomics could use work, but it definitely departs from the Teutonic look of Audi. It could use a bit more drama like modern Mercedes-Benzes and BMWs. At least the materials quality and the fit and finish are fantastic.

Front Seats: Nothing but great things to say about these seats. Everybody who sat in these loved them and for good reason. They are superb, and look good, too.

Rear Seats: Comfortable but a bit lacking on legroom--not terrible, though. The child booster seats affect the comfort level, but they're still quite good.

NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): The XC60 excels at quietness, and the build quality is also very good. We didn't pick up any errant noises, and highway speeds did not upset the peace of the cabin.

Visibility: Good all around. Volvo works hard to keep their pillars from being too obstructive. The seating position is quite good, as well.

Climate: The Swedes do a fine job of keeping occupants comfortable, especially in winter. Solid heat from the seats and great overall climate comfort, in spite of the lousy control knobs.




When it comes to protecting you and your loved ones, you won't find much better than the XC60. It nails the crash testing like a champ and comes outfitted with excellent standard and optional safety features. Volvo has prided themselves on superb safety for decades, and they're not about to change things. This aspect is one of the biggest selling points of the XC60, and it should not be understated.

IIHS Rating: It nabs top marks with the Top Safety Pick+ for 2017, which has even higher standards than the previous year. Its Front Crash Prevention in the Crash Avoidance and Mitigation scoring is "superb", and headlights score "good".

Standard Tech: The list is huge, and the impressive array includes all-wheel drive, advanced electronic stability control, Roll Stability Control, City Safety Low-Speed Collision Avoidance System, Whiplash Protection System, LED daytime running lights, tire pressure monitoring system, Rear Park Assist Camera, and Cross Traffic Alert.

Optional Tech: Our T6 Inscription came loaded with Blind Spot Information System, active dual xenon headlights, adaptive cruise control with Queue Assist, collision warning with full auto brake, pedestrian/cyclist detection with auto brake, distance alert, driver alert control, lane departure warning, active high beam, and road sign information.




Despite an odd and tough to see/reach storage compartment behind the waterfall center stack, the rest of the Volvo works well in the storage department. Good door pockets, a sizable center armrest and good cupholders ensure easy gear stowage. Though you likely won't haul any furniture in the XC60, there's plenty of space for a weekend road trip behind the second row.

Storage Space: Good storage options, but it's no Honda Pilot. There wasn't much we didn't like except the strange space behind the center stack, which was hard to reach and made it easy to forget that we left things there since you can't see it directly unless you peer behind it.

Cargo Room: The easy split-folding seatbacks fold flat quickly and without fuss. 31-cubic-feet of cargo space with the seats up and 67 cubic feet with it folded flat are more than enough space for regular use and weekend trips.

Fuel Economy



The XC60's gas mileage is about on par for the segment. The X3 gets 21/28, and the Lexux RX 350 gets 20/27. The good thing about the Volvo is the power, which isn't sacrificed in the name of fuel economy.

Observed: We saw 18.2 mpg in a mix of local and highway driving.

Driving Factors: Though we know the XC60 can do way better than our numbers, we almost always lean toward driving the car hard to see what it's all about. More conservative drivers should have no problem attaining the EPA estimated fuel economy numbers.




The Harman Kardon premium sound system was a solid one, and we certainly enjoyed listening to it, regardless of the choice of music or radio station. Good clarity, bass and volume that filled the cabin with quality sound. We won't say that the $2,500 Advanced Package price is worth it for the premium audio alone, but the quality of the upgraded audio system is very good.

Final Thoughts

You can wait for the 2018 XC60, which was just unveiled, or you can get this one now. It does everything very well--drives comfortably, looks attractive and stores plenty. You'll just have to be okay with not having great infotainment technology or audio/infotainment/climate controls. It's a sacrifice but not a huge one since the Volvo XC60 remains very appealing even in its final iteration for this generation. Families who want a truly safe automobile that's not high on visual drama and provides great acceleration and four-wheel traction can't really go wrong with the XC60, especially in the potent and well-outfitted T6.
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