2021 Volvo XC60 Recharge eAWD Inscription Review

Carving its own luxury path


Amos Kwon, Editor-In-Chief



Positives: Righteously quick, the best-looking Volvo crossover, sumptuous and beautiful interior styling, roomy second-row seats, top-notch safety ratings and technology.
Negatives: Steering and handling are subpar, pricey at this trim level, infotainment tends to lag.
Bottom Line: The XC60 Recharge is an opulent and quick crossover that looks better than the competition, but the asking price is high and the driving dynamics could be much better.
The advantages of a plug-in hybrid have made their way to premium brands, and the XC60 Recharge (formerly called T8) is one of the few choices, aside from the Audi Q5e, the BMW X3 xDrive30e, and the Mercedes-Benz GLC350e. The XC60 Recharge provides about 19 miles of range on all-electric power, so you could theoretically drive to and from work without using gas if you don't live too far away from the office. What's more, Volvo is now on par or better than the German brands when it comes to luxury and style, and the XC60 Recharge Inscription is quite fancy. We drove it for a week, and you can read our full impressions below.
 

Driving Experience

7

 

The XC60 plug-in hybrid is a smooth-driving crossover, but don't ask it to do anything beyond cruising comfortably or accelerating quickly. Once it gets in the corners, it becomes a bit floaty and disconnected.

Ride Quality: The ride is butter-smooth no matter what driving mode you're in. It absorbs bumps and gaps like a luxury vehicle should. The price you pay comes when you ask it to more.

Acceleration: The hybrid powertrain does a fine job of moving the Recharge quickly, getting to 60 mph from a standstill in five seconds flat. It feels pretty quick, and the transmission shifts smoothly.

Braking: The regen brakes could be better. They feel spongy and disconnected at times, and hard braking is a bit disconcerting.

Steering: Steering is light and lacks feedback. Turn-in isn't as immediate as we'd like, but at least the XC60 Recharge is on-center.

Handling: Even though the ride height and suspension adjust automatically when changing drive modes, the XC60 Recharge is a bit too floaty in the turns with palpable body roll.

Technology

7.5

 

Volvo's Sensus system looks good but lacks smoothness of operation. The lag is frustrating upon startup. The 12.3" digital gauge cluster also looks great and thankfully works very well.

Infotainment System: The vivid 9" touchscreen sometimes fails to respond to inputs quickly, and we noticed that it takes about 3 seconds for the drive mode selector to move on the screen just after starting the engine. We're surprised this hasn't been un-fussed yet.

Controls: Vehicle controls like climate, infotainment, etc. are operated solely through the touchscreen, which can be frustrating. It's a good thing there are physical audio controls and great steering wheel buttons. The gearshift knob can be frustrating to use, since you have to actuate it twice to move into drive or reverse. It's safety-minded but annoying. Likewise, the fancy, knurled drive mode selector is hard to rotate because the diameter is small, and the knurling isn't grippy enough.

Styling

9

 

We absolutely love the way the XC60 looks because it sleeker and more elegant than the XC90, which is bigger and more expensive. Volvo also continues to make some of the best interiors in the business with excellent attention to detail and a high level of originality.

Front: The wide shield grille and the Thor's Hammer headlights look great together. We love that it's not an overly complex front end.

Rear: The signature Volvo crossover taillights look the best on the XC60. We could do without the large bulge in the liftgate between the lights. It could be flattened a bit.

Profile: Short overhangs in the front and rear give it a muscular look, and the raked greenhouse gives the XC60 an athletic appearance from the side.

Cabin: We're in love with the stitched dash, the Orrefors crystal shifter, and the beautiful perforated leather seats. Volvo really stepped up their interior game, and you'd be hard-pressed to find a better one at this price.

Comfort

8.7

 

Volvo does a lot of things right, but seats are chief among them. Other automakers, save for Lexus, could learn a thing or two from the company. No matter what row you sit in, you'll find a supportive well-clad place to settle in.

Front Seats: Volvo's Multicontour seats are fantastic. They offer good adjustability, cushioning, and bolstering. Our tester came with massaging capabilities for the front seats as well, making them even better.

Rear Seats: The rear seats have similar cushioning to the front and the outboard seats offer good contours. The middle seat lacks headroom and legroom and is really only good for kiddos or the vertically challenged.

NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): There's very little noise that makes it to the cabin. Even at high speeds or under heavy acceleration, noise levels are at a minimum. The hybrid system transition from electric to full hybrid mode is not very noticeable.

Visibility: The only complaint is the size of the D-pillar. It makes a pretty big blind spot. Otherwise, visibility in the XC60 is pretty good.

Climate: The two-zone climate control system is excellent, and the heated seats work quickly and powerfully.

Safety

9

 

The XC60 gets top marks in crash tests, as do pretty much all of Volvo's vehicles. The brand's attention to safety and safety technology is at the top of the heap.

IIHS Rating: It earned the Top Safety Pick+ for 2021. Its headlight performance was "acceptable, as was LATCH ease of use, but it nailed "good" in all crash tests and "superior" in accident avoidance technology.

NHTSA Rating: Five stars from the federal government, the highest marks.

Standard Tech: The XC60 comes with collision avoidance, run off road protection and mitigation, lane keeping aid, oncoming lane mitigation, road sign information, airbags and whiplash protection.

Optional Tech: Our tester came with the Advanced Package that includes a Graphical Head-Up Display, Pilot Assist Driver Assistance System w/ Adaptive Cruise Control, and a 360 Surround View Camera.

Storage/Cargo

8

 

While the XC60 isn't exactly cavernous, it does a good job of providing room to store items and cargo, especially, if you don't have second-row passengers and can fold down the seats.

Storage Space: There's plenty of storage inside the cabin, including a retractable door that house a couple of cubbies and two cup holders. The compartment beneath the center armrest is large enough to store other items.

Cargo Room: The XC60 features 29.7 cubic feet of space behind the second row. And 63.3 cubic feet with the second row folded.

Fuel Economy

8.2

 

We drove mostly on local roads, and our gas mileage was quite good, even in Dynamic mode. We're sure we could get better numbers if we weren't so heavy-footed all the time. The range and efficiency would make the XC60 Recharge an excellent road-trip vehicle.

Observed: 37.8 mpg.

Distance Driven: 112 miles.

Audio

9.3

 

Our tester came outfitted with the very pricey but very impressive Bowers & Wilkins premium sound system for $3,200. It provides rich and full-bodied sound to all areas of the cabin and has great adjustability. It's one of the better systems out there. It's just too bad it doesn't come with anything else.



Final Thoughts

The Volvo XC60 Recharge might be renamed, but it continues to be an impressive luxury crossover. We're just not sure it's worth the extra thousands to get the hybrid setup. The all-electric range is pretty much the same as the competition, so there's no major advantage there. The power is impressive, as is the smoothness of the ride. The real differentiator over the competition is the style inside and out. You're better off saving some money and getting the gas version.
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