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Saturday, September 28, 2013

Experience with Volvo XC60 D5 AWD after 10.000 km

Discussions about different brands between Saab fans are happening very often these days and for many reasons. Some of them can't wait and have to buy. I had to buy as well, because the leasing of my company car expired. My choice was this XC60. It is is my fourth Volvo, my first SUV and this is the  experience after 10.000 kilometers.

It was produced a couple of months before the current facelift. It has a D5 engine (215 HP / 420 Nm), manual transimission and AWD Haldex gen 4. The middle level of equipment.

How does it drive 

The current D5 engine is the strongest diesel in the offer. It gives the car an acceleration time of 8.5s (0-100kmh) and quite good performance in 80-120 kmh and similar accelerations. It is not a racer, but it's not lazy. For me as a petrol fan is diesel lazy by definition, but this was a positive surprise. In easy terrain when a hill comes, the engine doesn't suffer.

I like the chassis as well. As an SUV newbie I was very afraid of the behavior in fast curves. But no problems, it's stable, it doesn't float and there aren't no tendencies to fly out of the curve. The suspension is adjusted somewhere in the middle between soft and hard.

The AWD came to work rarely until now. In my previous XC70 I had head twirling feeling, not in this one. The snow season arrives, so no experience with snow drive.

It's stable on country roads, highways as well as easy terrain. I have no experience with harder terrain and probably will never get one. Check this video (start at ~4:30) what it can do. A hill descent control is in the car.

Result : stable in all intended road and surface conditions. Comfortable. Very good.

How does it feel

The interior is a significant contributor to the good feeling in a car. This one is plastic, the materials used inside are below the standard. Many details are like from chinese flea market. This was a huge dissapointment. The buttons on the dashboard were bigger in the previous generations of Volvos, these ones seems to be designed by a mobile app designer. Small, sometimes without sense. Volvo ruined the "user interface" big time.

There are also parts of aluminium on the dashboard, which in the "right" angle with the sun, flashes the reflected sunlight directly into your eyes. Which genius invented this ?

So : if you go for an XC60, an upgraded dashboard is advisable. I had no budget for it.

The feeling to sit in an SUV, higher than normal, is great. You have a better view of the road and feeling of safety. This one has a sunroof, nothing fancy, just fine. It starts to be loud after 80 kmh, as well as all other opened windows. It's a bit soon, on S60 i closed the sunroof at 100 kmh. But it's ok.

Volvo always could produce (or choose) good seats. The XC60 is not an exception, the seats are very comfortable and have good set-up options also for me with 191cm height. No problems after multiple hours drive as well. Ain important and big plus.

They degraded the sound of the basic stereo. It was a rule of thumb, that even the lowest level of speakers had a very solid sound in all previous generations. So I didn't ordered an upgraded one, which was a mistake. If you are sensitive to this, consider an upgrade here.

The trunk is large. It's large enough for 4 people on vacation as well as for a family with 1-2 children.

Result : Volvo made here many compromises. There isn't a single thing for which you would start "develop relationship" to the car. Nothing special, nothing fancy, mostly dissapointing.

Onboard electronic systems

I've kicked out all the fancy assistants. for lanes, BLIS and so on. Besides the common things (ABS etc) only one thing left : City Safety, which breaks in low speeds when sensing a crash. It actually works well on ramps while leaving a parking spot. Fine, if it saves crashes and pedestrians, it's ok.

All on-board electronics has a slight delay when changing something. Sound volume, settings of the car etc. As if Volvo used a cheap slow processors for it. You have to get used to it. But why ...

In spite of that it has a very good GPS navigation system. Maps are up to date, complicated crossroads etc are easy to understand. It talks a bit too much, but sometimes it's necessary. It has many settings possibilities to match your needs.

All the bluetooth equipment works very fine. The phone calls are clean and loud (in contrast to my Saab). With a very positive surprise I found out, that it plays mp3's from my Android phone wireless and it is possible to change songs from the steering wheel. It seems that some features are dependent on the Android versions, for example from the old phone (Android 2.x) it could load the track list, not so from the new phone (4.1.2). Maybe at the next service check they upgrade the firmware, which I was used to get for previous Volvos.

It does have the AUX and USB inputs, which is great, if you don't have or don't want to use the bluetooth fancy thingie. 

The start-stop system (DRIVe) works fine. If you stop at the red light, it restarts the engine when you engage the clutch. In most situations it's ok to have the system working, except traffic jams with continuous slow movement. You can switch it off with a single button. It striked a couple of times at the beginning, as it would learn something, now it's ok. It starts fast but the turbo definitely dislikes the frequent restarts.

Result : It's fine, but you have to get used to a delay for most of the onboard systems react on you. Very good GPS.

The not understood :

Smokers be aware, you will have ash on the back seat, whatever you do. That wasn't in that extent in the previous Volvos and it isn't in my Saab.

With open windows it is loud, it has something to do with aerodynamics. The engine sound is dampen, but I've seen better dumped diesels (bmw5).

It does not have the coolant / engine heat indicator. Cold starts and winter made easy. Even better when someone ruins the engine after a while.

It does not have daily headlights so the "Auto light" feature is useless. The two additional headlights in the front are just a decoration.

Economy and value for money

It wasn't cheap, with the middle level equipment (Momentum) and a few extras, the list price was around 45.000 €. I could get a discount but because of the interior it was still too much.

The officially claimed combined fuel consumption of the D5 is 6.5 litres / 100 km. The reality is 8.4 litres. I didn't reset the computer for 5.000 km. Than I did a series of resets and tried to get this number down on several longer trips. Without success. Hm.

Result : The XC60 is too expensive and Volvo is not saying the truth on fuel consumption.


Pros :
  • good engine
  • stable chassis
  • safety features
  • SUV feeling
  • GPS and bluetooth properly implemented

Cons : 
  • interior materials and sun light reflection from aluminium dashboard parts
  • low quality sound of the basic set
  • non existing coolant / engine heat indicator
  • delay on on-board electronics settings
  • price and fuel economy

Overall : 
It's exactly at the edge. It drives good but there is too much saved money and compromises in the interior. It requires to get used to that. It has not a single thing for which I would start to love the car. It's no problem to drive it the next 5 years or 150.000 km but this XC60 generation is simply a car from getting safely from point A to point B and that's it. The fuel numbers aren't true but still somewhere in the expected range. The XC60 does, what is required but nothing more. Is it a good aproach to keep the customer with Volvo for the next purchase ? I doubt.