2010 Volvo XC60: From Sweden (to San Francisco) with LOV
Hearts intact, we’re leaving San Francisco where the January sky is unseasonably blue and wide above our panoramic moon roof and the lip of the Pacific Ocean tickles the imagination beneath the driver’s window of the 2010 Volvo XC60. My driving partner and I are making our way north along meandering roadways of the panoramic 101 from our starting destination at Cavallo Point for serious launch business. It’s one of those days where this job doesn’t feel like work, with chirpy conversation in a comfortable make and model.
We’re joined by a fleet of test cars uniform in spec and in color for this product launch. As a pack, we embody the design hallmarks of the Swedish brand – clean, clean, clean. The overall aesthetic is earthy and the lines along the peripheral flow symmetrically, and are never bulbous. “We work holistically to find the right kind of character for the car,” Volvo designer Doug Frasher told us in an earlier presentation, emphasizing the placement of the emblem on the front end, the protective waistline traced along the under body of the vehicle and the elliptical front form framed by vertical facing DNA lights. The design is proudly and intentionally Scandinavian in character. “Swedes see what light brings to form we’re sort of abstractly interpreting Scandinavian design.” In this abstraction is the effort to emphasize the all-wheel drive character.”
Drive partner and I are mostly girl talking on this scenic drive, commenting sparingly on the performance issues of the all-wheel drive XC60, but that’s not because we’re absentminded or uninterested. There’s little to criticize about the ride and handling of the XC60 – it does what it’s supposed to do — move people securely, soundly and stridently. The action is buoyed by the extra mustard of the low-end torque and despite the bends and weaves on the road ahead, the XC60 keeps up and responds with dynamism that keeps us satisfied with the confident 3 liter T6 responsible for 281 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. A slight drawback for the eco-conscious is the so-so fuel economy — 16 mpg on the streets and 22 mpg on the highway. Not spectacular by the green crowd’s standard, but the engine uses standard gasoline and not premium fuel, adding to projected savings in this luxury compact segment.
We’re cozy in the comfortable two-tone leather seats of the XC60 in a spacious cabin. It’s a gorgeous day, and heated seats don’t scorch, adding that extra bit of warmth to the brisk morning air. While part of our designated driving route is more attuned to a thrill seeking drop top, Volvo isn’t really about aiming for kicks. Instead, the XC60 hangs on, dipping and weaving despite the dizzying effects of California curves.
In fact, we learn that “Volvo wants to design a car that doesn’t crash.” Apparently, they’re almost there. Years of collecting massive amounts of statistics on accidents continues to pay dividends for Volvo’s leading safety technology integration. They’ve turned safety into a set of theorems, deconstructing accidents from non-conflict phase to the post crash state in the Safety Crash Center. In a later product presentation, we’re subject to a video streaming bits of factual data based upon careful research. (Did you know 75 % of collisions happen at speeds below 30 miles per hour?)
This brings us to City Safety— Volvo’s new definitive function on the XC60 that stops itself. A City Safety demonstration was set up in the Cavallo Point parking lot prior to our excursion. We giggled as we drove at a low speed of 15 mph into barricades, but make no mistake, the car came to an abrupt halt without the slightest touch of a brake. This function is good for distracted drivers of all makes and models, but is exclusive to Volvo.
In this category of high-end compact utility Volvo takes on stiff competition going up against the Infiniti EX35, Acura RDX, Mercedes-Benz GLK (which will be available in a attractive diesel package), BMW X-3 and soon the Audi Q5. XC60 goes on sale in March with pricing slightly higher than Acura RDX ($33,895) and less than the BMW X-3 ($39,700) – a game breaker for some even in the luxury segment in these fickle car-buying times. At $38,025, Volvo is a formidable athlete in this heat with plenty of standard features including the aforementioned City Safety, SIRIUS satellite radio, HD Radio, Bluetooth and the Panorama moonroof.
When it comes to brass tacks, where Volvo XC60 find it’s edge is on overall safety conscious details in a respectable and stalwart product. While safety is usually a priority associated with ladies and families with young kids, it’s worth noting that buyers may want to consider the savings associated with avoiding minor accidents. Who wants to shell out extra cash for a fender bender? Back at the wheel we arrive at our lunch destination, before parting ways as I made my way back to San Francisco. Later under a spooky night sky, we set sail for part two of our Bay Area adventure – a boat ride to Alcatraz. Of course, we have to promise to write promising reviews, or get left behind on the Rock. Muahhh! Nah, not really. We’ve got California LOV for XC60.
Related articles by Zemanta
Under the Golden Gate Bridge: Journey for the Volvo XC60 (gotryke.com)