Combining SUV practicality with couple-like styling and driving characteristics is no mean feat, but Volvo have managed this with the XC60. The smaller alternative to the XC90, it was launched in 2009, with the second generation hitting the roads in 2017. These Mk2 models are pretty rare on the used market though, so we'll focus on the first generation. This boasts impressive handling and ride quality, plus good off-road ability and practicality. You also get a comfortable, spacious interior and Volvo's typically extensive safety kit - in fact, it's the safest car the Swedish manufacturer have made.
Volvo rarely fail in the exterior design department and the XC60 is no exception. A big boxy SUV wouldn't cut it for a luxury manufacturer like Volvo, and as such the XC60 has a strong but sleek shape. The raised rear and the large grille on the front create an imposing look, yet the smooth curves on the body add style. The exterior spec is generous, with 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights and electric door mirrors with autofolding coming as standard.
You can also bet on a high-quality interior when buying a Volvo, and the XC60 delivers on this front too. The dashboard and centre console have an attractive, minimalist design that makes the controls easy to use. It all feels very plush too, with expensive materials and high build quality. You get plenty of equipment as standard, including full climate control, cruise control, CD stereo with steering wheel control and Bluetooth. There's plenty of scope to upgrade too, with additional accessories including sat nav, heated rear seats and an uprated stereo system.
The XC60 handles better than most offroaders with plenty of grip, enabling you to tackle corners effectively. Most models come with all-wheel-drive, which gives you excellent traction without sacrificing agility on the road, and makes the XC60 very capable on offroad terrain or snow-covered roads. The ride is highly refined and comfortable too, which makes the XC60 a great motorway cruiser. Being an SUV, you get a nice raised driving position too. All in all, this is a 4x4 that's extremely pleasant to drive.
While Volvo have focused on style here, they haven't sacrificed practicality. Boot space is generous and it's easy to load items in as there's no load lip. The rear seats fold down flat too. There's plenty of storage in the front too with a large glovebox and extra compartments dotted here and there.
As always with Volvo, safety is impeccable. All models come with City Safety as standard (operational at speeds up to 19mph), which automatically activates the brakes if there's the danger of a collision with the car in front. You also get DSTC stability control, brake assist and whiplash protection.
Engines and transmissions
The XC60 was released with one petrol engine available, but in reality you're likely to only come across diesels on the used market. These are badged D4 and D5, with the former producing 188bhp and the latter giving 218bhp. The D4 comes with front-wheel-drive, and is economical, offering over 49mpg. The D5 offers better performance, all-wheel-drive and more pulling power. It reaches 62mph in less than 9 seconds and has similar economy of around 50mpg. There are plenty of manual and automatic models on the used market, with the six-speed automatic Geartronic a slick option.
If you want a 4x4 that's stylish, you can't go wrong with the XC60. For an SUV it's great to drive and you'll certainly enjoy the plush interior. Yet it doesn't sacrifice practicality, having plenty of storage space, plentiful safety equipment and solid offroad ability. Add in good fuel economy and great motorway performance, and you've got a car that's ideal for drivers who need to meet the demands of family life, but also want to drive something of real quality.