The T8 eAWD blends two electric motors with a 2.0-litre internal-combustion engine to produce 400 horsepower and an estimated 4.2 l/100 km in combined city/highway driving. Photo: Volvo

Is it a wagon? Is it a utility vehicle? Does is matter?

Volvo has maintained a strong relationship with buyers who appreciate understated elegance along with the automaker’s abiding concern for safety

Through decades of ups and a few downs, Volvo has maintained a strong relationship with buyers who appreciate understated elegance along with the automaker’s abiding concern for safety. The 2020 XC60 epitomizes both of these values along with leading-edge technological advancements.

The utility vehicle is one of a quartet of Volvos with a 60 suffix in the name, including the S60 sedan, V60 wagon and V60 Cross Country wagon.

The XC60 (XC stands for cross country) seems somewhat duplicitous since the V60 Cross Country also comes with a hike-up stance, but the five-passenger XC falls into the tall-wagon bracket. It’s sort of a junior version of the seven-passenger XC90 and with the current utility-vehicle craze will ultimately be more popular than the V60.

In terms of design, however, the V60 and V60 Cross Country arguably get the nod over the square-ish XC60, but the XC dominates in terms of cargo and passenger capacity even though it’s noticeably shorter.

You know a Volvo is a Volvo by the way the interior is designed, especially the XC60’s standard leather-covered seats with power lumbar support. The suggestion here is that aching backs after long drives just might become a thing of the past.

A vertically positioned 23-centimetre touch-screen is the centrepiece of a clean and tidy dashboard that’s notably absent of knobs and dials. The XC60 retains an actual shift lever instead of buttons.

The standard eight-speed automatic transmission is part of the three available powertrains.

A turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder — called the T5 — is found in the base all-wheel-drive Momentum. It makes 250 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque.

The T6 R-Design’s turbocharged and supercharged version of the 2.0 puts out 316 horsepower and 295 pound-feet. At lower engine speeds, the supercharger alone provides the boost, but above 3,000 rpm the turbocharger joins in.

The top performer is the T8 Inscription eAWD plug-in hybrid that puts out 400 horsepower and 472 pound-feet of torque. The system’s front and rear electric motors — supported by a lithium-ion battery pack — contributes 87 horsepower to the hybrid’s output and can operate independently of the internal-combustion engine for up to a claimed 27 kilometres.

Opt for the Polestar Engineered and the T8’s output climbs to 415 horses and 494 pound-feet. Polestar is a Volvo offshoot that specializes in electric vehicles. The T8 eAWD has the greatest output of all available powertrains and also has the lowest fuel consumption. Volvo estimates 4.2 l/100 km in combined city and highway driving. By comparison, the T5 is rated at 9.9 l/100 km, combined.

Pricing for the Momentum starts at $48,400 and, along with the leather seats, includes a panoramic sunroof and power-operated tailgate.

The R-Design has a sport-tuned suspension, blacked-out grille and trim, premium leather seats and 19-inch wheels.

The Inscription is topped up with chrome exterior trim, unique “Driftwood” interior finishings, Harmon Kardon-brand sound system and there’s more electronic active-safety features to help avoid collisions, or at least mitigate them.

At the pinnacle of the XC60 lineup, the $91,200 Polestar Engineered comes with beefier brakes, 21-inch wheels (22s are optional), high-end Bowers and Wilkins audio package, and shock absorbers that are manually adjustable to one of 22 firmness settings. The fact that they can’t be electronically controlled from inside the XC60 likely means that few buyers will bother fiddling with them once the novelty wears off.

On the options list is Volvo’s semi-autonomous Pro Pilot assist that handles steering and braking on well-marked highways at speeds up to 130 km/h.

If your taste in luxury automobiles tends to eschew the usual mainstream contenders from Germany and Japan, Volvo is certainly worth considering and the XC60 makes a solid starting point.

What you should know: 2020 Volvo XC60

Type: Four-door, all-wheel-drive utility vehicle

Engines (h.p.): 2.0-litre DOHC I-4, turbocharged (250); 2.0-litre DOHC I-4, supercharged and turbocharged (316); 2.0-litre DOHC I-4, supercharged and turbocharged with electric assist (400/415)

Transmission: Eight-speed automatic

Market position: For much of its existence, Volvo has taken an uncommon approach in automobile design and engineering. Vehicles such as the XC60 dare to be different in terms of powertrains, styling and safety content.

Points: Attractive redesign is as good or better than the competition. • Top-notch interior comfort reinforces luxury image. • Unorthodox forced-induction systems for the 2.0 engine creates more instant throttle-pedal response. • Standard content begins at the luxury level and just goes up. • An odd mix of standard and optional active- safety systems. • Plug-in hybrid is tops in power and fuel economy.

Active safety: Blind-spot detection with backup assist (std.); active cruise control (std.); pedestrian detection (std.); lane-keeping mitigation (opt.)

L/100 km (city/hwy) 11.2/8.3 (base 2.0); Base price (incl. destination) $48,400

BY COMPARISON

Cadillac XT5

Base price: $46,900

Updated 2020 version gets a four-cylinder base engine; V-6 is now optional.

Lincoln Nautilus

Base price: $57,800

Former MKX can be had with a turbocharged I-4 or optional twin-turbo V-6.

Audi Q5

Base price: $48,400

A plug-in hybrid joins the turbo four-cylinder and supercharged V-6 for 2020.

If you’re interested in new or used vehicles, be sure to visit TodaysDrive.com to find your dream car today!

-written by Malcom Gunn, Managing Partner at Wheelbase Media

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