Volvo XC60 is a superb off-roader that cleans up nicely for city, too

With few exceptions, we loved the 2015.5 Volvo T6 AWD we recently tested. Long a fan of Volvo innovations and safety, this unit did not disappoint, though there were some features that we felt should have been standard, not optional.

What we like at the top of the list on the XC60 are its capabilities for driving off-road. If you regularly read this column, it’s apparent that we like taking vehicles, especially SUVs and crossovers, off-roading, or at least off paved roads.     The XC60 is an exceptional off-roader, largely due to its well-designed AWD system with Instant Traction and Dynamic Stability and Traction Control (DSTC). Add to that a touring chassis (solid multi-link rear with MacPherson struts on the front) with Advanced Stability Control, Roll Stability Control, Corner Traction Control (CTC), Engine Drag Control (EDC), and genuinely reactive power-activated rack-and-pinion steering, this SUV is a dynamic beast off road.

There are other aspects that make the XC60 both fun and usable off road (as well as city driving, for that matter) that include 18-inch all-season tires, electronic brakeforce distribution, a beefy 3.0-L twin-scroll turbo engine (300 HP at 5,600 RPM), and an amazingly smooth six-speed Geartronic automatic transmission with Quick Shift paddle shifters that make it easy to get added power and torque when off-roading (there is a standard eight-speed on the T6 Drive-E FWD model).

From its high-strength steel safety cage to advanced stage air and side curtain bags, to its City Safety low-speed collision avoidance system, the safety features Volvo is known for are plentiful. Not included as standard ($500 option) are child power locks and dual outboard child booster seats with adaptive seatbelts (perhaps should be standard in our view).

Luxury on the XC60 T6 is not overlooked in any way and ranges from 8-way power front seats to leather seating surfaces, dual-zone climate control to heated outside mirrors.

While the base price of $42,400, our XC60 T6 included a major list of standard equipment, though the option list was extensive with a final price of $50,700. The options did include lots of cool features, including a rear park assist camera (again, maybe a standard feature), power retractable outside mirrors, power outlets, adaptive cruise control, collision warning system with full auto braking, pedestrian warning system, distance alert system, lane departure warning, blind spot system with cross traffic alert and lane change alert, plus heated front seats (why not standard?), a Harmon Kardon premium audio system, and more, including a unique grocery bag holder that was more of a dog cage in the cargo area.

 

Outlander Sport always a favorite SUV

     The 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport SE AWC we tested after the Volvo was also a fun utility vehicle to drive on- and off-road. We’ve generally liked the Outlanders and have witnessed them perform well on the Alcan Rally and at other events. While it may not be as fancy as the Volvo XC60, our tester was priced substantially lower and its list of standard features is staggering. Kelley Blue Book’s kkb.com has named it to the “10 Most Affordable SUVs” list for two consecutive years.

From fog lamps to heated side mirrors, heated front seats to Hill Start Assist, the Outlander provides most everything needed for outdoor adventure, including 12-volt power outlets. Safety features abound and the Outlander has government ratings of 4-Star for front crash and 5-Star for side crash.

Only on the SE model is a 6.1-inch touch panel display with a rear-view camera and a standard 140-Watt audio system, though our tester had one option group (Touring Package for $4,900) that included a 710-Watt Rockford Fosgate premium sound system that could knock your socks off. Also in the package was a 7-inch touch screen with a high-definition navigation system that included mapping, traffic, and other features. A panoramic glass roof, among other items, was also part of the option package.

With its 2.0-L MiVEC DOHC, 16-valve engine mated to a six-speed CVT Sportronic transmission, the Outlander has fuel ratings of 24 MPG/city and 30 MPG/highway.

All outlander models, including our All Wheel Control (AWC) tester, have a tight suspension system with MacPherson struts on the front and multi-link rear, both with stabilizer bars. Standard are Traction Control Logic and Active Stability Control that allow for excellent handling and maneuvering in off-road conditions.

The Outlander Sport SE AWC we tested had an MSRP of $24,195 and with the option package was $29,095. In our view (and that of kkb.com), it’s a great value for a usable vehicle that can provide up to 97.5 cubic feet of cargo space. 

Parts & People

Parts & People is published monthly by Automotive Counseling and Publishing Company, Inc., a Colorado corporation, P.O. Box 18731 Denver, CO 80203, 303-765-4664. President-Lance Buchner. Founded by Lance Buchner and Dave Lucia.