Behind the Wheel

2020 Volvo XC60 Review: Sporty, practical, good looking, and extraordinarily safe

Americans don't like station wagons, but they do love SUVs.

Photo courtesy of Volvo Car USA

When people find out what I do, they invariably ask me what car I own. Presumably they feel this will reveal some great insight into the automotive world, or they just are curious that, of the many hundreds of cars I've driven and reviewed over the years, which one stuck out so much that I decided I needed to have it.

The answer is, of course, a Volvo wagon. Journalists love Volvo wagons. I once borrowed one from Volvo for a month (it was brown, of course), and my dad had one when I was growing up (and then another one when I was learning to drive as a teenager). I've written about them before. I have a 2016 Volvo V60 and I just drove it from New Hampshire to San Diego over four-and-a-half days and it was absolutely lovely.

2020 Volvo XC60 Inscription The stylish Volvo XC60 is the little brother of the XC90.Photo courtesy of Volvo Car USA

New Hampshire to San Diego is a three-thousand-mile jaunt and is about as far as you can go from one end of the country to the other. I also managed to visit Oklahoma and Arkansas, two of the states I hadn't visited before, on the way (Remaining: Alaska, Hawaii, Oregon, Montana, and North Dakota).

Volvo wagons are also sporty, eminently practical, rather good looking, and extraordinarily safe. Curiously, they're also rather unpopular here in the States because there exists something that Americans love even more than sporty, practical wagons: the Sport Utility Vehicle.

Luckily, in addition to the V60 wagon that I own, Volvo makes the XC60 SUV. It's the mid-size variant and is probably the vehicle I recommend the most when people ask me which car to buy because it's sporty, practical, good looking, and extraordinarily safe. It's not as good looking or as sporty as the V60, but it's arguably even more practical and equally safe.

In Volvo-parlance, the V in V60 stands for "Versatile" and the XC in XC60 stands for Cross Country, which is also an off-roady variant of the V60. Confused yet? Don't be.

2020 Volvo XC60 Inscription The rear of the SUV blends it in with the rest of the Volvo crowd.Photo courtesy of Volvo Car USA

These days, Volvo sells sedans (S), wagons (V), and SUVs (XC). The number at the end tells us how big it is (40, 60, 90). So, XC60 is the medium sized SUV which means that's the one to buy. The XC90 is larger and drives like it. Sure, there are three rows and more cargo space, but if you don't need three rows, you should buy the XC60 because it's far nicer to drive and quite a bit nicer on the wallet as well.

My tester was a top-tier Inscription model with almost all the bells and whistles, with a "T6" engine — that translates to a super- and turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder unit that makes 316 horsepower. It's incredibly clever and they've been building that engine for more than five years now. In one form or another, it powers every car that Volvo makes. There's also a T5 variant that is solely turbocharged and a plug-in hybrid T8 variant that goes more than 20 miles on a charge (I reviewed the XC90 T8 earlier this year).

But like with the XC60, the T6 is also the engine sweet spot. It purrs like a kitten and propels you from zero to 60 mph faster than you expect. I don't quote the actual time here because what does it matter? This is a family SUV. It's got plenty of go when it needs it.

2020 Volvo XC60 Inscription Elegant finishes and soft leather make the XC60 a fully luxurious vehicle.Photo courtesy of Volvo Car USA

The Inscription trim is the luxury version and it isn't strictly necessary, but includes niceties like four-zone climate control, fancy interior lighting, auto-dimming mirrors, power-folding rear seats, navigation, and some other stuff. The Advanced Package is $2,500 and includes Volvo's Pilot Assist driver assist system which I would have enjoyed greatly on my cross-country drive. It's an advanced lanekeeping system that makes driving on the highway considerably less taxing because the car does a bunch of the steering for you. It's not hands-free, but it's close. Hand's-free driving is coming on the next-gen XC90.

The Luxury package is another $2,200 and includes extraordinarily comfortable seats that massage you, but isn't strictly necessary if you're on a budget. The 4-corner air suspension ($1800) and 20-inch wheels ($800) are also skippable items, though I'd be hard-pressed to pass up on the exquisite $3,200 Bowers and Wilkins premium sound system. It can perfectly replicate the acoustics of the Gothenburg Concert Hall which is a nifty party trick.

All in, my tester XC60 was $65,740 delivered straight from Gothenburg, Sweden. If you're frugal and willing to sacrifice some luxe features, you can get the XC60 Momentum trim down into the low-50's or even high-40's.

2020 Volvo XC60 Inscription The rear seats are just as comfortable as the front seats.Photo courtesy of Volvo Car USA

Whichever you buy, the XC60 will keep you safe and treat you right, and you can't ask for more.

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The Bugatti Chiron Sport "Les Légendes du Ciel" edition pays homage to vintage aircraft.

Photo courtesy of Bugatti

In the aftermath of World War I, company founder Ettore Bugatti showcased the first three vehicles made by the company that bore his name. They were race cars and Bugatti found itself at the pinnacle of the sport very quickly.

By 1930, the company would begin its relationship with the aerospace industry, first with the Bugatti 100P, which never actually flew due to World War II, but served as the inspiration for a number of patents that are filed by the company. The plane went into storage as the Second World War kicked off and Mr. Bugatti would never again work on it during his lifetime.

Bugatti Chiron Sport "Les Légendes du Ciel" edition

Photo courtesy of Bugatti

Bugatti is honoring its racing and aviation past with a new series of Chiron Sport models dubbed "Les Légendes du Ciel". The drivers who piloted the Bugattis to success in the early 1900s were often time multitalented with resumes declaring them flying aces, daredevils, and technically skilled pilots.

"Bugatti has had close associations with aviation since the company was established more than 110 years ago. Many successful Bugatti racing drivers, such as Albert Divo, Robert Benoist and Bartolomeo 'Meo' Costantini, flew for the French Air Force, the French aviator legend Roland Garros privately drove a Bugatti Type 18 to be as fast on the road as in the air," says Stephan Winkelmann, President of Bugatti. "It is therefore almost an obligation for us today to pay tribute to the legends of that time and dedicate a special edition to them."

Each of the new models features a special, matte gray "Gris Serpent" paint job, which is inspired by the exterior color of aircrafts from the 1920s. The color extends front to rear with high-contrast, which gloss stripe running up the center. The front wings are adorned with the "Les Légendes du Ciel" logo. The "Le Bleu-Blanc-Rouge" tricolor decorates the front area of the side sills made of exposed black carbon fiber.

At the front is Bugatti's traditional horseshoe radiator grille, finished in gloss black. The grille mesh is made of laser-cut and deep-drawn aluminum, and constructed in a dynamic pattern that that is repeated on the car's leather seats. Entry lights project the edition logo on the ground at entry while "Les Légendes du Ciel" logo on the middle console inlays.

Bugatti has covered the engine with black exposed carbon fiber with contrasting white lettering. The material continues at the back where black exposed carbon fibre and a black-coated exhaust trim cover made of 3D printed, high-temperature-resistant Inconel dominate.

The car's interior is almost entirely upholstered in leather. The leather's light brown color was chosen to be reminiscent of the natural leather in early aircrafts. On the door panels there is a hand-sketched racing scene between the Nieuport 17 aircraft and a Bugatti Type 13.

The new Bugatti Chiron Sport "Les Légendes du Ciel" edition is limited to 20 vehicles. Every model is independently numbered and costs $3.5 million.

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Volvo has teamed up with the City of Gothenburg to create an emissions-free zone.

Photo courtesy of Volvo Car USA

Volkswagen recently announced that it's turning a Greek island green. Volvo is taking their efforts a little closer to home. Volvo Cars has teamed up with the City of Gothenburg, in Sweden, to create new urban zones that will be used as testbeds for future sustainable technologies. Volvo's headquarters is located just west of the town center.

Gothenburg Green City Zone aims to create an emissions-free zone within Sweden's largest port city, taking a holistic approach that will combine the efforts of many technological and government entities working together. To achieve this, the partnership is looking toward climate-neutral transportation modes and a connected infrastructure. As part of the testbed, Volvo plans to run robotaxis operated by its fully-owned mobility provider M, within the zone.

2-Volvo XC40 Recharge The all-electric Volvo XC40 Recharge recently went on sale in the U.S.Photo courtesy of Volvo Car USA

"Essentially, we initiate a project that intends to limit the number of cars in the city – which is fully in line with our company's purpose," said Håkan Samuelsson, chief executive of Volvo Cars. "This is already proven by our investment in the shared mobility service M, who have developed proprietary A.I. technology to improve efficiency and utilization. We want to be involved in creating the cities of the future and keep them livable. This initiative gives us an opportunity to do that and take on responsibility in our own hometown at the same time."

Technology that will be tested in the zone includes geo-enabling solutions and services ensuring that cars in the zone operate in electric-only mode and remain within speed limits, as well as traffic infrastructure that can connect to active safety features in cars and share information between road users. Audi is testing similar vehicle-to-infrastructure technology in Georgia and Virginia.

"We want to use our knowledge and technology to help create a future city that is electrified, connected, shared and climate-neutral," said Henrik Green, Chief Technology Officer at Volvo Cars. "This is an opportunity to lead by example, by testing new technologies and services in a live large scale environment, we can show that if it is possible here, it is possible anywhere."

The partnership is also exploring fully electric mobility hubs, autonomous taxis, and an easy-to-use charging network for electric cars. One aspect of this technology may be park-and-charge sans cord, a method that is getting tested in Norway right now.

Volvo isn't the first city to develop an incubator for emerging tech. Toyota recently announced that it will expand the company's research into renewable energy by creating a city at the base of Mt. Fuji.

The Green City Zone initiative starts in spring 2021 and will gradually scale up going forward.

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