New looks and new engines underpin the refreshed Volvo XC60 which continues to prove just how luxurious yet family-friendly an SUV the brand can build.

Volvo has had a real winner on its hands for some time with the XC60, which was quick to sweep up awards here in Australia and overseas when the second-gen model first launched in 2017, and has been the company’s best selling model globally since then. Now, though, the XC60 has been given its most noteworthy update since launching, with it now sporting revised looks and a host of new engine options. Australian-delivered models are also now assembled in China, where Volvo’s owner Geely is based, rather than Sweden.

These updates were all ushered in for the 2022 model year which is the datestamp of the B6 R-Design model tested here. However, for 2023, the range has been reworked slightly with this model becoming the B6 Dark. Little changes between the two other than an air purifier, heated steering wheel, power-folding rear headrests, and a luggage net being added as standard equipment to the 2023 model; the removal of the R-Design’s aluminium sports pedals; and a price rise from $82,490 to $85,990, although it still undercuts rivals including the Audi Q5, BMW X3, Jaguar F-Pace, Mercedes-Benz GLC, and Porsche Macan in like-for-like spec. The Genesis GV70 2.5T and Lexus NX 350 are about all that manage to beat the XC60 on price.

What the 2022 model tested here already brought with it, though, was the signs of Volvo’s future direction as an electric-only brand – something it’s targeting in Australia by 2026, and globally by 2030. While there’s no question that the facelift the Volvo XC60 has been given makes it look sleeker and sportier than ever, you’ll note the lack of any exhaust outlets in the rear bumper. The new engines it features are all electrified to some degree as well – the B5 and B6 are mild hybrid turbo four-pots, while the T8 Recharge is a plug-in hybrid with 90km of pure electric range.

There are a few changes inside as well, although the overall layout of the XC60 remains practically unchanged. The principal difference you’ll notice is the new infotainment system which runs on the Android Automotive platform, although the size of the 9.0-inch portrait-oriented touchscreen in the centre of the dash and the 12.3-inch instrument display ahead of the driver remain unchanged.

What is good about the new system is that it has its own internet connection for using Google Maps, downloading updates, streaming music through Spotify, downloading apps in the Google Play store, and using “Hey Google” voice recognition to control certain car functions such as the heated seats. The system isn’t too bad, but it is limited in what apps it offers.

It’s also far more difficult to control vehicle settings with as well – instead of swiping across to a menu of buttons like Volvo’s old system had, you’ve got to deep dive through menus to find the same functions. The instrument cluster is limited in its flexibility as well – all you can do is turn the map on or off, and access the simple trip computer, with no ability to adjust the layout beyond that.

The only other noticeable changes inside are to be found on the centre console where there’s now a wireless phone charger hidden alongside the cupholders under a retractable cover, along with a new shifter design taken from Volvo’s electric and plug-in hybrid models. The stubby leather-wrapped shifter may look quite modern, but it rather frustratingly requires a couple of pulls to first go into Neutral before selecting Drive. This is something that isn’t an issue in the C40 Recharge – it simply goes straight into Drive with the first pull – so here’s hoping Volvo updates this in all other models that use this shifter.

These are all minor gripes in the grand scheme of things, however, and ones I only raise given Volvo is a company that has always wanted to continue improving and being at the forefront in the automotive space. In that sense, the Volvo XC60 still shows why it’s so popular as tech quirks aside, Volvo continues to prove that no one does interior ergonomics better. The driving position is perfect, the seats are perfectly sculpted and supportive, and there’s plenty of storage space to be found in all the right places.

Rather obviously being aimed at families, the XC60 features something that will catch the attention of parents – built-in booster seats that pop up out of the rear pew. There’s also a big 483-litre boot which should easily swallow up a pram and some shopping or school bags, although it is down slightly on the 505 litres it used to be. The only other mark against it in this regard is it not having a lever to drop the rear seats from the boot; to fold them flat, you’ll have to do it through the doors on either side.

Families will also take comfort in its strong list of safety equipment – which includes everything from a 360-degree camera and autonomous emergency braking to the semi-autonomous ‘Pilot Assist’ lane centring system – and unsurprising five-star ANCAP rating with adult and child occupant protection scores of 98 percent and 87 percent respectively.

I must commend the interior materials for feeling top-notch throughout the cabin of the XC60 as well, with it feeling thoughtfully premium from top to bottom – there’s genuinely nothing that feels at all cheap in this cabin. Granted, a few features such as the amazing Bowers & Wilkins audio system and panoramic sunroof are optional, but it’s still a well-rounded and well-equipped package regardless.

It’s how the Volvo XC60 drives that’s the most noticeable difference, however, as the new mild hybrid ‘B’ engines offer a few big upgrades over their old ‘T’ equivalents, especially so in the case of the B6 tested here. A 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol unit, it features a turbocharger and an electric supercharger, along with an integrated starter generator (ISG) in place of a traditional starter motor; the T6 that came before it instead used a turbocharger and a mechanical supercharger.

Power is rated at 220kW at 5400rpm and 420Nm from 2100-4800rpm, both outputs which are down compared with the T6, but it still manages the 0-100km/h sprint in a hot hatch-like 6.2 seconds. This is no doubt helped by the eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive system, both of which are standard across the entire Australian XC60 range.

There’s no question that what the new B6 engine lacks in power versus the T6, it makes up for with its newfound responsiveness. In traffic, you’ll notice the ISG sees the start-stop system fire the engine back to life with telepathic speed after you’ve been sat at a red light. On the move, the instant boost delivered by the electric supercharger easily adds to this engine’s peppiness by offsetting the lag of the exhaust driven turbo, which when it finally spools only makes it feel even more eager.

Progress is complemented by a rather fruity exhaust note as well – funny given the lack of visible exhaust outlets – which is a rather sad reminder of what we’ll lose in the electric future. It’s accompanied by some surprisingly aggressive barks on upshifts as the eight-speed auto quickly and proficiently swaps ratios. On the whole, the transmission tune is very much worthy of commendation as it always seemed to choose the right gear and not get caught out at all, although it would be nice if there was a set of paddles on the steering wheel to instruct it with yourself.

Dynamically, the XC60 is as pleasant as you’d expect, with its light but responsive and informative steering helping it feel manoeuvrable in tight city streets but controllable and easy to place on a backroad. There are no real drive modes to alter the XC60’s performance with now, but you can make the steering feel a bit firmer if you want, although it necessitates clumsily diving through menus in the infotainment system as mentioned earlier.

My tester was also fitted with the optional air suspension system with active chassis control (it’s only standard on the T8 Recharge) which really gives the XC60 a brilliantly split personality. In its normal setting, it simply soaks up city street potholes and speed bumps with aplomb, but flick it to its firm setting – buried in the same menu as that for the steering – and it suddenly feels taut and rigid and eager in the bends. It’s the ideal blend of sporty and sophisticated, which is just the way I like things.

Of course, the new engine isn’t just here for responsiveness – it’s here for improved fuel economy as well. Except… it actually isn’t because the B6’s 8.0L/100km is identical to the old T6’s claim. Although I could match that figure on some individual drives, after 500km behind the wheel in a mix of conditions I only managed 9.9L/100km. At least with a new 71-litre fuel tank, up from 60, you’ll be able to go a fair bit further than before between fuel stops. The bigger fuel tank will no doubt appeal to caravaners who are well catered for with the XC60’s impressive 2400kg towing capacity.

Like most brands now, Volvo offers a five-year unlimited-kilometre warranty on the XC60. Servicing is required every 12 months/15,000km, although you can pre-pay for the first three services at a cost of $1750, or for the first five services for $3000.

Really, the Volvo XC60 is a car that leaves very little to be desired. Not only is it easy to see why it’s been as successful as it has been thus far, Volvo has also managed to give it a second wind and keep it not only relevant but seriously competitive in today’s market, especially given it manages to undercut almost all of its rivals on price while feeling just as premium as the best of them, if not more so.

It is a bit bittersweet to think that this will be among the last crop of petrol-powered Volvos to come to Australia given there’s just over three years to go until the brand’s EV-only deadline for Down Under, but there’s no doubt that when it comes to internal combustion, Volvo will be going out on a definite high with cars like the XC60.

And that, really, makes the verdict on the XC60 B6 all the more simple. If you’re interested, buy one while you still can.

2022 Volvo XC60 B6 R-Design List Price: $82,490 | As Tested: $91,840
  • 8/10
    Performance - 8/10
  • 8.5/10
    Ride & Handling - 8.5/10
  • 8/10
    Tech & Features - 8/10
  • 9/10
    Practicality - 9/10
  • 8/10
    Value for Money - 8/10

Pros: Smooth and responsive new engine, interior feels premium from top to bottom, feels sporty yet sophisticated on the road, built-in booster seats are a big plus for young families
Cons: New infotainment system lacks flexibility and is at-times fiddly, not as economical as promised, boot size is down ever so slightly

In a nutshell: With Volvo set on moving to an EV-only lineup in Australia by 2026, the XC60 B6 will be among the last of its kind. Volvo is going out on a high with cars like this, however, as it feels every bit a luxury car yet still ticks all the right family SUV boxes. If you’re interested, buy one while you still can.

Full Disclosure: The vehicle tested here was provided by Volvo Cars Australia for one week with a full tank of fuel.

Patrick Jackson
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