We’re a few months into testing our, and so far, so good. Since its late last year, this electrified ‘ute is proving comfortable, capable and reasonably frugal, too. Thanks to frequent charging and a lot of short trips that barely challenge its 20-ish-mile all-electric range, we’ve managed 37.6 miles per gallon in our first 1,900 miles. That’s more than fair for an SUV this comfortable and quick.
Volvo’s T8 plug-in hybrid powertrain delivers 400 horsepower and 472 pound-feet of torque, enough to propel the XC60 forward with no lack of gusto when prompted. And with a fresh set of Nokian Hakkapeliitta R3 snow tires fitted, it’s proving plenty surefooted in any conditions. But I’m going to hold off on writing out detailed impressions on inclement driving capability until next month, because recently I had the chance to see how the XC60 stacks up against what is probably it’s stiffest competition: Volvo’s own V60 Cross Country.
Our long-term 2021 Volvo XC60 meets a V60 Cross Country
V60s are a fairly rare breed in the US. If you see one, it’ll probably be in the familiar, lifted Cross Country flavor, a designation that’s become iconic in most regions of the northern US. Park the taller XC60 next to the V60 and you’ll quickly see there’s more the same than different when it comes to styling. However, the V60 has slightly more drama in its lines. That’s particularly true around the rear fenders, creased and proud on the wagon and rather more understated on the SUV. Beyond that, if you gave the V60 the proverbial vertical stretch, you wouldn’t be too far off from the shape of the XC60.
The XC60 stands 14.4 inches taller than the wagon, and is 3 inches wider, too. However, the V60 is the longer of the two, by nearly 4 inches. It has a 0.4-inch longer wheelbase, as well.
The longer, lower profile is echoed inside the V60. While there’s no shortage of headroom in the Cross Country, it’s definitely more streamlined and you can immediately tell you’re sitting lower. It’s the old sense of sitting on vs. sitting in, with your hips down closer to the roll center of the V60 than the XC60. Mind you, in Cross Country trim, the V is hardly a nimble thing, but it certainly is the more engaging of the two — despite giving up 150 hp in T5 guise. A 700-pound weight savings helps, though. (The bulk of that is thanks to the hybrid system and battery pack in the T8. With the same drivetrain, the XC60 is only about 110 pounds heavier.)
However, when it comes to ride quality, here the XC60 has the upper hand. That’s despite the optional, 20-inch wheels on our SUV. All that extra weight from the hybrid system probably helps to some degree. The Cross Country is definitely a supple, luxurious cruiser, but the XC60 handles those frost heaves with a little less fuss.
As far as the two interiors go, if not for the slightly higher perspective you’d hardly be able to tell one dashboard from the other. However, seeing the V60’s chocolate leather interior just made me love our XC60’s City Weave fabric that much more. Likewise, this was a great opportunity to put Volvo’s Harman Kardon sound system in our XC60 up against the Bowers & Wilkins sound system in the Cross Country. Suffice to say, the $800 Harman Kardon system is damn fine. The B&W system, however, is superb — as it should be given the $4,000 upcharge. That’s a big ask on a car with a $45,450 starting price, but one I confess I’d struggle to resist. It really is that good.
The manufacturer suggested retail price is the final way these cars differ, but perhaps not by as much as you might think. The V60 Cross Country comes standard with all-wheel drive and a few other options mixed in. The cheapest V60 you can get, a T5 FWD Momentum, is $42,740 including $1,095 for destination. The cheapest XC60, also a T5 FWD Momentum, is $42,795. So, eliminating trim differences, there’s hardly anything between them on the price side, and that continues on up the spectrum as you pile on the options.
There isn’t much difference on the cargo side, either, with the XC60 offering just 2.8 more cubic feet of volume. So, it really does come down to personal preference. Do you prefer the taller SUV perspective and the somewhat more commanding drive style? Or would you prefer something a little lower and a little more engaging?
As much as I’m enjoying my time with our SUV (and seeing how long I can go between fill-ups), for my money I’d go with the V60. I like the feel a bit better and, perhaps more crucially, it’s a lot easier to load my large, aging dogs into something a bit lower. Likewise, I have kayaks, and a more accessible roof helps there, too.
I’ll be back next month with another fuel economy update and with more detailed impressions of how the XC60 Recharge’s half-electric AWD system copes with some decidedly inclement roads. Spoiler alert: It’s different, but good.