2018 Volvo XC60 T8 Review: Performance And Green In One

1 month ago by Seyth Miersma 14

2018 Volvo XC60 T8

Volvo’s bimodal crossover is fast and fascinating, but who’s it for?

– Denver, Colorado

With power, luxurious appointments, and technology to spare, the revised Volvo XC60 is a crossover that should offer a hearty challenge to the German competitors that really run this premium, plug-in hybrid segment.

But the top-level offering – the “T8” badged plug-in hybrid variant – presents a wholly different case than the T6-engined car. At once both “performance” and  “green” go together on the XC60 T8 over its larger cousin.

2018 Volvo XC60 T8

Pros

Damn, that’s quick. Those of you who may not have already heard about Volvo’s T8 powertrain, buckle up for complexity.

A turbocharged and supercharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine is paired with a rear-mounted electric motor, for a total system output of 400 horsepower and 472 pound-feet of torque. The only thing that even comes close to that output in the segment is the Porsche Macan Turbo, which costs $20,000 more and is still down on torque by 66 lb-ft. The attendant 0-60-mile-per-hour time for the XC60 is just 4.9 seconds, which is slower than that Macan’s 4.6 seconds, but exceptionally quick in the larger view. Plus, with the Volvo, you get that fast-twitch electric motor reaction when you step on the right pedal, making this feel a little bit more special than a CUV has the right to.

Electricity you can use. The electrification of the powertrain does more than just add go-fast ability, of course. Volvo has increased the capacity of the battery pack versus the XC90 T8, up to 10.4 kilowatt hours from 9.2 (all T8 models will see this change for the ’18 model year). There are no official EPA numbers to report, but we estimate the bigger battery should be good for 18-20 miles of real world/electric driving range. No Tesla Model X, we grant you, but still a useful distance for short commutes, and enough to bolster the overall efficiency of the vehicle over the long haul.

2018 Volvo XC60 T8

Understated and elegant. The Volvo looks exactly right from the outside, with big 20-inch wheels at the corners and a shapely bodyside. The interior is light and bright, with the “ribbon” of trim that runs along the dash just exactly the kind of design element you’d hope for from a Swedish vehicle. Touch points almost universally feel as good as they look. The ride and drive experience conforms to that aesthetic as well, offering a sanguine space for conversation, music appreciation, or just silently drinking in the Colorado landscapes that whoosh by.

Nothing really competes. If you want this combination of things – performance and plug-in in a extended range wagon set-up, Volvo is really the only game in town.

2018 Volvo XC60 T8

Cons

The Macan isn’t sweating. The Volvo is fast, and it doesn’t handle badly by any stretch of the imagination, but someone looking for pure performance…and who is willing to discard the plug, there are better options.  The buyer with a plug as a top priority will be drawn to it, but perhaps not the wider market in general.

The Jaguar F-Pace and Alfa Romeo Stelvio have every bit of brio possessed by the XC60, and then some, even if they are down on power a bit. And while the Audi SQ5 is similarly outgunned by the plug-in T8, the German’s do-everything-well character is hard to beat at around this price point.

Who is it for? My conclusion about the XC60 T6 was, and is, that it’ll compete fiercely and well in the fat middle part of the luxury crossover segment. While this the plug-in version is clearly more entertaining to drive, it’s bifurcated character would seem to split the difference between EV buyers, and true driving enthusiasts who may be giving the tiniest wink to practicality buy shopping for a lifted wagon. This may be a cult car, eventually, but a surprise hit? We’ll have to see.

Photos: Greg Jarem / Volvo

Tags: , , ,

14 responses to "2018 Volvo XC60 T8 Review: Performance And Green In One"

  1. Magnus says:

    It’s for Swedish users with a possibility to have a company car. Tax incentives are high for PHEV.

  2. Hauer says:

    Saw one last week in the parking aerea of our office, plugged to a tesla home charger.

  3. Rich says:

    I’m glad to see PHEVs making their way into the small SUV segment. This is a welcome change!

    The XC60 T8 is roughly the same size & capacity as the Nissan Rogue hybrid, Toyota RAV4 hybrid. The question becomes is the extra $20K USD for the Volvo worth the 20 miles of plug-in range, high performance, and “luxury” aspects. Not surprising, the Volvo hybrid only operation is at 26 MPG combined AVG. While the Rav4/Rogue hybrids have 32/33 MPG combined, the Volvo is cranking out 400hp on their Turbocharged/Supercharged Engine.

    1. ekutter says:

      It is actually on a $3K premium when you compare it to the T6 model with the identical ICE engine, after the $5k federal credit. $20K misleads by comparing it to the base model. That said, I wish they did have an option with the base model as I have no need for 400hp. I do have one on order. Thankfully the 20mi electric range should cover 85% of my day to day driving.

      1. Rich says:

        I was comparing the price to the RAV4 hybrid / Nissan Rogue hybrid. I refuse to compare the price to similar “luxury” vehicles. I’m hoping people start asking themselves if the “luxury” cost is worth the difference they’re getting.
        If we can get this behavior, it’ll help keep the “luxury” makers honest instead of trying to charge huge money for the 4 dollar plastic logo on the vehicle.

        1. M3 - reserved -- Niro/Leaf 2.0/Outlander - TBD says:

          Volvo finishes aren’t RAV4/Rogue. It’s more Infiniti level comparisons.

          I do hope that Infiniti gets in the game as really want a good EV/PHEV option to replace the ICE G37+CR-V

      2. Rich says:

        “I do have one on order.”
        Congrats!

  4. Mr EV says:

    Soon in a store near you, Volvo EVs in all sizes.

  5. cab says:

    The comment that “nothing really competes” with this is spot-on IMO. Most of the other luxury SUVs either don’t have a plug-in option OR if they do, you have to choose it OR the “performance” version.

    Sure there are better handlers in the performance SUV segment, but truth be told, most buyers will appreciate (and use) the acceleration way more than they’ll appreciate outright handling prowess. This is especially true if that handling comes at the expense of ride quality.

    I recently re-subscribed to TeslaFI.com to start tracking our driving patterns explicitly in order to determine “If I got an XC60 T8, just how much of my driving would REALLY be in EV mode?”. Given that we work from home, on the surface it would seem high, but the reality is we do enough trips in the 50-100 mile range that this month’s numbers show 50%, but last month’s only 25%. 5+ years after we first leased a Volt (lifteime average there was 80% EV), and The only thing that touches it’s PHEV range is….well, the Volt!

    1. menorman says:

      …and The only thing that touches it’s PHEV range is….well, the Volt!

      IIRC, the Clarity PHEV is going to have an AER of somewhere in the mid-40s, so the Volt will have competition soon.

  6. WARREN says:

    Turbo and supercharged PHEV. Im thinking the automakers are kind of reluctant to go full BEV when comlex PHEVS like this can enhance their service department revenue instead of diminishing it like a pure BEV would.

    1. cab says:

      Ironically, the turbocharged and supercharged thing was likely more about shaving manufacturing costs than anything. Volvo has basically whittled most of their line-up down to a single 2.0 liter 4 cylinder turbocharged engine. They simply augment the power by adding stuff:

      T5 – Turbo 2.0
      T6 – Turbo + Supercharged 2.0
      T8 – Turbo + Supercharged 2.0 + Electric Motor

      Ultimately, cheaper than having a variety of 4, 6 and 8 cylinder engines.

      1. Nix says:

        Thanks for the run-down. It sounds like some folks would be happy with something like a T7.

        T7 — Turbo 2.0 + bigger electric motor and bigger battery.

        Maybe sometime in the future. This is still a perfectly respectable drivetrain even with the range listed. It could be good for somewhere around 8K of EV miles (YMWV). More with charging at work. That’s a good move in the right direction.

  7. Tech01x says:

    What a fluff piece, seemingly just regurgitating Volvo PR. How about telling us the driving experience on battery only? It isn’t clear to me that the author even drove this vehicle.

Leave a Reply