New 2022 Volvo XC60 long-term test

Rory White

22 Dec 2021

We've been running a 2022 Volvo XC60 T8 to see whether this refreshed premium family SUV is better than its German competition. Here's how we're getting on.

Our car: Volvo XC60 T8 Recharge Ultimate

Price without options: £64,480

Price with options: £66,665

Options list: 22-inch alloy wheels (£1500); Denim Blue metallic paint (£685)

What is it?

It's Volvo's five-door, five-seat premium family SUV, here in plug-in hybrid T8 form.

But first things first – we have a confession. When we took delivery of this Volvo XC60, it was indeed the new, latest XC60. But in the short time since, Volvo has been busy with the XC60's trims and engines.

It means that, er, you can't buy this exact XC60 anymore. You pretty much can, but things are called different names and if anything, what you can buy today is a better (and cheaper) prospect.

Let us explain. Strictly speaking, this is a 2021 Volvo XC60 Inscription Pro T8 with a few options. Today, this car is called the Volvo XC60 T8 Ultimate, and needs fewer options added as Volvo has bundled more in as standard, lowering the price.

Confusingly, this car has the updated Google-based Android infotainment system that the latest XC60 has, but it doesn't have the latest car's larger battery and more powerful electric motor on its rear axle.

So, to be clear, this car is extremely close to what you can buy today, plus we've even tried the latest model abroad, albeit in left-hand-drive form.

What do we love so far?

Doesn't it look superb? Well, these things are subjective, but to our eyes, the Volvo XC60 is a better-looking SUV than an Audi Q5, BMW X3 or Mercedes GLC.

We also love Volvo's Denim Blue paint and those massive 22-inch wheels, which thanks to our car's standard air suspension don't hinder comfort over dodgy roads. This is one of the few SUVs you park out and look back at as you walk away.

Moving inside, the XC60's interior isn't quite on par with a Q5's for outright build quality, but it's extremely close and we think it's the best looking interior of the bunch, especially in our car's Bright Theme. That's cream to you and me.

The wood is authentic, the chrome detail feels cold to the touch and our Inscription Pro (now Ultimate) car's crystal gear selector looks and feels beautiful.

But even better than all that is Volvo's new Android infotainment system, which was sorely needed. The old system was feeling very long in the tooth, and this new system has made the day-to-day experience of running an XC60 so much greater with its addition.

OK, so a BMW's iDrive is still easier to use while driving, but the XC60's menus are now much easier to hit while on the move, it's more responsive to touch, runs quicker and is much more simple to navigate.

Naturally, Google Maps is now the native sat-nav, meaning it actually works and is constantly updated. You can also download Android apps directly to the car, so there's no need to use the standard smartphone mirroring unless you're an iPhone user and would prefer it to look like that instead.

And once you've climbed into this lovely cabin, popped your phone on the standard wireless charger and settled yourself into what has to be one of the most comfortable driver's seats on sale, you also have one of the best sound systems to enjoy your music on too. Well, if you buy the Ultimate model that is.

The Bowers & Wilkins system in these pictures used to be an expensive option, but Volvo now includes it as standard on Ultimate trim. It's a 1460W sound system with 15 speakers that are beautifully designed and add to the luxury feel, but all you need to know is that it rivals systems we've heard in Bentleys and Rolls Royces. Only you're getting it as standard in a medium-sized Volvo SUV.

What don't we love so far?

There really isn't much we don't like about the XC60, but what we do take issue with is the plug-in hybrid system of this T8. Thankfully, though, there's light at the end of the tunnel.

As we mentioned, our car has the latest infotainment system and interior, it even has the latest exterior look, but it has the 'old' battery and electric motor combination. That combination is an 11.6kWh battery and 87hp electric motor on its rear axle. Buy a T8 today and you'll get a larger 18.8kWh battery and a more powerful 145hp motor.

That means the new T8 is slightly faster, but more importantly, it'll now officially travel 48 miles on a full charge, rather than the 32 miles of our older-tech car.

That's the light at the end of the tunnel we were talking about because, in our experience, our T8 struggles to go even 24 miles on a full charge. That's in town, too. On faster roads, it struggles to do 19 electric miles.

Day-to-day, that contributes to less of your driving than is ideal. Add another 10 miles or so of real-world electric range, though, and it makes all the difference. We've tried the latest XC60 with the new battery at its launch abroad and it's a noticeable improvement.

That's sorted then? Well, there is one more issue. When you drive a Lexus NX PHEV in EV mode, it'll always keep around a quarter of its battery in reserve, so that when it flicks back to hybrid mode, it can still offer extended periods of electric driving and subsequently keep your average mpg looking good.

Not so here. You can hold T8's battery charge to use later, or you can charge it up using the engine as you drive. But you can't set a minimum amount of battery to save. When the T8's battery is finally gone, it's gone, leaving a 303hp petrol engine to drag around more than two tonnes of SUV the vast majority of the time.

Now, we all know that the only way PHEVs work is if you charge them all the time, which is fine. But in a Lexus NX, you do at least see more than 40mpg in mixed driving when you've 'run out' of battery. In the XC60 you're looking at around 26mpg if you take things steady. Thankfully, with the latest T8's bigger battery to take on more of the work, you'll see better averages. We know, because we've tried it.

It's also worth mentioning that the T8 is the most powerful XC60, with a 0-60mph time of under five seconds. That's ridiculously quick and makes 26mpg (without battery) seem more palatable. Plus, Volvo offers a T6 model with the same battery but a less powerful and officially more efficient petrol engine. We're going to be swapping to a T6 soon to make a direct comparison.

What's the current verdict?

So far we're confident the Volvo XC60 has to be on your list of test drives if you're looking for a premium family SUV.

With this new infotainment system, it has been massively improved to live with but comes with the same great looks, quality and space it always had.

The introduction of a bigger battery is welcome too, plus Volvo's new more streamlined trim range means you now get more standard kit for less money.

We're looking forward to swapping this T8 XC60 for the latest T6 to see which is the better PHEV.

Volvo XC60 FAQs

Q: Is the Volvo XC60 a safe car?

A: Volvo has an incredible safety record, so naturally the XC60 comes packed with standard safety equipment. Adaptive cruise control is now standard from second-rung Plus trim, too.

Q: Is the Volvo XC60 a reliable car?

A: Volvo placed mid-table in the latest manufacturer reliability surveys. All XC60s come with a 60,000-mile warranty as standard, a three-year paintwork warranty and a 12-year warranty for rust. Recharge models get an eight-year, 100,000-mile policy for their batteries too.

Q: How much is the Volvo XC60 in the UK?

A: The Volvo XC60 starts at £45,110 for the B5 petrol Core model and tops out at £64,480 for the T8 Ultimate.

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Rory White

22 Dec 2021