Experience the Driver’s Seat: Volvo’s XC60 T6 R-Design

Once upon a time, thanks to boxes-on-wheels like the classic 144 and 244, Volvo jumped out in front of the competition and owned the conversation about auto safety in the United States. But safety doesn’t always speak loudly to eager car buyers, unless or until said drivers have had enough miles under their belt to appreciate that being able to walk away from a serious accident is no accident. For consumers who haven’t arrived at this realization, “practical” plus “safe” too often equals “boring.”

Behold the XC60 T6 R-Design, slayer of stereotypes.

The five-passenger crossover, and Volvo’s top selling model, is a deliciously balanced driving machine that blends comfort, utility, performance and cuttingedge technology and safety systems in a sophisticated, crisply styled, solid body that’s easy on the eyes and passengers in general.

And when we say performance, we’re not kidding. Pop the hood and you’ll find a massive 3.0-liter inline six good for 325 horses and 354 lb-ft. of torque. That muscle-car-like output is courtesy of a twin-scroll turbocharger and, crucially, tuning tweaks by Polestar, Volvo’s racing partner. The results are sublime. Whether it’s a trek to Big Bend or Bed, Bath & Beyond, the journey will certainly not be boring. But it also won’t beat you up.

A boatload of goodies is standard on the R-Design, including supportive, sculpted performance seats up front, unique 20-inch alloy wheels, a tasteful, leather-covered racing-type steering wheel, moonroof—in short, all the features one demands in a premium European sedan. China’s Geely Holding Group acquired Volvo Cars in 2010 from the Ford Motor Co., but Volvo’s executive leadership has remained in Gothenburg, Sweden. A Platinum package tops the XC60 lineup, taking the MSRP from $46,650 to $50,700.

The $4,100 upcharge turns the XC60 into a rolling suite of technology. We’re not just talking cosmetic apps like “themes,”—a trio of driver-selectable instrument panel “wallpaper” available in red (performance), gray (eco) or blue (elegant). The active high-beam headlights, for example, automatically adjust their coverage so cars being followed or vehicles approaching head-on are not blinded. While power/retractable mirrors, electric folding rear headrests, upgraded Harman Kardon sound system and accent lighting are nice to have, the innovations—both practical and geared toward safety—keep coming.

All Platinum XC60s include Volvo’s technology package. In addition to adaptive cruise control that helps in bumperto- bumper traffic, a radar and camera help prevent—or at least lessen—collisions with bicyclists or pedestrians (as long as they’re at least 2.5 feet tall). Once the camera confirms that a vehicle, bicycle or pedestrian are approaching, it locks in on the object. If the situation becomes critical, the Volvo’s full braking power is automatically activated. Depending on the speed traveled and how close the object is, the crossover will slow or come to a complete stop—it’s just the ticket for mobile device addicts who walk around with their eyes glued to their screens.

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