Volvo XC60 is class for not much brass
Volvo XC60 is class for not much brass

The line between the premium and the so-called "mainstream" medium and large SUV markets is becoming more and more blurred.

And one of the main reasons for this crossover is the Volvo XC60, a vehicle that sits in the same segment as the BMW X3, Mercedes M-Class and Audi Q5, among others, but lines up closer to vehicles such as the Toyota Prado, Land Rover Discovery, Mitsubishi Pajero and top-of-the-range Toyota Kluger Grande when it comes to price.

In terms of quality finish and features, the Volvo certainly stacks up against other premium brands.

It is the only vehicle in its class that comes standard with what Volvo calls its City Safety technology - something that other manufacturers are sure to introduce in coming models.

City Safety works by continuously monitoring traffic up to 8m in front of the car via a laser sensor fitted behind the windscreen.

If the system deems a crash is imminent, and the speed differential between the two vehicles is less than 15km/h, it will apply the brakes and avoid the collision. If the speed differential between the two vehicles is above 15km/h, the system will brake to reduce the severity of the collision.

Building on Volvo's safety image, it also comes standard with electronic stability control, traction control, roll stability control, ABS with electronic brake distribution and emergency brake assist, trailer stability control, whiplash protection system and six airbags.

But safety is not the only strength of the XC60; the interior finish is first class.

The materials are tactile and pleasing to the eye, and it is well put together. The uncluttered, clean surfaces also add to the premium ambience.

But I am becoming less taken with Volvo's floating console concept. When it was first introduced across the range, it provided the Swedish manufacturer with a point of difference from its competitors, but it is starting to look dated.

The test car, a T6 R-Design, was also fitted with the optional sat-nav system. It is operated via two switches and a toggle behind the right-hand spoke of the steering wheel, which took me some time to find and then master.

Operating the system was cumbersome at first but as the week progressed, and I continued to persist with it, it became easy. If the passenger wants to input the instructions, they can do it via a remote control that lives in the centre console.

I am a big fan of the built-in, two-stage booster seats in the back of all Volvos. It is a handy feature for all parents and grandparents.

It also comes standard with leather seats, steering wheel and gearshift knob, electrically operated driver's seat, climate control and a premium audio system.

The T6 is powered by a 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbo petrol engine mated to the standard six-speed auto, a combination that goes about its work in a smooth and impressively refined way.

For a vehicle weighing in at more than 1900kg, the T6 offers good handling and a firm but comfortable ride. The electro-hydraulic power steering is accurate and consistent but a little too light and begs for greater road feel.

Its downside is a penchant for premium unleaded fuel, which it drank at a rate of 12.4L/100km throughout the test period.

With a price of $70,150, the Volvo XC60 is a car that offers very comfortable, and safe, family motoring.

The West Australian

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