ROAD TEST | The 2022 Volvo XC60 recharge is elegance, grace, power, 63 mpg

I wasn’t so much speeding as fast driving – I had decided that would be my story if confronted by the police – when a very rare thought occurred to me: I wouldn’t mind. not to own this car.

Refined designs inside and out, power that’s both plentiful and smooth, nimble handling, a smooth ride and exquisite craftsmanship throughout, the Volvo XC60 Recharge is proof that a car can be substantial while still being surprisingly fuel efficient.

A plug-in hybrid, PHEV in parlance, that travels 40 miles on an overnight charge from a 110 plug, before a mild-hybrid petrol engine kicks in, the XC60 is a five-seat SUV with 600 miles of battery life. autonomy and more intrinsic glädje than a fresh plate of Swedish meatballs. By the numbers: 4,751 lbs., 455 hp, 523 lb-ft. torque, 0-60 in 4.5 seconds, 63 mpg.

Beautiful Blonde Bride was sad to see this one go. When she’s sad, I’m sad. Thank goodness the nice gentleman from Dallas replaced it with a nice Genesis. We are not sad.

Other numbers matter even more when buying a vehicle and these are preceded by dollar signs, some at the dealership, others at the gas station. Starting at $55,345, delivered, and stretching up to $70 for a Polestar-designed version, the XC60 Recharge looks pricey but not out of step with today’s luxury market. It is similar, for example, to a Tahoe or a Suburban.

“Well, Wally, if two cars cost the same, but one uses four times the gas, doesn’t qualify for a $7,500 federal tax credit, depreciates faster, and is more dangerous in the event of an accident, it wouldn’t seem like a difficult decision at all!”

“I-I-I know, Beav, but that’s not how some people see it.”

“Eh?”

“Wait until dad comes home. He will explain to you.

Oh, you need seven seats? Alright, just get the slightly more expensive XC90 refill. Same powertrain, same fuel economy and a little less cargo space.

Buy it for yourself

Of course, you shouldn’t buy a car because it saves you money or trips to gas pumps or saves your family’s life in an accident, or even because it helps save the planet for your grandchildren. You should buy it for all of these reasons, and more importantly, because you love it.

This is where the XC60 Recharge shines. Seriously, it’s a blast to drive, especially with the available 18-speaker, 600-watt Harmon Kardon audio system cranked up to about 50 percent concert hall volume. The time of the Eagles.

Rolling on country roads, the XC60’s mass makes it a little heavy for spirited driving and one can understand why it’s factory-limited to 112mph. The yaw (body tilt) is well controlled, the steering is well balanced and responsive, and the ride is thoroughly enjoyable. As always with Volvo, the seats are comfortable and offer excellent support.

Noise, vibration and harshness are handled as well as anything from Stuttgart or Munich and that’s worth saying because frankly this Volvo has the visceral feel of a machine that costs tens of thousands more dollars.

The Scandinavian aesthetic is highlighted throughout. Class emanates from carefully selected wood and leather surfaces. The driver UI is beautiful in its simplicity. We are not distracted by dozens of switches and buttons. Many of the controls are operated by a center console that functions like a tablet and, as any good Swedish engineer will tell, these decisions must be made before the vehicle is set in motion.

Volvo lights up

This year, Volvo switched from proprietary software to Google for most of its infotainment firmware. We were pleased to find that Apple CarPlay not only kicked off wirelessly, but also projected a Google map onto the instrument cluster. Between that and a heads-up display, the effect was like flying an airplane.

Also this year, Volvo has seriously improved the electrical components of its transmissions. It could do so partly because its Chinese parent, Geely, has deep pockets, but also because Chinese electric vehicle technology is beginning to distance itself from that of Western automakers.

Once dominant in China, automakers like General Motors and Volkswagen are no longer popular with Chinese consumers who have no interest in internal combustion engines and have come to see their cars as an extension of their smartphones. Indeed, Chinese EV makers are starting to make serious inroads into the European market, where Tesla imports a ton of vehicles from its Chinese factories.

The world, it seems, no longer wants Suburbans. So it goes with paradigm shifts.

In the case of the XC60 Recharge, for 2022 Volvo has added a third row of cells to the rechargeable battery, increasing capacity from 9.1kWh to 14.9 and increasing its range from 19 to 36 miles. Most research indicates that most people drive between 30 and 40 miles a day, so on most days most shoppers will get by on about $2.14 worth of electricity.

When that battery runs out, a 313bhp turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine – Volvo has always built big engines – teams up with a hybrid system to deliver around 25mpg. Of course, it all depends on the individual ratios of electricity to gas. The EPA estimates that the “average” driver will average 63 mpg.

The two systems combine for a whopping 455 horsepower and enough twisting force to smoke the tires on a dragster. The effect is amazing.

Somehow livsglädje doesn’t look as sophisticated as joie de vivre, but it’s just as nice.

All-electric in preparation

We keep talking about the X60 Recharge because there is a version powered solely by an internal combustion engine, ICE in the jargon. it’s an average car at best. You can buy it for $10,000 less, not get the power and performance, not get the tax relief, and join the long line of people complaining about gas prices, as if the supply and demand had nothing to do with the price of a commodity.

If you want one, you better move fast. On May 11, Volvo announced that its entire 2023 lineup would be electrified, with either a mild-hybrid system alongside an ICE, an idea Toyota pioneered with the Prius, a PHEV, or a single-battery electric vehicle, BEV for short.

Meanwhile, the demand for electrified vehicles in this country is starting to pick up. Across North America in May, Volvo saw 35.7% of customers choose electrified models (EV and PHEV). One can only assume that the ratio would have been higher if Volvo had had more on hand.

“Demand for our cars remains strong, but we anticipate continued inventory issues,” said Anders Gustafsson, senior vice president of Volvo Car Americas and president and CEO of Volvo Car USA.

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