2020 Volvo XC60 Hybrid

2020 Volvo XC60 Polestar Engineered Test Drive Review: Quiet, Classy Performance

by Jared Rosenholtz

Volvo isn't like other luxury brands. When the Swedish automaker wants to make a car faster, it doesn't simply add more cylinders or an additional turbocharger. Volvo finds cleverer ways to add performance. Take the 2020 Volvo XC60 as the perfect example. This lovely compact luxury crossover competes with the likes of the Audi Q5, BMW X3, and Mercedes-Benz GLC. Tough competition, for sure. And unlike those cars, which offer twin-turbo six-and eight-cylinder engines, you can only get the XC60 with a tiny 2.0-liter four-pot. But that's not nearly the end of the story.

Volvo's most powerful XC60 variant, known as the T8, utilizes turbocharging, supercharging, and a plug-in hybrid drivetrain to produce a whopping 400 horsepower and 472 lb-ft. For even more oomph, Volvo's Polestar tuning division ups the output to 415 hp and 494 lb-ft of torque. Though not quite on the same level as performance crossovers like the X3 M and GLC63, the XC60 Polestar Engineered offers a completely unique take on speedy luxury. The XC60 Polestar Engineered aims to be less overt and more civilized than its German counterparts, a trick it pulls off with ease. Volvo sent us a 2020 XC60 Polestar Engineered to review for a week, and as with the standard XC60, it quickly worked its way into our favorites list.

Read in this review:

2020 Volvo XC60 Hybrid Changes: 🚙What’s the difference vs 2019 XC60 Hybrid?

A few key changes have been made for the 2020 model year, including the use of new all-natural materials in the cabin, trim-specific updates such as leather seats and rear park assist now coming standard on the base Momentum. For the R-Design models, new Nappa leather upholstery is included, as well as four-zone climate control and gloss black interior accents to replace some of the 2019 model's interior style. Park Assist Pilot is no longer a standard feature on both the R-Design and Inscription, and power-folding rear backrests are no longer factory-fitted on any of the trims. A bigger battery is also used for 2020, moving up from 10.4 kWh to 11.6 kWh.

The big news for 2020 is the addition of the Polestar Engineered trim to the lineup, building on the R-Design model and featuring a 15 horsepower boost in output and some gold aesthetic touches. The Polestar Engineered models also feature Ohlins performance dampers that can be manually adjusted 22 ways.

Pros and Cons

  • Good gas mileage figures
  • Effortless power from T8 engine
  • Capable handling
  • Sublime interior with classy and understated design
  • Numerous comfort features as standard
  • Superb safety tech on board
  • You aren't likely to see another one
  • Slower than rivals from AMG and M
  • Engine sounds are still lacking
  • Not the largest cargo area
  • Polestar is less comfortable than other Volvo models
  • Bad for people who crave buttons

2020 Volvo XC60 Hybrid Trims

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
Hybrid T8 Momentum
2.0-liter Twincharged Inline-4 Hybrid
8-Speed Automatic
All-Wheel Drive
$53,950
Hybrid T8 R-Design
2.0-liter Twincharged Inline-4 Hybrid
8-Speed Automatic
All-Wheel Drive
$60,650
Hybrid T8 Inscription
2.0-liter Twincharged Inline-4 Hybrid
8-Speed Automatic
All-Wheel Drive
$60,650
Hybrid T8 Polestar
2.0-liter Twincharged Inline-4 Hybrid
8-Speed Automatic
All-Wheel Drive
$69,500

XC60 Hybrid Exterior

Slotting in between the XC90 and smaller XC40, the XC60 has the elegance and class of the bigger SUV and the agile profile of its more diminutive sibling. A panoramic roof is included from the base model, and all trims feature LED headlights with the signature Thor's Hammer design. Each trim boasts a unique grille, with body-color mirrors on the Momentum and Inscription and black caps added to the R-Design and Polestar Engineered trims. The latter also gets dual integrated tailpipes and a touch of gold paint on the brake calipers. All cars have foglights mounted in the air intakes as well as LED taillights and a power tailgate. The Momentum is shod with 18-inch wheels, the mid-range models get 19-inch items, and the Polestar Engineered rides on 21-inch alloy wheels or optional 22-inch Y-spokes.

2020 Volvo XC60 Hybrid Front View CarBuzz
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Dimensions

In terms of size, the hybrid XC60 shares dimensions with its gas-fed siblings, with key measurements including a 184.6-inch total length, width of 83.3 inches (74.9 with mirrors folded), and standing at 65.3 inches tall. The athletic frame is set over a 112.8-inch wheelbase and offers an 8.5-inch ground clearance. Where the hybrid strays from the norm is in curb weight, weighing in between 4,704 and 4,749 pounds - around 700 lbs more than its T5 sibling in base trim, and almost 470 lbs more than comparable T6 models.

  • Length 184.6 in
  • Wheelbase 112.8 in
  • Height 65.3 in
  • Max Width 74.9 in
  • Front Width 65.1 in
  • Rear Width 65.2 in

Exterior Colors

Volvo's color palette is far from the most exciting available. Ice White is the only standard color available, while others add $645 to the price tag. Most of the colors are monochromatic, including Osmium Grey Metallic, Pine Grey Metallic, Denim Blue Metallic, Onyx Black Metallic, Crystal White Metallic, and Bright Silver Metallic. Fusion Red Metallic is among the only bold options on the base Momentum trim while opting for the R-Design unlocks Bursting Blue Metallic. Strangely, even the sporty Polestar Engineered trim only comes in various shades of black, white, grey, and silver. Bursting Blue Metallic is easily our favorite choice here, though Volvo's understated elegant design pairs well even with boring colors.

  • Ice White
  • Crystal White Metallic
  • Bright Silver Metallic
  • Osmium Grey Metallic
  • Onyx Black Metallic
  • Denim Blue Metallic
  • Pine Grey Metallic
  • Fusion Red Metallic
  • Bursting Blue Metallic
  • Black Stone
  • Crystal White Pearl Metallic

XC60 Hybrid Performance

2020 Volvo XC60 Hybrid Rear-Facing View CarBuzz
2020 Volvo XC60 Hybrid Gear Shifter CarBuzz
2020 Volvo XC60 Hybrid Engine CarBuzz

Engine and Transmission

The hybrid powertrain, named the T8 eAWD, comprises a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine supplemented by a turbocharger and supercharger, and paired to an electric motor - total outputs come to 400 horsepower and 472 lb-ft of torque. The Polestar Engineered model, however, gets a little TLC from the in-house Polestar performance team and makes 415 hp and 494 lb-ft. Volvo's four-cylinder still doesn't sound operatic, but Polestar has seemingly coaxed it to sound just a tad more enthusiastic. All of this is paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission that routes power to the front wheels. The electric motor then sends power to the rear wheels, creating the "eAWD" system.

The Hybrid is the quickest powertrain in the XC60 lineup, with 0-60 mph times that are even more impressive in Polestar guise, with the manufacturer claiming a 4.8-second benchmark sprint. It won't pin you to the seat, but the instant torque from the electric motor allows the XC60 to effortlessly gain speed no matter what gear you are in or how fast you are traveling. Shifts from the eight-speed box are nearly imperceptible due to having an electric motor between the engines and the transmission. So long as you have a charge, the electric motor can handle the boring slow-speed stuff so the engine can contribute once you are already up to cruising speed. Should you run out of charge, the XC60 operates like a normal hybrid, shutting the engine off at stops and using the electric motor to smooth out the stop/start. The XC60 T8 can tow up to 3,500 lbs, too.

  • Engine
    2.0-liter Twincharged Inline-4 Hybrid
  • Transmission
    8-Speed Automatic
  • Drivetrain
    AWD

Handling and Driving Impressions

Based on the same Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) platform as the bigger 90 series cars, the XC60 feels very similar to the flagship SUV's smooth and luxurious drive, especially when equipped with the optional adaptive air suspension. Though not the most engaging to drive, the XC60 is easily one of the most comfortable vehicles in the compact luxury crossover segment. Should you wish for a sportier experience, the R-Design model gets a sportier chassis with stiffer shock absorbers and springs designed to enhance grip and cornering. Fair warning though, the R-Design loses the supreme comfort found in the Momentum or equally-priced Inscription.

For those who wish to be even bolder, Volvo offers a high-performance Polestar Engineered version of the XC60. The power increase is notable but the most interesting change on this model comes under the skin. Rather than use adaptive dampers, Polestar equipped the XC60 with manually adjustable Ohlins dampers. Drivers can adjust the rebound and compression rate using gold-finish knobs under the hood and in the rear wheel wells. Each knob features 22-way adjustment to stiffen or tighten the ride comfort. Even in the most comfortable setting, the Polestar rides stiffer than a standard XC60 but feels couch-like compared to the head-jarring experience of the X3 M or AMG GLC63. There is also plenty of road noise from the optional 22-inch Y-spoke wheels, but that seems like a fair penalty for how good they look.

Without completely ruining the ride, the Polestar package transforms the XC60 from lackadaisical cruiser to back road warrior. We didn't think the XC60 had the bones of a performance car locked within its chassis, but Polestar has unlocked sporty attributes hidden deep below the surface. The steering still feels light and artificial but is calibrated to provide quick, direct responsiveness. The Ohlins dampers keep body roll to a minimum, even in the most comfortable setting, and the massive gold six-piston Akebono front brake calipers do an adequate job stopping the heavy hybrid crossover. Volvo has re-tuned the regenerative braking, which can often feel unnatural in hybrids, so it feels completely ordinary (in a good way). An X3 M or GLC63 will still leave the XC60 for dead on a race track, but since the vast majority of owners will never take their luxury SUV to the track, the Polestar is our preferred option as a daily driver.

XC60 Hybrid Gas Mileage

As the niche for hybrid cars gets broader, competition for staying at the forefront of the class gets stiffer too. The XC60 Hybrid comes with a manufacturer-claimed 24-mile pure EV range, which is relatively competitive - sadly, real-world reports show that the reality is closer to just under 20, however. Still, the EPA rates an electric equivalent of 57 MPGe and a gas-only combined 27 mpg. With an 18.5-gallon fuel tank, this gives the XC60 a theoretical range of around 500 miles on a full tank of gas. While this is obviously better than what the non-hybrids manage, it's also better than the 24 mpg achieved by the BMW X3 Hybrid. When comparing the Polestar Engineered to other performance crossovers like the X3 M and GLC 63, the XC60's combined 27 mpg figure obliterates the 16 and 18 mpg ratings of its German rivals.

In the real world, your fuel economy will heavily depend on how you charge the car. Relying heavily on the electric range for your commute can easily net you well over 30 mpg. Using a combination of gas and electricity seems to net around 27 mpg. We didn't have access to a charger during our week of testing and used the engine to charge the batteries for review purposes, thus our fuel economy dropped below 25 mpg. Charging times for the XC60 can take as long as seven hours, with the minimum required for a full battery being three, even on a Level 2 setup.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    13.2 Gallons
* 2020 Volvo XC60 T8 Momentum eAWD Plug-In Hybrid

XC60 Hybrid Interior

2020 Volvo XC60 Hybrid Dashboard CarBuzz
2020 Volvo XC60 Hybrid Steering Wheel Design CarBuzz
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Seating and Interior Space

The interior of any Volvo is a highlight, and even more so with the new touches to the cabin of the XC60. This is one area where Volvo cars rival much more premium rivals, using high-quality, natural materials, plush styling, and ergonomic, logical design. The cabin is also superbly dampened to isolate occupants from road noise, and there's ample space for four - or five if you've got a smaller passenger in the rear center seat that won't be fussed about a slightly inconvenient center tunnel taking up some leg and foot space. All perches offer supportive cushioning in leather from the base upwards, with comfort padding, power lumbar, and heating in the front. The Polestar Engineered model gets gold seatbelts with black Nappa leather sport seats to set it apart from the rest.

  • Seating capacity
    5-seater
  • Front Leg Room 41.5 in
  • Front Head Room 38.0 in
  • Rear Leg Room 38.0 in
  • Rear Head Room 38.0 in

XC60 Hybrid Trunk and Cargo Space

According to Volvo, the available cargo space in the XC60 Hybrid mirrors that of its non-PHEV siblings, with 21.6 cubic feet available behind the second row for groceries or school bags. Folding the rear seats down opens up 63.3 cubes of total volume, with only the second figure being more impressive than the 59.4 cu-ft on offer in the BMW X3 Hybrid. The Audi Q5 has 25.1 cubic feet to begin with, but not quite as much when the back seats are folded down.

Small items are taken care of in various nooks and crannies including a slot ahead of gear shifter, two cupholders in the center console, door pockets with bottle holders, and a bin under the front armrest. There's also a storage compartment and pop out cupholders on the armrest in the back.

2020 Volvo XC60 Hybrid Back Seats CarBuzz
2020 Volvo XC60 Hybrid Maximum Cargo Space CarBuzz
2020 Volvo XC60 Hybrid Trunk Space CarBuzz

XC60 Hybrid Infotainment and Features

Features

Another strength in the Volvo arsenal is the extent to which even the base model cars are well equipped with safety and convenience features. In the case of the XC60, this means power front seats with memory and lumbar adjustments, front seat heating, dual-zone climate control, an air filter with humidity sensor, and a sunroof, all on the Momentum. Added to this, the Momentum also features a park assist camera, rear park assist, front and rear collision mitigation, cruise control, lane keeping assist, and hill start and descent control. Moving up to the R-Design and Inscription trims upgrades the climate control system to four zones, and adds Volvo's blind-spot information system (BLIS) with cross-traffic alert to the safety suite. On the new Polestar Engineered trim, the four-zone climate control is switched back to dual-zone, but this is balanced out by adding a graphical head-up display, adaptive cruise control, the Pilot Assist system, and a 360-degree camera. All models get a 12.3-inch driver display and a power-operated tailgate, too.

Infotainment

As with the gas-only XC60 lineup, there's a crisp nine-inch touchscreen mounted in the dash through which the Sensus Connect infotainment system operates. It's portrait-oriented look is reminiscent of a smartphone screen, and although the system may take a short while to master, it operates just as smoothly once you have the knack for it. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, HD Radio and SiriusXM, as well as Bluetooth are catered for right from the base model, which also features a ten-speaker high-performance audio system. This gets boosted to a Harman Kardon audio setup on the R-Design and Inscription, featuring navigation and 14 speakers. One step up takes you to the Polestar Engineered's 15-speaker Bowers and Wilkins sound system, which is optional on the lower trims too - with the incredible Gothenburg Concert Hall setting we had on our non-hybrid XC60 test car earlier this year, it's an absolute must to splurge on.

XC60 Hybrid Problems and Reliability

The 2020 XC60 T8 has been recalled for a failure on the part of the automatic emergency braking system to properly engage. This same issue plagued the 2019 lineup, as well as four other recalls issued for 2019 models for the front seats moving in a crash, tailgate arms freezing and separating, no GPS location emitted in the event of a crash, and the risk of shock or fire from the charging cable. JD Power gives the 2020 models 79 out of 100, which is quite below average for the class.

Volvo provides a four-year/50,000-mile limited warranty, which also covers the powertrain. Hybrid components are backed by an eight-year/100,000-mile warranty, too, and complimentary maintenance is included for three years or 36,000 miles.

Warranty

  • Basic:
    4 Years \ 50,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain:
    4 Years \ 50,000 Miles
  • Corrosion:
    12 Years \ Unlimited Miles
  • Roadside Assistance:
    4 Years \ Unlimited Miles
  • Maintenance:
    3 Years \ 36,000 Miles
  • Hybrid/Electric Components:
    8 Years \ 100,000 Miles

XC60 Hybrid Safety

With a legacy as emotionally-charged as Volvo's when it comes to safety, expectations are high for a Volvo car to be highly rated by the relevant authorities. And, while the NHTSA has not yet rated the XC60, the IIHS awarded it top scores of Good in all six categories tested, with a Superior rating awarded for the standard front crash prevention system. The 2019 XC60 was also given a Top Safety Pick title.

Standard safety features include seven airbags (dual front, front side, side curtain, and driver's knee) as well as cruise control, front and rear collision mitigation, a lane keeping aid, park assist camera and rear parking assist. On the mid-level trims, this is augmented with front park assist, and a blind spot information system with cross-traffic alert, and on the top-end model, adaptive cruise control, a head-up display, a 360-degree camera, and the Pilot Assist suite is added. The Advanced Package is available for all lower-spec models, which adds on Pilot Assist, the head-up display, LED headlights with bending lights, 360-degree camera, and headlight pressure washing for even more peace of mind.

Verdict: 🏁Is 2020 Volvo XC60 Hybrid a good car?

The Volvo XC60 Hybrid is a luxury crossover for a very specific buyer. Someone who commutes further than 20 miles to work will burn through the EV-only range too quickly, making the added cost of the T8 drivetrain a relative waste. But if your daily trip is shorter, or you can charge up at work and at home, the T8 drivetrain starts to feel compelling. The additional oomph from the electric motors is palpable, offering buttery smooth acceleration and serene silent driving.

It may set you back over $6,000 more than a BMW X3 Hybrid, but you get substantially more performance from the Volvo. In Polestar Engineered guise, the XC60 can't live up to the performance benchmarks set by AMG and BMW M, but it is far more livable and in many ways and feels more special due to its rarity. A 15 horsepower bump, adjustable dampers, larger brakes, and some gold accents may not seem like a massive list, but they combine to create a one-of-a-kind performance SUV experience.

🚘What's the Price of the 2020 Volvo XC60 Hybrid?

Once a vehicle has the Hybrid tag attached to it, the price tag immediately reflects the tech wizardry required. In the case of the Volvo XC60 Hybrid, the entry-spec Momentum is priced at $53,950, while the R-Design and Inscription models cost $60,650. If you want the slightly more aggressive Polestar Engineered trim, you'll have to budget at least $70k for an MSRP of $69,500 - all quoted prices exclude Volvo's $995 destination charge, as well as any licensing and tax costs. Additionally, there is an available federal tax credit up to $5,419 with the purchase of the XC60 Hybrid, however, how much is granted is dependent on the individual buyer's tax profile and is not available at the time of purchase.

See All 2020 Volvo XC60 Hybrid Trims and Specs

🚗What Volvo XC60 Hybrid Model Should I Buy?

One of the benefits of looking into purchasing a Volvo car is the knowledge that even entry-spec models come with a host of features - but, in this case, we'd opt a little higher up in the range purely because the manufacturers really hit the nail on the head with the Inscription trim. Yes, the Polestar Engineered trim is fun and quite novel with its Ohlins dampers and extra oomph from under the hood, but is it really worth the extra $8.5k? That will be for you to decide. If you don't care about performance, the soft, comfortable ride from the Inscription with the optional air suspension is simply sublime. Even with no further packages added on, the Inscription will be more than sufficient to warrant its price tag and deliver on what you ask of it. But if you are adding packages, the optional massage seats in the $2,200 Luxury Packages are a must-have. Bowers and Wilkins Premium Sound is a hefty option for $3,200 but if you're an audiophile, it is among the best stereos available today.

Check out other Volvo XC60 Styles

2020 Volvo XC60 Hybrid Comparisons

Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class Plug-in Hybrid Mercedes-Benz
Lexus RX Hybrid
CompetitorHorsepowerMPGPrice (MSRP)
Volvo XC60 Hybrid400 hpTBC$53,950
Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class Plug-in Hybrid 320 hpTBC$50,650
Lexus RX Hybrid 308 hp31/28 mpg$46,800

2020 Volvo XC60 Hybrid vs Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class Plug-in Hybrid

For 2020, German powerhouse Mercedes-Benz brings an electrified GLC 350e to the party with 315 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque combined, enough to make the sprint to 60 mph in around five and a half seconds. While this is more torque than the XC60 makes, there's 75 hp more available from even the base XC60 Hybrid (400 hp), with quicker acceleration, but the same towing capacity. The interior of the GLC Hybrid is elegant, with concise controls and beautiful finishes that are still one step above that of the Volvo. Comparing the all-important gas mileage figures reveals that the GLC 350e - although not rated by the EPA for 2020 yet - managed 56 MPGe for its 2019 models, and 25 mpg combined. And, while the XC60 manages to get close to 20 miles on pure EV power alone, the GLC won't go even half that on battery juice. The Benz counters with quicker charging times, however, with as little as two hours and 15 minutes needed to get to 80% battery power. Surprisingly, the XC60 costs a little more at a base level, with the GLC 350e priced at $51,900 to start off with, and comes equally as packed with standard features as the XC60 does - if not more. While we think the Merc GLC is fantastic value for money, we're swayed by the all-rounder nature of the XC60 that continues to impress on almost every level.

See Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class Plug-in Hybrid Review

2020 Volvo XC60 Hybrid vs Lexus RX Hybrid

Lexus' contribution to the hybrid crossover segment is the $46,800 Lexus RX Hybrid, a car that scores highly on our rating scale too. Powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine and three electric motors, the Lexus puts out 308 hp, yet struggles to meet the 60 mph finish line in under eight seconds. Sadly, the Lexus has not been gifted with the same talent that the XC60 is imbued with for naturally doing a little bit of everything well, and the Lexus subsequently struggles to stand out in any one area. Drive and handling present as slightly sloppy, with a wafty sensation to taking corners, which isn't sufficiently mitigated by opting for the sportier models. The interior is, as expected from the brand, beautifully laid out and plush to be in, but it's genuinely lacking the air of simple elegance so evident in the XC60. While both scored well in terms of safety, it's the Volvo that comes out tops when ticking the boxes - even at almost eight grand more, and as a plug-in hybrid, benefits from an all-electric driving range as well.

See Lexus RX Hybrid Review

Volvo XC60 Hybrid Popular Comparisons

2020 Volvo XC60 Hybrid Video Review

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$53,950 - $69,500
Price Range (MSRP)
Volvo XC60 Hybrid