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The Volvo XC60 is a comfortable and practical family SUV that's a bit smaller and easier to manage than the big Volvo XC90. While the larger XC90 has space for seven, the XC60 gets a normal five-seat layout, though it does have a big boot. Although it might look like it, the XC60 is not really set up for off-loading - the high driving position is aimed more at improving comfort on the road.

The Volvo XC60 range was updated with a fresh new look recently, which really brought the car up to date and it looks a lot more upmarket than before. However, the engine range remained the same, with a five-cylinder diesel being the pick of the bunch. This engine is efficient and powerful, but it's quite gruff and not up to the standards of rivals like the BMW X3 andRange Rover Evoque.

The Volvo doesn't match its rivals on driving fun either, but for those seeking a comfortable ride it won't disappoint. Plus, there's plenty of space for passengers, so long trips aren't a problem. The car is available in SE, SE Lux, R-Design and R-Design Lux variants.

Our choice: XC60 D5 AWD Manual SE Lux

Styling

The newly updated Volvo XC60 is a great-looking SUV, and easily matches its rivals when it comes to styling. The new looks brought the XC60 up to date with the rest of the modern Volvo range, with the main improvements being to the front end and bonnet design.

The Volvo badge might be huge, but the XC60 has a somewhat understated look to it. It's certainly better looking than the larger XC90 and the smaller dimensions mean it feels well proportioned. It's better looking than the rival Audi Q5, but when it comes to style we think the Range Rover Evoque is best in class.

The simple controls and an elegant floating centre console design on display in the Volvo XC60's interior are also great touches. You get TFT dials, which looks great, and the options list includes an ambient lighting package and a heated steering wheel.

Driving

The best place to drive the Volvo XC60 is, unfortunately, on the motorway. It's very comfortable and quiet inside, and the efficient engines will keep your wallet happy. The electric steering gives very little feedback on bending roads and feels artificially heavy, and the XC60 isn't a good off-roader either.

There are two strong diesel engines available: the D4 uses a 2.0-litre unit with 161bhp, while the five-cylinder 2.4-litre engine in the D5 develops 213bhp. The D5 is definitely the stronger engine, but it feels a bit rough compared with the smooth engines in the BMW X3 and Range Rover Evoque.

If you prefer to go for a petrol engine you can choose the 3.0-litre T6 engine, but it's hardly a strong performer, so it's best avoided. The Geartronic automatic gearbox is also a no-go, being jerky and a bit irritating to use - the eight-speed auto that’s optional on the BMW is much, much better.

The high driving position gives great comfort and visibility, and grip is good, too. The pedals are light, but the weak spring in the clutch on manual models takes some getting used to.

Reliability

Safety and reliability is always a strong point for Volvo, but a 19th place finish in the Driver Power customer satisfaction survey's top 150 cars is proof that the XC60 is great in this area - it was the old model that featured, but this new one uses the same mechanical parts. Plus, Volvo came in 8th in the manufacturer rankings, so you can expect the ownership experience to be generally good, too.

Safety equipment is superb, with even SE versions getting five different electronic braking aids, dual-stage airbags, traction control, hill descent control, an inflatable curtain for side impacts and a range of security features.

A City Safety system is also included, which will automatically apply the brakes if it senses a collision and the driver doesn’t react in time, but the system only works at speeds under 19mph.

Practicality

The recent update definitely improved the styling of the XC60, but it didn't come at the cost of practicality. The boot is a large 494 litres - and that's just up to the load cover. If you fill it to the roof with stuff, you'll be able to get 655 litres out of it. Plus, fold the seats down and you'll get a total of 1,455 litres.

The 40/20/40 split rear seats are handy, and they fold flat so sliding objects in and out is no problem. Headroom isn't great for taller passengers in the rear, but there's plenty of legroom and it doesn't feel cramped back there.

The door bins are a little small, but overall there are plenty of places for your family to put things around the cabin.

Running Costs

The XC60 might be a high-riding, heavy car, but it's actually not to bad when it comes to running costs. It matches rivals like the VW Tiguan for official fuel consumption and emissions figures. All of the diesel models, the smaller D4 and larger D5, in two- or four-wheel drive, emit 139g/km of CO2.

The automatic version, however, decreases fuel consumption – another reason not to choose one. The petrol T6 manages just 26.4mpg and emits a whopping 249g/km of CO2, so we'd avoid that engine as well.

It's actually quite expensive to buy than its rivals from VW and Audi, and insurance should be pretty high as well. However, Volvo offers a range of fixed-price servicing deals, and the XC60 is well equipped as standard. There are lots of extras to choose from too, although they can get quite expensive.

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