— You know from our 2018 Volvo XC60 First Drive that the redesigned compact luxury SUV packs much of the XC90's excellence in a package that's tidier and more affordable — by 10.3 inches and $5,400, to be exact — but that report covered pricier T6 and T8 variants of the SUV, not the entry-level T5 that accounts for nearly half the new examples on . We took to Michigan to drive a lightly optioned T5 Momentum (at $44,690, just $2,195 more than the XC60's base price) to see if it bolsters the XC60's case.
Related: 2018 Volvo XC60 Video Review
It does, indeed. The T5 is no base-model letdown, but rather a well-appointed trim level that includes most of what makes the XC60 appealing and unique in its class.
The T5's turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder (250 horsepower, 258 pounds-feet of torque) has strong power off the line that builds smoothly as revs climb. With standard all-wheel drive, it hits 60 mph in a Volvo-estimated 6.4 seconds, which falls on the leisurely side of manufacturer-estimated times for the XC60's base- Used Engine rivals. Indeed, the T5 lacks the gratifying torque plateau of an Audi Q5, and some may wish Volvo silenced its whooshing turbos at higher revs. But we'll take the SUV's relative absence of accelerator lag, which too many competitors (the Q5 included) suffer in spades.
We appreciate the drivetrain's behavior especially because this vehicle lacked the selectable drive modes of other versions we've tested. (If you want the feature, it comes in the $2,200 Convenience Package along with the much more desirable Pilot Assist Semi Autonomous Drive System, adaptive cruise control, remotely folding backseat head restraints, a power liftgate and more.) If the accelerator were lazy or the transmission unresponsive, we'd have no relief in the form of a Dynamic mode. Truth be told, the modes haven't been a strength in the T6 vehicles, so no harm done here.
To that end, the optional air springs we've tested in other XC60s ensure ride comfort but not body control — we've observed excessive lateral movement over uneven pavement in air-spring variants. The base architecture in this T5, which mixes front coil springs and a rear transverse leaf spring, seems no more controlled. It's a degree worse in terms of shock absorption, though it stops well short of the abject firmness we experienced in the one XC90 without air springs we once tested, also a T5. Ride quality is not a liability for the XC60, but it's far from a strength.
Exterior styling is subjective, but there's no question that the XC60 blends a sharp, mini-XC90 cabin with good materials quality. The T5 doesn't drop the ball on materials or features: Handsome graining and soft-touch surfaces still extend all the way down the doors in both rows. The standard leather feels average-quality, but it beats the hell out of the rubbery texture of any leatherette (vinyl), which most of Volvo's competitors employ in base trims. The only option playing a role in this T5's interior was the Linear Lime inlay, a $500 wood trim upgrade replacing the standard Iron Ore Aluminum inlay. This trim that runs the width of the dashboard is the primary distinction between an XC60's interior and an XC90's.
A panoramic moonroof, dual power seats, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and a host of safety technologies — lane departure steering, forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking — are also all standard. Impressive.
We're less wild about the automaker's 9-inch vertical touchscreen, a staple in its latest cars. The impressive size and top-notch graphics can't overcome a lack of physical controls around it, which wore on us over a year of XC90 ownership. The setup relegates stereo tuning and climate controls, including the heated seats, to on-screen submenus. This is a minor inconvenience most of the time, but the system is slow to start up when you get in the car, leaving you waiting for seat heat on a cold morning. Or the navigation system. Or really anything else you'd want to do, because practically nothing is controlled any other way in new Volvos.
Should You Buy It?
We may be damning with faint praise — or perhaps praising through faint damnation — to point out that the affordably equipped T5's missing features aren't truly missed because they aren't so well-executed in the vehicles that have them. Driving modes? Not needed. Air springs? Softer but not exceptional. What you do get in a $44,690 XC60 T5 is the handsome styling, the comfortable and stylish high-quality interior, the responsive drivetrain with all-wheel drive, and a decent number of features. Our vehicle included the Vision Package ($1,100) with blind spot warning, cross-traffic alert, autonomous parking assist, and auto-dimming mirrors with retractable side ones. It also had optional $595 metallic paint. If you want more, Volvo provides a healthy assortment of options and reasonably grouped packages to suit you even if you don't step up to a higher trim level like the R-Design or Inscription.
You should definitely try out a modestly equipped XC60 with the more affordable drivetrain and base suspension unless you live in an area with consistently bad pavement. Unlike the base XC90, which was too firm for our tastes, the XC60 is a viable choice in its simplest form.
's Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with 's long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don't accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of 's advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.