CHATHAM, Mass. – According to Volvo, I am a prime candidate for the 2021 XC60 T5 AWD Momentum I have been driving – a professionally employed, empty nester whose family consists of me and my partner.

What impressed me, though, about this compact sport utility (SUV) was not how it fit into my lifestyle, but how it adheres to Volvo’s legacy of producing vehicles designed around the safety of their occupants and those folks in the surrounding environs.

And it has done so in a stylish, somewhat unique design, both inside and out. Volvos do not look like other vehicles; they look like Volvos, from the brake/taillights wrapping up, around the rear liftgate to the vertical orientation of the center display in the dash.

The XC60 with the optional 20-inch five-double-spoke aluminum wheels wearing Continental 255/45R20 all-season tires and motivated through all four wheels (AWD) by its 250-horsepower 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine provided sporting performance as I pushed it through the curving backroads on the Cape Cod Bay side of Truro and Wellfleet as well as down from the Atlantic Ocean hills within the Cape’s National Seashore area.

Related post:
Top Safety Pick+ for all Volvo Models

The ride was smooth and comfortable, whether the XC60 was being pushed in the curves, driven over gravel and uneven pavement or along the highway.

Safety and driver assistance at the forefront

Volvo has built its reputation around design, engineering and development of vehicles where safety comes first. The XC60 follows smoothly in its family’s footsteps.

In areas you cannot see, the body of the Volvo XC60 is designed for maximum strength around the passenger compartment and maximum energy dissipation in the front and rear crumple zones. The strong passenger cell protects the people inside, in all types of collisions and accidents – side impacts and rollovers included. And when it comes to rollovers – another traditional Volvo priority – the roof is as strong as ever.

The list of standard safety features, some of which are advanced driver-assist systems (ADAS), includes:

Roll Stability Control
Electronic Stability Control
Lane Keeping Aid
Drowsy/Distracted Driver Alert Control
Oncoming Lane Mitigation
Road Sign Information
Automatic Braking after Collision
Run-off Road Mitigation
Run-off Road Protection
Collapsible Steering Column
Safety Belt Pre-Tensioners
Safety Belt Load Limiters
Automatic Unlocking in Collision
Collapsible Brake Pedal
City Safety, which includes
     Accident avoidance or mitigation with 37 mph speed difference
Intersection Auto Brake
Pedestrian, Cyclist and Large Animal Detection with Auto Brake & Brake Support
Energy Absorbing Seat Cushions
Front, Side & Knee Airbags
Inflatable Curtain Airbags
Steer Assist
BLIS (Blind Spot Information System) blind-spot monitoring
BLIS with Steer Assist
Anti-Submarining Protection in Seat Design
Forward Collision Warning, which includes
     Short Brake Pulse
     Audible Warning Signal
     Warning in Driver Display or Head-Up Display

The three systems highlighted above – Oncoming Lane Mitigation, Steer Assist and BLIS with Steer Assist – are somewhat unique to Volvo ADAS and deserve further explanation.

Steer Assist: a subset of the City Safety system, when the vehicle senses the driver beginning to steer away from a potential collision, Steering support will actually help by:

  • Braking the inner wheels individually, in the turning maneuver, to make the turning is as effective as possible.
  • Adding to the driver’s steering input.
  • Adding braking to the wheels on the other side of the car after the turn, if needed, to stabilize the car.

Steering support is always active between 31 and 62 miles per hour (and cannot be deactivated)

BLIS with Steer Assist: BLIS introduces an active feature which provides counter steering force when trying to merge into an oncoming vehicle. If the driver does not act on the Blind Spot Information System’s  warnings and drifts out of the lane, into the path of a vehicle approaching from behind, the steer assist function gently steers the car back into the lane.

Oncoming Lane Mitigation: The system helps the driver avoid a collision with an oncoming vehicle by automatically steering. If the car drifts over a lane marking, heading into the path of an oncoming vehicle and the driver takes no action, this system automatically steers the car back in the direction from which it came.

The system is active at speeds between 37 and 87 mph. The driver gets an audible warning signal at the same time as the car starts to steer back. A message is shown in the Driver display after the steering intervention has been completed. The driver can override the automatic steering at any time.

Suffice to say – this car is filled with safety and ADAS features, providing the peace of mind the company has become known for globally.

Swedish luxury – simple, straightforward

Swedish design – think Ikea furniture – provides a clean, sculpted look without any extraneous frills. The interior of the XC60, a luxury compact SUV, fits this mold. There are not a lot of buttons, dials or controls along the dash, with the tablet (vertically) -oriented nine-inch Sensus Connect touch screen in the center of the panel providing controls for most of the vehicle’s functions (aided by a row of buttons and a dial below the screen to quickly turn on front and rear defrosters, adjust audio volume, and steering wheel controls to customize the 12.3-inch digital instrument display).

There is a bit of a learning curve to master the center-screen controls and functions – and an on-screen, easily accessed owner’s manual is always there to help – but it is well worth the effort. Once learned, everything is easy to find and logical.

Luxury touches in the review vehicle included the standard dual-zone automatic climate-control system; infotainment system with navigation, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, SiriusXM satellite radio and Bluetooth streaming audio (all playing through a Harman Kardon premium audio system).

Safe, comfortable, efficient and fun in a right-sized package

The 2021 Volvo XC60 T5 AWD Momentum provides a true choice for someone looking at a luxury compact SUV. It leads with the Swedish maker’s well-earned reputation for producing safe vehicles, adds solid fuel economy for the segment (27 miles per gallon under my heavy foot, better than the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s 24 mpg combine rating), the ability to handle twisty roads, light off-pavement travels, comfort for its passengers and wraps it all in a somewhat unique package.

It does all this for a base price of $44,000 and an as reviewed price of $52,240 (including $985 destination fee) – very competitive.

Regardless of whether you fit the Volvo demographic parameters – if a luxury, compact SUV is in your future, this one is worth a look.

Next week TBR Drives the 2021 Hyundai Tucson hybrid compact SUV.