CHATHAM, Mass. – Volvo built its reputation in the U.S. market on safety, but with vehicles like the 2022 Volvo XC60 Recharge T8 Inscription Extended Range plug-in-hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) compact sport utility vehicle, the Swedish brand should be known just as much for luxury and performance.

The solid, reassuring “thunk” when closing the driver’s door is indicative of the safety-designed structure (supplemented by a long-list of active and passive safety systems), while rich European wool-blend seating surfaces and power-adjusted amenities speak to its premium qualities and a combined 455 gasoline and electric fueled horsepower testify to its performance credentials. The Volvo XC60 Recharge T8 puts it all together in a supremely comfortable, secure and enjoyable package.

Safety is always a Volvo design/engineering goal

Like all Volvo vehicles, this PHEV incorporates passive and active safety features starting with its very configuration. 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 active-safety roster is quite extensive including advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) like collision warning; collision avoidance; oncoming mitigation by braking (if a collision from an oncoming vehicle is unavoidable, the system assists the driver by applying full automatic emergency braking [AEB]; oncoming lane mitigation; lane-departure warning and lane-keeping aid; run-off mitigation; run-off road protection; automatic braking after collision and automatic unlocking after collision; driver-alert control; blind-spot information system [BLIS] with steer assist; rear collision mitigation; front and rear park sense, and cross-traffic alert with autobrake (if reversing with restricted cross vision, the radar at each corner of the rear bumper detects oncoming vehicle and, if the driver does not heed the warning they provide, the brakes are activated and the seatbelts tighten).

I experienced the cross-traffic alert with autobrake while exiting my garage. The system sounded the warning, but since most rear-collision sensors do this when I exit the relatively narrow garage, I kept going at a very slow speed. And the car came to a complete stop! (I think the radar mistook a large group of leaves being blown past my rear bumper for an approaching vehicle; regardless of the cause, better safe than sorry).

Slow, stop – friction and regeneration do the job

Reducing the speed of the XC69 Recharge results in the recouping of energy into the battery through regenerative braking. When the driver releases the accelerator pedal, regen begins and if the brake pedal is depressed, the regenerative braking increases (as does, if necessary, the friction braking).

Brake-by-wire technology allows for this close relationship between the two methods of curtailing vehicle speed. It also allows for true one-pedal driving when the driver chooses the “B” setting with the gear selector (when in either Hybrid or Pure drive mode)

The ultimate stopping power for the SC60 Recharge T8 comes courtesy of a four-wheel disc system from Akebono Brakes. The front features a six-piston caliper clamping a 14.6-inch ventilated rotor.

Power, performance and efficiency from twin motors

At the heart of the Volvo XC60 Recharge T8 Inscription is the hybrid powertrain. The system combines a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder gasoline-fueled engine (ICE) producing 312 hp and 295 pounds-feet of torque and an electric motor producing 143 hp and 228 lbs.-ft. Together, the powertrain is tuned for a performance-car output of 455 hp and 523 lbs.-ft.

The electric motor is mounted at the rear of the XC60 and when operating in conjunction with the front-mounted internal-combustion motor, provides the SUV with all-wheel drive (AWD).

The driver can select four basic Drive Modes, depending upon road conditions and driving desires. In Hybrid Mode, which is the default, the vehicle optimizes operation of the two motors. Pure Mode prioritizes electric power, while Power Mode runs both motors in parallel to maximize performance. The Off Road Mode, for use at speeds below 12 miles per hour, maximizes the XC60 Recharge’s operations on poor road surfaces.

In addition to the Drive Modes, the driver can select Hold to keep the current battery charge for later use. Pressing the Charge button then uses the ICE to charge the battery.

Speaking of charging, Volvo provides an A/C adapter for the XC60 Recharge with both 110-Volt and 220V plugs (the latter able to completely replenish the battery in four to five hours). Range on the battery alone is up to 35 miles.

The SUV is also rated at 63MPGe by the federal Environmental Protection Agency. I saw between 57.2 miles per gallon on the vehicle’s computer while driving. In general operation, I would expect fuel stops to be few and far between (as I have discovered with most PHEVs).

Volvo XC60 Recharge T8

Comfort, convenience and luxury

This Volvo is comfortable to drive and in which to ride. The front seats are supportive, grippy (the test unit had the tailored wool blend surfaces in place of Nappa leather), heated and electrically adjustable (including lumbar and thigh supports). Heat is also supplied to the second-row seats.

Handsome wood accents on a thoroughly modern and integrated Scandinavian-look interior is a refreshing change from much of today’s clean, industrial and purposeful appearing interiors. The Volvo is no cookie-cutter SUV.

Enhancing the premium nature of the test vehicle were several option packages including the Climate Package ($750) which brought headlamp cleaners, those heated rear seats and a heated steering wheel.

The Advanced Package included Pilot Assist Driver Assistance with Adaptive Cruise Control, which can take the repetitive aspects out of driving in traffic; graphical head-up display; 360º surround camera, and advanced air cleaner.

Other major options brought air suspension ($1,800); 20-inch multi-spoke alloy wheels ($800); power tailgate ($200), metallic paint ($695), and Bowers & Wilkins ($3,200) audio system.

Here is how Volvo describes the audio system: “Created to deliver the most realistic, immersive sound possible, the Bowers & Wilkins Premium Sound system delivers exceptional clarity and realism to your music – wherever you’re seated. Seamlessly integrated in the cabin architecture of your Volvo, the 4:15 digital amplifier, an astonishing 1,100W output and 15 separate high-end speakers – including a tweeter-on-top center speaker that adds to a pure, detailed treble performance – will surround you with a pristine sound that feels more spacious, and true to life than ever. Bowers & Wilkins’ exclusive Nautilus Technology reduces noise resonance for an incredibly detailed and engaging listening experience. Several speaker upgrades, such as new Double-Dome aluminum tweeters and the new generation midrange speaker cones in “Continuum” composite, give an even more relaxed listening experience with a smoother and more natural, less colored sound reproduction. And to enable extremely low and undistorted bass tones, the air-ventilated subwoofer uses innovative technology that allows it to pulse enormous amounts of air – without encroaching on load space. Four room modes allow you to recreate the acoustics of a specific room inside your Volvo, bringing you even closer to the music. The room mode ‘Concert Hall’ recreates the unique acoustic experience of the world-famous Gothenburg Concert Hall, while ‘Jazz Club’ resembles the intimacy of a downtown jazz club. High-end stainless-steel speaker grilles and elegantly visible “Continuum” silver cones match the quality and craftsmanship of the rest of the XC60’s cabin.”

A complete, modern premium SUV

There is a lot to like, even love about the 2022 Volvo XC60 Recharge T8 Inscription. It breaks away from the pack of compact luxury/premium SUVs with its own look, inside and out. Its features are similar to its competitors’ but done in uniquely Volvo style.

The XC60 Recharge T8 Inscription, at $62,250, is not for everyone, but fits into the premium compact SUV market snugly. Even with its as test price of $72,840 (including $1,095 destination charge), it remains competitive with the best in class and deserves a look.

Next week TBR Drives the Hyundai Tucson PHEV