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2021 Volvo XC60 T8 Recharge review: Scandinavian Goldilocks

These days, crossovers are everything to everyone. They must be practical, roomy, comfortable, and in some cases, sporty and fun to drive. As a result, there are so many to choose from across all segments. The 2021 Volvo XC60 T8 Recharge aims to give you something more than just your average luxury compact crossover. Electrification? Check. Style and comfort? Got both. Space? Yup. With so much promise, is this entry from Sweden as compelling as it looks on paper? Let’s find out.

2021 Volvo XC60 T8 Recharge exterior

2021 Volvo XC60 T8 Recharge side 02
Photo credit: Stefan Ogbac / EV Pulse

The 2021 Volvo XC60 T8 Recharge wears the Swedish brand’s current design language but has cues that distinguish it from its siblings. Its headlights and taillights, for example, are shaped differently. Even the light patterns are unique to the XC60; the Thor’s Hammer LED signature lights stick out of each headlight cluster and connect to the grille. Its greenhouse kicks up past the C-pillar while the rear window is angled more. Thankfully that doesn’t compromise visibility because you still get a nice view out of the car. If you’re looking for hints of the XC60 T8’s electrified nature, there are only three of them: Recharge badges on the tailgate and the bottom of each rear passenger door.

2021 Volvo XC60 T8 Recharge interior

2021 Volvo XC60 T8 Recharge dash 02
Photo credit: Stefan Ogbac / EV Pulse

You know you’re in a Volvo the moment you get inside the XC60. The simple yet elegant design carries over from the larger cars but gets touches that are unique to the 60-series cars. White driftwood trim adds lightness and brightness to the blonde/black two-tone Nappa leather interior. Even the way the wood is laid out against the metal trim is an exercise in creating a family look while keeping it distinct from the other members of the Volvo lineup.

The fit and finish on the XC60 are just as impeccable as it is on pricier Volvo models. You’re not getting shortchanged by choosing the less expensive compact crossover because everything you interact with looks and feels expensive. Meticulous attention to detail enhances the upscale aura and shows a high level of care. Physical controls work with a satisfying level of tactility that you want to keep using over and over again. Generous levels of sound insulation keep the cabin hushed at highway speeds.

Five passengers and their gear will fit comfortably in the XC60. You’ll find generous head- and legroom in both rows and the center tunnel — where the battery is located — doesn’t intrude too much into the cabin. Volvo’s supremely comfortable seats are one of the highlights of the XC60’s interior. Those in the front have no excuse NOT to find the perfect seating position because there are so many adjustments. Passengers in the back also get cushy accommodations and the ability to recline. Kids will appreciate the booster cushions in the outboard positions because they’ll be able to see out of the window better while staying within reach of the side curtain air bags.

Although you don’t get underfloor storage, the flat floor still affords plenty of space for bulky items even with the 60/40 split-folding rear seat backs in place. You also get a ski pass-through to make hauling long items a cinch. Additional small-item storage could be added; the center console bin and the little slot below the center stack are shallow.

2021 Volvo XC60 T8 Recharge tech features

2021 Volvo XC60 T8 Recharge main display 01
Photo credit: Stefan Ogbac / EV Pulse

Volvo’s Sensus interface is standard on the XC60 and features a 9.0-inch touch screen on the dash. You can also add a reconfigurable 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster and a head-up display that puts important driving data in your line of sight. The main display is more responsive than the original iteration and most of the functions are only one to two swipes or taps away. Despite being down four speakers, the optional Bowers & Wilkins surround sound system still sounds epic. You get the same level of customizability as on the 90-series models to make the experience as personal or as immersive as you like.

Pilot Assist remains one of the highlights on the XC60. It functions just like the versions found on larger Volvo models giving you the same capabilities. Blending adaptive cruise control, steering assist, lane centering, and traffic jam assist, Pilot Assist makes long drives and commutes easier. The car seamlessly follows the vehicle ahead at your set distance and will even react if another cuts you off. It also doesn’t act like an overprotective nanny; the inputs and corrections made by the system and the collision prevention technologies supporting it are subtle and never feel like they’re trying to take over from the driver.

2021 Volvo XC60 T8 Recharge driving impressions

2021 Volvo XC60 T8 Recharge rear three quarters 02
Photo credit: Stefan Ogbac / EV Pulse

In typical Volvo fashion, the XC60 is comfortable yet poised. Its carlike demeanor adds a slight sporting edge versus the larger XC90 but remains compliant, handily absorbing potholes, bumps, ruts, and expansion joints. Even with the available 20-inch wheels and the adaptive air suspension in its sportiest setting, harsh impacts are muted; you feel them but just enough to you know you’re going over a surface that’s not smooth. Nicely controlled body motions keep the XC60 feeling confident while the direct, accurate steering makes maneuvering in tight spaces and navigating winding roads a breeze.

Volvo’s T8 plug-in hybrid powertrain handily blends power and flexibility. The ability to travel in all-electric mode for 19 miles gives you the option to commute emissions-free in the city. There’s 400 hp and 472 lb-ft of torque on tap for effortless passing, merging, and climbing steep grades. A 2.0-liter supercharged and turbocharged four-cylinder is coupled to an electric motor, an eight-speed automatic transmission, and an 11.6-kWh battery to get that prodigious output. This allows the XC60 T8 to move like a lighter car than its 4,698-pound curb weight might suggest. The gearbox shifts quickly during most situations; however, outside of Power mode, there are times that it’s a little slow to respond when you ask for more power.

Unlike the typical parallel hybrid, the Volvo XC60 T8’s electric drive motor is mounted on the rear axle instead of sandwiched between the engine and transmission. As a result, you don’t sense any shifts in EV mode. The rear end also rotates more willingly thanks to the electric motor overdriving the rear wheels. This is especially noticeable during spirited drives. You also don’t feel any clawing motion because both the engine and electric motor work seamlessly to maximize traction in both axles.

Equally seamless is the XC60’s stopping capabilities. Volvo has banished the sudden grabbiness from the early T8 cars; transitions from regenerative to friction braking are imperceptible. Together with linear pedal operation, it’s easy to stop smoothly in a consistent manner. There’s also a B mode for additional energy recuperation, allowing you to slow down earlier and minimize wear on the brake pads.

Charging the XC60 T8’s battery takes about six hours using a standard wall outlet. A level 2 AC charger or a 240-volt outlet cuts that time in half to three hours. Every Volvo T8 model also has a charge function that lets you use the engine to recharge the battery.

2021 Volvo XC60 T8 Recharge pricing

The 2021 Volvo XC60 T8 Recharge starts at $54,595 for the base Inscription Expression grade. Our full-fledged Inscription test car with the Climate and Advance packages, Bowers & Wilkins surround sound system, FOUR-C adaptive air suspension, 20-inch alloy wheels, metallic paint, and advanced air cleaning system costs $71,340. The XC60 T8 is eligible for a $5,419 federal tax credit plus local and state incentives.

2021 Volvo XC60 T8 Recharge final verdict

2021 Volvo XC60 T8 Recharge front three quarters 07
Photo credit: Stefan Ogbac / EV Pulse

The 2021 Volvo XC60 T8 Recharge is what you expect out of the Swedish brand. It’s practical, beautiful, and defines modern understated luxury. This vehicle is for consumers looking for a confident, well-rounded compact crossover that’s brimming with character yet isn’t in your face about it. Together with its enjoyable driving experience, the XC60 T8 remains one of the best entries in its segment, checking off many boxes while emphasizing style, quality, and comfort. Like its 90-series siblings, the XC60 is textbook Volvo, trading shoutiness for elegance and timelessness wrapped in a well-rounded package.

At a glance

  • Year: 2021
  • Make: Volvo
  • Model: XC60
  • Trim: Inscription
  • Type: 4-door, compact luxury crossover
  • Combined horsepower: 400
  • Combined torque: 472 lb-ft
  • MPG ratings (city/highway/combined): 26/28/27
  • EV range: 19 miles
  • Pros: Fantastic interior, prodigious power, great road manners
  • Cons: Not enough small-item storage, transmission could be more responsive
  • Base price: $54,595
  • Price as tested: $71,340
Written by Stefan Ogbac
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