2022 Volvo XC60 Review Update

Jack R. Nerad, Independent Expert | Oct 21, 2021

Introduction - Find the best Volvo deals!

The Volvo XC60 luxury compact SUV is the brand's most popular model both in the United States and globally. During its years on the market, it has garnered more than one million total sales, which is a very big deal for Volvo. From its date of introduction, the XC60 has always offered intriguing, innovative powertrains, and for the 2022 model year, Volvo has introduced two new ones, reason enough for a review update. At the same time, Volvo has made a significant change to the XC60's infotainment system in a bid to bring it back to leading-edge status. Other details also change for 2022, so it is an appropriate time to revisit the model.

Volvo describes the changes to the 2022 model-year XC60 as the most significant update the model has ever received except for the complete redesign for the 2018 model year. The changes for 2022 XC60 include:

  • Refreshed exterior styling
  • New exterior colors and new wheel designs
  • Addition of mild-hybrid powertrain options
  • Next-generation infotainment system featuring Android operating system
  • New sensor system for onboard automated driving-assistance systems

These represent significant changes. Otherwise, the XC60 crossover is very similar to the 2021 model-year version. It continues to offer a choice between several gasoline powertrains plus the availability of the XC60 Recharge plug-in hybrid that is virtually a separate model. The base XC60 is front-wheel drive (FWD). All-wheel drive (AWD) is widely available across the lineup.

The 2022 Volvo XC60 is available in Momentum, Inscription, and R Design trim levels. In addition, the XC60 Recharge is a plug-in hybrid, while the specialty Polestar Engineered version of the Recharge alters various systems to deliver much higher performance.

Previously, J.D. Power reviewed the 2018 Volvo XC60. This review focuses on the XC60's updates for 2022 and how they potentially impact its overall appeal to consumers.

What Owners Say About the Volvo XC60 - Find the best Volvo deals!

2022 Volvo XC60 B6 AWD R Design White Front Quarter View

Photo: Jack R. Nerad

The Volvo XC60 competes in the Compact Premium SUV market segment. According to data collected from verified new-vehicle buyers for the J.D. Power 2021 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study, 52 percent of new Volvo XC60 buyers are male (vs. 53 percent for the segment), and the median age of an XC60 buyer is 60 years, the same as the segment as a whole.

As part of the APEAL Study, owners rated the XC60 in 10 primary categories. Listed below in descending order, you'll find their preferences from their most favorite thing about the vehicle to their least favorite:

  • Exterior styling
  • Feeling of safety
  • Driving feel
  • Driving comfort
  • Powertrain
  • Interior design
  • Getting in and out
  • Setting up and starting
  • Infotainment system
  • Fuel economy

In the 2021 APEAL Study, the XC60 ranks 7th out of 12 Compact Premium SUV models.

What Our Independent Expert Says About the Volvo XC60 - Find the best Volvo deals!

In the sections that follow, our independent expert provides an analysis of an XC60 B6 AWD R Design equipped with the following options:

  • Climate package (Headlight pressure washer, heated steering wheel)
  • Advanced package
  • Metallic paint
  • Power-operated liftgate
  • Bowers and Wilkins premium audio
  • 4-Corner Air Suspension
  • 21-inch alloy wheels

The price of the test vehicle came to $65,890, including the $1,095 destination charge.

Addition of New Mild-Hybrid Engine Options

2022 Volvo XC60 B6 AWD R Design White Side Profile View

Photo: Jack R. Nerad

For 2022, Volvo replaced its venerable T5 and T6 powertrain options in the XC60 with two new and closely related mild-hybrid systems. The simpler and less expensive system is dubbed B5, while the more elaborate version is called B6. The goal of the new powertrains is to add the efficiency of mild-hybrid operation to the already efficient 4-cylinder engine family that has been powering the XC60 and other Volvo models for years now.

The system adds electrification through the now-familiar gambit of utilizing a 48-volt electrical system and an electric starter-generator that replaces the conventional starter motor. Called an ISG for "integrated starter generator," the electric motor-generator performs multiple functions. As you might guess, it starts the vehicle's gasoline engine, including start-stop mode in everyday operation. And it generates electricity to keep the XC60's batteries topped off. It also contributes nearly instantly available torque, smoothing out potential lumps in drivability. One obvious use of the torque is to bring it into play at shift points, resulting in a more linear feel of acceleration.

In addition, the B6 is equipped with what Volvo calls an Electric Supercharger ("e-Charger") to perform the work previously done by a mechanical supercharger. (The Volvo T6 powertrain was one of the most complicated in autodom, combining a supercharger for low-end boost and a turbocharger for boost at upper rpm ranges.) The electric supercharger virtually eliminates mechanical losses in powering a conventional supercharger while delivering very quick boost pressure. Volvo claims both noise and refinement improvements with the new system, which I confirmed in the test drive.

In another bid to improve efficiency, the engine's cooling system employs a 400-watt electric water pump. This improves friction losses and enables better coolant flow control for faster warm-ups.

Volvo XC60s equipped with B5 and B6 powertrains use both shift-by-wire and brake-by-wire technology. The vehicle's braking system includes a provision for regenerative braking that allows it to recoup energy that would otherwise be lost during deceleration. With the new system in the B6 that was the subject of this test, the stop-start operation—sometimes obtrusive in other vehicles—was virtually imperceptible other than a split-second hesitation on hard acceleration from a stop.

XC60s with the B5 powertrain have FWD as the standard configuration with AWD optional. Those with the B6 are AWD only. The AWD system operates in front-drive mode until sensors suggest some rear-drive torque would be advantageous. In those instances, up to 50 percent of engine torque goes to the rear axle.

Refreshed Exterior Styling

The 2022 Volvo XC60 has a restyled exterior. Although the changes are subtle, they do present a fresher face to the world. As with many mid-cycle styling "freshenings," the changes are primarily confined to the front and rear ends of the vehicle.

At the front, the XC60 gets an updated grille and a revised front fascia. The grille includes a slightly altered version of the well-known Volvo "ironmark" logo. The fascia features more pronounced lower "gills" with stronger horizontal lines. You may be excused if you don't see much difference from the front end on the 2021 model.

The changes to the rear of the XC60 are more substantive. The new rear fascia completely disguises the tailpipes, which now exit under the vehicle. Volvo says the move is to de-emphasize the use of fossil fuels, although the XC60 is, of course, a gasoline-powered vehicle. Electric vehicles (EVs) don't require tailpipes because they don't produce exhaust gases. Volvo has made a solid commitment to EVs, saying that half of its sales will be electric vehicles by 2025. Hence, the brand is pushing the "EV look."

Other changes for 2022 include the substitution of matte black roof rails for bright metal rails. The 2022 XC60 sports new alloy wheel designs as well. And the final exterior change is the addition of Silver Dawn Metallic, Platinum Grey, and Thunder Grey Metallic paint colors. Bright Silver Metallic, Bursting Blue Metallic, and Osmium Grey Metallic are no longer available.

Volvo Infotainment System Powered by Android Auto

2022 Volvo XC60 B6 AWD R Design Interior Dashboard

Photo: Jack R. Nerad

When first introduced, the Sensus infotainment system in the Volvo XC60 was regarded by many as leading edge. But times change, and, as indicated by the APEAL Study results cited above, the infotainment system in the 2021 XC60 isn't highly regarded by users. To address that issue, Volvo has designed and implemented a completely new version in conjunction with Google. It uses the Android Automotive operating system, so Google apps and services are built-in.

One of the prime benefits of this is using the built-in Google Assistant to call up many functions with simple voice commands. Thus, setting a destination is as simple as saying "Google, take me to…" This immediately summons integral Google Maps, complete with that app's real-time traffic information and route suggestions. Like an Android phone, the system receives over-the-air updates seamlessly, so it should always be up to date. It also supports 4G LTE connectivity with an in-vehicle hotspot.

Though it uses the Android Auto operating system, Volvo designed the interface using its learnings from previous systems. To aid usability, it employs large type fonts and vivid color contrasts. The "virtual" buttons on-screen are big and easy to find while the vehicle is in motion. As with the previous system, the touchscreen mounts in portrait orientation. For additional familiarity—at least for those with Android phones—the system uses a Google-style keyboard.

This brings up a potential issue with the system. Although Volvo says the new operating system has "full Apple compatibility," in the use-test, the system seemed as if it would be much easier to use in conjunction with an Android phone versus an iPhone. Using a wired iPhone in conjunction with an Apple CarPlay connection appeared to negate some of the system's advantages, like the Google Assistant, for example. For the test, Volvo recommended connecting an iPhone wirelessly and navigating via the integral Google Maps versus Apple Maps. For Apple loyalists, that might be a hardship. But in general, the new system worked exceptionally well, with kudos for the quality of the voice activation.

New Advanced Driving Assistance System (ADAS) Sensor Platform

As most would expect, the 2022 Volvo XC60 continues to offer a wide variety of advanced safety equipment and driver aids. But those systems are now fashioned on a new sensor platform for improved functionality. In practice, the new ADAS sensors are undetectable to the driver. The new system provides virtually the same functionality, which in the XC60's case is leading-edge for models in its segment.

Volvo says a significant advantage of the new sensor system is its scalability. It is particularly suited to active safety applications, building toward semi-autonomous and then autonomous vehicle operations. Volvo says the ADAS sensor system will be a fixture in all upcoming models from the brand.

The new sensor system is the backbone of the XC60's ADAS suite, specializing in collision avoidance and mitigation. When sensing danger, it provides visual, audible, and haptic alerts to the driver. Should the driver not respond or respond with enough urgency, the system can apply the brakes automatically and steer the vehicle automatically. The system is designed to detect not only other vehicles but also pedestrians and cyclists.

For instance, if an XC60 faces an oncoming vehicle before a collision it deems unavoidable, the system will apply the brakes fully to reduce the vehicle speed by up to 6 mph. This is designed to reduce the severity of the collision. In this mode, the system is active at speeds between 37 mph and 87 mph.

The new sensor system also supports Volvo's Pilot Assist, a hands-on-the-wheel driver aid that assists with steering, acceleration, and braking. With the assistance of the new sensors, it does not require a vehicle in front to follow as the previous iteration did. The system works at speeds up to 80 mph, but Volvo suggests it is most helpful in reducing stress in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

Connected Safety is also standard on the 2022 Volvo XC60. It uses the "cloud" to relay information about road conditions and potential hazards between individual XC60s and other Volvos equipped with the system.

Independent Expert Opinion - Find the best Volvo deals!

2022 Volvo XC60 B6 AWD R Design White Rear Quarter View

Photo: Jack R. Nerad

The Volvo XC60 was a likable vehicle before the 2022 changes. It is even more so now. The B5 and B6 powertrains add to overall drivability by smoothing shift points and providing near-instant torque for quick acceleration. The 48-volt system and the associated changes to the stop-start system improve the overall feel of the vehicle as well. An obtrusive stop-start system isn't typically a deal-breaker, but eliminating that constant annoyance makes the XC60 that much better.

The same could be said for the improvement in the infotainment system. With the implementation of Google Assistant, the voice control system is significantly more responsive. It is as if the system both got a hearing aid and an improvement in the comprehension of the spoken word. Apple users might find the Android-based infotainment system blunts the use of some of their favorite apps. But overall, the tradeoff seems worth it, and Android phone users should be particularly well-pleased.

The new ADAS sensor array should improve the functionality of potentially life-saving tech like accident avoidance and accident mitigation. Those functions are, of course, virtually impossible to test in a typical test drive. The consequences of a failure are just too great.

What the 2022 XC60 demonstrates is that improvements in electric-vehicle and autonomous-operation technology have benefits in more conventional vehicles. Capturing what otherwise would be lost energy in a battery pack leads to benefits like electrically driven superchargers and water pumps. And an electric motor-generator can contribute torque as needed to deliver a better driving feel and improved fuel economy. In all, the 2022 Volvo XC60 is a popular favorite much improved.

Jack R. Nerad has been road testing and writing about vehicles for decades for Web and print publications, including JDPower.com and others. He hosts the weekly radio program America on the Road on the SportsMap Radio Network, and his work has appeared in scores of prestigious newspapers, magazines, and online publications.

The opinions expressed in this review are the author’s own, not J.D. Power’s.

No portion of these reviews may be reproduced, distributed, publicly displayed, or used for a derivative work without J.D. Power’s written permission. © 2021 J.D. Power

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