While not the sexiest of topics, car safety technology can save your life. Volvo leads the field by example with innovations like the three-point safety belt that has saved an estimated one million lives. Most recently, Volvo committed to achieving zero deaths or serious injuries in a Volvo vehicle by 2020. That kind of boldness is hot.
Hoping to jazz up its exterior appeal, Volvo introduced the R-Design package in the 1990s, transforming regular models by adding sportiness initially with design cues, and now, improved performance.
Among European brands, Volvo appeals immediately with its Scandinavian aesthetic. The XC60 R-Design standard sport seats combine black nubuck textile, perforated leather, and contrasting stitching, and a Thin Film Transistor (TFT) center display in the gauge cluster allows drivers to select among three different themes: Elegance, Eco, and Performance.
On the outside, the XC60 R-Design features a frameless Tech Matte Black grille with high-gloss black stripes, plus a silk metal diagonal and a refined R-Design emblem. At the rear, the unique diffuser with aero fins is flanked by the round, high-tech R-Design tailpipes.
On the performance side, the XC60 R-Design’s stiffer chassis has more dynamic driving properties. Tuned to be firmer and more balanced, the shock absorber springs and anti-roll bars improve control and produce a sportier, road-hugging drive.
Advanced Quick Shift is another new standard performance feature for T6 R-Design models that adjust gear changes when Sport Mode is selected or when using paddle shifters.
No discussion of a Volvo product would be complete without talking about safety. The XC60 was the first vehicle equipped with City Safety, a driver support system aimed at preventing or mitigating collisions by stopping automatically at speeds of 31 mph or less.
I’m a big fan of the Blind Spot Information System (BLIS), another Volvo innovation, but while manufacturers most place the warning light in the side mirrors, Volvo puts theirs in the A-pillar, which I prefer. It comes as a package, not as standard equipment, however, even on the R-Design model, and includes other technology like Cross Traffic Alert and Lane Change Merge Aid.
The 2014 XC60 offers a choice of two engines. A 3.0-liter, six-cylinder turbo matched to a six-speed automatic transmission powered the test model. A 2.0-liter or 2.5-liter four cylinder engine will be available for 2015, as well as an eight-speed transmission.
The 3.0-liter had an EPA estimated fuel economy of 17 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 24 mpg on the highway. I averaged 20.8 mpg on the weeklong test drive.
Standard luxury features like a laminated panoramic sunroof with a power sunshade and sporty 20-inch alloy wheels set the CUV apart. Features like a navigation system and rear park assist were extras.
Pricing for the 2014 XC60 starts at $35,765. The as-tested price for the XC60 R-Design, with the Platinum ($4,000) and Blind Spot Information System ($900) packages came to $52,665.
For Latino car buyers, safety matters. Rather than downplay it, Volvo’s proud of its safety heritage, and I say, bravo!
Sí: Innovative safety technology and Scandinavian design, especially on the inside, offers elegant utility.
No: Safety features like a rearview camera should be standard, especially on a Volvo, not to mention, the R-Design.