May 192014
 

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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.

On a recent test drive of the 2014 XC60 T6 R-Design for Latino Traffic Report, the small premium utility vehicle proved to be a bit of a turn on.

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.

2012-volvo-xc60-t6-r-design-interior-photo-455898-s-1280x782On the inside, aluminum inlays, ergonomically placed controls and storage, add refinement. Even the tapered leather sport steering wheel  feels just right.

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.

l-volvo-s60-city-safety-system-blis-2014No 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.120157_Volvo_XC60_R_Design

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.

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