- - Sunday, July 5, 2015

As I continue my summer sojourn in France this month, the Volvo folks allowed me to take the 2015 Volvo XC60 out for a few weeks in order to discover the French countryside. Some changes this year included a new engine for the XC60s with front-wheel-drive and the addition of the name “Drive-E.” The T-5 and T-6 Drive-E engine options are noticeable changes along with a new eight-speed automatic transmission too.

For the consumer looking for the perfect compact luxury crossover, these additions mean that the Volvo brand has even more charm. This coupled with an all around best in show and you’d be hard pressed to find a better vehicle for the road.

Competition includes the Acura RDX, Audi Q5 and the BMW X3.

Seating five people, there are six trim levels on the 2015 XC60 each affiliated with the engine and drivetrain: the T5 Drive-E, 3.2 AWD, T5 AWD, T6 Drive-E, T6 AWD and T6 AWD R-Design.

The 2015 XC60 T5 Drive-E and 3.2 AWD both have 18-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, front and rear fog lights, LED running lights, roof rails, heated mirrors, automatic wipers, cruise control, automatic climate control, eight-way power front seats with memory, leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and a 40/20/40-split-folding rear seat. Technology on the XC60 trims include Bluetooth phone and audio connect as well as eight speakers and a satellite radio with a USB/iPod audio interface.

On the T6 AWD R-Design, you also get 20-inch wheels and digital gauges that are unlike what is offered on the other trims.

If you are opting for an upgrade package on your Volvo XC60, there are plenty to choose from beginning with the Premier package adding keyless ignition and entry, panoramic sunroof, rear privacy glass, leather upholstery, an auto-dimming mirror and digital gauges.

For the Premier Plus package, there is the addition of a rearview camera, power-folding mirrors, liftgate and folding rear headrests. There is also a folding front passenger seat and trunk-mounted grocery holder.

The Climate package will add air conditioned and heated front and rear seats to the ride and the Sport package boasts 20-inch wheels and sport front seats. Some features can also be had individually like a dual-screen entertainment system in the back and child booster seats with child door locks.

Safety has always been top on the list at Volvo, so it is no surprise that the 2015 Volvo XC60 is well equipped. Some of the optional safety items have also become standard this year like the Sensus Connect system and the Volvo’s On Call telematics system, the latter is standard on the T6 and R-Design and an offering on the Premier package.

Keep in mind too that some additions were added to the mid-year 2015 models so not all navigational and safety features are the same, look for the Convenience and Proximity packages, which will also give you a variety of amenities like power-folding mirrors and headrests, a cargo cover or the Proximity package with keyless ignition and entry and a power-tailgate with rearview camera.

Other safety inclusions on the 2015 Volvo XC60 include traction and stability control, antilock brakes, whiplash-protection front seats, front seat side and full-length side curtain airbags as well as the City Safety system with automatic braking if a collision is detected. On the Technology package you will get a frontal collision warning system with the automatic braking that detects not only pedestrians, but also cyclists as well as automatic high beams and a driver-inattention warning system and lane-departure warning.

Under the hood, the 2015 Volvo XC60 T5 Drive-E has a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 240 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque with front-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission. There is also the automatic stop-start system engine to save on fuel.

On the 2015 Volvo XC60 3.2 AWD, which is being phased out this year, you get a 3.2-liter inline-6 with 240 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque with an all-wheel drive and a six-speed automatic transmission. For the T5 AWD you get a turbocharged 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine cranking out 250 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque with all-wheel drive and a six-speed automatic transmission or the T6 Drive-E has a turbocharged and supercharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 302 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. The T6 is front-wheel drive with an eight-speed automatic transmission and offers the stop-start engine as well.

Finally, the T6 AWD has a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 engine with 300 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque or the R-Design the best at 325 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque and both this one and the T6 AWD have six-speed automatic transmissions.

Getting inside the 2015 Volvo XC60 you will find cool comfort and charm. Just like the Swedish are known for, the interior is inviting and notice what is called the, floating center stack, that has a bit of real wood in the trim and the seats are beyond comfortable, no surprise on the Volvo. It is also easy to figure out the knobs and controls and the navigation system on the XC60, which I usually fight with on many cars, this one was intuitive and easy to use.

Notice on the temperature controls, there is the symbol of a person and you can adjust what part of the body you want the climate to blow and the temperature, again, simple and easy.

In the back seat, there is plenty of room and adults will find the leg and headroom quite comfortable, but the back seats don’t recline. For extra space there is the 40/20/40-split in the rear that can be made into a variety of configurations depending on your needs. The overall maximum cargo space for hauling comes in at 67 cubic feet.

As for driving, I took this Volvo through the French Alps and into central France before finally heading back to Paris for a few days. It was a great drive on the back roads and highways and was able to keep pace while I sat comfortably inside. Indeed, expect to be taken in by the perfect steering, handling and overall feel of this 2015 Volvo XC60 as it takes the curves and takes the road and will take you comfortably where you need to go.

Should You Need to Know: As a note, the T5 AWD is part of Volvo’s midyear update for the XC60 with a moniker the “2015.5” model, these 2015.5’s will have a few tweaks and differences from the earlier versions of the XC60 this year.

Miles Per Gallon: Not bad with the gas mileage, the 2015 Volvo XC60 T5 Drive-E came in with 24 miles per gallon in the city and 31 miles per gallon on the highway.

Cost: The 2015 Volvo XC60 starts at $36,400.

For more auto tips and information, follow Rita @RitaCook13.

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