Volvo has become the darling of the North American Utility of the Year award program in recent years, having just won last year with its then new XC90 mid-size SUV, but now it’s the redesigned 2018…

New Volvo XC60 wins 2018 North American Utility of the Year

2018 Volvo XC60 T6 R-Design
The stylish new Volvo XC60 has just won the 2018 North American Utility of the Year award. (Photo: Volvo)

Volvo has become the darling of the North American Utility of the Year award program in recent years, having just won last year with its then new XC90 mid-size SUV, but now it’s the redesigned 2018 XC60 compact SUV’s turn to be honoured with the prestigious title.

Like the previous winner, the sharp looking 2nd-generation XC60 represents a completely fresh approach for Volvo and a much more competitive entry within the compact luxury SUV segment.

“The Volvo XC60 raises the bar for safety and driver assistance systems in compact utility vehicles, and does it in a package that exudes Scandinavian design,” said Mark Phelan, president of the North American Car of the Year Awards organization.

2018 Volvo XC60 T8 Inscription
A factor benefiting the new XC60 is a strong engine lineup that includes this T8 model’s 400-hp plug-in hybrid drivetrain. (Photo: Volvo)

It’s true, Volvo is one of few models in the compact luxury SUV segment to include autonomous emergency braking and lane keeping assist as standard equipment, while additional standard safety gear include full LED headlamps, a backup camera with dynamic guidelines, a driver’s knee airbag, and more. On top of these advanced features, the new 2018 XC60 can be upfitted with automatic high beams, adaptive cruise control, blindspot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, road sign recognition, and new Pilot Assist, which is Volvo’s highly advanced semi-autonomous driver assistance system that manages steering, acceleration, and braking on well-marked roads up to 130 km/h (80 mph).

2018 Volvo XC60 T8 Inscription
Few XC60 rivals offer standard LED headlamps, this just one of many advanced safety features that set the compact luxury SUV apart from its peers. (Photo: Volvo)

Like in previous years, the 2018 North American Utility of the Year was chosen by a jury of 60 professional automotive journalists from the US and Canada who provide content for independent print newspapers and magazines, TV and radio stations, plus websites. The results of their findings were presented at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit earlier this month. The award, which also includes a Car and Truck of the Year, honours “excellence in innovation, design, safety features, performance, technology, driver satisfaction and value,” stated a press release.

2018 Volvo XC60 T8 Inscription
The XC60’s standard infotainment system is large at 9.0 inches, plus it’s an award-winning system that’s been lauded by customers and industry professionals alike. (Photo: Volvo)

“We are so proud the XC60 has won this prestigious award,” said Anders Gustafsson, President and CEO of Volvo Cars USA. “It is a very tough competition and we thank all the judges for recognizing the great style, technology, and engineering in the XC60. All car shoppers should take a test drive to see for themselves how great it really is.”

It appears a lot of Canadian consumers have done just that since the new 2018 XC60 was introduced in August last year. Prior to that XC60 annual deliveries had been hovering between 1,500 to 1,700 unit sales for years, but despite only being on the market for five months the new redesign helped push XC60 sales up to 2,315 deliveries for 2017. More specifically, year-over-year XC60 sales were up 41 percent in August, 140 percent in September, 290 percent in October, 264 percent in November, and 251 percent in December. The importance of this growth can’t be underestimated, as the XC60 represented 30 percent of the Swedish brand’s worldwide sales before the redesigned version arrived, so therefore the new model’s uptick in popularity will be a boon to the Volvo brand overall.

2018 Volvo XC60
This panoramic sunroof is standard across the entire XC60 line, just one of many examples of the XC60’s value proposition. (Photo: Volvo)

Part of the 2018 XC60’s appeal is its highly efficient yet powerful engine lineup. All utilize Volvo’s direct-injection turbocharged 2.0-litre “Drive-E” four-cylinder, with the base T5 version making 250 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. The same turbo-four in T6 trim adds a supercharger for a boost to 316 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, whereas the XC60 T8 includes the supercharger as well as identical Twin Power plug-in hybrid technology to the XC90 T8, resulting in 400 horsepower and 472 lb-ft of torque. This allows the XC60 T8 to sprint from zero to 100km/h in only 5.3 seconds.

2018 Volvo XC60 T8 Inscription
This top-line XC60 T8 Inscription model shows how far upmarket Volvo has taken its luxury image. (Photo: Volvo)

All powertrains are made even more efficient thanks to a quick-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission featuring automated engine start/stop functionality to reduce emissions and save fuel, the technology helping the new 2018 XC60 achieve a five-cycle Transport Canada claimed rating of 10.7 L/100km in the city, 8.5 on the highway, and 9.8 combined for the XC60 T5 AWD powertrain, or 11.4 L/100km city, 8.7 highway and 10.2 combined for the XC60 T6 AWD, albeit no estimate yet for the XC60 T8 eAWD.

This won’t stop us from guessing that the smaller, lighter XC60 T8 eAWD will be slightly thriftier on fuel than larger, heavier mid-size XC90 T8 eAWD, an SUV already rated at 10.1 L/100km city, 8.8 highway and 9.5 combined. This said, when factoring in regular charging an owner could potentially drive the XC90 T8 eAWD every day without ever needing to fill the gas tank, although its official Le/100km (gasoline litres equivalent per 100 kilometres) rating is more conservatively estimated at 4.7 combined city/highway. A slightly better rating should be achievable with the new XC60 T8 eAWD.

2018 Volvo XC60 T8 Inscription
The XC60’s rear legroom is best-in-class. (Photo: Volvo)

While the new 2018 XC60’s powertrain lineup might be reason enough to earn it North American Utility of the Year status, its many other attributes combine for a truly special compact SUV. Its styling, which combines key design cues from its larger XC90 sibling as well as other recently redesigned Volvo models, also has some completely new elements of its own, while its uniquely rich interior design and execution raises the bar in the compact luxury SUV segment.

Its 965 millimetres (38 inches) of rear legroom is best in class as well, while its 731 litres (25.8 cubic feet) of cargo capacity behind its 60/40-split rear seatbacks and 1,792 litres (63.3 cubic feet) of maximum luggage space make it one of the easiest to live with in its segment. Additionally, the XC60 comes standard with a convenient rear centre pass-through that lets rear passengers enjoy the more comfortable outboard seats while longer cargo, such as skis, get stowed down the middle.

2018 Volvo XC60 T8 Inscription
The XC60 delivers one of the roomiest cargo compartments in its class, plus the convenience of a centre pass-through as well as optional power-folding rear seatbacks. (Photo: Volvo)

The 2018 XC60 represents strong value as well, with additional standard features not yet mentioned including an electromechanical parking brake, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, rain-sensing wipers, a high-resolution colour multi-information display, dual-zone auto climate control, leather upholstery, heatable powered front seats with driver’s memory, one of the largest infotainment touchscreen’s in the class at 9.0 inches, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, voice activation, SMS/text message reading and response capability, 10-speaker premium audio, satellite radio, a panoramic sunroof, a powered rear liftgate, roof rails, and much more.

The base 2018 Volvo XC60 Momentum is available now from just $46,350 before freight and fees, while the sportiest R-Design model can be had for $56,000 and top-tier Inscription trim starts at $57,600.

Volvo Car Canada Ltd. delivered 7,102 vehicles in 2017 compared to 6,103 the year prior, which represents an increase of 16.4 percent. What’s more, with 668 vehicles sold in December compared to just…

Volvo grows Canadian sales by 16.4 percent in 2017

2018 Volvo XC60 T6R
Thanks to the popularity of the new 2018 XC60, Volvo Canada grew sales by 16.4 percent to 7,102 vehicles in 2017. (Photo: Volvo)

Volvo Car Canada Ltd. delivered 7,102 vehicles in 2017 compared to 6,103 the year prior, which represents an increase of 16.4 percent. What’s more, with 668 vehicles sold in December compared to just 433 sales in the same month of 2016, deliveries are up 54.3 percent. In total, Volvo has enjoyed twenty-seven consecutive months of year-over-year sales growth.

“We are thrilled with the double-digit growth of the Volvo Canada brand in 2017,” said Alexander Lvovich, Managing Director, Volvo Car Canada Ltd. “The XC90 continued to account for our best-selling model, but sales of the all-new XC60 and its predecessor were also significant contributors to 2017 sales.”

2018 Volvo S90
Volvo sold 784 S90s last year, which represented a 532.2-percent increase over combined S90 and S80 sales in 2016. (Photo: Volvo)

The XC60 found 2,315 buyers in 2017 compared to 1,526 in 2016, representing a 51.7 percent year-over-year increase. This said the updated XC60 was only introduced last summer, which means a full 12 months of sales should result in a much bigger impact this year.

Deliveries of the S90 mid-size sedan were also strong throughout 2017 at 784 units, after Volvo delivered just 101 in 2016, but the former low number was only because the S90 arrived toward the end of the year. This said when combined with sales of the S80 it replaced, which totaled just 23 units in 2016, Volvo shows 532.2 percent growth in this segment alone.

2018 Volvo V90 Cross Country
Volvo’s V90 Cross Country arrived in Q1 of 2017 and the V90 wagon later in the year, but even so it’s sales were lacklustre. (Photo: Volvo)

It’s quite possible the XC60 and XC90’s combined market strength played a significant role in the new V90 mid-size wagon and its raised crossover-style V90 Cross Country sibling’s comparatively slow sales, which despite the latter becoming available in Q1 of 2017 and the former later in the year totaled just 444 units (103 for the V90 and 341 for the V90 CC) over the year. That’s roughly double 2016’s XC70 sales, which was the decade-old model replaced by the V90 CC last year, but the still long-in-tooth XC70 found 426 buyers the year prior, 513 in 2014, 624 in 2013, and steadily greater numbers in years past to the point that together with the long-gone V70 it sold 1,220 units in 2010.

2018 Volvo V90 T6R
Wagons might not be as popular as they once were, but the sporty V90 is a very sporty alternative to an SUV. (Photo: Volvo)

When a completely new model (especially one that’s been very well received by the automotive press and customers alike) can’t even muster enough support to beat previous years’ sales of a very old predecessor it says a lot about the mid-size luxury wagon/wagon-crossover market on the whole. No wonder Audi dropped its once competitive A6 Avant and A6 Allroad in Canada, while Buick’s choice not to bring its stylish new 2018 Regal TourX north of the 49th appears to make sense as well. Still, the V90 and V90 CC improved on 2016 calendar year sales of its predecessor so it’s a narrow win for Volvo Canada, and there’s always 2018, a full year of availability, to improve its sales performance.

2018 Volvo S60
Sales of cars are down generally, while S60 deliveries are also slow because it hasn’t been updated with Volvo’s new design language. (Photo: Volvo)

Ironically, other than the D-segment S60 and V60, which are yet to benefit from redesigns and therefore saw their sales dip 45.0 and 27.6 percent, from 657 and 627 units respectively in 2016 to 361 and 454 units last year, the only other model to falter in 2017 was the XC90 mid-size SUV that ushered in the brand’s metamorphosis, its 2,650 calendar year total falling from a recent high of 2,951 units in 2016, this due in part to availability of the aforementioned XC60, plus 2017 being the second year of this new generation and pent-up demand now ebbing.

2018 Volvo XC90 T8 R-Design
XC90 sales dipped in 2017, mostly because they were so strong in 2016. (Photo: Volvo)

Volvo wasn’t the only brand to experience an uptick in sales last year, the entire Canadian automotive industry having improved 4.6 percent over 2016, marking the eighth consecutive year of sales increases since 2009 and the first time more than 2 million units have been sold over a given calendar year.

Of note, out of 2,038,798 total vehicle sales, light truck sales, which include crossover SUVs, grew 8.7 percent to nearly 1.4 million units in 2017, while passenger car sales fell by 3.4 percent to about 640,000 deliveries, which was their lowest level since 1964 (hence some of the challenges with the V90 series).

2018 Volvo S90
Volvo’s new interiors are very impressive, matching and even surpassing many of their German competitors. (Photo: Volvo)

This year-over-year growth came despite a tapering of sales in both November and December, which saw declines of 1.1 and 1.2 percent respectively. How this bodes for 2018 is anyone’s guess, although Volvo will probably still experience an upturn due to the entirely new XC40 subcompact SUV arriving in March, plus the redesigned S60 and V60/V60 Cross Country scheduled for summer’s end.

“With the arrival of the XC40 this March, and two more models launching in the second half of the year, our brand is poised to have a strong 2018,” added Lvovich. “We would like to thank our retailer network for their efforts and their commitment to customer satisfaction throughout the year.”

2019 Volvo XC40
The new 2019 XC40 should prove very popular amongst entry-level luxury buyers. (Photo: Volvo)

When the XC40 and D-segment models arrive later this this year, Volvo will have completely redesigned its entire model range and bolstered its ranks with a fresh new entry.

Along with a completely new brand-wide design language that’s been almost universally praised by industry pundits and customers alike, the Swedish automaker has one of the more innovative approaches to powertrains in the auto business. No matter the vehicle offered, the same fuel-efficient turbocharged and direct-injected 2.0-litre four-cylinder gets installed, although when moving up through the trim lines it either gets additional supercharging to move performance from 258 horsepower to 316, or a plug-in hybrid system that cranks out 400 horsepower and can also drive about 50 km on pure electric propulsion alone.

On top of all this, Volvo’s interiors are some of the most luxurious in the premium sector, its new tablet-style infotainment system is winning awards for functionality and user-friendliness, its advanced driver assistance and active/passive safety systems are some of the most advanced available, its prices are very reasonable for what you get, and the list goes on.

Needless to say there are plenty of reasons backing up Volvo’s recent sales success.

Polestar, a name that was formed to conjure images of Sweden’s cold northern regions (north star, north pole) as well as achieving pole position (being in the very front at the start of a race), became…

Volvo XC60 and XC90 Polestar models good for 421 hp if you can get one

2018 Volvo XC90 T8 with Polestar Performance Optimization
Volvo’s popular XC90 can be upgraded with new Polestar Performance Optimization packages for T5 and T6 trims, but we’re still waiting on the 421-hp T8 version. (Photo: Volvo)

Polestar, a name that was formed to conjure images of Sweden’s cold northern regions (north star, north pole) as well as achieving pole position (being in the very front at the start of a race), became Volvo’s official in-house performance division in 2015 after decades of independent racing programs, concept car development, upgrade packages with performance tuning, plus full Polestar branded S60 and V60 sport models.

Now Polestar is being spun off as a standalone brand complete with a new double-V logo (kind of like this “><”), while it will also continue optimizing Volvo models under its new Polestar Engineered sub-brand, its latest creations promising to become both environmental icons and impressively quick SUVs.

2018 Volvo XC60 T6
Volvo’s new 2018 XC60 T6 can be upgraded to 334-hp with its available Polestar Performance Optimization package. (Photo: Volvo)

It all starts with some very impressive rolling stock, Volvo’s all-new 2018 XC60 compact SUV with its top-tier T8 Twin Engine power unit, and the 2018 XC90 T8 Twin Engine mid-size model, two luxury SUVs that produce 400 horsepower and 472 lb-ft of torque for claimed sprints of zero to 100km/h in just 5.3 and 5.6 seconds apiece respectively when “Power” mode is selected. While this is already impressive, the new Polestar versions pump up combined gasoline and electric output by 21 horsepower and 28 lb-ft of torque each, for new totals of 421 horsepower and 501 lb-ft.

Polestar branding
Volvo announced a separate new Polestar brand of electrified performance models, and this is the logo. (Photo: Polestar)

While shaving just 0.1 seconds from the larger SUV’s sprint time and an undisclosed (so far) amount from the smaller, lighter model (likely about 0.2 seconds for just over 5.0 seconds to 100km/h), other aspects of engine performance and gearbox functionality are improved as well, including “throttle response, off-throttle response, gearshift speed and hold,” taking the new models to “a new level of driving pleasure,” said Volvo in a press release. Volvo promises the changes will be most noticeable during everyday driving, such as when merging onto the highway, overtaking a slower vehicle or exiting a curve.

Polestar 1 Concept
This Polestar 1 rendering promises an exciting future for Volvo’s spinoff performance brand. (Photo: Polestar)

“The gearbox shifts faster,” adds Volvo, with gearshift points that have been “calibrated to utilize the optimized mid-range engine performance.” Likewise, “the gear-hold function maintains the same gear when cornering with high lateral g-force in order to avoid unsettling the balance of the car.”

“Our goal is to create usable performance in everyday driving situations for Volvo owners who want an enhanced driving experience,” said Henrik Fries, Vice President, Research and Development at Polestar when speaking about the new XC60 T8 with the Polestar upgrade. “The new XC60 has provided us with an excellent base to work on with a dynamic chassis and a state of the art powertrain. With the Polestar optimization, it makes the new Volvo XC60 a true drivers’ car.”

2018 Volvo S90 T8
In an interesting twist on the way most people see performance, Volvo’s plug-in electrified T8 models will produce the most power. (Photo: Volvo)

Separating these two specially tuned Volvos from other performance SUVs are expected fuel economy numbers that won’t anger Mother Nature. In fact, they shouldn’t change much from the less powerful variants, the XC60 T8 Twin Engine-powered SUV already achieving a claimed 10.1 L/100km in the city, 7.3 on the highway and 8.8 combined, while the XC90 T8 Twin Engine gets a claimed 10.1 L/100km city, 8.8 highway and 9.5 combined, or 4.7 Le/100km combined city/highway when factoring in regular plug-in charging (or potentially zero if your daily commute is less than its 43-kilometre EV range).

2018 Volvo XC90 T8 with Polestar Performance Optimization
While all Polestar Performance Optimization packages improve acceleration and responsiveness, enthusiasts are talking most about the 421-hp T8 version. (Photo: Volvo)

While all this spells good news for Volvo’s performance fans, the hiccup has been delivery. Dealers have XC60 T8 and XC90 T8 customers waiting for the Polestar optimization upgrades, but so far the package components haven’t arrived. How long can those customers expect to wait? According to Kyle Denton, Public Relations and Events Manager for Volvo Canada, “There is no timeline set at this point.”

Considering Volvo Canada made the official T8 Polestar Performance Optimization package announcement all the way back in July, garnering a lot of news and plenty of excitement in the process, having no timeline for delivery isn’t likely the answer those customers expected to hear.

2018 Volvo XC60 T6
No matter the drivetrain and performance available, all new Volvos get exceptionally good fuel economy. (Photo: Volvo)

Of note, XC60 and XC90 customers that purchase base T5 and mid-range T6 powertrains can get Polestar optimized packages, with both models using the T5 powertrain getting a 7 horsepower nudge to 261 horsepower, and those fitted with the T6 enjoying a more significant 14 horsepower bump to 334 horsepower. Like the T8 models covered above, Volvo stresses the biggest improvements are made to powertrain and transmission responsiveness throughout the rev range.

2018 Volvo XC90 T8
The XC60 and XC90’s 2.0-litre turbo-four is available with six different tuning levels when factoring in Polestar variants. (Photo: Volvo)

Volvo also offers Polestar Performance Optimization with its other models, but only its S90 and V90/V90 Cross Country models experience a power boost when applied to its T5 engine, the increase identical to the XC60 and XC90’s, resulting in 261 horsepower. The S60 and V60/V60 Cross Country T5s remain unchanged at 243 horsepower, with the Polestar upgrade only enhancing how that power is applied. Alternatively, like the XC60 and XC90 T6 models, Polestar Performance Optimization packages for the S90 and V90/V90 Cross Country T6 boost the models to 334 horsepower, whereas S60 and V60/V60 Cross Country T6 models move up 4 horsepower to 310.

2018 Volvo XC90 T8
XC60 and XC90 performance ranges from 254 to 421 horsepower. (Photo: Volvo)

As noted earlier, Polestar has its roots in motorsport. It began as Flash Engineering in 1996 under the leadership of Swedish Touring Car Championship (STCC) winner Jan ‘Flash’ Nilsson, with the purpose of contesting Volvos in the same series, initiated by a Tom Walkinshaw Racing (TWR) built 850 Super Touring sedan. A TWR-constructed S40 Super Touring was entered in 1998, after which a Prodrive-sourced S60 S2000 hit the track in 2003.

With more than 100 STCC wins spanning nearly a decade to its credit, Christian Dahl, who originally joined Flash as chief mechanic in 2001, purchased the team halfway through 2004 and rebranded it Polestar in 2005. Polestar Racing continued to compete and win with the S60 S2000 until 2009 when a C30 S2000 became the basis for the next-generation STCC challenger, which was the same year they started modifying Volvo road cars under their separate Polestar Performance brand.

Volvo Polestar racing history
Volvo has enjoyed decades of motorsport involvement thanks to association with Polestar, this photo showing a double victory at the famed Nürburgring track. (Photo: Volvo)

The first street-spec car was the one-off 405-horsepower all-wheel drive C30 Polestar Concept in 2010, complete with a 4.6-second sprint to 100 km/h and the audacious sound of straight exhaust, followed by the S60 Polestar Concept in 2012, which produced 508 horsepower and hit 100 km/h in 3.9 seconds before attaining a top speed of 299 km/h (186 mph). These garnered so much interest that production cars ensued in 2013, including the S60 Polestar and the V60 Polestar.

All Polestar optimized Volvos pull from that lengthy motorsport heritage, and therefore promise stronger performance along with all the other attributes Volvos are revered for.

It should be noted that Polestar Engineered upgrades are installed at the dealer level, so you have the option of adding them at the time of purchase and including it in your monthly payment, or doing so at a later date. Either way, upping performance with the Polestar Performance Optimization package doesn’t infringe on your Volvo’s warranty.

For more information, contact your Volvo retailer.

Volvo is in the process of completely revamping its model lineup and the 2018 XC60 is next in line. We test it in T6 AWD Inscription trim featuring its mid-range 316-hp turbocharged and supercharged 2.0L…

2018 Volvo XC60 Road Test

With such a wide array of crossover and sport utility vehicles now on the market, wily auto manufacturers are in a pitched battle to infuse their 'utes with the latest comfort, convenience and safety technology.

Volvo is no different. Once on the brink of extinction, the renowned Swedish brand was purchased by Chinese auto giant Geely, which wisely pumped cash into Volvo to resuscitate it, while allowing Volvo to do what it does best -- build superb cars with tons of luxury and safety. The result has been a string of hits for Volvo, including the XC90, S90, V90 Cross Country and the 2018 XC60.

Let's start outside with the all-new XC60 where surprisingly, Volvo's are now known for sensuous, sleek styling. Up front, "Thor's Hammer" daytime running lamps with LED technology are a "smashing" styling hit. Loosely based on the shape of Thor's Hammer from Norse mythology, these lights make quite a statement that carries into the side styling. Along the sides, the profile sports Read Full Story
Volvo has fully redesigned its popular XC60 for 2018, and it’s now a stunning compact luxury SUV. What’s more, its ultra-efficient 2.0L turbo four gains 10-hp for a total of 250-hp and AWD now comes…

2018 Volvo XC60 T6 AWD Inscription Road Test

Now that Volvo has rejuvenated its mid-size XC90 SUV and followed up that winning formula with the S90 luxury sedan, V90 sport wagon and V90 Cross Country crossover wagon, it's time for the all-new 2018 XC60 compact SUV to pay for it all.

Seriously. Does anyone question which new model will be Volvo's perennial bestseller? All we have to do is look at sales before Volvo initiated its brand-wide revitalization, and the XC60 was by far the automaker's top seller. In fact, it represents 30 percent of Volvo's worldwide volume. The larger XC90 is still extremely important, especially when it comes to profits, but this is the one Volvo needed to get absolutely right.

At first glance the 2018 XC60 looks like a smaller, sportier variation on the XC90 theme, with a little V90 Cross Country thrown into the mix for good measure. I really like the design, particularly its wide rectangular waterfall grille, the Thor's hammer LED headlights, chiseled lower front fascia sporting LED Read Full Story