It has bigger batteries and more powerful electric motors, both of which allow you to use the XC60 more often as an electric vehicle (EV), with the back up of a petrol engine and fuel tank should you run out of charge.
Plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) have never really taken off in Australia, and while your author is one of the believers, it’s easy to see why the Aussie buying public may not have gravitated to them like the Europeans.
We’re only just getting onto hybrids now, led by none other than Toyota, with other brands scrambling to jump on the bandwagon. These have been around since the first Toyota Prius debuted in the late 1990s.
PHEVs took off in Europe around mid-way through last decade, as the European Union enforced tougher emissions laws on vehicle manufacturers.
Something of a stepping stone to full electrification, they’re capable of performing the average daily commute with no local emissions, and offer the flexibility of hybrid power on longer trips when the battery runs out of charge.
While these kinds of vehicles are incentivised and subsidised in other markets, in Australia they carry hefty premiums over equivalent petrol and diesel models, as well as regular hybrids, in some cases requiring more than a decade of use in perfect conditions to recoup the premium paid at the dealer.
However, my personal view is a little more wide-reaching than just the financial benefits. Reducing my CO2 output one full charge at a time is not just better for the environment, it helps me feel like I’m doing my bit irrespective of whether I can get a subsidy or a tax break from the government. It also means I spend less time at the pump.
In the case of the Volvo XC60 Ultimate T8 Recharge Plug-in Hybrid, the reduction in fuel use (when used as designed) also allows for more performance and a more refined drive experience.
When the enhanced MY22 Volvo XC60 line-up was detailed in February, the T8 Recharge Plug-in Hybrid listed for $97,990 plus on-road costs.
However, Volvo has increased prices by around $3000 across the board for the 2023 model-year, meaning if you went in and ordered a new XC60 Recharge today, the list price has risen to $100,990 before on-roads.
Unlike elsewhere in the world, the XC60 Recharge Plug-in Hybrid is offered in a single trim level locally, based on the newly-named Ultimate Dark specification that bundles in the sporty R-Design package as standard. There’s no Ultimate Bright (or Inscription) version of the PHEV available in Australia.
Note: Our test car is an MY22 example, which looks and the same as the MY23 model other than some minor spec changes
2023 Volvo XC60 pricing:
- 2023 Volvo XC60 Plus B5: $72,990
- 2023 Volvo XC60 Ultimate B5 Bright: $79,990
- 2023 Volvo XC60 Ultimate B6 Dark: $85,990
- 2023 Volvo XC60 Ultimate T8 Recharge Plug-in Hybrid: $100,990
Prices exclude on-road costs
Key rivals include:
Prices exclude on-road costs
If you’ve sat in any recent Volvo there’s no real surprises about the XC60’s cabin.
Like the wider range, there’s a sweeping dash with a portrait-oriented centre touchscreen, mixed in with sumptuous Nappa leather, alloy inlays (as tested), and an overall impression of high-quality craftsmanship.
What’s better is that Volvo’s interiors don’t really copy any other brand, so there’s a sense of familiarity within the Swedish brand’s stable without feeling like a German knock-off.
The front seats feature full electric adjustment and memory presets, with my personal favourite element being the extendable under-thigh cushions that are so beautifully sculpted you feel supported from every angle.
The steering wheel is distinctively Volvo and it feels like a solid item in the hand. The 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster now runs the same Android Automotive interface as the Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric as well as the Polestar 2, and like the interior design it has its own character compared to rival makes.
However, there’s only really two layouts, one with the maps projected in the centre and one without. Given the real estate, it’d be great to see more configurability to match the likes of Audi.
The 9.0-inch central touchscreen is familiar from the Volvo stable, and offers online functionality in tandem with the Google Assistant. It’s all pretty easy to use and you can add your Spotify account, for example, but Apple CarPlay is still a wired affair.
While Volvo has moved to a new-age infotainment interface, the actual look and feel is a little dated. Where the Polestar 2 gets a flat-skinned, modern look, the Volvo’s icons and menus don’t look particularly flash. Luckily, the software is snappy and functions like Google Maps built-in are handy inclusions.
A highlight of Volvo interiors is the available Bowers and Wilkins premium audio, which is fitted as standard to the Ultimate T8 Recharge. With 15 speakers and 1460W output, the brand’s flagship surround audio offering offers deep, clear sound with a number of cool settings and modes – try the Concert Hall profile and you’ll thank me later.
Storage is pretty good for the class, with two cupholders between the front seats, a wireless phone charger as well as a storage cubby underneath the front-centre armrest. There’s also deep bins in the doors that can hold bottles and other loose items.
The rear seat is one of the more spacious in the class, though there is a pretty hefty driveline hump in the middle seat – though Volvo has trimmed it in rubberised plastic to deal with muddy shoes.
Leg- and headroom is excellent and there’s amenities like pillar-mounted vents, a fold-down centre armrest with cupholders, rear map pockets, and dual USB-C outlets. Unfortunately, the Recharge misses out on separate climate controls for the rear like other XC60 models.
It’s super kid-friendly back here too, courtesy of outboard ISOFIX anchors, top-tether points across all three rear seats, as well as integrated child booster cushions on the outer seats.
The rear seats also split-fold 60:40, and there’s a ski port to allow longer items to feed through without folding the entire rear bench.
Volvo quotes 468L of luggage capacity for the XC60 T8 Recharge, down slightly on the 483 litres for B5 and B6 versions.
The T8 Recharge’s standard air suspension comes with height controls in the boot adjust the rear load height in case it needs to be lowered or raised to help with ingress and egress, and there’s also a 12V socket.
Under the boot floor there’s no space-saver spare wheel like other XC60 grades due to the battery pack being located underneath; instead there’s a tyre repair kit.
Volvo includes a handbag-like tote to hold your charging cables too, which features a clip-in tether so it doesn’t go rolling around while you’re driving. Clever.
The XC60 T8 Recharge Plug-in Hybrid teams a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine with an electric motor and 18.8kWh lithium-ion battery pack – gone is the supercharger from older versions.
The petrol motor makes 223kW (6000rpm) and 400Nm (3000-5400rpm) on its own, while the rear-mounted electric motor develops 107kW (15,900rpm) and 309Nm (0-3280rpm). System outputs are 340kW and 709Nm, and Volvo claims the XC60 PHEV can sprint from 0-100 in 4.8 seconds.
Like all versions of the Volvo XC60 in Australia, the PHEV is all-wheel drive and features an eight-speed automatic transmission. However, the Recharge has a version of all-wheel drive where the petrol engine only drives the front wheels and the e-motor drives the rears.
The XC60 T8 Recharge Plug-in Hybrid officially uses 1.6L/100km on the combined cycle, and emits 81g/km of CO2.
With the more powerful electric motor and bigger battery pack, the XC60 Recharge can genuinely be driven as an EV for daily commuting.
Leaving the XC60 in its Hybrid mode leaves the vehicle’s systems to do their best work, balancing performance and efficiency, and tailoring to the driving conditions.
It’ll default to EV mode on start-up, and there’s a little indicator on the power meter where the petrol engine will kick in – i.e. if you input a certain amount of throttle input in Hybrid mode, the petrol engine will jump in for maximum performance.
Changing to EV mode (Pure) will basically push that back to full throttle, and will add a few kilometres of range to your trip computer as it draws as much power from the battery as possible to maximise zero-emissions range. In Hybrid the XC60 will save a certain level of power to continue running as a Toyota-style hybrid to minimise fuel use.
You can also cycle through Power, Off-road and Constant AWD modes to tailor the drivetrain to your liking.
Power primes both the petrol and electric engines for maximum performance and stiffens the adaptive chassis systems, Off-road engages both power sources for all-wheel drive traction and raises the air suspension, and Constant AWD performs a similar function without putting the XC60 into off-road mode.
I spent most of my time with the XC60 T8 Recharge in its Hybrid mode, letting the car figure out the most efficient way to get me to where I needed to be. Especially compared to the XC90 Recharge I drove last year with the older motor and battery setup, it feels like a marked improvement.
With 309Nm available from idle courtesy of that electric motor, the XC60 gets along with pretty decent pace in EV mode and is more than capable of getting up to 100km/h without the petrol engine turning over.
The hushed drivetrain in this setting makes for a serene on-road experience across all conditions, as the cabin is likewise nicely insulated from the outside world – even on the Ultimate specification’s 21-inch alloy wheels and low-profile tyres.
I charged up the XC60 at home each night and had an indicated 63-65km of electric range each morning, which is more than enough for most people’s daily commutes but a little down on Volvo’s 77-81km claim. It’s an achievable figure though – I managed to do over 60km of driving on multiple days without using the petrol engine at all.
Not only is the lack of ambient noise luxurious, but the standard air suspension provides a really well sorted ride that’s not too floaty and not too firm. The XC60 has never been overly sporty, but the fluid, accurate controls and measured body control mean it’s an easy car to navigate city streets as well as winding B-roads.
The eight-speed auto and 2.0-litre turbo four work well with the rear-mounted electric motor, never clunking between power sources or awkwardly kicking down when you bury your right foot.
When you want to turn the wick up a bit you can, though. In its power setting, the XC60’s drivetrain offers up to 340kW of power and 709Nm, which is a decent amount of grunt in anyone’s books.
Acceleration is muscular when you really need it, whether you’re firing from the lights or overtaking on the freeway. The claimed 4.8-second sprint from 0-100km/h feels achievable, and the low-down response from the electric motor makes the Volvo feel just as athletic off the line as something like an Audi SQ5 or BMW X3 M40i.
Volvo’s full suite of driver assist features come as standard, and the XC60’s various features are some of the better calibrated systems available today.
The brand’s Pilot Assist feature combines adaptive cruise and lane centring functions for semi-autonomous highway cruising and traffic jam assist, and it works smoothly and predictably. All you have to do is set and keep your hands on the wheel.
Likewise the blind-spot and rear cross-traffic functions are handy, even with the XC60’s standard surround-view cameras and generous glasshouse. Unlike many rival SUVs with slim windows and tapered tailgates, the XC60 is pretty easy to see out of bar the thick D-pillars, and parking is a cinch once you get used to the somewhat warped viewing angle of the parking cameras.
Overall, the XC60 presents as one of the more convincing premium plug-in hybrid offerings, bringing a lot more to the table than just a super-low official consumption figure.
XC60 Plus B5 highlights:
- 19-inch diamond-cut alloys (NEW design)
- LED headlights with active bending
- LED front fog lights
- 9.0-inch Android Automotive infotainment system
- Satellite navigation incl. Google Maps
- DAB radio
- Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
- Digital Service, 4-year subscription
- Wireless smartphone charger
- 4-zone climate control
- Electric tailgate
- Auto-dimming rear-view mirror
- Electric front seats with memory
- Power-folding rear headrests (NEW)
- Leather-accented upholstery
XC60 Ultimate B5 Bright adds:
- 20-inch diamond-cut alloys
- Head-up display
- Air Purifier (NEW)
- Heated steering wheel (NEW)
- Heated front seats
- Tailored instrument and door panels
- Crystal gearshift
XC60 Ultimate B6 Dark adds:
- 21-inch alloy wheels
- R-Design exterior styling
- Nappa leather upholstery ($NCO)
XC60 Ultimate T8 Recharge
- Air suspension with Active Chassis
- Bowers and Wilkins premium audio
- 2-zone climate control
- Rear privacy glass
- Tyre repair kit
- Tailored Wool Blend upholstery* (NEW, $NCO)
*Made from 30 per cent responsibly produced wool and 70 per cent polyester with contrasting white piping
Lifestyle Package with Harman Kardon: $3700 (B5 and B6)
- Panoramic sunroof
- Harman Kardon premium audio
Lifestyle Package with Bowers and Wilkins: $6100 (Ultimate)
- Panoramic sunroof
- Bowers and Wilkins premium audio
Climate Package: $850 (Plus B5)
- Black Stone
- Crystal White*
- Onyx Black*
- Denim Blue*
- Fusion Red*
- Thunder Grey*
- Platinum Grey*
- Silver Dawn*
- Bright Dusk*
*Metallic and pearl finishes cost $2050
Petrol versions of the Volvo XC60 wear a five-star ANCAP safety rating based on Euro NCAP tests in 2017. Plug-in hybrid models remain unrated.
The XC60 scored 98 per cent for adult occupant protection, 87 per cent for child occupant protection, 76 per cent for pedestrian detection and 95 per cent for safety assist.
Standard safety features include:
- Adjustable speed limiter
- Adaptive cruise control incl. Pilot Assist
- Active lane centring
- Stop&Go function
- Autonomous emergency braking (AEB)
- Forward and Reverse
- Pedestrian, Cyclist and Animal detection
- Blind-spot monitoring
- Rear cross-traffic assist
- 360-degree cameras
- Front, rear and side parking sensors
- Hill start assist
- Hill descent control
Like the wider Volvo line-up, the XC60 is backed by a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty, with eight years of complementary 24/7 roadside assistance. Recharge models are also covered by an eight-year hybrid battery warranty.
Volvo offers three- and five-year service plans for the XC60 range, priced at $1750 and $3000 respectively. Scheduled maintenance is required every 12 months or 15,000 kilometres – whichever comes first.
I managed to finish 200 kilometres of testing over a course of four days with an indicated fuel consumption readout of 0.5L/100km, which was achievable through daily charging and daily mileage of 40-65 kilometres.
Worth noting is that when Paul took it down to our filming location, that figure jumped quickly with more performance-oriented driving, an extended freeway run and a depleted battery.
In my experience with the XC90 Recharge however, keeping the vehicle in Hybrid mode on a longer journey should be able to keep the consumption under 5-6L/100km which is still impressive for such a large and powerful vehicle.
While the value equation for some plug-in hybrids raises question marks, the Volvo XC60 Recharge presents more than just a reduction in fuel consumption and emissions.
Sure the $15,000 upcharge over the Ultimate B6 is a steep, but you’re also getting significantly more performance, standard air suspension (a must with these big wheels), and that sweet Bowers and Wilkins premium audio system – both of which are costly options on lower grades which would shrink the price gap.
The added flexibility of the plug-in hybrid drivetrain (which has been recently upgraded) means you can do your daily commute and then some on pure electric power, giving you an EV during the week and a hybrid with no range anxiety on weekends.
My favourite part about PHEVs in general is that they look and feel like a normal car, and in the case of the XC60 Recharge there’s minimal impact on the car’s packaging, and the luxurious drive experience is only improved with the high-tech electrified powertrain.
Compared to its rivals the XC60 T8 Recharge offers more performance and more range, and while a little more expensive than the Lexus NX450h+ and Mercedes-Benz GLC300e, it comfortably undercuts the BMW X3 xDrive30e and Range Rover Evoque P300e, especially once you compare spec-for-spec.
If you want to electrify your daily drive with a premium badge but aren’t quite ready for an EV yet, the Volvo XC60 T8 Recharge is one of the most convincing plug-in hybrids on the market.
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MORE: Everything Volvo XC60