Volvo xc60 SE D5
Added: 4th of June 2014
I researched this model before I decided to buy. I compared it to the BMW X5 and the Volvo VC70. The xc60 came out top in cost, fuel economy and insurance costs. There is a lot of room for passengers both front and rear. In fact, the back seats have the greatest legroom of all the cars I looked at. I am 6 foot 3 inches tall and found it very comfortable for legroom and head height. The XC60 runs smoothly and relatively quietly but that largely depends on which type of tyres you choose. We had our car converted to leather seats as the original cloth seats were hideous. As it was our intention to change it was not a factor when buying. The cloth seats did look bad. Bootspace is great. A load protector was purchased as a necessity and it has served us well. The best £100 we have spent. We have loaded all sorts of rubbish from builders rubble to nail laden pieces of wood and the protector is a godsend. It has taken a fair bit of punishment and is still offering lots more protection. Well worth investing. You can take it out, hose it down and off you go again. It fits perfectly into the boot space. I would advise to buy one if you have a dog or are a keen DIY person. You can also get dog bars which clip on and off the car in a jiffy. Fuel economy is not bad. You can really push this car on acceleration but the price for that is economy. It is a fast car if you want it to be. The twin turbo kicks in with no perceptible lag. As for fuel, I have driven from Dundee to Cornwall on one tank of diesel and I was driving at the speed limits. I think that was 550 miles. There was still enough fuel left for the next days drive to a petrol station. There are a few bells and whistles in this vehicle. Hill descent is a simple tool to use and it saved me once from embarrassment one icy day. In slow moving traffic in first gear I started sliding downhill towards a lorry and could not stop after pumping the brakes. I engaged the hill descent and applied the brake and it controlled the stop really well without ABS kicking in. I occasionally use it in the winter in slow moving traffic on downhill stretches just in case. It offers excellent control. Engage and just leave the car to descend at its own pace. There is also dynamic stability control but the best feature is the city safety. This employs a camera mounted above the windscreen which scans the road in front in slow moving traffic up to 19 MPH. If you take your eye off the ball and look as though you will run into the car in front, City Safety applies the brakes for you. It might well come as a shock because it is brutally immediate but it prevents an accident when it is most common. It can also apply in other circumstances too though but this has never happened to me. In frosty weather the camera view may be obscured with ice on the windscreen and is may apply the brakes then. It may also apply when following another car closely and the exhaust from the car in front blows up condensation into the air. The camera and laser thinks this is another car you are driving into and it may well apply the brakes quickly. The laser can be reflected in the water droplets apparently. So keep your distance from car exhausts in cold weather. It has never been a problem for me since I knew about this and followed my own advice. Service costs are variably but I have stopped going to the Volvo dealership as they do charge far more than they need to. However, having said that, you need to get some service done there to obtain software updates for your car. These cannot be found outside Volvo dealerships unfortunately. There are a few downsides to owning this car. They seem to be prone to sensor problems. A warning light may tell you that the engine service is required but that may not be exactly what it seems. There is a system called regeneration which kicks in every so often. This is when the engine decides it needs to clean itself and so adds fuel to the burn and the engine management system causes the engine to burn hot and get rid of soot etc. This comes up as a soot warning. The car deals with this once warmed up by overusing fuel. The downside is that it dumps fuel into the oil sump. This is not a problem but it does add level to your oil and brings the oil levels up. This triggers an engine management service warning. The trick is to know that this is an issue from time to time, probably running too many journeys with the engine not warming up sufficiently, and keep the oil levels just below maximums. There is a safe place between minimum and maximum. This allows some space for the fuel dump into the oil and stops the engine warnings taking place. One service engineer explained all this to me when I took a 60 mile round trip to the dealership on three occasions to find out what was wrong. They put too much oil into the car at the end of the day. One other thing to be careful of is the electric tailgate. I know that one previous owner forgot this since there was a dent in the boot because of it. The tailgate lifts up quite high sometimes in low places. Once in a supermarket multi story car park I almost damaged it again by letting it go all the way up. You also need a little space behind for it to open up. About 1 foot is enough. The height is the one to look for. Although the door does open quite high it sometimes is not high enough for tall people like me. I have hit my head on the tailgate several times. If you are about 6 foot or less you will be fine. Sound system is adequate in this model but sound aficionados will want more speakers and a little more definition. My last Volvo had 13 speakers and quite discernibly better sound. I suppose you get what you pay for. Overall I love the car but there are some annoying noises from it now and again. The boot cover flaps with varying air pressure now and again and there are some rattles from the rear doors. I think a clip or a screw has come loose inside the door and it rattles annoyingly inside at certain engine revs. The screw seems to vibrate in sympathy with the engine! We had a heavy fall of snow and I was driving through snow, which was over 18 inches deep. Absolutely never lost a beat driving in the snow. Don't know about mud but the high clearance of about 9 inches and front belly pan stops the snow clogging up underneath. It is very sure footed in the snow. Ice is a different matter. Less grip and you really need to pay attention. Oddly, you need to rev up for the 4 X4 to work properly. This should only happen at slow speeds though. If you get stuck, just rev the engine and the system cuts in and sends power to the wheel with traction. Normally it runs only on power to the front two wheels but will transfer to all four wheels automatically when required. All in all this car does tick all the boxes for me.