Used Car Reviews

Used Vehicle Review: Volvo XC60, 2010-2016

Vehicle Type

Owners tend to rave about a safe, solid and planted driving feel

Luxury Crossover


The Volvo XC60 was launched in Canada for model year 2010, to compete with a hotly growing market full of mid-sized luxury crossovers with an eye for Swedish design, safety and quality.

This machine boasted a bevy of safety systems, including Volvo’s then-new City Safety system, which could detect other vehicles, and autonomously brake, in certain situations, to mitigate or prevent impacts. Among many other things, City Safety technology made the XC60 the world’s first vehicle with standard equipment to actively, and autonomously, prevent low-speed collisions.

Flowing and graceful curves and a uniquely appointed cabin helped set Volvo’s latest crossover apart from numerous competitors from Mercedes, BMW and Lexus, giving the XC60 a fresh face in a sea of familiar faces.

Feature content may include a three-mode suspension system, adaptive headlights, navigation, a potent Dynaudio stereo system, and more. A back-up camera system and motorized tailgate could also be specified.

Engines / Trim

Look for the XC60 with a 3.0L straight-six engine turbocharged for 281 hp at launch. For model year 2011 power output was increased to 300 hp. Most models were all-wheel drive (AWD), though some were available in front-wheel drive, particularly with the available 3.2-litre, non-turbo straight-six engine, with 235 hp. The T6 R-Design variant came online from 2011, fitting cosmetic and chassis upgrades, and a bump in power to 325 horses. Models from 2015 and on could be fitted with a turbocharged 2.5L five-cylinder, good for 250 hp, or Volvo’s new Drive-E engine, a turbocharged and supercharged four-cylinder with 300.

What Owners Like

Owners tend to rave about a safe, solid and planted driving feel, a comfortable and peaceful cabin, comfortable seats and an ideal blend of utility, performance and fuel economy. Unique styling, largely held as tastefully understated, appealed to many shoppers as well. Notably, the effectiveness of the AWD system and headlights are highly rated in the owner’s community.

What Owners Dislike

Some owners wish for fewer warning beepers from the safety systems, as well as a more comfortable ride on rougher roads, particularly on models with upsized wheels, and especially with the R-Design model.

Here’s a list of Volvo XC670 owner reviews.

The Test Drive

Start your test drive of a potential used XC60 candidate ensuring that the seller will allow you to take the vehicle to a Volvo service centre for a pre-purchase inspection if you decide to short-list it for consideration, or that they’ll be willing to meet you there, to have a Volvo technician inspect the vehicle ahead of your purchase. As it goes with many a modern luxury vehicle, buying a used XC60 without a pre-purchase inspection is not advised.

Start your test drive by asking the seller if they’ve ever experienced a water leak from the windshield, particularly if the unit you’re considering is an earlier one. This commonly reported issue seems to have stemmed from improper installation of the windshield at the factory, and can result in water leaks down the inside of the vehicle in heavy rain. Left unchecked, the leaking water can damage the dashboard, and cause issues with the electronics behind it. Wet carpeting, a mouldy smell, or water staining in the footwell areas may also be signs of this issue.

On the topic of the windshield, make sure the one on the unit you’re considering is in good shape, free of cracks and chips, especially at the top of the glass. The XC60 uses various sensors and cameras mounted behind the upper, middle section of the windscreen to power its numerous safety systems, and any obstruction caused by damage to the glass can render the systems ineffective. Note that windshield repairs or replacements should only be tackled by a Volvo dealer for the life of the vehicle, to maintain safety system functionality.

Drive the vehicle with an eye on the instrument cluster, noting any warning messages relating to non-functional safety systems, or safety system error messages. If you note any, be sure to have a technician investigate. Turn the various systems on and off, several times, via their controls on the lower edge of the central control console, and check for signs of trouble.

Check all power windows in both directions, several times, confirming that the “auto” feature on each works as expected, too. If that’s not the case, holding the switch down a few seconds, and then up a few seconds, can often reset it, restoring functionality. If that’s not the case, the switch may need to be replaced. Here’s some more reading.

Try each exterior door handle, several times, ensuring that the handle returns to its closed position quickly and fully when released. If that’s not the case, the door handle mechanism will likely need to be dismantled, cleaned and lubricated. Some owners report that this procedure is required on an ongoing basis to ensure proper door handle operation.

Because of several reports of broken coil springs on earlier models, shoppers are advised to have the XC60’s full suspension system checked over by a technician, too.

Confirm proper operation of the back-up camera system, ensuring it promptly engages when the vehicle is placed in reverse. Note that non-functionality, in many cases, is the result of owners accidentally disabling the feature via the control menu, though some automotive reliability websites report this as a defect. If the back-up camera isn’t working, simply go through the on-screen menu to re-enable it, and in most cases, it’ll begin working again.

Check all on-board electronics, several times, for proper operation – including the Bluetooth interface, all remotes, the push-button start, all locks, the sunroof, and all climate and seating functions. In this thread, several owners have reported that corrupt vehicle software can cause rapid battery drain, which causes niggling issues with various systems and functions. If you notice any random error messages or non-functionality of multiple features, you’ll want to ensure all software updates that apply to the model you’re considering have been applied, and that the battery and charging system are healthy. Your dealer service advisor can help.

Check the engine coolant level, too. If it seems low, or you notice a warning light requesting a top-up of engine coolant, the likely cause is an air bubble or two having worked its way into the system. This has happened to a number of owners of other Volvo models with the 3.0L turbo engine, and should pose no cause for alarm.

On the topic of fluids, remember that the XC60, as a minimum, requires maintenance and fluid changes related to power steering fluid, brake fluid, AWD transaxle fluid, engine oil, coolant, and rear-differential fluid. Determine where all these fluids sit within their service life, budgeting for a full fluid change if the model’s service history is unclear. Keep on top of fluid maintenance, and you can expect added longevity from vehicle systems and components.

Be sure to check the wheels and tires for signs of cracking, bubbling and damage, and wear to the wheel finish, especially on a model with larger wheel and tire sizes, which can be more prone to damage from potholes.

A final note, stressing an earlier point: given the complex nature of numerous XC60 safety systems, and other features, be sure to budget for a pre-purchase inspection at a dealer, including a full electronics system scan. Tell the service advisor you’d like the vehicle checked comprehensively, and that you want confirmation that all safety systems are functional, that the battery and charging system are healthy, that the suspension, and coil springs in particular, are healthy and intact. You’ll want to see if any available software updates to the XC60’s systems still need to be applied, too.

The Verdict

By and large, the XC60’s most commonly-reported problems are far from serious or systematic, and most will be easy to detect and address. Purchasing a model known to your local Volvo dealer, with all service and software up to date, is ideal for maximum peace of mind.

A lengthy list of recalls.

Crash Test Ratings

IIHS: Top Safety Pick (2012)
NHTSA: 5/5 Stars (2012)