Expert Reviews

2022 Volvo XC60 Recharge Extended Range First Drive Review

Its 2022 refresh may be subtle to the eye, but the Volvo XC60 comes packing some important updates.

The first is the brand’s new Google-based infotainment system that’s standard across the lineup, while the plug-in hybrid (PHEV) model comes packing more power and electric driving range in the form of the 2022 Volvo XC60 Recharge Extended Range.

Its Speciality is Subtlety

The XC60 remains one of the most handsome rigs in the segment, rocking a Scandi-chic aesthetic both outside and in. From Volvo’s signature Thor’s Hammer headlights to the exquisitely tailored cabin, the XC60 delights the senses.

Exterior tweaks for 2022 include a restyled fascia with an updated grille and a bolder Volvo emblem. There are new wheel designs, too, while the tailpipes are now hidden behind the bumper. For a marque charging headlong into the electric future, the less exhaust that meets the eye the better. This tester is dipped in the new-for-2022 Silver Dawn Metallic paint.

Amped Up Electrons

Below decks the Recharge’s battery increases in capacity from 11.6 kWh to 18.8, and the electric motor that drives the rear wheels now generates 143 hp (up from 87). Working with the 2.0L twin-charged four-cylinder that generates 312 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque, total system output is a whopping 455 hp and 523 lb-ft of torque (up from the previous 400 hp and 472 lb-ft). Along with this prodigious thrust comes 58 km of EV range – a meaningful jump from the previous 31 km.

Another new feature here is one-pedal driving. This ramps up the regenerative braking when lifting off the throttle in EV mode, to the point where the majority of driving can be accomplished without having to touch the brake pedal at all. Think of the throttle pedal as a volume knob for the drivetrain. And yes, the brake lights do come on when decelerating.

A Delight to Drive

OK, time to take this tree-hugging Nordic hot-rod for a spin. Of course the seats are superb – a Volvo hallmark – and here they are trimmed in tailored wool blend, an upholstery made from wool and recycled materials. It’s fabulously comfy and breathable. Twisting the knurled ignition knob on the console wakes the Recharge, and a couple of tugs on the crystal gear selector gets us rolling. Two tugs? Yep – and push twice for reverse, too. It’s a Volvo safety feature, and soon becomes second nature.

In-town all-electric motoring is as you’d expect: smooth, silent, and torque-rich. Not bonkers quick like the fully electric Volvo XC40 and C40 Recharge models, mind you, but plenty swift enough. Soon I’m heading towards the California mountains along Route 74. It’s a fabulously sinuous and scenic route, rising and scything through the rock and scrub desert landscape. My destination is the Coachella Valley Viewpoint, about 25 minutes out of town, and on arrival I’m still on electric power – although the range is showing only four miles remaining.

On these winding roads (and in rear-wheel-drive-only electric mode) the XC60 Recharge is a competent if not particularly engaging handler. You’re always aware of the vehicle’s 2,158 kg (4,758 lb), and the steering lacks much in the way of meaningful feedback. You’ll get more engagement from some German rivals, but with 455 hp and 523 lb-ft of torque on tap, this Swede will show them its fetching vertical taillights in no time.

My only real complaint here is the XC60’s flinty ride quality, an issue with the platform it’s built on since the start, and one that niggles away at this otherwise excellent SUV’s premium comfort.

New Tech, Same Cabin

As with other Volvos, the XC60 Recharge’s dash is dominated by a 9.1-inch portrait-oriented touchscreen, now with infrared technology that means it can be operated while wearing gloves. The old infotainment system makes way for a new Google-based interface, featuring Google Maps and natural voice recognition. It comes with four years of data courtesy of Volvo, so the Google world awaits – all you have to do is utter “Hey, Google” to tap in. The navigation works a treat, and the graphics are great. The HVAC functions are easily controlled via voice, which is a lot better than poking away at the small screen icons.

Strangely, even though this is an Android operating system, it doesn’t support Android Auto (or Apple CarPlay) at this point, but Volvo says there’s an over-the-air update for the latter coming sometime this year.

This tester was fitted with an optional premium sound system, which brags 15 speakers and 1,100 watts of power from its digital amplifier. Yes, it does sound spectacular and worth the outlay.

More Electrified Fun

Heading back down Route 74 in one-pedal mode (accessed by pulling the crystal shifter back one more time once drive is engaged), the battery pack gained about six miles of range. Predictably, with the gas engine firing on all turbocharged and supercharged cylinders and all the electric gubbins online, this thing goes like a rabid reindeer.

With its dual voltage (110- and 220-volt) charging cable, customers can charge at home using either. Volvo adopts the standard J1772 connector, and on a 220-volt power source the XC60 Recharge Extended Range can fully recharge in five to eight hours.

Final Thoughts

This slick Swede is surely a lovely – and very complex – piece of kit, yet despite the astounding array of technology lurking beneath its skin, all the electronic and mechanical systems operate in a cohesive, transparent fashion. With a claimed electric range of 58 km, the majority of buyers will likely forget what it’s like to buy gas and grow to love one-pedal driving.

This extended range powertrain will make it across the rest of Volvo’s current PHEV lineup – those being the XC90 sport utility, S90 and S60 sedans, and V60 wagon – in the near future. Bragging rights come with this as well; they’re the most powerful models Volvo has ever sold.

Expect the 2022 Volvo XC60 Recharge Extended Range in showrooms by early April. At the time of this writing, Volvo hadn’t announced Canadian pricing. The standard-range 2021 XC60 Recharge started at $68,800 before freight and tax.