If you view the U.S. tax code as a little light bed-side reading, you should be intrigued with the buzzing, humming, sometimes-silent Volvo XC60.
Most days, the supercharged-turbocharged-electrified-hybrid crossover seems nearly as complex as a Russian existential novel – or my ex-wife, take your choice – and just saying its full name will leave you breathless.
Technically, my Volvo was a 2021 XC60 Recharge T8 Inscription, a name that got me fumbling in the glove compartment for the owner’s manual before I even hit the start button.
I mean, if I can’t remember the name of the vehicle I’m driving, what chance do I have of ever finding the windshield-washer button?
In an attempt to be all things to all drivers, Volvo turbocharged the XC60’s two-liter four-cylinder engine, also bolted on a supercharger and slipped an electric motor into the power-mix, and just for good measure, it’s also a plug-in hybrid, able to travel for 19 miles on battery-electric power alone.
Armed with all that artillery, the optional T8 model of the XC60 squeezes out a total of 400 horsepower and gets an average of 28 miles per gallon.
Pretty impressive, I guess, but I sure wouldn’t want to change the T8’s sparkplugs – assuming I could even find them.
Here’s the deal, kids: As luxury and near-luxury vehicles struggle to serve multiple masters – better fuel economy, lower emissions and greater performance – these Rubik’s Cube powerplants will likely become more common.
Already, Mercedes-Benz and Land Rover use a mix of motors similar to the Volvo’s. Get ready for wind and solar power at some point, I suppose.
Ironically, my bluish-gray XC60 wrapped all its gizmos, do-hickeys, thingamabobs and heavy-metal tech in a clean, strikingly handsome body.
A strong, vaguely rectangular grille with polished vertical strips in it, for example, abutted stylish, highly contemporary multi-element headlamps.
Short front fenders with minimal overhangs flowed into sides featuring a subtle, muscular roll in them and carved lightly by lines up high and down low.
The Volvo’s well-proportioned body rode on polished 20-inch alloy wheels fortified with 255/45 tires.
As a Volvo, it also sported signature vertical taillamps extending the length of the XC60’s one-piece tailgate.
Don’t expect to be greeted by a mysterious symphony of sounds, though, when you twist the XC60’s odd square starter button.
Like most hybrids, the $71,000 crossover awakens silently, ready to give the vehicle a shove before all its other motors join in.
Most of the time, you hear the familiar flat drone of a four-cylinder engine, which is bolted to a conventional 8-speed automatic that drives the front wheels, clicking off positive shifts.
Meanwhile, an electric motor in back spins the rear wheels.
Likewise, the supercharger keeps the engine simmering while the turbocharger spools up.
Put the whip to all of the horses and the XC60 responds with a solid surge of power and a steady rush to speed, hitting 60 mph in 5 seconds.
That is plenty quick, but honestly, I figured it would be more dramatic – a runaway stagecoach with six galloping horses. A BMW X3 with the turbo 3-liter six actually feels more powerful.
Still, the XC60 is a 4,700-pound crossover with strong performance that can get 33 mpg on the highway.
Light, quick steering makes the XC60 seem smaller than it is, providing fairly aggressive turn-in to corners.
Although pretty grippy, the 5.5-foot tall Volvo leans some in corners and doesn’t slice into them as cleanly as its German competitors.
However, the XC60, while firm and occasionally fidgety over bad roads, rides better overall than the Germans, absorbing most imperfections with generous wheel-travel.
Moreover, the light-gray interior in my XC60 – it might have been off-white – really complemented the clean, handsome exterior.
It definitely felt Swedish, a sleek crossover you might find parked outside an IKEA store.
The Volvo’s flat upper dashboard, in an upscale dark-gray plastic, squared up to a mid-dash that was half light gray and half a pale “tailored wood,” and was utterly dominated by a huge 12.3-inch display screen.
Volvo must have enormous confidence in its electrical components because just about everything is routed through that big screen, including the climate and audio controls, and various engine power settings.
“Hal” eased down onto a high console featuring a crystal-shaped shifter for the 8-speed automatic, while a smallish steering wheel in light gray with a dark-gray ring around it reinforced the XC60’s high-end feel.
Supportive sectioned bucket seats in light-gray leather kept me planted behind that great steering wheel, and the backseat in the five-passenger Volvo offered good leg- and headroom.
It lugged a long list of options, including a climate package with heated windshield-wipers among its features ($750); an advanced package with a head-up display ($1,900); and a Bowers and Wilkins audio system ($3,200).
If the XC60 is a glimpse of the future, it looks pretty good.
But like everything else today, there sure is a lot going on.
2021 XC60 Recharge T8 Inscription
- What I liked most: Four-hundred horsepower in a compact crossover, even if the XC60 had more power sources than some city electrical systems.
- What I would change: Keep the power, lose the complexity, though I don’t have a clue how I would do that.
- MSRP: Base price, $61,000; as equipped, $71,340.
- Official color: Denim Blue Metallic
- Fuel economy (with gas engine): 28 miles per gallon in the city, 33 on the highway and 30 mpg combined with filler on the right.
- Odometer reading when tested: 1,404 miles.
- Spare tire: Temporary compact.
- Weight: 4,768 pounds.
- Length-width-height: 184.6 inches long/76.3 inches wide/65.3 inches tall.
- Fuel-tank capacity: 18.5 gallons.
- Towing capacity: 3,500 pounds.
- 2021 Volvo XC60 T8 in a few words: A stylish, striking crossover that comfortably blends several sources of power but is as complicated as website dating.
- Warranty: Four-year, 50,000-mile overall warranty
- Final assembly location: Gothenburg, Sweden
- Manufacturer’s website: www.volvocars.com
- E-mail me at email@example.com
- Up next: 2020 Lexus GS-F
XC60 Inscription, Leather Fine Nappa Perforated Blond in Blond/Charcoal interior. Credit: Volvo