Travel Follies with the Volvo XC60

I am a traveler. And when that dictates a road trip, I am always interested in three main characteristics from a vehicle: safety, reliability and roominess. Recently a 13-hour (each way) adventure to Miami landed me in a mid-year 2015 Volvo XC60 which I was thrilled to check out up close and personal.

Volvo

I don’t think many would argue with me regarding the near perfect crash testing of Volvos across the board, so I can check safety off the list. Rear cameras and lane alerts are icing on the cake. Honestly, Volvo has set the bar year after year when it comes to vehicle safety, and having one daughter who drives the XC90, I am already aware of just how state-of-the-art Volvo safety features are.

The look…
The exterior of any Volvo, while it may be slightly updated to appeal to new generations of owners, is still iconic in the automotive industry and therefore, you can always pick them out in a crowd. The trim level options are easy enough with a premier and a platinum option. The keyless system is now available as a standalone option in addition to a convenience package (rear park assist camera – a personal favorite, Homelink remote garage door opener, digital compass, grocery holder and power retractable outside mirrors). Want to upgrade to platinum? It will include the keyless driving plus bi-xenon headlamps and the innovative technology package.

Under the hood…
T5 Drive-E offers a turbocharged four-cylinder engine with plenty of power which is always appreciated on merging highways (and my metro city is full of them by the way). This is more and more important to me when choosing a vehicle that adequately handles the road with the way my family travels. The T6 Drive-E model is supercharged adding so much power and quick response time along with respectable fuel economy. Front wheel drives standardly house an eight-speed automatic transmission while all-wheel drives get the six-speed automatic transmission. Fuel efficiency on the base model is a cool 24/31 mpg (city/highway respectively)…that’s a bonus in a crossover luxury travel vehicle for me!

Volvo XC60 Ocean Race Edition

Enter the cabin…
There were four of us embarking on this journey to Miami…four adults. The spaciousness of the rear seating area almost made me jealous of those riding back there. Front and back alike were roomy and comfy. If there is ever a time for comfort inside a vehicle, it’s on a LONG road trip!

Fifth generation Volvo Ocean Race Edition

The center and dashboard, although it has evolved a bit, is still very classic to previous Volvo experiences. The craftsmanship is not fancy, yet offers a high-quality feeling. Straightforward controls, a 7-inch display screen, superb audio and other cutting-edge, tech-savvy amenities (Bluetooth, satellite radio, navigation and lane departure warning) keep this Volvo in the excellent category for me as far as needs inside a vehicle.

Cargo space is typically an issue for travel regulars like myself, and I will say the four of us (all taking luggage for a week-long cruise, laptops and the like) packed the cargo area like true road warriors. And it all fit! Sweet!

Fifth generation Volvo Ocean Race Edition

What’s new…
Volvo is coming off of a major product refresh, the launch of the more fuel-efficient Drive-E powertrains and the introduction of the V60 sportswagon. You would think that would be enough to tackle in one model year. But no, there’s more…and this really caught my (travel) eye.

The mid-year updates included the Volvo Sensus Connect which is a connected car platform, and Volvo On Call telematics solution which offers comprehensive connectivity AND puts Volvo in a category by themselves as the only manufacturer to have these features standard across the entire lineup!

So, what is all this connectivity stuff? It is actually quite simple. It is a means to offer Volvo customers cloud- and app-based services to make their travels more enjoyable! Are you kidding? Volvo knows me! I want my travel experiences to be easy and enjoyable with super cool features that I can access via the Volvo On Call smartphone app. I can start the engine from my smartphone…I can unlock the doors…I have access to stolen vehicle tracking and theft notification! Impressive. Very impressive.

My favorites…
I love the look of the Volvo XC60. It’s small enough to offer superb handling, yet large enough to take me on comfortable road trip. It has amazing sound spilling out of the speakers, gizmos and gadgets, and spaces for my charges and various other devices that I cannot leave home without.

When off the travel path, I love the grocery bag holder in the cargo area…no more chasing random cans of rolling beans. It fits neatly into average parking spaces and navigates my neighborhood like a champ.

Photos courtesy of Volvo.

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