2018 Volvo XC60 T8 E-AWD Inscription hybrid Review

2018 Volvo XC60 T8 E-AWD Inscription hybrid - The top-line Volvo XC60 T8 E-AWD Inscription hybrid puts Volvo in an SUV horsepower race.


Price: $52,900

Volvo never has generally concerned itself with horsepower, but it's offering 400 horses and lots of torque with its new, top-line 2018 XC60 T8 E-AWD inscription model. This puts it right up there with such rivals as Porsche.

This four-door hatchback Volvo model, with its almost impossibly long name, lists at $52,900, although lower-horsepower, less well-equipped models start at $41,500. They start with the base Momentum model, go to the sportier R-Design version and top off with the Inscription model, which has a whopping 472 pound/feet of torque and smooth acceleration working with a responsive 8-speed automatic transmission.

However, despite its high horsepower and solid suspension, the emphasis with the XC60 T8 E-AWD Inscription is on comfort and utility, not all-out performance.

The styling is attractive, the quiet interior is upscale with driftwood inlays, leather and tasteful stitching,  All cupholders are easy to use and there is a good amount of cabin storage space. However, the start/stop switch on the console is awkward to use. Why not a simple start/stop engine dashboard button?

Doors open wide and front seats are especially supportive, but heated and ventilated front seats and a heated steering wheel are optional. The backseat area is comfortably roomy for two adults, and there's a large fold-down rear center armrest that contains two pull-out cupholders.

A power rear hatch opens high to reveal a roomy cargo area. Rear seat backs fold forward to enlarge cargo space, and there's a small pass-through opening from the cargo area. Under the hatch are two exquisitely shaped horizontal exhaust outlets.

All models have have plenty of punch, but the gas-electric 400-horsepower horsepower model, which can run at low speeds solely on electricity, tops them all. It  delivers quite a boot in the back when you hit the gas hard. (Figure 0-60 m.p.h. in 4.9 seconds.) It has an added 87-horsepower motor-generator drive the rear wheels.

All-wheel drive is standard, a feature that helped keep my test XC60 stable while storming through freeway on- and -off ramps.  

Several driving modes can be selected, all of which are displayed on a complicated 9-inch dashboard touchscreen, along with other features. The "Hybrid" setting, which uses the gas-electric combo, is the best for daily use. The "Power" setting give quicker steering, firmer damping and lowers the suspension. There's also an "Off-Road" mode for rough roads.

About that steering-while fast, it takes getting used to because it's really a little too quick and provides a somewhat twitchy sensation.   

Volvo hasn't released fuel economy figures yet but I'd guess 26 miles per gallon in the city and a little less on highways. Fuel with at least a 91-octane rating is recommended for the supercharged and turbocharged 2-liter inline four-cylinder gasoline engine.  

All 2018 models have a longer wheelbase, which helps rear-seat room, have trimmer overhangs and aren't much longer than their predecessor. The XC60 also is a bit wider and several inches lower for a sportier look. An optional $800 air suspension lets one raise the XC60 a little and also lowers it a bit for better aerodynamics during highway cruising.

The ride is smooth with the air suspension, and handling is good. The regenerative braking is controlled by a pedal with a firm feel.

This SUV that calls for extra effort to climb into. Once aboard, occupants sit high and a driver has large outside rearview mirrors for good visibility. Those mirrors have turn-signal indicators and fold inward when the vehicle is parked.

Lots of tempting options, including the air suspension, caused the list prices my test XC60 T8 E-AWD Inscription to total $71,590 with a freight charge.

Safety items include collision avoidance and lane-keep features, although others such as adaptive cruise control are optional.

The padded hood glides open on twin struts to reveal an engine compartment covered by a large plastic cover that simple says "Volvo."

The XC60 has been Volvo's best-selling model since 2009, and the 2018 model is by far the best one so far.

Dan Jedlicka

Dan Jedlicka's Website

Dan Jedlicka joined the Chicago Sun-Times in February 1968 as a business news reporter and was named auto editor later that year. He has reviewed more than 4,000 new vehicles for the Sun-Times--far more than any newspaper auto writer in the country. Jedlicka also reviewed vehicles for Microsoft Corp.'s MSN Autos Internet site from January, 1996, to June, 2008.

Jedlicka remained auto editor at the Sun-Times until October, 2008, and continued writing for the newspaper's AutoTimes section, which he started in 1992, until February, 2009. While continuing his auto writings at the Sun-Times, he served as assistant financial editor of that newspaper from 1970 to 1973, when he began his automotive column.

He has appeared on numerous radio and television shows, including NBC's "Today," ABC's "20/20" and "The CBS Evening News." He was a host, consultant and writer for Fox-TV Channel 32's 1991 New Car Preview show and that Chicago-based station's 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995 Chicago Auto Show Previews.

Jedlicka's auto articles have been printed in national magazines, including Esquire and Harper's. His auto columns have been reprinted in U.S. government publications and economic textbooks and he is profiled in the "World's Greatest Auto Show" history book about the Chicago Auto Show. In late 1975, Jedlicka was host and technical advisor for three one-hour television specials, "Auto Test 76," which aired nationally on PBS and were the first nationally televised auto road test shows.

In 1995, Jedlicka was the recipient of the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois Inc.'s Consumer Education Award, given annually to a person who has gained distinction in the field of consumer education. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award in the Media category and inducted into the Legends of Motorsports Guild at the Carquest World of wheels custom car show in Chicago in January, 2006.

Jedlicka was a member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year jury, composed of a select number of auto journalists from throughout the country, from 1995 until 2009. From 2010 to 2012, he was a member of Consumer Digest magazine's auto experts panel that gave Best Buy new vehicle recommendations.

He is a 1987 graduate of the Bob Bondurant Race Drivers School and later of the BMW "M" and Skip Barber Advanced Driving schools. He was a member of the U.S. team that participated in the 1987 1,000-mile Mille Miglia race/rally in Italy and has been a race winner at the Chicago area's Santa Fe Speedway.

Jedlicka has owned 25 classic cars, including 1950s and 1960s Ferraris and 1950s and 1960s Porsches, a 1965 Corvette, a 1967 Maserati and a 1957 Studebaker supercharged Golden Hawk. Jedlicka resides with his wife, Suzanne, in the Frank Lloyd Wright historic district of Oak Park. They have two children, James and Michele.

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