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2015 Volvo XC60 T6 Drive-E First Test

Are performance, efficiency mutually exclusive?

Edward Loh
Oct 7, 2014
Photographers: Motor Trend Staff
We've always liked the Volvo XC60 for its stand-out Swedish style inside and out, but it -- and the rest of the Volvo product line -- has languished without a significant update over the last couple of years as the company retooled under its new owners, China's Geely Automotive. Now comes the 2015 XC60 T5 Drive-E.
Now, Volvo is back, with an all-new series of engines built in-house, according to a framework called Volvo Engine Architecture (VEA). The first VEA offerings come to the XC60 as two "Drive-E" forced-induction, direct-injection 4-cylinder engines, paired with all-new 8-speed automatic transmissions and initially offered in front-wheel drive only.
Under the hood of the entry-level XC60 T5 Drive-E is a turbocharged, direct-injection 2.0-liter inline-4 that makes 240 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Confusingly, Volvo sells this alongside the XC60 T5 AWD, which uses a carryover 2.5-liter turbocharged inline-5 cylinder engine that sends 250 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque through a 6-speed automatic transmission and fifth generation Haldex all-wheel drive system.
The Volvo XC60 is a 2015 Motor Trend SUV of the Year contender - find out whether the luxury crossover has what it takes to win later this month.
Photo 2/21   |   2015 Volvo XC60 T6 Drive E Front Three Quarter In Motion 02
Step up to an XC60 T6 and there are two more options; for front wheel drive, the T6 Drive-E's turbo- and supercharged 2.0-liter inline 4-cylinder engine makes 302 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque and uses the same 8-speed automatic transmission as the T5 Drive-E. For those who want all-wheel drive, the XC60 T6 AWD retains the 3.0-liter turbocharged I-6 that makes 300 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque.
Confused? Don't be. Although Drive-E and 8-speed automatic powertrains are only for front-wheel drive XC60s for now, they are the future of Volvo, as the five- and six-cylinder engines and 6-speed automatics are phased out in the name of better fuel economy. How much better? The XC60's T5 Drive-E turbocharged 4-cylinder returns 24 city and 31 highway mpg, while the T6 Drive-E scores 22 city and 30 highway mpg on the EPA's fuel economy cycle.
Thirty miles per gallon on the highway is currently the brass ring for the premium crossover set, but to find out whether it comes at too much of a sacrifice, we ran the numbers on the higher output Volvo XC60 T6 Drive-E.
On the dragstrip, the T6 Drive-E hit 60mph in 6.3 seconds on its way to a 14.8-second quarter mile at 95.4 miles per hour. That is a half-second better in both metrics than the last XC60 T6 AWD we tested in 2010 (with the 3.0-liter turbo I-6), but well off the pace of the Polestar-tuned XC60 T6 AWD we tested in 2012. That 325-horsepower, 354-pound-feet of torque Swedish speedster hit 60 mph in 5.5 seconds and ran the quarter mile in 14.3 seconds at 98.4 mph.
Photo 6/21   |   2015 Volvo XC60 T6 Drive E Rear Three Quarter
For you cross-shoppers, the T6 Drive-E fares quite well against the category-killing Lexus RX350 – even in its raciest F-sport trim. With only 270 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque from its 3.5-liter naturally aspirated V-6, the heavier, all-wheel drive RX350 F-sport needs 6.9-seconds to hit 60 mph and 15.2 seconds to run the quarter-mile (at 92.1 mph).
When it comes to stopping from speed, the grouping is much tighter. All previous XC60 variants we tested took between 120 and 125 feet to come to a complete stop from 60 mph. The Lexus RX350 F-sport needed 120 feet as well. The 2015 XC60 T6 Drive-E fared a bit better at 117 feet.
On our skidpad, the new T6 Drive-E laid down a respectable 27.7-second run at 0.68g average, but was slightly off the pace of its all-wheel drive brothers and competition. The 2010 XC60 T6 AWD we tested needed only 27.3 secs at 0.64g, while the 2012 XC60 T6 AWD Polestar edition went better still (27.1 secs at 0.68g). The XC60 Drive-E did manage to best the all-wheel drive Lexus RX350 F-sport's time of 27.9 sec at 0.57g, though our testers noted a somewhat artificial feel to the steering and noticeable torque steer at full throttle.
Our test numbers bode well for the updated XC60 family and VEA writ large. Although the final verdict can only be rendered when we're able to test the new Drive-E engines and 8-speed transmissions in all-wheel drive models, our initial findings indicate that competitive performance and respectable fuel economy can go hand in hand.

2015 Volvo XC60 T6 Drive-E
BASE PRICE $41,825
PRICE AS TESTED $50,075
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV
ENGINE 2.0L/302-hp/295-lb-ft turbo- and supercharged DOHC 16-valve I-4
TRANSMISSION 8-speed automatic
CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 4078 lb (59/41%)
WHEELBASE 109.2 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 182.8 x 74.4 x 67.4 in
0-60 MPH 6.3 sec
QUARTER MILE 14.8 sec @ 95.4 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 117 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.81 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT 27.3 sec @ 0.64 g (avg)
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 22/30/25 mpg
ENERGY CONS., CITY/HWY 153/112 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.78 lb/mile

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