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Versatility is a major strong point for the new 2021 Volvo XC60. This mid-size SUV is all about the practicality, comfort, and power inherent in its Scandinavian automaker. Volvo is constantly doing things to evolve with the ever-changing, ever-expanding SUV market, and that can be seen in the alterations made to the XC60's line-up this model year.
What has changed, you might wonder? Well, first, there is the renaming of the T8 plug-in hybrid, now aptly deemed the Recharge. Also, more standard equipment has been added across the line-up. This includes rear USB-C ports, adaptive headlights, and a liftgate that gives you hands-free access to the cargo area. All are certainly good changes that have the XC60 heading in a more competitive direction, even though the XC60 was redesigned for the release of its second generation in 2018.
The pros of getting the XC60? The XC60 has a remarkably upscale interior design that is the absolute embodiment of Scandinavian luxury. Not only that, but the rear seat is quite spacious, allowing taller adults to comfortably sit and enjoy a longer ride. The availability of the plug-in hybrid and the numerous standard features help to make the XC60 appealing to more buyers.
But there are a few things that might concern potential buyers. The biggest issue you might take with the XC60 is that the driving performance is not as thrilling as som of its competitors. The base T5 is vastly underpowered with its 2.0-L turbo 4-cylinder engine that only musters up 250 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. The T6 is a much stronger choice with its turbo- and super-charged version of that engine. This one gets 316 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque - a vast improvement over the T5.
Your only other engine options are the Recharge (which pairs the T6 with a battery and electric motor for 400 hp and 472 lb-ft of torque) or the Polestar Engineered, which adds 15 hp and 22 lb-ft of torque to the Recharge's powertrain.
You will also have to deal with a lot of confusing controls on the touchscreen display and a ride quality that feels busier than it should for a vehicle in this segment.
So, could the 2021 Volvo XC60 be the vehicle for you? Should you go take one for a test drive? Which trim level might be the best option? We will go over each trim level in this comparison review. Hang around until the end to learn which of the XC60's trim levels we think will appeal the most to the average buyer in this segment.
Compare the 2021 Volvo XC60 Momentum (Inscription Expression on the Recharge) vs R-Design Trim Level. What is the Difference?
The 2021 Volvo XC60 line-up starts with the Momentum trim level, which can be equipped with the T5 or T6 engine. The base trim level is given standard 18-inch and the new adaptive headlights that will swivel around as you turn the vehicle's steering wheel for improved visibility while rounding through curves. An 8-speed automatic transmission comes equipped, as does a 4-wheel independent front suspension and independent rear multi-link suspension with an anti-roll stabilizer bar. The XC60 has rack and pinion steering, front shocks that are gas pressurized, and front coil springs.
The exterior features list is lengthy. These features include side mirrors that are power-folding and heated with auto dimming, tilt-down, and integrated turn indicators. The XC60 Momentum also features bodyside cladding done in black, a chrome exhaust tip, a rear spoiler, a body made from galvanized steel and aluminum, body-colored front and rear bumpers, roof rails, and the power liftgate. A chrome grille is also equipped. Optional features for the exterior includes Class II trailering with a harness and hitch, metallic paint options, a stainless steel rear bumper insert, mud flaps for the front and rear, and running boards.
Standard convenience features on the XC60's Momentum trim level are quite plentiful as well. This trim level comes with a a power sunshade, keyless drive, a power fuel remote release, bin instrument panel storage, power windows, hands-on steering assist cruise control, bins on the rear doors, memory settings for the front seats, illuminated vanity mirrors on the front sun visors, a covered box with the full floor console, concealed interior storage, two seat back storage pockets, cup holders up front, dual-zone automatic climate control, remote engine start, and two 12-volt DC power outlets. You also get 4 USB ports, Sensus Navigation with built-in voice recognition, a tilting and telescoping steering wheel, an auto dimming rear view mirror, an air filter, a valet function, an illuminated glove box, a foot rest for the driver, and a power tilting and sliding sunroof.
Convenience options on the Momentum include enhanced cruise control with distance pacing, an overhead console, and a heated steering wheel.
The Momentum has a max seating capacity for five people. There are aluminum interior accents, and you can opt for cloth door panel trim. Both front seats are 8-way power adjustable, and there is rear seat armrest storage. The front seats also feature 2-way power lumbar support for extra comfort. Power heating is optional on the front seats. Leather upholstery is standard issue, and there is a full cloth headliner. You also get a genuine wood instrument panel insert, console insert, and door panel insert. Options are available for a cargo tray organizer, pet guard, and a cloth/leather upholstery mix.
Infotainment features abound as well, and they include AM/FM radio, HD Radio, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, and a 3-month trial for internet access through AT&T Sensus Connect. Speed sensitive volume, wireless phone connectivity, a 10-speaker sound system with an amplifier, multiple controls mounted onto the steering wheel, and smartphone app integration through Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come equipped. The Momentum also has an option for a 14-speaker Harman Kardon sound system.
Meanwhile, on the R-Design, you get the the Premium Package, meaning you get everything included on the Momentum trim level. This trim level adds features like bigger 19-inch wheels and black exterior trim. On the inside, you will see even more standard features get tacked on. These features include ambient interior lighting throughout the cabin, 4-zone automatic climate control for the T5 and T6 models, sport seats with standard heating and cloth bolstering, and the 14-speaker Harman Kardon sound system.
All of the Momentum's optional features that do not get added as standard features are still optional on the R-Design. This means that the R-Design can be optionally equipped with 21-inch wheels, an adaptive air suspension, and a 15-speaker Bowers & Wilkins premium sound system.
Compare the 2021 Volvo XC60 R-Design vs Inscription Trim. - What is the Difference?
Whereas the R-Design is more sport-oriented, the Inscription is more oriented toward luxury. The front seats gain ventilation, and there is upgraded leather upholstery that gets added. You also get some seriously chic additions like chrome exterior trim that speak to the emphasis on luxury. Again, the T5 and T6 come equipped with the 4-zone automatic climate control system.
Additionally, you can still get the 15-speaker Bowers & Wilkins premium sound system and the air suspension system as options if you so desire. Other than that, however, you should expect to see everything else from the R-Design on the Inscription trim level.
Compare the 2021 Volvo XC60 Inscription vs Polestar Engineered Trim Level. What is the Difference?
At the very top of the 2021 Volvo XC60 line-up is the plug-in hybrid known as the Polestar Engineered. It takes everything that you get on the Recharge plug-in hybrid and, as we have already mentioned, adds a boost of power. You will also see that there are a few changes in the standard features that come equipped.
The 2021 XC60 Polestar Engineered comes with the Advanced Package equipped, meaning that you will get ambient interior lighting, the wireless charging pad, the lane keep system, a 360-degree surround view camera, a head-up display, and adaptive cruise control. This trim level also gets summer performance tires along with 21-inch wheels. The brakes are upgraded to performance-oriented Brembo brakes, and the suspension dampers are special Öhlin designs. The seat belts are done in stunning gold color, and the 15-speaker Bowers & Wilkins premium sound system is made standard.
All in all, the Polestar Engineered is the height of luxury for a plug-in hybrid model and is definitely an attractive option within the 2021 Volvo XC60 line-up. The only options that get left over for this trim level are the 22-inch wheels and the integrated booster cushions, so you can imagine just how many standard features get packed into this line-topping trim level.
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Which Trim to Choose?
The 2021 Volvo XC60 is a line that is full of good options. You can choose between a number of configurations which is a huge bonus when you are shopping around for a new midsize SUV. And it is certainly something that you should expect from a luxury-oriented Scandinavian automaker like Volvo.
So, which of this year's XC60 trim levels is going to be the most attractive buy for the average shopper? That label, we feel, should go to the Inscription. We also recommend getting it equipped with the T6 engine since that provides a lot more power than the weaker T5, which offers a relatively boring driving performance. The T6 is a lot punchier, which is something that you should expect from a vehicle in this segment.
What about the Inscription makes it so attractive, aside from the T6 getting included? The R-Design offers a lot of nice features, but the Inscription really goes above and beyond to max them out. The R-Design is sportier, but the Inscription caters much more to luxury. The Advanced Package is a massive bonus since it gives you standard adaptive cruise control. We also highly recommend adding the 15-speaker Bowers & Wilkins premium sound system since it provides such rich audio quality. The heated and ventilated front seats will feel exceptionally cozy on cool or hot days, and the upgraded leather upholstery is totally worth the extra cost to upgrade.
You might also want to consider getting the optional air suspension since it can adapt to give you either a sportier ride quality or a more comfort-oriented one, all based on your choice.
Overall, the 2021 Volvo XC60 is a top-notch performer in its segment this year. Competitors will have a hard time topping it. For the price, you get a ton of standard features, even on the base Momentum trim level. However, making the upgrade to the Inscription trim level will be the way a lot of buyers will want to go since it offers almost everything you could possibly want. Of course, if it is a plug-in hybrid you want, the Polestar Engineered trim level is superbly high-end and fuel efficient.
• Compare the 2020 Volvo XC60 Trim Levels