The Volvo XC60 may not be on the tip of an SUV-shopper’s tongue. However, with its 2022 model year updates, it jumps to the front of the line for the tech lover. Volvo has sold over 1 million XC60s globally – something I wouldn’t have guessed – and the XC60 remains its most popular model. As such, the engineers wanted to blend the latest technology with high-end materials.
It’s available as a mild hybrid and plug-in hybrid, so fuel economy is addressed. My tester used the 2.0-liter engine with a new electric supercharger that works in tandem with a traditional turbocharger. That is a refined piece of technology! Volvo notes that the typical U.S. buyer is an executive interested in technology, and they want technology with purpose, not “tech for tech’s sake.”
The new killer app for 2022 is Volvo’s collaboration with Google. The technology integrated into the vehicle and infotainment system looks good and operates nearly flawlessly, without the stumbles found on clunkier infotainment units. The only stumble I noticed was a delay in the album artwork display on SiriusXM satellite radio.
Tech Party – And Google Was Invited …
The Volvo XC60’s new infotainment system is powered by the Android Automotive OS with Google apps and services built in. Google Assistant, Google Maps and the Google Play store are seamlessly integrated into the car. Using the built-in 4G modem (we suspect a 5G update may be in the works), the infotainment system can download information and software updates so it always remains current.
Volvo wanted to make sure the system was easy to use, just like a smartphone but for the car. So the XC60 features large icons that are easy to find with Volvo’s own typeface and color scheme. Volvo notes that large fonts, strong color contrasts and easy-to-find buttons ensure that the user experience is intuitive and safe, with minimal driver distraction. The 9-inch center stack screen, found on all trim levels, takes a page from the original Tesla design. A standout tech feature is the way Google Assistant works with natural voice recognition – it allows you to say “Hey Google” and enter navigation info with ease. Then Google Maps, with real-time traffic information, takes over. The crisp map graphics are a step above most vehicles, with perhaps Audi and its Google Maps integration with NVIDIA technology being the cream of the crop.
Air Quality Check
Most new vehicles have a cabin filter to clean the air that will be circulated for heating and air conditioning. Volvo has added tech to take it a step further. Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) is a major health-impairing air pollutant. An optical sensor constantly monitors the PM2.5 level in the cabin, with data shown in the center display. Volvo’s filtration system uses an advanced air cleaner that charges incoming air particles, traps them in the filter media and reduces the levels of PM2.5 for a healthier cabin environment. If someone decides to leave the sunroof open in a dusty area, you can activate the feature before you set off. Using the Volvo On Call app, you can turn on the Air Quality system and monitor the interior air quality before entering the car.
For music, Volvo turned to stalwart British loudspeaker manufacturer Bowers & Wilkins. According to their specs, the audio system delivers 1,100 watts of power through 15 drivers. The cool visual is the center speaker with its own B&W double-dome aluminum tweeters facing you. The aluminum speaker grilles are also works of art. The Kevlar drivers and subwoofer in the trunk do a great job of creating deep tones.
The system offers Jazz Club and Concert Hall settings. I don’t usually like these processed special effects, but the Volvo and B&W team tuned the Concert Hall setting to Sweden’s Gothenburg Concert Hall, known for its great acoustics. You can hear that they took their time to tweak the system, delivering a natural-sounding result, not just over-processed music.
The Volvo XC60 is a worldwide sales leader for a reason, yet it may not be on the radar of American consumers. With a price right around $50K, it hits the sweet spot between uber-luxury SUVs and less-expensive CUVs. It’s worth checking out.