The 2022 Volvo XC60 T8 Recharge R-Design Offers Plug-In Hybrid Luxury Without Being Pretentious

Sensible Volvo

Every so often, a car gets released before the world is ready for it. The Pontiac Aztek was universally panned for its bizarre styling, yet two decades later, John Q. Public wants a crossover with a sloping roofline. The Matra Rancho paired off-road looks with front-wheel-drive hardware, now crossovers have now almost replaced sedans. The Volvo XC60 Recharge R-Design is a high-output plug-in hybrid compact luxury crossover that’s stuck around long enough to age into fashion, and tweaks for 2022 aim to keep it competitive with rivals like the Lexus NX 450h+. However, is a bigger battery pack and a more powerful 107 kW electric motor good enough to stay ahead of the pack?

[Full disclosure: Volvo Cars Canada let me borrow this XC60 for a week so long as I returned it with a full tank of premium fuel and wrote a review of it.]

[Editor’s Note: Welcome to Sensible Car Reviews! This is where we review “boring” cars. Why? Because Thomas really, really likes sensible cars, and we all like that he likes them, because they’re what most people are buying. So, between the exciting stuff, you’ll see these: Sensible Car Reviews. This one is a Micro-review as well, so it’s short and sweet. -DT]

Volvo XC60 Recharge R-Design front

The Basics

Price: Starting at $61,495 USD ($91,590 CAD as tested — about 66,500 USD)

Engine: Two-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, 312 horsepower at 6,000 rpm; 295 lb.-ft. from 3,000 to 5,400 rpm.

Electric Motor: 107 kW, 143 horsepower at 15,900 rpm; 228 lb.-ft. from zero to 3,280 rpm.

Combined Output: 455 horsepower, 523 lb.-ft.

Battery: Lithium-ion, 14.9 kWh of usable capacity.

Transmission: AW TG-81SD eight-speed automatic.

Drive: eAWD, electric motor driving rear axle.

Curb Weight: 4,722 pounds (2,141.9 kg).

Fuel Economy: 63 MPGe combined.

Minimum Fuel Grade: AKI 91 octane required.

Electric Range: 35 miles (58 km).

Maximum Charging Speed: 3.6 kW

Body Style: Compact luxury crossover.

Why Does It Exist?

Volvo XC60 Recharge R-Design

Is anyone really surprised that the XC60 Recharge exists? Compact crossovers are hotter than Venus right now and electrification is the greatest automotive buzzword since anti-lock brakes. However, it wasn’t always this way. When the current XC60 first launched back in 2017, plug-in hybrid luxury cars were weird, and making the fast version of your car a plug-in hybrid was very weird. In the roughly five years since, that’s all changed. Even the Mercedes-AMG C63 S uses plug-in hybrid tech to go faster, so the XC60 Recharge is less of a curiosity and more of a viable high-output option in the compact luxury crossover segment.

How Does It Look?

Volvo XC60 Recharge R-Design rear three-quarters

In a word, sharp. While manufacturers like Lexus designed massive-grilled compact crossovers that would look at home at Hot Import Nights, Volvo kept things at 40 below with clean, crisp linework that’s been aging like a vampire. Thor’s Hammer might be the coolest name ever devised for a set of daytime running lights, while the sculpted vertical tail lights are trickles of strawberry syrup running down a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

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The R-Design trim gets black trim bits and a slightly prouder front valence, along with a wicked set of optional 21-inch alloy wheels. You can still get the tasty cosmetic bits for 2023 as part of a dark appearance theme, and I reckon they look great. They’re aggressive without being crass, a vanishing trend in cars today.

How About The Inside?

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Volvo’s reinvention under Geely brought about some spectacular interiors, and the XC60’s interior is no exception. When this crossover came out, it felt miles ahead of most competitors, and it still feels quite nice today. It’s usually easy to tell how expensive a car is by how far the carpet goes up, and the XC60 aces this test. Thick carpeting blankets the sides of the center console, providing a bit of noise insulation and a comfortable place to rest a knee.

Speaking of comfort, Volvo’s seats are renowned for their cushiness, and the Swedish marque most certainly hasn’t dropped the ball in the XC60. The front chairs are a masterclass in supportive comfort, while the ergonomics are spot-on. Plenty of steering column adjustment range means that everyone from Danny DeVito to Karlie Kloss should be able to find a good driving position. However, rear seat space is a touch on the tight side for the segment, partially due to the massive center console. Speaking of that console, the cup holders and wireless charging pad are covered by sturdy roller covers like on a humidor.

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Despite the cool Scandinavian style of the interior, it’s surprisingly welcoming. Canting the center stack towards the driver makes the far edge of the touchscreen easier to reach, the flowing metallic dashboard trim has a soft, taffy-like stretch to its shape, and both the volume knob and starter knob feature lovely knurling that’s up-to-date with the latest and greatest. Mind you, not everything in the XC60 has aged so brilliantly. The filler piece above the infotainment screen looks and feels quite cheap, as do many of the lower plastics including the glovebox door. Still, aside from those bits of cheapness, the XC60’s interior feels quite well-built.

How Does It Drive?

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Given the plug-in hybrid powertrain, this XC60 is really a tale of two cars. Let’s start off the way most owners will often use it, in electric mode. Compared to most plug-in hybrids, EV mode feels surprisingly quick, while range is a stellar 35 miles thanks to a new 14.9 kWh battery pack. Plug in to a household socket overnight and you’ll have enough range for most errands the next day. Brilliant. I actually managed 36 miles of all-electric range, which means that Volvo really isn’t joking about this powertrain’s capability.

However, go through two sub-menus on the infotainment system and you’ll find a drive mode marked Power. Tap its little virtual tile and this XC60 transforms from a sedate electron-prioritizing commuter to a 455-horsepower highway machine spitting gas-powered and electric torque at all four wheels. Sure, the two-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine sounds like it’s crushing gravel, but its performance is relentless. This plug-in hybrid isn’t as quick as a BMW X3 M40i or a Porsche Macan GTS, yet it still offers effortless overtaking. Speaking of effortless, shoutout to the engineers who calibrated this eight-speed automatic gearbox. It just fades into the background perfectly, to the point where its existence will never cross your mind.

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As my test car was optioned with the excellent four-corner air suspension, it will dump itself on its nuts for easier loading and better high-speed stability. In true Volvo fashion, you won’t be feeling every tar snake the road despite the R-Design spec, nor will you be hearing much either thanks to impressive noise isolation. Steering is either featherweight or light and while it lacks feel, weighting is just progressive enough to build confidence in the front end. There’s a relatively competent front-wheel-drive-biased sports sedan hiding under the tall bodywork of the XC60 Recharge, namely the S60 that also rides on Volvo’s SPA platform. While the crossover treatment adds ride comfort, it doesn’t destroy the handling.

Does It Have The Electronic Crap I Want?

XC60 Recharge infotainment

Yes and no. A few years ago, Volvo switched over to an Android Automotive OS infotainment system and took absolutely forever to get Apple CarPlay ported over. In fact, my test car didn’t have version 2.2 or higher of the infotainment OS which meant that my iPhone only worked over Bluetooth. Even wireless charging didn’t work on iOS devices, a bit of a bummer considering the software update had been out for weeks at the time of testing.

However, even if the infotainment is up to date, it feels like a step backwards from Volvo’s old Sensus Connect system. Everything is buried in difficult to access sub-menus, a stark contrast to the old system’s easy swipe-down control panel with nicely-sized tiles. Functions like drive modes shouldn’t be two menus deep, even if most owners rarely adjust them. What’s more, the volume knob on my test car was quite glitchy, often lagging like Wile E. Coyote at the edge of a cliff when I wanted to crank up the tunes. Really annoying considering the optional Bowers & Wilkins audio system absolutely goes to eleven.

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Stepping away from the infotainment, the rest of the XC60’s electronic gadgets are quite nice. Auto-dimming side-view mirrors are lovely, while the power seats adjust every which way to ensure that you’re comfortable. What’s more, the digital gauge cluster is quite slick and has Google Maps built-in, rendering the rather good optional heads-up display a bit unnecessary. There’s just enough gadgetry here to make the grade on paper, but the Volvo XC60 comes up a bit short on tech in the real world.

Three Things To Know About The 2022 Volvo XC60 T8 Recharge R-Design

  1. The new, bigger battery pack offers an honest 35 miles of plug-in electric range.
  2. The R-Design model disappears for 2023.
  3. You’ll still look humble driving one despite the lofty price tag.

Does It Fulfill Its Purpose?

Absolutely. This is a stealth wealth compact crossover that’ll whisk you most places without using a drop of fuel, then fire you towards the horizon when the mood takes you. Aside from a few cheap interior bits, it feels genuinely luxurious, and the chassis tuning is remarkably good. While it’s certainly marred by sub-optimal infotainment, it’s still competitive with segment rivals. The BMW X3 30e isn’t nearly as quick or as range-endowed, and although a Lexus NX 450h+ is cheaper, it simply lacks the pace and elegance of the Volvo XC60 Recharge.

What’s The Punctum Of The 2022 Volvo XC60 T8 Recharge R-Design?

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It’s the perfect electrified compact luxury crossover for people who want something nice but don’t want to deal with typical luxury car stereotypes.

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21 Responses

  1. Alright, first and foremost Volvos have a special place in my heart. Much of my childhood was spent fighting with my siblings in the back of an old 240 wagon my parents called Helga…and I was dropped off at countless soccer games and school events in myriad different cross countries. I have a nostalgic connection to them that runs deep.

    …all that being said, as much as I like this XC60 on paper, I’m struggling to figure out:

    1). Who it’s for

    2). Why you’d buy this over its competitors

    $65,000 as equipped puts it in extremely competitive territory. The plug in hybrid tech is undoubtedly cool and unique, but what else does this have that its competitors don’t other than sleek styling?

    If you’re an enthusiast an X3 M40i is an exponentially more compelling choice, and although it isn’t a PHEV the B58 is miraculously efficient for how much power it throws down. This is also the same price as an SQ5 or well equipped Macan/barebones Macan S. I personally would not choose this over any of those, but we (enthusiasts) aren’t the majority of the population.

    For people that want a luxury NPC mobile with hybrid tech, this may be appealing…but would they really want it over one of the Lexus SUVs? The new RX offers multiple hybrid trims and can be had for well under what this goes for. They will also undoubtedly be more reliable. Volvos might have stealth wealth appeal, but they have standard European luxury car reliability headaches…and I’d trust, say, Toyota hybrid tech more than this since they’ve been in the game for so long. There’s also the RAV 4 Prime if you can find one.

    All that I’ve really got left is people who really love/are loyal to Volvo, but they’re not that common…and I guess that if you REALLY want/need a PHEV this is the most compelling one, but how many people are in that category? I think PHEVs really neat but I’m not sure that normies are rushing to adapt the technology.

    There are also the Genesis SUVs, which get rave reviews and are striking in person/also offer stealth wealth appeal. Anyway…I dig this, but it’s in a hyper competitive niche, and unless you specifically want the best PHEV of the bunch or just love Volvos, it seems like a hard sell to me. But feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.

    1. This Volvo pretty much competes with an entry level Macan:

      While the Macan technically starts below $60K, if you want the kind of options that come standard on a ‘regular’ $35K car then you’ll be paying in the $65-$70K range. The Macan S is really closer to an $80K base price for the same reason. It’s pretty easy to get a Macan S up to $100K.

      It’s worth noting that if you want to compete on ‘base level experience’ then you should be comparing the $58K Macan to a $45K Volvo XC60.

    2. Who is this for???

      This is for my wife, or people like her. She has a 2021, so just the 20-mile EV range, and not the R-design spec. These are for the people who don’t need a 3-row SUV, appreciate good car design (that eliminates Lexus), and who want something a bit special. My wife isn’t a Bro who needs an M or AMG (or similar performance) SUV that scream for attention. She wants to get to and from school drop-off without using gas. She wants to have enough power in rare situations when she needs it (tons available, even on the non-R version). And most importantly, she wants to have a super quiet, silky smooth, refined, and comfortable ride.

      No issues after 15k miles here. Nobody at school drop-off has the same car. Never owned a Volvo before. Averaging about 60 MPGs, filling up about every 900+ miles.

      1. Valid response my friend…and to be fair, as soon as I clicked “post” one of the first things that came to mind was “actually I’ll bet the wife would love something like this”, so you’re clearly on to something.

  2. Do you mean Sensible Reviews or Reviews of Sensible;e Cars?

    I find it hard to consider something with wheels that oversized as sensible. Or something at that price point.

  3. I hear a few concerns about longevity, but I think I’d still take one over the competition. My heart is set on a V60 T8 Recharge, so fingers crossed that’s going to make it another two years when my current warranty on the Alltrack is up.

  4. Overall it sounds really nice. A couple of gripes though:
    -I’m pretty sure I would hate having 21 inch wheels on a compact crossover. I don’t like wheels that big even on much larger vehicles.
    -Not enough knobs, particularly egregious if the one they did provide doesn’t work properly.

    1. +1 on the 21″ wheel hate.

      I’ve got an XC90 with 22″ wheels (35-profile sidewalls). I guess it looks good to some people, but they are noisy, reduce ride quality, cost a bunch, and provide no benefit on this non-sporty SUV. I’d trade these for 19″ or 20″, but my wife won’t let me…lol

  5. Volvo consistently nails it, especially on design. Yet many people will never even give them a glance because it’s a Volvo. Shame…

    IMO you’d be nuts to buy a butt ugly Lexus over this, expected reliability be damned.

    1. My wife’s ’21 (T8 non R-design w/20″ wheels) is a fantastic ride. I just drove it 10 minutes ago and every time I do, I’m like ‘damn this thing is smooth!’. I do drive a ’21 F150, so no comparison there, but it’s miles ahead of her last car (Subaru Ascent, which also is pretty nice, especially for the price…)

  6. Thanks for reviewing PHEVs. Now if we could only find a few of them for sale.
    I agree with others about the donk-y wheel treatment. Ungainly.
    The value part of my brain hates Volvos starting at $60 and heading steeply upward. I know, super nice, luxury, power, blah blah.
    Give us some comparison info: like how sad does one feel climbing into the Tucson PHEV after driving the Volvo?

  7. You (The Autopian, patents pending) should do a segment like this but reviewing cars that no manufacturer in thier right mind will give you a free set of keys to, the very nearly actually affordable for Johnny Atthefrontdesk.

    Go to your nearest car rental house, get the keys and see how the terrible fleet sepc shitboxes compare to one another, you might need to fund it wit an ad or two (gasps) but it brings is the content we want, nay NEED that those other high falutin’ auto reviewiers wouldn’t touch with a pole.

    Just steer clear of Hertz, unless you want to review the features of your local remand center in addition to the car.

    1. The rental car idea is a really good one. Buying a new car is such a rare event in most people’s lives, but there have been plenty of times a rental agency offered me indistinguishable penalty boxes A or B, and I had no information to go on when making my choice.

  8. Please beg the management for a camera and some lenses, don’t need to be the most expensive ones but something that have the possibility of releasing the car from the background. I am sorry to say that I was so overpowered by the pylons so I couldn’t read the article and that’s a shame, even if I “can’t” afford the car.

    1. It would be more sensible to establish a best practices guide for staging and composition. Beyond cost, training and inventory management, if you’re not watching the background even a fast telephoto in situations like this will create busy defocus.

      The solution to poor photography is “more photographer,” almost never “more camera.”

      And in any case, I think these pictures are just fine. They’re sharp and legible and representative, and the interiors are free of distracting reflections in the LCD screens. That’s, like, 90% of the way there when it comes to car photography.

  9. This nails the exact reason why I insisted my parents buy an XC60 T8. I will say that the Sensus -> Android Automotive transition comes with a bunch of tradeoffs (we have the older Sensus-based infotainment). One thing I’ve been really impressed with is how seamlessly the ADAS works. It’s not the most advanced system, but it is one every person I’ve put behind the wheel has picked up on and been able to use immediately. Some of the other systems I’ve tried (including Autopilot) are significantly harder to smoothly integrate into everyday driving.

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