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Monday, June 8, 2009

2010 Volvo XC60

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Most people know of ABBA, the popular Swedish pop band from the 1970s that enjoyed a recent revival after its songs were used in the "Mama Mia!" musical and movie. Now it seems there's another Swedish export ready for a re-release -- and it's not Ace of Base. It's Volvo. Yes, Volvo is still building family wagons (how '70s!), but its new 2010 XC60 is as up-to-date and fashionable as a small premium crossover can be.

The popularity of small luxury crossovers has grown in recent years, with an increasing number of shoppers desiring vehicles that offer the utility of a Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4 in a more luxurious package. Volvo's 2010 XC60 meets this desire with a healthy dose of power and style (yes, really) while also boasting the safety-conscious design for which the brand is known.

In terms of size, the five-passenger XC60 is smaller than the brand's XC90 seven-passenger crossover SUV and roughly comparable to a BMW X3. To our eyes, the XC60 is to Volvo's lineup as Anni-Frid Lyngstad is to ABBA's, which is to say, it's the best-looking of the bunch. Underneath the distinctive, cleanly styled sheet metal is hardware related to the brand's latest S80 sedan, including the S80 T6's turbocharged inline-6 engine. Unlike the front-drive S80, though, the XC60 has standard all-wheel drive for enhanced traction.

Available in a single T6 trim level, the XC60 comes packed with plenty of amenities, including leather upholstery, an eight-speaker audio system and power front seats. You can also get cool-looking two-tone upholstery and real wood trim for the center stack to dress up the interior -- it's a hip Swedish counterpoint to the typically austere German designs. Another item of note is "City Safety." Utilizing a short-range infrared rangefinder, the City Safety system can detect an imminent low-speed frontal impact at up to 19 mph and either minimize the impact or avoid it entirely by automatically applying the XC60's brakes.

Could the XC60 be Volvo's "Mama Mia!," a chart-topping smash that takes discos -- er, the automotive world -- by storm? Well, probably not. You'll likely be disappointed by the XC60 T6's high MSRP, which is partially a result of having so much equipment as standard, and its disappointingly stiff ride. Meanwhile, there are plenty of other desirable choices in this segment, such as the Acura RDX, Audi Q5, BMW X3, Infiniti EX35 and FX35 and Mercedes-Benz GLK350. Even so, the 2010 Volvo XC60 is a solid hit thanks to its combination of performance, convenience, style and safety. If you take one for a test-drive, just make sure to bring some ABBA tunes along for the ride.

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