REVIEW | Knight Rider levels of tech: 6 reasons why Volvo's XC60 B6 makes life on the road better

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2022 Volvo XC60 B6
2022 Volvo XC60 B6
Pritesh Ruthun

'As I pile on the miles in the 2022 Volvo XC60 B6, its technologies reinforce its character as the ultimate all-rounder for families', writes News24 Motoring contributor Pritesh Ruthun.

I've accumulated around 3000km in our 2022 Volvo XC60 B6 AWD Inscription. Hot weather, cold weather, dirt roads, a few excursions off-road and a couple of safe traffic light Grand Prix moments; nothing has challenged the vehicle.

The XC60 glides along like an ultra-luxury SUV thanks to an exquisite ride and handling setup with an optional three-chamber air suspension. So much so that we recently performed a blindfold test with a few friends and family who own luxury cars. We asked them to jump into the back of the test vehicle for a ride with their eyes covered and drove around the Jo'burg suburbs. I asked the test subjects what car they thought we were in after a few kilometres, and their responses were interesting. Some retorted, "That big Bentley SUV?" Others asked if it was the Rolls-Royce Cullinan.

2022 Volvo XC60 B6
2022 Volvo XC60 B6

It's just remarkable how comfortable this XC60 is on the road and the dirt. The body doesn't lean too much, and if you change directions quickly in the event of an emergency, you can feel the suspension system firming up to give you added directional stability. It all happens so fast, and you can also lower the car and put it in a 'Firm' sporty setting if you like to approach corners enthusiastically.

REVIEW | Volvo's XC60 B6 is a perfect daily driver packed with tech even kids can use

Beyond the exquisite ride

I could bang on all day about the quality and capability of the air suspension; it's just that good. But after a recent weekend sojourn to the North West province, six additional features in the XC60 stood out for me that makes it a must-have for any executive with a family:

1. The built-in Google system

Our previous update highlighted the Android Automotive technology embedded in the latest XC60. The Google technology solution serves as the car's onboard computer, infotainment system, navigation unit and safety systems operator. You can use voice control for nearly everything essential to operate the vehicle, including audio controls, climate controls (like heated or cooled seats), internet search, and multimedia control.

2022 Volvo XC60 B6
2022 Volvo XC60 B6

Simply hit the voice control button on the steering wheel, and the car will respond to your needs using natural language voice processing. Ask it for directions, or to stream your favourite song, or where the closest fast food place is, and the car will oblige. I use voice control daily, and it comes in particularly handy on long road trips as you can tuck your phone away and let it charge on the wireless charging pad. If you use the Google Calendar and Google Assistant together with Google Smart Home devices, you can access these tools via the car using the responsive touch screen or intuitive voice control. Life on the road is so much safer when you don't have to faff around for climate controls or your favourite song when driving.

2. The B&W audio package

Many of the vehicles we test these days come with decent audio systems. Carmakers have realised that this is a genuinely important consideration for tyre kickers, and they've obliged by fitting high-end amplifiers, speakers and woofers to give you a cinematic experience when it comes to sound reproduction. Volvo's always been one of the best in the segment regarding luxury audio; the latest XC60 with the optional Bowers & Wilkins system is out of this world.

You get a 12-channel amplifier that drives 19 standalone speaker units. These mid-range and high-range speakers are strategically positioned around the cabin to deliver bone-chilling audio, while a low-frequency subwoofer brings theatre levels of rumble. I can't tell you the number of times we've piled into the car in the driveway over the past few weeks due to the load shedding to watch movies on an iPad in the car. We link the Bluetooth audio from the iPad to the Volvo and stream Netflix or Disney+ using a portable router that we keep in the car (and charged via USB-C). You might find other vehicles with better audio systems, but I can guarantee these cars will cost at least twice the price of the XC60.

2022 Volvo XC60 B6
2022 Volvo XC60 B6

3. The air purifier system

While out on the N4 towards Rustenburg, we came across a veld fire that created massive amounts of smoke.

The smoke covered the highway in pockets, making it difficult to see. If you've ever driven through something similar, you'll know that strong and distinct burning smell that  filters through your car even if you have the climate control in recirculating mode. Not in the XC60, however.

The car comes with a built-in air purifier that battled against the stench to deliver clean air into the cabin. You could see the system at work on the touchscreen. When I opened the vents to allow air in from outside, the vehicle warned that cabin air quality was deteriorating quickly. It showed bright red graphics when the air got dense, but as soon as I hit the auto mode on the climate control, it took control to alternate between venting and shutting the AC to clean the air in the car as quickly as possible. If you or your kids battle with asthma or allergies, you can rest assured that this aircon system (like some fitted in the latest Jaguars and Land Rovers) will keep your car's cabin air clean and healthy. No coughing, no unwanted sneezing. 

4. The active LED lights

Multi-beam LED headlights make the XC60 fantastic for driving at night. In low beams, it can tilt, turn and bend its light beams to prevent distracting or blinding oncoming drivers while making sure you can see well into the distance from the driver's seat. Even in the rain, the system can detect glaring reflections from puddles on the road and compensate for this by individually adjusting the left or right headlight. I also like that the headlights will flash pedestrians on the side of the road for a brief moment to let them know a vehicle is approaching.

The lights work best, however, in very dark environments. It will automatically turn on the high-beam LEDs and amplify the speed at which it turns the diodes off and on. The faster you drive in the dark, the quicker the lights react to your inputs, too, following the curves of the road in front of you as you carve the road left and right. The Volvo will enhance your confidence as a driver if you struggle with vision at night. One option you must take when buying an XC60 is the adaptive intelligent lights, as they will make your nighttime journeys so much more relaxing.

5. The raft of safety systems

Some of the stand-out safety systems in the XC60 include a highly potent rear-cross-traffic-alert system. This technology scans rearwardly as you reverse out of driveways and parking bays to prevent you from pulling into the path of approaching vehicles. It saved my bacon a few times as I would slowly creep out of the driveway, but one of the neighbour's kids would come zooming by on their bicycles. I can't see the blind spot on the left due to some shrubbery at the driveway's entrance, but the car can detect approaching objects and even hit the brakes and stop you in your tracks if it thinks there's going to be an incident.

I also really appreciate the lane departure warning and lane-keeping assist systems fitted to the XC60, as they don't feel intrusive, but they are always working. While the XC60 is by no means huge, some narrow roads around the suburb can sometimes be challenging if traffic goes in both directions. The XC60 just fits in the lane here, and the systems can keep it in the lane to prevent bumping mirrors with oncoming vehicles. Often, these lane-keep systems can feel aggressive, as if someone's yanking the steering wheel harshly to pull you back into the lane, but the Volvo's is gentle and feels more persuasive in the hands. You also have no excuses for curbed rims with this car, as it does a great job keeping the vehicle centred in the lane.

2022 Volvo XC60 B6
2022 Volvo XC60 B6

6. The part self-drive technology

On the topic of staying in the middle of the lane, the XC60 is fitted with semi-autonomous self-drive technology. On the highways, I set the speed on the cruise control to 125km/h and then adjust the distance to the car in front of me with the buttons on the steering wheel. The vehicle can scan the lane, the vehicles around it, and the road signs, and it steers the car safely as long as you keep at least one hand on the steering wheel for some resistive torque. It won't let you take your hands off the steering wheel completely, but you can relax and let the car keep you on the straight and narrow while you sink into the comfortable driver's seat for the open road.

I experimented a little by following a friend's car and kept my hands off the steering wheel with the self-drive function activated in a controlled environment (an abandoned stretch of road near the N4). The car prompted me with graphics on the digital cluster and played audio alerts to get me to put my hands back on the wheel. But I didn't listen to the vehicle, so the car then performed a series of braking operations; on the brake, off the brake, to kind of rock me in the seat to wake me up in case I had fallen asleep behind the steering wheel. I refused to hold on to the steering wheel, and the car continued to brake itself before coming to a complete and safe stop while activating the hazard lights to warn other vehicles around it that a situation was unfolding.

2022 Volvo XC60 B6
2022 Volvo XC60 B6

In summary

Overall, the XC60 continues to thrill with its beefy performance and Knight Rider levels of technology. The 2.0-litre supercharged, turbocharged and 48-volt assisted engine punches with big V8s, and it sips 11.8-litres/100km. On the highway, it drops to as low as 7.9 litres per 100km/h, but we've also seen it hit as high as 13.5l/100km around town.

If you want a luxurious car that starts and goes and wafts you in luxury and safety, you will be hard-pressed to find a better all-rounder than the latest XC60 for around R1 million bucks. If this one is too meaty, consider the B5 Momentum that comes in under R900 000. And if you want to experience the future, go for the plug-in T8 hybrid.

I love the punch, panache and easy-to-drive nature of the B6. It has so much to offer but doesn't scream and shout. You can easily enjoy one of the best motoring experiences while flying under the radar. It won't turn heads in our spec, but it's a darn secure way to get around town and the country. We'll take it down to the coast soon and tell you what it's like when you give it some sea air.

The Volvo XC60 B6 Inscription is priced at R1 058 200 and comes with a five-year or 100 000km full maintenance plan. You can buy it online here.

Volvo XC60 latest prices

  • Volvo XC60 B5 Momentum - R796 900
  • Volvo XC60 B5 AWD Momentum - R936 500
  • Volvo XC60 B5 AWD R-Design - R988 000
  • Volvo XC60 B5 AWD Inscription - R991 500
  • Volvo XC60 B6 AWD R-Design - R1 054 700
  • Volvo XC60 B6 AWD Inscription - R1 058 200
  • Volvo XC60 T8 Recharge AWD R-Design - R1 278 900
  • Volvo XC60 T8 Recharge AWD Inscription - R1 282 400

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