Volvo Joins the Horsepower Race with the 2018 Volvo XC60 T8 eAWD Inscription Hybrid [Review]

Volvo Joins the Horsepower Race with the 2018 Volvo XC60 T8 eAWD Inscription Hybrid
The Volvo XC60 T8 Inscription offers up 400 horsepower and a suite of features for $71,590 (as tested).[Photo: Volvo]


Volvo never has generally concerned itself with horsepower, but it’s offering 400 horses and lots of torque with its new, top-line 2018 XC60 T8 eAWD inscription model. This puts it right up there with such rivals as Porsche.

This four-door hatchback Volvo model, with its almost impossibly long name, lists at $52,900 before options, although lower-horsepower, less well-equipped models start at $41,500. They start with the base Momentum model, go to the sportier R-Design version and top off with the Inscription model, which has a whopping 472 pound/feet of torque and smooth acceleration working with a responsive 8-speed automatic transmission.

However, despite its high horsepower and solid suspension, the emphasis with the XC60 T8 eAWD Inscription is on comfort and utility, not all-out performance.

Comfort and Convenience

The styling is attractive, the quiet interior is upscale with driftwood inlays, leather and tasteful stitching,  All cupholders are easy to use and there is a good amount of cabin storage space. However, the start/stop switch on the console is awkward to use. Why not a simple start/stop engine dashboard button?

Doors open wide and front seats are especially supportive, but heated and ventilated front seats and a heated steering wheel are optional. The backseat area is comfortably roomy for two adults, and there’s a large fold-down rear center armrest that contains two pull-out cupholders. A power rear hatch opens high to reveal a roomy cargo area. Rear seat backs fold forward to enlarge cargo space, and there’s a small pass-through opening from the cargo area. Under the hatch are two exquisitely shaped horizontal exhaust outlets.

All models have have plenty of punch, but the gas-electric 400-horsepower horsepower model, which can run at low speeds solely on electricity, tops them all. It  delivers quite a boot in the back when you hit the gas hard. (Figure 0-60 MPH in 4.9 seconds). It has an added 87-horsepower motor-generator drive the rear wheels. All-wheel drive is standard, a feature that helped keep my test XC60 stable while storming through freeway on- and -off ramps.

Several driving modes can be selected, all of which are displayed on a complicated 9-inch dashboard touchscreen, along with other features. The “Hybrid” setting, which uses the gas-electric combo, is the best for daily use. The “Power” setting give quicker steering, firmer damping and lowers the suspension. There’s also an “Off-Road” mode for rough roads.

About that steering—while fast, it takes getting used to because it’s really a little too quick and provides a somewhat twitchy sensation.

Volvo hasn’t released fuel economy figures yet but I’d guess 26 miles per gallon in the city and a little less on highways. Fuel with at least a 91-octane rating is recommended for the supercharged and turbocharged 2-liter inline four-cylinder gasoline engine.

All 2018 models have a longer wheelbase, which helps rear-seat room, have trimmer overhangs and aren’t much longer than their predecessor. The XC60 also is a bit wider and several inches lower for a sportier look. An optional $800 air suspension lets one raise the XC60 a little and also lowers it a bit for better aerodynamics during highway cruising.

The ride is smooth with the air suspension, and handling is good. The regenerative braking is controlled by a pedal with a firm feel.

This is an SUV that calls for extra effort to climb into. Once aboard, occupants sit high and a driver has large outside rear-view mirrors for good visibility. Those mirrors have turn-signal indicators and fold inward when the vehicle is parked.

Safety items include collision avoidance and lane-keep features, although others such as adaptive cruise control are optional.

The padded hood glides open on twin struts to reveal an engine compartment covered by a large plastic cover that simple says “Volvo.”

TFLcar’s TAKE: The XC60 has been Volvo’s best-selling model since 2009, and the 2018 model is by far the best one so far. Lots of tempting options, including the air suspension, caused the list prices my test XC60 T8 E-AWD Inscription to total $71,590 with a freight charge.