2021 Volvo XC60 T8 Recharge long-term update: Family haulin'
In which our plug-in hybrid Volvo hits the highway for a good ol' family road trip.
Steven EwingFormer managing editor
Steven Ewing spent his childhood reading car magazines, making his career as an automotive journalist an absolute dream job. After getting his foot in the door at Automobile while he was still a teenager, Ewing found homes on the mastheads at Winding Road magazine, Autoblog and Motor1.com before joining the CNET team in 2018. He has also served on the World Car Awards jury. Ewing grew up ingrained in the car culture of Detroit -- the Motor City -- before eventually moving to Los Angeles. In his free time, Ewing loves to cook, binge trash TV and play the drums.
Following video producer Nick Miotke's trek from New York to Detroit in our plug-in hybrid XC60, we lent the Volvo out to automotive editor and friend-of-Roadshow Seyth Miersma, for a different kind of perspective. The XC60 is very much geared toward young couples with growing families, and since none of us really fit that description, we thought it best to get a second opinion about how this stylish Swede handles family life.
Roadshow's long-term 2021 Volvo XC60 T8 electrifies with City Weave
"After months of working from my home office in my basement, the light, airy and stylish confines of this XC60 are a welcome change of pace," Miersma notes. "The gray plaid-and-cream leather of Volvo's City Weave interior treatment is fresh, drawing praise from everyone who gets in the car."
Attractive as it might be, however, Miersma brings up a good point. "Of course the light-colored leather and surfaces do give me pause as the parent of a 2-year-old son," he said. "Despite the Volvo's overall family friendly nature, this isn't a cabin that lends itself to heavy juice drinking. I installed a seat protector under the car seat to catch the baby's crumbs at least, but I can already see some darkening of the leather bolsters on the driver's side."
Kid life aside, the XC60 continues to earn praise for its comfy seats; Volvo has long made some of the best automotive chairs in the business. "Soft yet snug," Miersma wrote, "with a range of adjustment that suits me at 6 feet, 5 inches tall, and my wife at 5 feet, 8 inches tall (and five months pregnant, to boot)."
Miersma took our XC60 on a trip from Michigan to North Carolina. Much like how Tim Stevens praised the Volvo's on-road comfort during his first few months with the XC60, Seyth had similarly positive notes.
"Ride quality is superb, with a focus on comfort, but offering just enough stability to make the occasional fast corner rewarding," he said. "I rarely switched on Volvo's Power drive mode with the baby on board, but when I did the stiffened ride and quickened throttle response were appreciated."
Since our XC60 is the T8 Recharge plug-in hybrid, fuel economy is obviously a key metric being judged during our year-long test. And while PHEVs don't really strut their efficiency chops on road trips, since the gas engine is doing the brunt of the work, Seyth still managed to observe respectable fuel economy.
"We netted 26.6 mpg for the whole trip -- just over 1,800 miles -- which is just about bang on the EPA estimate of 27 mpg combined," he said. "Our best segment, a whopping 422 miles done under cruise control on a wide open turnpike, saw an impressive 35.1 mpg." That's with our Volvo fitted to chunky Nokian snow tires, too.
We'll be keeping a closer eye on the Volvo's fuel economy during its time in the city, where we can more regularly plug it in. The EPA says our XC60 T8 Recharge should return 57 mpge (miles per gallon equivalent) if we routinely make use of its 19 miles of all-electric range.
But first, another road trip. Executive Editor Chris Paukert is in the midst of a 3,000-mile around-the-country trek, so stay tuned for all that and more in a future update.