The XC60 has been Volvo’s best selling vehicle by a huge margin, and for a good reason. It’s elegant, safe and offers a slew of powertrain options. What do you need to know before you buy a Volvo XC60? Don’t worry, we’ll tell you everything right here in our Buyer’s Guide.

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The Volvo XC60 launched at the 2008 Geneva Motor Show in an attempt for Volvo to get in on the fast-growing small luxury CUV segment. That launch was accompanied by a barrage of buzzwords, as Volvo said their new small CUV was “dressed in a thrilling blend of muscular XC capability and the sporty charisma of a coupe.”

We don’t know what that PR jargon means, but we can tell you that the XC60 offers lots of engineering goodness.

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One of the big selling points of the XC60 is probably no surprise: Safety. Volvo says the mid-size luxury CUV was the first vehicle to offer a collision prevention feature as standard. The system, called City Safety, can apply the brakes in case of an imminent crash. The Volvo XC60 has also received IIHS’s Top Safety Pick + rating, meaning it scores well even in the new, strenuous small overlap test. That’s a big deal, especially since safety is so important to buyers in this segment.

In addition to safety, Volvo also offers plenty of engine options, all of which are boosted and get decent fuel economy. There’s a base 240 HP 2.0-liter turbo four, a 240 HP 2.5-liter turbo five and a 302 HP 2.0-liter turbocharged and supercharged turbo four. Models prior to 2016 could also be had with a 325 HP 3.0-liter turbo inline six. All-wheel drive is available with certain engines, though every all-wheel drive has to make do with two fewer gears than front-drive trims.

Between the efficient powertrain offerings, excellent safety ratings and elegant styling, the XC60 makes a good case to families looking for a CUV to haul around their most precious cargo.

What’s New About The 2016 Volvo XC60

Debuting for the 2010 model year, the new XC60 was built on the Ford EUCD platform, sharing many components with the now-departed Land Rover LR2. Volvo’s mid-size CUV came in three trims: XC60 3.2, XC60 T6 AWD and XC60 T6 R-Design, the first of which got a 235 horsepower 3.2-liter naturally aspirated inline-six, while the latter two got a 3.0-liter 281 horse turbocharged I6. All engines came bolted to a six-speed auto.

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In 2011, Volvo added a 3.2 R-Design trim, which gave the 3.2 trim a sportier appearance and suspension tuning, as well as leather seats and additional standard content. In addition, the 3.2-liter engine got bumped to 240 horsepower and the T6's 3.0-liter turbo added 19 HP for a total of 300.

The third model year brought a smorgasbord of new trim levels. The T6 AWD and T6 AWD R-Design trims each received their own sub-trims: base, Premier Plus and Platinum. The base XC60 3.2 received those three trims, as well as a Premier trim between base and Premier plus. The 3.2 R-Design was no longer available.

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Also new for 2012, the T6 AWD R-Design gets an additional 25 horsepower, making it the most powerful of the three trims at 325 HP.

The following year didn’t bring much change, but in 2014, the XC60 got a substantial refresh, with a new front fascia, updated fenders and hood, and a revised interior.

Then for 2015, Volvo made huge changes to trim levels and powertrain options. The four major trims became: T5 Drive-E, T5 AWD, T6 Drive-E, T6 AWD and T6 AWD R-Design. Drive-E models were all front-wheel drive and mated to eight-speed autos, whereas AWD trims got six-speeds.

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The T5 Drive-E, the new front-wheel drive base trim, received a new 240 horsepower 2.0-liter turbo four with stop start. The T5 AWD, replacing the 3.2 trim in mid 2015, received a new 2.5-liter inline-five making 250 horsepower. And all T6 Drive-E received an all-new 302 horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged and supercharged inline-four with stop start. The T6 AWD and T6 AWD R-Design kept their 3.0-liter turbo sixes.

For 2016, the 3.0-liter goes away, and the 302 horsepower 2.0-liter takes over as the top engine. This leaves the T5 AWD and its 2.5-liter inline-five as the only trim with a six-speed auto instead of an eight-speed.

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Which One We’d Buy

The Volvo XC60 comes in five trims: T5 Drive-E FWD, T5 AWD, T6 Drive-E FWD, T6 AWD and T6 R-Design AWD. The T5 models get base, premier and platinum sub-trims, while the T6 models get base and platinum models.

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The T5 Drive-E gets a 240 horsepower 2.0-liter turbo I4, the T5 AWD gets a 250 turbocharged five cylinder, and all T6 models get a 302 horse horsepower supercharged and turbocharged 2.0-liter I4. All models get eight-speed autos sans the T5 AWD, which gets a six-speed.

All models get hydraulic power steering, a MacPherson Strut front suspension, a multilink rear suspension setup, 12.9-inch front brake discs and 11.9 inchers in the rear.

If we were looking for a safe luxury CUV and we didn’t need all-wheel drive, we’d take a hard gander at the base T5 Drive-E FWD model. Not only does it offer the best fuel economy of all trims, but it’s also the cheapest and still comes relatively well equipped.

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Standard content includes: 2.0-liter turbo I4, eight-speed auto, 18-inch alloy wheels, power heated mirrors, rain sensing wipers, dual-zone electric climate control, eight-way power adjustable front seats with lumbar, driver’s seat memory, leatherette seating surfaces, seven-inch Sensus infotainment display, eight-speaker sound system with 160W amplifier, Bluetooth, City Safety collision prevention system and electric park brake. All in with destination, we’d be looking at $37,595.

If we needed all-wheel drive, the T6 Drive-E AWD trim adds the more powerful 302 hp supercharged and turbocharged four cylinder engine, but is otherwise similarly equipped. It comes in at $44,345 after destination fee.

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[Build Your Own Volvo XC60]

Important Facts At A Glance:

MSRP: $36,600-$47,200 [T5 Drive E FWD-T6 R Design AWD]

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Top Speed: 118 MPH

Acceleration: 6.5-6.9s to 60 MPH [T5 Drive E FWD-T6 Drive E]

MPG: 19-23 cty / 26-31 hwy / 22-26 comb [T5 AWD-T5 Drive E FWD]

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Engines: 2.0L turbo I4, 2.0L turbo and s/c I4, 2.5L turbo I5

Horsepower: 240-302 HP [T5 Drive E FWD-T6 Drive E]

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Torque: 258-295 lb-ft [T5 Drive E FWD-T6 Drive E]

Curb Weight: ~4,041-4,277 pounds [T5 Drive E FWD-T6 Drive E AWD]

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IIHS Rating: Top Safety Pick +

Transmissions: Six-speed automatic, Eight-speed automatic

Drivetrain Layout: Front engine, FWD/AWD

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Photo credit: Volvo