EDITORS’ RATING: 7/10
Volvo’s best-selling SUV in the US hardly needs an introduction, but the subtle white square on the front and back of the 2022 XC60 T8 Polestar Engineered Extended Range is worth noting. It’s the sign that this particular compact luxury SUV isn’t just a family hauler, it’s also a stealthy performance car, albeit still with the green credibility of a plug-in hybrid, but the 2022 model year brings more benefits than just that.
The T8 part of this XC60’s long name refers to the engine. As has been the case for a number of years, Volvo has only one core engine in its US portfolio: a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. Some models also pack a compressor. The T8, meanwhile, makes it a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) under its “Recharge” range.
Specifically, it’s an AWD-PHEV electric system, although it’s actually a little confusing two versions of the T8 eAWD on sale. The XC60 T8 standard form has both turbocharging and supercharging, 19 miles of all-electric range according to EPA testing, and a combined rating of 57 MPGe. It will do 0-60 mph in 5.0 seconds, Volvo says.
Two PHEVs, but not created equal
However, what you see here is the new-for-model-year-2022 XC60 T8 eAWD Extended Range. It ditches the supercharger but adds a considerably larger battery, with a third layer of cells increasing the total capacity from 9.1kWh to 14.9kWh. The rear electric motor is also beefed up, delivering 143 hp instead of 87 hp for a total of 455 hp and 523 lb-ft of torque.
0-60mph is trimmed to 4.5 seconds, but more importantly, electric-only range increases to 36 miles. Although you pay $500 more for the T8 Extended Range version, it is now eligible for the full $7,500 US federal tax incentive. Buyers of the regular T8 can claim a maximum of $5,419.
Polestar unfolds its magic
So faster, more fuel-efficient – the EPA says it’s good for 63 MPGe – and, once the math is done, more affordable. What’s not to like? Especially when you tick the boxes to upgrade to the Polestar Engineered version.
Once an independent tuner, Polestar was brought to Volvo in 2015 and put to work developing beefier versions of the Swede’s mainline. Two years later, Volvo and Geely decided to spin off Polestar again, this time as a high-performance electric vehicle brand. Since then we’ve launched the delicious (and limited) Polestar 1 Hybrid and Polestar 2 BEV.
At the same time, Polestar is still trying its hand at Volvo cars. The result is the Polestar Engineered series, effectively a body in its own right alongside mainstays like the Inscription and R-Design, with a mix of aesthetic and functional upgrades. For the blessed XC60 you see here, that means a $71,990 car complete with Destination, Thunder Gray metallic paint and a power tailgate.
Firm and persistent about the settings
Polishing Polestar doesn’t squeeze extra power out of the T8 PHEV’s powertrain, but it does “tweak” the gas-electric combo. You also get Akebono brakes (with attractive gold calipers), a Polestar-developed front strut brace and striking 21-inch CNC-machined alloy wheels. Adjustable Ohlins dampers are included, but – as we’ve seen on Polestar’s own cars – they are manually adjustable and not electronic like almost every other mainstream automaker.
The result, I’d bet, is that few owners will ever tweak their PHEV from the default settings (not least because it involves jacking up the rear of the SUV to access the required buttons). That standard error is also on the stiff side, even if you don’t opt for the $800 22-inch wheel upgrade.
Indulged in an enthusiast-friendly road, and the tighter ride pays off in flatter corners and an overall more composed experience. The rest of the time, however, it can border on inconvenience, especially for those in the otherwise roomy rear. I quickly learned to avoid small potholes and cracked asphalt whenever possible, because otherwise the XC60 crashes through them disconcertingly.
More range only for electric vehicles
Too bad, because the drive itself is good. The most powerful rear engine more than makes up for the supercharger loss, and unlike previous T8 rigs, the (mechanically unconnected) front and rear engines feel like they better understand what the other is doing. The result is more coherent and predictable, the mix of petrol and electric almost seamless.
The eight-speed automatic, which also houses a 46-horsepower electric motor, runs smoothly, and there’s a welcome one-pedal drive mode that boosts regenerative braking. Volvo’s transition between this and the powerful Akebono friction brakes is also smooth.
You can choose whether the Volvo XC60 T8 starts in pure electric or hybrid gas-electric mode every time. On the former I managed about 28-30 miles of smooth riding before the battery died. There are options to save battery power – useful if you know you’ll be driving later on a trip around town – or charge it via the petrol engine while driving, although this can be slow and the soundtrack grinds a bit.
Volvo buries the fun button
However, it’s really more fun to stay in Polestar Engineered mode. Annoyingly, this requires digging in the settings menu, as does any driving mode adjustment. Volvo has quietly gotten rid of its perfectly fine physical mode wheel in the center console, and now you have to go through the Android Automotive OS-powered infotainment to find those options instead.
It’s not the only weakness. As before, the 2022 XC60 T8 lacks DC fast charging support, and the onboard charger only reaches 3.7 kW. This can mean that a full charge can take up to 5 hours for a level 2 device.
gold (always believe in your soul)
Volvo’s cabins have long been comfortable places to find oneself, although Polestar Engineered trim adds some unique extras. Those up front get sport seats with Nappa leather and heating (but not cooling); the rear is content with artificial leather, which in view of the price seems a bit stingy. Mesh aluminum inlays on the dashboard and doors help elevate the sometimes rather dark interior, as do the signature gold seat belts.
The 9-inch infotainment touchscreen feels a bit compact these days given what the rest of the market is doing. Still, navigation is fairly basic, with features like Google Maps, Google Assistant for voice control, and access to the Google Play Store for a curated selection of third-party apps. You can get a standalone Spotify app, which is nice, but there’s no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto support yet. Considering the former is only just being added to the Polestar 2, I wouldn’t be surprised if Volvo released it as an update to the XC60 anytime soon.
Lots of technology
A wireless charger sits in the center console – it’s a little short, which can make positioning larger smartphones tricky – and you also get the impressive Bowers & Wilkins Premium Sound System. A 360-degree camera is standard, although oddly not the standard view when reversing, while blind-spot warnings, steering assist, automatic high beam for the Thor’s Hammer headlights and automatic brake cross-traffic alert are on board for the drive. Polestar is also throwing in a head-up display.
On the highway it will likely be Volvo’s Pilot Assist that will be more responsive than the Polestar tuning. The car manufacturer’s practical driver assistance combines adaptive cruise control with a lane keeping function and has matured into a powerful and reliable system. It’s definitely not a fan of being left to its own devices, however, and will – rightly – harass you relentlessly if you keep your hands off the wheel for more than a few seconds.
Volvo XC60 T8 Polestar Engineered verdict
Overall, the 2022 XC60 T8 Polestar Engineered Extended Range does a good job of making one of Volvo’s most popular models feel a little more special. It keeps the practicability and attractive design, not only adding the intention of enthusiasts but also enjoying better eco-friendly credentials.
That means it’s not entirely clean. The challenges of adjusting suspension settings mean most will simply learn to live with what can be a harsh ride, while slow loading means you sometimes have to forego maximum assist from the electric motors. Volvo’s infotainment system doesn’t feel mature either.
None of this is a deal breaker, and it’s worth noting that you can have the same performance but Volvo’s standard, softer suspension tune on cheaper trims. An XC60 Inscription T8 Extended Range starts at $55,845, although it’s obviously missing a lot of comfort and other niceties. You pay the premium for those, of course, and for the prestige of the Polestar badge – though you’ll probably have to explain it to most people – and while they’re good things, they’re probably worth buying against, to be safe, a Porsche Macan S too.
https://news.detroitdailynews.com/2022/07/02/2022-volvo-xc60-t8-polestar-engineered-extended-range-review-firmly-niche/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=2022-volvo-xc60-t8-polestar-engineered-extended-range-review-firmly-niche 2022 Volvo XC60 T8 Polestar Engineered Extended Range Review: Firm Niche