Volvo XC60 is big on safety, comfort, power

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The exterior design of the 2017 Volvo XC60 walks the line between quirky character and refined sophistication. Sleek and efficient-looking, this Volvo has no edges, literally or figuratively, and a lot of American drivers will love it.

The new XC60 is a mid-size SUV that provides as many impressive safety features as it does notable interior features. Volvo has never tried to emulate any other carmaker’s template or approach to vehicle design — and that’s been a very good thing for Volvo and those wise enough to invest in one over the decades.

The XC60 has two trim levels: Dynamic and Inscription. The major difference has to do with styling and materials.

If you opt for the Dynamic, you’re signing up for more flair. A front and rear styling kit kicks things up a notch, and black 18-inch alloy wheels complete the look.

Inscription models impart an upscale feel with brilliant 18-inch wheels, walnut wood inlays and your choice of four leather colors, including Marble White, Toscana Tan and Off-Black.

I’ve always been a fan of Volvo’s slash-bar grille treatment, and the XC60 wears its nose with attitude and distinction. The lines are sleek, smart and not too aggressive. The belt line is high, and it delivers a look of sportiness as the glass tapers to the rear of the SUV.

Inside the quiet cabin, you will find a meticulously crafted interior featuring details such as fine leather, walnut inlays and a state-of-the-art infotainment system. The XC60 offers seating for five, and the standard leather upholstery and eight-way power-adjustable front seats steal the show for getting cozy. Rear seats have plenty of room, though head room is a bit tighter in back.

Cargo space is ideal in the XC60 with a 30.8-cubic-foot cargo hold. When you fold the rear seats down in the XC60, there’s an impressive 67.5 cubic feet of space. The XC60 beats every luxury compact SUV in terms of overall cargo space (and even many luxury mid-size SUVs).

Dual-zone automatic climate controls up front are easy to operate. The center stack’s two human-shaped outlines provide intuitive operation for airflow direction. The infotainment system is less intuitive; a series of menu layers slows down processing, and the telephone keypad requires more attention off the road.

The XC60 has two choices for engines. A standard turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine (240 horsepower) is more than adequate. If you have more anticipated loads of people or stuff in mind, the upgraded, supercharged 304-horsepower version of the same engine is an option. Both engines are paired with a slick-shifting automatic transmission that fades into the background.

The XC60 is among the most fuel-efficient non-hybrid vehicles in the class, getting 23 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway with the T5 FWD. With the T5 AWD, you can expect 20 mpg in the city and 29 on the highway. Getting the supercharged engine that comes with all-wheel drive only decreases fuel economy a bit to 20/27 mpg city/highway.

Safety has always been a selling point for Volvos, and the XC60 is no exception, as it earns some of the best safety scores in the class. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety names it a Top Safety Pick+. The XC60 also receives four out of five stars in rollover testing and a perfect score in overall, frontal, and side crash tests from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Starting at $40,950, the XC60 is one of the best values in this price point. It has a wide visual footprint that will appeal to everyone and a potent power plant that will handle whatever you throw at it. This is comfort and reliability for a great entry price.