2011 Volvo XC60

Monday, November 29, 2010; 1:14 PM

Bottom line: Lesson learned - one of the safest cars in the world is only as safe as its driver. Driving, particularly speed monitoring, is a full-attention job.

Ride, acceleration and handling: You have to drive this one to believe it. The Volvo XC60 R-Design wagon (the all-wheel-drive T6 version XC60 with 20-inch-diameter wheels and sports chassis) gets superior marks in all three.

Body style/layout: The luxury Volvo XC60 is a compact wagon of unitized construction. It has four side doors and a rear lift-ate. For 2011, there are four styles: the front-wheel-drive 3.2 and 3.2 R-Design, the all-wheel-drive T6, and the T6 R-Design driven for this column.

Engines/transmission: The XC60 comes with a 3.2-liter in-line six-cylinder engine - 240 horsepower, 236 foot-pounds of torque. The optional turbocharged 3-liter in-line six-cylinder engine generates a maximum 300 horsepower and 325 foot-pounds of torque. Both engines are linked to a six-speed transmission that can be operated automatically or manually.

Capacities: Seats for five people. Maximum cargo capacity is 67 cubic feet. Fuel capacity is 18.5 gallons of gasoline. Volvo says regular is fine for both its turbo and non-turbo engines. I tried full tanks of regular and premium gasoline in the T6 R-Design I drove. The wagon performed nicely with regular. It did discernibly better with premium.

Mileage: Nothing to cheer about here. You get 16 miles per gallon in the city and 21 mpg on the highway.

S afety: Standard equipment includes front and rear ventilated disc brakes, emergency braking assistance, electronic brake-force distribution, anti-lock braking assistance, electronic stability and traction control, xenon high-intensity discharge lights, tire-pressure monitoring, and side and head air bags.

Price: The 2011 Volvo XC60 T6 R-Design has a base price of $41,550. Dealer's invoice price on that model is $39,057. Price as tested is $46,950, including $4,550 in options (onboard navigation, backup camera, parking proximity warning system, premium sound system) and an $850 destination charge. Dealer's price as tested is $44,184.

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