Australia’s most awarded luxury SUV in 2018

Wheels Car of the Year is widely regarded as the most coveted automotive prize in Australia, owing to the magnitude of the testing combined with the scrutiny of the award’s highly experienced – and hard to please – judges.

 

Earlier this year, the long-running award honoured the Volvo XC60 as Wheels Magazine Car of the Year. And now, the XC60 D4 Inscription has also been named Australia’s Best Cars 2018 AWD SUV in the $65,000 to $125,000 category.

 

The XC60 has also claimed not one, but two, of Drive’s 2017 Car of the Year awards; it’s become a winner in both Safety Innovation and Luxury SUVs under $80K. Its sleek Swedish looks have also been awarded a Gold in Good Design Awards, making the XC60 the nation’s most awarded luxury SUV in 2018.

 

Read on below to discover why the Volvo XC60 took out Australia’s most coveted car award; the Wheels Car of the Year. 

“You can see and feel the love and care devoted to the XC60 during its development, not to mention Volvo’s ambition. And the result is a terrific family SUV – at once both safe, stylish, good value and fun to drive.”

With these words, Australia’s most authoritative (and globally renowned) car magazine – Wheels – declared the Volvo XC60 the 2018 winner of its famously gruelling and intensive Car of the Year award.

The Wheels Car of the Year 2018 program was conducted over seven days, covering more than 10,000km at an automotive proving ground and on public roads. The Volvo XC60 was among a field of 22 contenders that would be assessed against five criteria: Function, Technology, Efficiency, Safety, and Value.

And, unlike most Car of the Year programs, it’s not just one variant tested. Every single model in the Volvo XC60 range faced ultimate scrutiny.

Vehicles were judged even before they were driven, with a static test that involved judges checking exterior and interior aspects: assessing build quality, seat comfort, ergonomics, practicality, cabin-space efficiency, and generally prodding poking, and pressing to test the quality of materials, switchgear and fit and finish.

This would have included testing the XC60’s Sensus touchscreen infotainment system, which operates intuitively like a smartphone and is designed vertically rather than horizontally as with typical displays, eliminating the distraction of constant scrolling with easier-to-view menus, as well as displaying more of the road ahead when you’re using navigation.

The initial proving ground stage comprised a range of dynamic tests. As the company that pioneered autonomous emergency braking a decade ago with its City Safety system, Volvo would have had plenty of faith in its XC60 performing exceedingly well in Wheels’ AEB test.

And the mid-sized luxury SUV’s world-first Evasive Manoeuvre Assist, an extension of City Safety, would have helped its cause in the double-lane-change manoeuvre.

The technology reacts with your reflexes – adding to your steering input and braking inner wheels to help you avoid the obstacle, before helping to stabilise and straighten the car again.

Other challenges included ABS testing on both dirt and wet surfaces, driving on gravel, dirt and bitumen, and a rough road test.

“…The XC60 smashed COTY’s safety criteria, much like the XC90 before it.”

Wheels 2018 Car of the Year issue.

While the XC60 was voted through to the road-driving stages, two of its direct competitors – as well as three other luxury SUVs – failed to progress beyond the first round of judging.

Just six of the original 22 vehicles were deemed to have the right credentials to progress to round two, where the vigorous testing progressed to a 57km road loop featuring a variety of public roads.

These included freeways – where they could test the XC60’s Pilot Assist semi-autonomous driving capability – and winding roads, where the Volvo’s finely tuned chassis could come to the fore.

“The XC60 immediately impressed with its stunning interior presentation on walk-through day, followed by its dynamics on the ride and handling course.”

Wheels 2018 Car of the Year issue.

XC60 T8 Twin Engine

The XC60 joined two other vehicles, the Alfa Romeo Giulia sedan and Skoda Kodiaq SUV, in the final round of Car of the Year 2018, where, in Wheels’ words, “…Only genuine advancement and excellence will do from here to the finish line…”

Another chance, then, to sample more of the XC60’s stand-out features, including its range of Drive-E powertrains that help to create fuel-efficient cars without compromising performance.

This approach is demonstrated most spectacularly with the T8 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid car, which provides a Pure electric-only mode or combines electric and petrol power for scintillating, all-wheel-drive performance.

“A full suite of active safety aids, a superb surround-view camera and excellent seats with well-positioned bolsters and head restraints imbue the XC60 with an aura of in-cabin safety reminiscent of its pioneering ancestors.”

Wheels 2018 Car of the Year issue.


The judges once again cross-referenced each vehicle against the Wheels Car of the Year criteria.

Function, Technology, Efficiency, Safety, and Value. The XC60 ticked them all emphatically to become the first ever Volvo to win Wheels Car of the Year.

This ultimate Volvo XC60 review complements the XC60’s new-found status as Australia’s Best Cars 2018 AWD SUV in the $65,000 to $125,000 category, and as the best car in the world in the 2018 World Car of the Year title.

As one of the world’s most progressive premium car makers, Volvo will be aiming to ensure such prestigious awards aren’t the last.

“No one could dispute the excellence of Volvo’s drivetrains… The T8 offers easily the most performance for the least money in its class.”

Wheels 2018 Car of the Year issue.


Reviews

2018 Wheels Car of the Year

Volvo XC60