My New Volvo Review
I Would Never Buy
New Volvo V60 and V90 Cross Country
(may also apply to other SPA Volvos)
As a long time loyal Volvo customer I have driven some new Volvos but had not paid too much attention to new SPA Volvos because there were turn offs and was not considering. I guess as our vehicles are getting some mileage I am starting to think about future vehicles and plan ahead. After my experience in the new Volvo V60 (2019 or 2020 if I am correct) I decided to write my own review which also applies to the V90 Cross Country I recently drove unless otherwise noted. I have seen other V60, S60, V90 and S90 reviews and I am surprised none of the reviewers seemed critical of the following. In my opinion this will be the most interesting and informative Volvo review you see.
Everything stated below is my own review and my opinion to be clear. Vehicle had around 7,500 miles but I consider new since this is the new V60. The V90 Cross Country had about 2000 miles and review applies unless noted.
The first thing I noticed in both Volvos was the awful clown car jerky braking when pulling out of the Volvo dealer jerking me back and forth. This just felt clumsy and stupid and even worse for an expensive luxury vehicle. What I believe Volvo did was go to too soft of a brake pad in a quest for more braking performance and the new pads are now too soft and grabby. This is something I have noticed in other new Volvos and I think is just absolutely dumb.
The brakes in our P2 Volvos our 2005 V70 and S80 were phenomenal and sure they will jerk the hell out of you if you slam on the brakes but they did not have too much initial grab where you felt that during normal driving and our 2016 XC70's although more initial grab seem to also have smoother braking. After driving I realized this gets even better since these vehicles seem to have similar transmission programming to our 2016 XC70's that hurls you to stops like clown cars with too much forward momentum at times because downshift timing is too slow so now you have this transmission programming that hurls you toward stops at times with too much forward momentum then you have too soft and grabby brake pads which just makes the jerkiness worse.
I was further shocked that the Volvo V60 also had the Polestar Performance Software package where I had thought for sure that transmission downshifting when in drive would be quicker and more aggressive but it too felt like the downshifting was just too delayed lazy and dumbed down. It was disappointing because I thought maybe I could get this upgrade to improve downshift timing when approaching stops but unfortunately seems that I was mistaken. It feels like Volvo is too worried about customers feeling shifts and just dumbed their shift programming down too much instead of making it more responsive and just having slower and smoother shifts during normal driving conditions.
The next thing I experienced was that I was horrified when I tried to play my music collection and it was a distracting disaster trying to play music. In the last years of P3 Volvos like our 2016 XC70's the ICU was very intuitive and when you went to play music from a flash drive folders show up that you can select and music in any folders is displayed by artist or band in alphabetical order and I expected the same especially with a touch screen interface that I thought would be very intuitive but that was not the case. Instead of folders showing up on the touch screen that I could select and go into it just displayed every single song in alphabetical order which means nearly 300 songs and my music was no longer sorted into folders by type of music. For example my first folder is 70's and 80's rock then I have another folder called 80's collection and so on but I just figured that was default and there was another way.
After playing around with that distracting mess which seemed like a car wreck waiting to happen I went to library and selected artist but when selecting it then made me select everything by album after I selected each artist or band which is a problem because my music collection comes from many different albums since most albums only have up to a few good songs and I would assume most customers would not just have music by entire albums either. This just created additional unnecessary steps and driving distractions. I am still wondering if there was another way to display the music files but I used to be a computer guy usually pretty good at figuring things out while it did not seem like there was any other way to me and made me miss our XC70's. I also cannot stand music showing in instrument cluster it was annoying.
Well if that was not enough the music situation gets even better. I thought that the Harman Kardon system sounded like trash compared to the base system in our 2016 XC70's and P3 Generation S/V/XC60's I have driven. I initially dismissed this as an issue because in all of our previous Volvos and 60 series Volvos I have driven by default the midrange or center speaker was turned up too high so I expected that I could optimize settings and make it sound better. I went into sound experience and turned the bass and treble and subwoofer all the way up because the bass sounded non existent to me and the midrange was too high so I was trying to get it to sound richer. I turned up the surround sound setting which I believe also gave the sound some improvement.
In sound experience under tone I selected neutral, clear and warm and did not seem to make much improvement so I repeatedly tapped custom on the touch screen assuming I would get an equalizer so I can fine tune the settings but nothing would happen and I could not figure out how to adjust the equalizer if that is even possible although it seemed to me like you could not. I am an audio guy and have been impressed with every sound system even the base sound system in every single Volvo we have owned or driven until now.
I cranked up some songs from my music collection. Full disclosure I have increased the volume a little on some of the files because some were too low. I listened to Led Zeppelin The Rover, the live rock version of Hall and Oates Out Of Touch Live From Dublin, Jimmy Hendrix Hey Joe the alternate version with some distortion, Eric Clapton White Room, Robin Trower Gonna Be More Suspicious Live, Talking Heads Once In A Lifetime and Psycho Killer and I just thought the Harman Kardon system sounded like absolute trash with really weak bass, no surround sound feeling even with setting turned all the way up and the center channel speaker was blaring like an AM radio just awful. It got so bad that when driving back to the dealer listening to Steely Dan Do It Again I said screw this and I just shut it off because to me it just sounded bad.
I thought maybe I was being too harsh or losing my mind since I am open to the possibility something is maybe just me but when I got back into our XC70 and listened to the same music it proved to me our base system sounded far better than the upgrade Harman Kardon system in new 60 series and possibly other new Volvos if they have the same system. I will say that we did drive a new XC90 a while ago and from listening to the radio I thought that base audio system was really good and seemed like what I would expect in a Volvo. It feels to me like there might be some issue with the Harman Kardon amplifier and Volvo had detuned that system through a software update because I think the standard base sound system in the V90 Cross Country blew it away.
When driving the V60 I expected a sporty ride and handling that matched the looks but I was very surprised that the suspension dampening felt softer and less precise than our 2016 XC70's which are higher off the ground. When driving in Northern California going up the Altamont toward Tracy in the left lane there is one part in particular that makes the front end kind of want to lift and in our 2016 XC70's and even our 2005 V70 and S80 the rebound feels quick but the rebound as the front end moved up and down just felt slow to me and the dampening feels too soft and slow for a vehicle that looks this sporty. The V90 Cross Country suspension felt the same and like the front end was slowly bobbing up and down when driving on 580 from Tracy to the dealer. After getting back in our 2016 XC70 the suspension dampening felt stiffer and more precise with quicker rebound like a high performance vehicle with no boat like slowly bobbing up and down like these SPA Volvos I had driven and I found our 2016 XC70 to be more comfortable and handle better overall.
When it comes to engines I am content with the 250HP T5 and think Volvo should drop boost down for for better fuel economy. The V90 Cross Country had the 316HP T6 with the Supercharger but it felt unnecessary and too eager at times with transmission programming that just felt completely mismatched. What ruins Volvo powertrains for me is not power but the awful shift program when approaching stops at times just feeling delayed lazy and dumb like nobody is home even with Polestar in that drive mode and just lack of sporty feel when in drive even too laid back riding in manual mode letting it shift for you like it was too dumbed down and have to force it down into lower gears. The transmission shift programs for our 2005 V70 and S80 felt smarter and more sophisticated and advanced like they adapted to your driving on the fly. For example when slowly pressing the accelerator for normal driving it felt like hardly noticeable easy shifting but when quickly pressing the accelerator it felt like the transmissions woke up and became very sporty and aggressive.
The positives and highlights would be the V60 exterior looks perfect but I feel it sits a little low and felt a little like I fell into it when getting into it where I really think that Volvo should make every V60 and V90 Cross Country configuration to simplify since higher SUV like vehicles are more popular. For me personally the V90 rear looks a little too posh but looks better as a higher Cross Country. As far as interior I really hate the standard single spoke steering wheel and the two piece deco inlay rim which I find ugly and uncomfortable and does not look as nice as the R-Design steering wheel that I think should be standard. The interior highlight was the nice dark wood grain in the V60 that I expect in a luxury vehicle and really gave the interior a nicer more upscale feel. It was very disappointing and was a deal breaker for me that the V90 Cross Country did not have a traditional dark wood grain option when I went to configure.
We have also driven the new S60 and I am assuming everything in this review would be the same however the Pirelli P Zero tires used on the S60 and S90 I think are absolute trash and worst tires I have ever experienced in my opinion. First noisy and make the kind of sound like when a wheel hub is going out and then make a loud dunk sound when hitting road imperfections and tires really ruin those vehicles for me in my opinion. I actually thought it was something with the S60 we drove until I figured out it was the tires. I have also seen and believe I heard about sidewall bulges in Pirelli P7 and P Zero tires and think Volvo should use Continental ProContacts instead. What is interesting is that the Pirelli Scorpion tires used on our XC70's, other Cross Country models and SUV's are quiet with great ride, traction, hold up well and have been great.
Unfortunately as a long time loyal Volvo customer and huge fan unless I get really desperate and cannot find anything else I want to drive I would never purchase anything beyond our 2016 XC70's until Volvo improves brakes, transmission programming, the ICU when playing music files and improves the Harman Kardon audio system which I felt was just awful. I remember we had driven a 2016 60 series and Heart Crazy On You came on the radio. I cranked it up to test the sound system and tuned the equalizer turning up bass a little, turned down midrange and turned up highs a little and that sound system just completely blew me away and that was a real sound experience. I also feel like the suspension dampening and rebound rates are all wrong in new SPA Volvos and feel more like American vehicles years ago trying to feel European than the Volvos we have driven over the years and previous P3 Platform. It is very sad for me to feel like so many things are going backwards with Volvo.