My New Volvo Review

 It Feels Backwards 


New 2020 Volvo V60 and V90 Cross Country

(2020 XC90 T8 and 2022 XC90 T6 Review Links Below)

As a long time loyal Volvo customer I have driven some new Volvos and had not paid too much attention to new SPA Volvos but as our vehicles are starting to get some mileage on them I have started to think about future vehicles. After my experience in the new 2020 Volvo V60 I decided to write my own review which also applies to the V90 Cross Country I then later 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. I have also driven a second Volvo V60 that had less miles on it as well. 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. The front end also felt like it was diving when braking at times and the jerkiness felt clumsy and stupid and even worse for an expensive European vehicle. What I believe Volvo did was go to too soft of a brake pad in some 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 completely dumb.

The brakes on 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. It feels like Volvo is too worried about customers feeling shifts and had dumbed their shift programming down too much instead of just making it responsive. 

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.

While playing around with this distracting mess which seemed like a car wreck waiting to happen I then went to library and selected by artist thinking it would display songs from each artist or band but then made me select albums after which creates a problem because my music collection comes from so many different albums since most albums only have up to a few good songs and I would assume most customers would not have music by entire albums either. This created additional unnecessary steps and driving distractions. I am still wondering if there was another way to display 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 and this just made me miss our XC70's.

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. Full disclosure I drove another 2020 V60 and figured out how to get into the equalizer in a separate settings menu but made no sense to me that it would not also bring up the equalizer when you tap custom under sound experience. It would make more sense to me for the audio settings to just be in one place. I am an audio guy and have been impressed with every sound system even the base sound system in every single Volvo we have driven until now.

I cranked up some songs from my music collection. 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 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 thought the Harman Kardon system sounded like trash with weak droning bass, no surround sound feeling even with setting turned all the way up and felt to me like the midrange and 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 finally shut it off because to me it just sounded that 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 probably other new Volvos with the same system. Even after I finally figured out how to fine tune the equalizer and got it to sound better it was still disappointing. The way it sounded really bothered me and was unpleasant where I feel the base sound system in the V90 Cross Country just blew it away. We drove a new XC90 a while ago and from listening to the radio I also thought that base audio system was really good and seemed like what I would expect in a Volvo.

When driving the V60 I expected a sporty ride and handling that matched the looks but was very surprised 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 the rebound feels quick and precise but the rebound as the front end moved up and down seemed slower and the dampening felt too soft and slow for such a sporty looking vehicle. The V90 Cross Country suspension felt like the front end was slowly bobbing up and down driving on one part of 580. After getting back in our 2016 XC70 the suspension dampening felt more firm and precise with quicker rebound which also felt more on par with SPA XC90's I found to handle better overall with less body roll and more European ride and feel than these particular new SPA Volvos that felt surprisingly American. 

When it comes to engines I am content with the 250HP T5 and think Volvo should drop boost down 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 and serious lack of response like it was too dumbed down while Polestar drive mode felt more like what Dynamic should be and Dynamic felt more like what Comfort should be. As an update to Volvo's credit since this review software updates seem to have finally improved downshifting in 2022. 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 with our 2005 Volvos 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 too low and kind of felt like I fell into it when getting in where I really think Volvo just should make every V60 and V90 have Cross Country suspension to simplify since higher SUV like vehicles are more popular. For me personally the V90 rear looks too posh but it does look 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. I also cannot stand the funky dashes and vents in S/V90 and S/V/XC60 that to me look cheap like something that just does not belong in a high end Volvo. 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 disappointing and probably 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 S60 and S90 I think are absolute trash and worst tires I have ever experienced in my opinion. I thought noisy and sound like when a wheel hub is going out and then made a loud thunk sound when hitting road imperfections which really ruined those vehicles for me in my opinion. I actually thought it was something with the S60 we drove until I had realized it seemed to be 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, Cross Country and SUV's are quiet with great ride, traction, hold up well and have been phenomenal and these Scorpion Verde tires Volvo uses are so far the best tires I ever used.

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 it's really hard for me to think about purchasing anything beyond our 2016 XC70's until Volvo starts making some improvements and hopefully quickly. It feels like Volvo has gone backwards with brakes, struts, transmission programming, ICU / IHU when playing music files from a flash drive and the Harman Kardon system. It feels like new Volvos no longer have the sophisticated European feel Volvos had and now feel clumsy and stupid from the things I have mentioned and now feel more like American vehicles from a while ago trying to feel European than Volvos we have driven over the years and the previous P3 Platform. It is very sad for me to feel like so many things are going backwards with Volvo and I wrote this really hoping Volvo will listen and make some quick improvements.

Click here for 2020 Volvo XC90 T8 Hybrid Review

Click here for 2022 Volvo XC90 T6 Review




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