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2018 Volvo XC60 T8 E-AWD Inscription hybrid
The top-line Volvo XC60 T8 E-AWD Inscription hybrid puts Volvo in an SUV horsepower race.

Price: $52,900

Volvo never has generally concerned itself with horsepower, but it’s offering 400 horses and lots of torque with its new, top-line 2018 XC60 T8 E-AWD inscription model. This puts it right up there with such rivals as Porsche.

This four-door hatchback Volvo model, with its almost impossibly long name, lists at $52,900, although lower-horsepower, less well-equipped models start at $41,500. They start with the base Momentum model, go to the sportier R-Design version and top off with the Inscription model, which has a whopping 472 pound/feet of torque and smooth acceleration working with a responsive 8-speed automatic transmission.

However, despite its high horsepower and solid suspension, the emphasis with the XC60 T8 E-AWD Inscription is on comfort and utility, not all-out performance.

The styling is attractive, the quiet interior is upscale with driftwood inlays, leather and tasteful stitching,  All cupholders are easy to use and there is a good amount of cabin storage space. However, the start/stop switch on the console is awkward to use. Why not a simple start/stop engine dashboard button?

Doors open wide and front seats are especially supportive, but heated and ventilated front seats and a heated steering wheel are optional. The backseat area is comfortably roomy for two adults, and there’s a large fold-down rear center armrest that contains two pull-out cupholders.

A power rear hatch opens high to reveal a roomy cargo area. Rear seat backs fold forward to enlarge cargo space, and there’s a small pass-through opening from the cargo area. Under the hatch are two exquisitely shaped horizontal exhaust outlets.

All models have have plenty of punch, but the gas-electric 400-horsepower horsepower model, which can run at low speeds solely on electricity, tops them all. It  delivers quite a boot in the back when you hit the gas hard. (Figure 0-60 m.p.h. in 4.9 seconds.) It has an added 87-horsepower motor-generator drive the rear wheels.

All-wheel drive is standard, a feature that helped keep my test XC60 stable while storming through freeway on- and -off ramps.  

Several driving modes can be selected, all of which are displayed on a complicated 9-inch dashboard touchscreen, along with other features. The “Hybrid” setting, which uses the gas-electric combo, is the best for daily use. The “Power” setting give quicker steering, firmer damping and lowers the suspension. There’s also an “Off-Road” mode for rough roads.

About that steering—while fast, it takes getting used to because it’s really a little too quick and provides a somewhat twitchy sensation.   

Volvo hasn’t released fuel economy figures yet but I’d guess 26 miles per gallon in the city and a little less on highways. Fuel with at least a 91-octane rating is recommended for the supercharged and turbocharged 2-liter inline four-cylinder gasoline engine.  

All 2018 models have a longer wheelbase, which helps rear-seat room, have trimmer overhangs and aren’t much longer than their predecessor. The XC60 also is a bit wider and several inches lower for a sportier look. An optional $800 air suspension lets one raise the XC60 a little and also lowers it a bit for better aerodynamics during highway cruising.

The ride is smooth with the air suspension, and handling is good. The regenerative braking is controlled by a pedal with a firm feel.

This SUV that calls for extra effort to climb into. Once aboard, occupants sit high and a driver has large outside rearview mirrors for good visibility. Those mirrors have turn-signal indicators and fold inward when the vehicle is parked.

Lots of tempting options, including the air suspension, caused the list prices my test XC60 T8 E-AWD Inscription to total $71,590 with a freight charge.

Safety items include collision avoidance and lane-keep features, although others such as adaptive cruise control are optional.

The padded hood glides open on twin struts to reveal an engine compartment covered by a large plastic cover that simple says “Volvo.”

The XC60 has been Volvo’s best-selling model since 2009, and the 2018 model is by far the best one so far.

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