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2022 Volvo XC60 Recharge: Refresh + new tech [First Drive]

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I really love Volvo vehicles. From their minimal design to ergonomic comfort, they tend to be some of the more attractive and easy-to-drive vehicles on the market. Throw in standard safety, fuel-efficient powertrains and some cool tech, and you have the makings of a winner.

Though I only had a couple hours behind the wheel of the 2022 Volvo XC60 Recharge, it’s one of the winners.

Design tweaks

The exterior of the XC60 Recharge is unmistakably Volvo, with it’s smoothed out boxy design, Thor’s hammer headlights and bumped out taillights. Sitting between the XC40 and XC90, the XC60 has just-right midsize proportions that will suit the needs of commuters and small families alike.

Though this isn’t the big news for 2022, the Volvo XC60 does receive a minor refresh for the 2022 model year. The Volvo bumper and grille are both tweaked, and there are new exterior color and wheel options.

One of the more interesting changes involves the Volvo emblem on the grille. It houses a lot of the hardware (cameras and radar sensors) for the safety tech, and it is now heated. This means that in slushy and frozen winter climes, this tech will continue to work.

Powertrain improvements

The powertrain is the bigger news for the 2022 model year, as the XC60 Recharge, which is a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV), gets both power and range improvements. Though it still has the same 4-cylinder turbo engine, the supercharger is removed. Lest you think this is a bad thing, horsepower and torque numbers are up for this model year, and the 2022 XC60 Recharge will deliver 455 horsepower and 523 pound-feet of torque.

How is this possible? A new electric motor, which pushes out 148 horsepower. That’s a 56-horsepower increase — just for the electric motor.

Another big improvement comes via the battery pack, which is now 18.8 kWh. This means it can store more energy, thus all-electric range goes up to 35 miles.

Along with the extended range, the 2022 XC60 Recharge gets one-pedal driving while in the all-electric Pure driving mode. If you aren’t familiar, one-pedal driving lets you use the accelerator pedal to control your speed. The acceleration is the obvious part, but to slow down, you simply take your foot off the pedal slowly or more quickly depending on how fast you want to stop. I found I could one pedal it in most instances — unless someone cut  me off, and I needed to slow down more quickly.

I’ll be honest, this is the first time I’ve driven the XC60, so I can’t tell you if it’s better or worse than the 2021 model year. All I can say is this: The 2022 XC60 Recharge is damn nice to drive and has plenty of pep. It’s also pretty spot on with the 35 miles of all-electric range.

We were in the Palm Springs area for the drive, so we hit our fair share of twisty roads and we went up and down mountain passes. Our total trip was about 35 miles, and you know what? I didn’t dip into the gas engine once.

I also had a lot of fun.

The XC60 is big enough to store luggage and supplies for four passengers, but it’s also small enough to stay on the nimble side of the spectrum.

2022 XC60 Recharge

Google stuff

The new Google-powered infotainment is the biggest news for 2022, as the XC60 Recharge is one of the first Volvo vehicles to make the switch to this system. In addition to Google Maps, this means you get Google Assistant to do things like search the internet, dole out navigation directions, change your HVAC controls and even tell you jokes (complete with sound effects).

This system will be free for 4 years, but it becomes subscription-based after that, and Volvo hasn’t announced any pricing. So, what if you don’t want to subscribe? The simple answer is I don’t know. And neither does Volvo. A spokesperson said Volvo is devoted to a good user experience, but the automaker didn’t have anything to announce about what happens after the subscription expires if it isn’t renewed. So, that’s TBD.

What you do not get: Android Auto or Apple CarPlay.

While this system will never have Android Auto because it’s already an Android-based system, Volvo does say CarPlay is coming. It’s just not here yet.

I played around with the system a bit and paired my phone to see how phone calls, voice texting and navigation worked on my iPhone without CarPlay. It’s not as intuitive as CarPlay, but it didn’t completely suck.

I was able to listen to my text messages by asking the Google system to read my notifications, and I could send text messages by asking the Google Assistant to “send a text message to … .” I was even able to send my estimated time of arrival to my husband, with a simple screen press from the map screen.

All of this worked very well, but the one annoyance was even though the system would read my text messages, it wouldn’t mark them as read on my phone. Nor did it wipe the already-read messages from my notifications screen.

A small suggestion for Volvo

There really wasn’t much I didn’t like about the Volvo XC60 Recharge, from the all-electric range to overall maneuverability, this is a great SUV. And with a base price of $55,345, it’s not crazy expensive for a PHEV luxury vehicle.

But there was one little thing I noticed during the test drive that needs some improvement: the location of the wireless charging pad. It’s to the right of the gear shift and in front of the cup holders. There are couple of problems with that.

First, the obvious: If you have a full cup of coffee (even with a cover), there’s the chance the liquid could slosh onto the pad and your phone with a quick turn or fast stop.

Now the less obvious: That pad is situated in full open sun during the heat of the day. So, in addition to the heat generated by the wireless charging itself, the sun beating down directly on your phone creates a hot mess. Literally. My phone wouldn’t charge and overheated. So, I had to move it into the console and wire it in to charge it and keep it cool.

My suggestion: Move it forward so it can get some shade or place it inside the center console. With the wireless connection, you shouldn’t ever need to touch your phone, so why does need to be out in the open? It doesn’t.

The bottom line on the 2022 XC60 Recharge

The 2022 Volvo XC60 Recharge is a great vehicle. I like how it drives, the seats are comfortable, and for someone who regularly drives less than 35 miles a day, you basically have an all-electric vehicle.

Editor’s note: Driving impressions in this “First Drive” review are from an invitation-only automaker launch event that allowed special access to the vehicle and executives. Volvo Cars USA covered our accommodations, meals and transportation costs.

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Jill Ciminillo

Jill Ciminillo is the Managing Editor for Pickup Truck + SUV Talk as well as a Chicago-based automotive writer, YouTube personality and podcast host, with her articles and videos appearing in outlets throughout the U.S. Additionally, she co-hosts a weekly radio show on car stuff for a local Chicago station. Previously, Jill has been the automotive editor for both newspaper and broadcast media conglomerates. She is also a past president for the Midwest Automotive Media Association and has the distinction of being the first female president for that organization. Jill is also currently a juror for the North American Car, Utility and Truck of the Year (NACTOY).

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