As we’ve written so many times, what constitutes a great-handling mid-sized SUV is a complicated thing to define.
In outright terms, the answer may simply be ‘a Porsche Macan’, but for someone who wants the comfort, isolation, versatility, space and convenience that most cars of this type afford – and that, in many cases, the Porsche does not – that answer may be as good as useless.
However you prefer to define that idea, few would expect the new XC60 to set the premium SUV class standard on handling dynamism and so perhaps few will care that it doesn’t.
But we’re not here to overlook the shortcomings of the car’s suspension and steering on that basis, because to do so wouldn’t be fair on Volvo’s competitors – nor would it be much use to you.
In air-suspended form and on optional 19in alloy wheels at the very least, the XC60 is a car that falls between two stalls, providing a driving experience that doesn't stand out in terms of its ride nor its handling.
It’s a dynamically competent car, and as secure in extremis as anyone could want a Volvo to be.
But the ride is excitable and hollow over poorer surfaces and sharper-edged bumps; the steering is overly light and remote; and the handling slightly mushy, unresponsive and lacking in both balance and bite – even by SUV benchmarks.
In some of those ways, we can imagine the car is precisely as Volvo wanted it to be – and as many owners would prefer it; but not in all of them.
The XC60’s occasionally clunky ride is perhaps its most disappointing dynamic blight, and the one you may be least forgiving of in both an SUV and a Volvo.
The air suspension does a reasonable job of suppressing surface roar but given an averagely testing ridge or edge to deal with it thumps and sometimes almost crashes. It’s been a criticism we’ve made of all air-sprung Volvo’s sharing this platform, but is more notable here than anywhere.
After that, we’d bemoan the fact that the XC60’s ‘Dynamic’ driving mode doesn’t do a better job of producing much of a sporting driving experience (body control ranges from decent downwards) – admitting the same caveat with which this section started: that, in all likelihood, an owner won’t care. We simply can’t pretend that we don’t.