2007 Detroit Auto Show – 2009 Volvo XC60 – Pre-Shrunk XC90's Coming… Eventually
As the pendulum swings towards smaller vehicles and ‘socially conscious’ consumers Volvo has decided to shrink some of their XC90s. Volvo will expand their Crossover SUV lineup to compete in the arena with vehicles like the Lexus RX350, BMW X3, Toyota RAV4, Honda CRV and Mercury Mariner (Ford Escape/Mazda Tribute). Some may ask… Does Volvo need another soft roader 5-passenger SUV positioned under its 7-passenger XC90? Is Volvo concluding like many manufacturers that multiple SUVs are required to compete in today’s auto market?
XC60 Violates Volvo’s Naming Strategy
Codenamed Y278, then dubbed XC50, the production version will be called the XC60. This name violates Volvo’s own naming strategy. That strategy, that they have been implementing over the past few years, has each hatchback, wagon or SUV having an odd-number – C30, V50, V70, XC70, XC90. The sedans are all “S” names with even numbers – S40, S60, S80. So, here comes the XC60 and throws all this hard work out the window. Wonder why?
Traditional SUV vs. Crossover SUV
It may come down to Crossover SUVs being able to dodge the shameful SUV stigma. Large Crossover SUVs are simply viewed as “SUVs” by most consumers. Crossover SUVs outsold Traditional SUVs for the first time in 2006, so clearly SUV buyers are moving towards the easier-to-live-with Crossovers.
Crossover SUVs offer better fuel economy, a softer more supple ride, better safety, less NVH (Noise Vibration Harshness); all while retaining a decent amount of ride height, visibility, and cargo capacity. In other words, The Volvo XC60, in addition to its already well-accepted XC90, gives the company another entry that fulfills these requirements.
Product, Pricing and Timing
The XC60 will be a four-door, five-passenger crossover with independent suspension and a transversely mounted engine supplying power to the front (or all) wheels. The XC60 concept is powered by a bio-ethanol 3.2 Liter in-line 6-cylinder engine. The XC60 destined for USA shores will include both in-line 5-cylinder and in-line 6-cylinder engines. XC60 is based on Ford’s C1 platform (S40/V50 platform) and pulls many parts from the Land Rover LR2 (Freelander II) parts bin (maybe even a Haldex all-wheel-drive system).
Who will buy the XC60? Volvo is targeting a younger demographic group and with the XC60 being priced in the mid to upper twenties (concentrating on “Affordable Safety”) they might be able to attract younger buyers. Volvo needs to be wary of manufacturers like Hyundai and Kia building vehicles with price points below the XC60. Everyone seems to be getting into the Crossover SUV market and being competitive will come down to price and availability.
So when can we expect to see one at our local Volvo dealer? Not any time soon… They will most likely start appearing sometime in early 2009 (2010MY). At which time the market may already be saturated (or have shifted?).