Thursday, 25 July 2024

2021 Volvo XC60 Polestar Engineered is one powerful plug-in hybrid Featured

Posted On Saturday, 15 May 2021 20:12 Written by
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The 2021 Volvo XC60 Polestar Engineered proves that a plug-in hybrid can be a powerful, fun-to-drive vehicle The 2021 Volvo XC60 Polestar Engineered proves that a plug-in hybrid can be a powerful, fun-to-drive vehicle Photo courtesy of Volvo


When the conversation turns to plug-in hybrids and other eco-friendly cars, we often talk about how automakers have to trim back power to achieve their high fuel mileage and green credentials.

But that’s not the case with the vehicle I’ll be describing here. Volvo offers the best of both worlds with the 2021 XC60 Polestar Engineered, a plug-in hybrid which is an eco-friendly rocketship on wheels. 

I’m back with a full report on my experience, which shows that being green doesn’t have to be boring. 


The exterior design of the XC60 Polestar definitely caught a lot of people's attention while I was driving it, right down to the gold brake callipers. Volvo has a unique style that makes their SUVs unique amid a sea of competitors whose offerings tend to look the same or close to it. Integrated tailpipes in black chrome are also featured, along with a classy grille.

The interior of the XC60 is also very well-designed, and includes some extremely high quality materials. While a high-tech approach is taken, it is not overly flashy in terms of design. That’s not the Volvo way. 

Clean and attractive and comfortable is the best way to describe the XC60’s design status. It’s a classy interior without being ostentatious. 

Among highlights of the interior features are: Panoramic moonroof with power sunshade, leather wrapped steering wheel, tinted windows, rear side doors and cargo, integrated roof rails, heated front seats and heated steering wheel, heated rear seats

Moving up to the Polestar trim will get you some extra features, including: Nappa Leather seating, gold color seatbelts, Akebono brakes with gold color calipers, Polestar Engineered front strut bar, charcoal headliner, 21-inch CNC Machined 5-Y spoke black alloy wheels with summer tires, and much more.


Here’s where the XC60 Polestar earns its acclaim. This is one powerful machine that no one can put down as just another plug-in.

The vehicle features a 2.0-liter super and turbo-charged, direct injection engine with an electric motor, and an 8-speed Geartronic automatic transmission with start-stop.

The numbers are solid for the Polestar Engineered trim level, coming in at a combined 415 horsepower (328 HP direct injected, and 87 HP from electric motor), plus 494 lb.-ft. of torque. In lower trim levels of the XC60, horsepower can range from 250 to 400.

The vehicle’s very noticeable Akebono brakes, with gold calipers, enhance the driving experience.

Adjustable drive mode settings are offered, depending on your situation at the moment. Polestar setting is tons of fun, especially at the highway on-ramp and when changing lanes/passing, where it can truly show its capabilities. 0-to-60 mph can be achieved in roughly 5 seconds.

Drive mode settings include Pure (which is a slower, Eco drive), hybrid (for everyday use), Polestar Engineered (for the most fun), and Off-Road (for adventures). You can also individualize personal driver settings. The XC60 Polestar is an all-wheel drive vehicle, which makes it more versatile.

Handling, responsiveness to driver input, cornering, braking, and everything about the driving experience worked tremendously well in the XC60 Polestar. Typically I don’t associate that kind of positive driving experience with a plug-in hybrid, but this is a definite exception and I looked forward to getting behind the wheel.

The tremendous driving experience is clear whenever the XC60 Polestar turns on a dime, garners instant speed when you hit the gas, and instantly stops when you hit the brake. It’s overall the best drive I’ve had in a plug-in hybrid in a long time.


There is lots to love, for the most part, on both sides of this discussion.

Diving into the technology and infotainment setup first, you get a large 12.3-inch digital driver display, as well as a 9-inch integrated Sensus Connect Touchscreen featuring smartphone integration, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for phone mirroring, and Sensus Navigation Pro.

The Sensus infotainment system is one that I always found to be a bit complicated and overly sensitive, though you get used to using it over time. The good news is that voice commands work very well, So any confusing controls can mostly be avoided. 

Volvo On Call is included with 4 years of complimentary service, including a Mobile App with remote start and Send to Car for directions. A WiFi hotspot is also available, with a free trial subscription. Bluetooth connections were easy to make for audio streaming, and you get a trial of satellite radio, too.

Multiple USB ports are included in the vehicle (2 Front USB-A ports and 2 rear USB-C ports), and sound comes courtesy of a premium Bowers and WIlkins system.

Safety is Volvo’s hallmark, leading the automotive field in advances throughout the years. The XC60 Polestar is fully equipped with the latest systems to keep the driver and all passengers extremely safe.

A five-star government NHTSA safety rating and a Top Safety Pick award from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety reinforce this security level Volvo drivers can have every time they get behind the wheel.

LED headlights are featured, along with a Blind Spot Information System with Steer Assist, and Cross Traffic Alert with Autobrake. The Collision Avoidance by City Safety system features Low and High Speed Collision Mitigation, and detects vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists and large animals (something not all systems can claim).

There are controls that monitor the driver’s alertness, Run-off Road Protection and Mitigation, Lane Departure Warning / Lane Keeping Aid, an essential and helpful Rear Park Assist Camera, and airbags throughout.

Offered are a graphical Head-up Display to help keep your eyes on the road, and a 360-degree Surround View camera, and more.


Being a plug-in, the XC60 Polestar gets a couple ratings. Its gasoline only fuel mileage rating is 27 miles per gallon, but the combined number for gas and electric is 57 MPGe.

These numbers are strong, even class leading, when placed against strong plug-in hybrid competitors from top-level luxury brands like Audi and Porsche.

When choosing whether a plug-in hybrid is right for you, it really comes down the value proposition. And the reality is the charging is only efficient if you have a Level 2 charging station handy.

With that setup available at your home, a three hour charge gets the juice filled up in the XC60 Polestar. Without it, a regular 110V socket will take almost a full day to get the job done. So that’s not going to work.

There is also the issue of the limited electric-only range of this vehicle. The total distance this vehicle can go on juice alone is 19 miles, which is a pretty low number. If you have a short commute, that’s great. If not, gas will be your main way of getting around.

The XC60 also uses regenerative braking to automatically boost power to the battery. Overall, between gas and electric, the range is 520 miles.


The Polestar version of the 2021 Volvo XC60 offers a tremendous experience, but is definitely not cheap.

It’ll run you about $70K. My test vehicle was $71,140, to be exact. The standard version of the XC60 has a more reasonable starting price around $42K.

Warranties offered on the vehicle include a 48 month/50K mile limited warranty; 144-month corrosion protection; and 3 years/36K complimentary maintenance.


Powerful, attractive and eco-friendly, this plug-in hybrid is no joke. The 2021 Volvo XC60 Polestar Engineered is definitely worth a test drive, preferably a lengthy one, but be careful because you probably won’t want to return it to the dealer.

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Matt Myftiu can be found on Twitter @MattMyftiu

Additional Info

  • Vehicle: 2021 Volvo XC60 Polestar Engineered
  • Price as tested: $71,140  
  • Best feature: Thrilling driving experience combined with green credentials  
  • Rating: 4.5 out of five stars   
  • Who will want this vehicle?: Luxury buyers seeking both an exhilarating ride from an plug-in hybrid   
Matt M. Myftiu

Matt Myftiu has been a journalist for two decades with a focus on technology, NASCAR and autos.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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