COAL: #21 Volvo XC60 – The German Swede

After the Outback had an airbag clock spring concern, I was not confident in the safety of it. I began to search for something that I felt I should have bought to begin with. A Volvo. I was not sure if I wanted the XC70, or the XC60. At the time my mom drove an XC60, and I was not sure that I wanted the same car as her, however the XC70’s were not all that easy to find in the top trim level. These cars don’t hold their resell value like Subarus do, so I was able to look at more options. I initially wanted a 2015+, but was not finding many used ones at the time with the options that I wanted. So I found something a little older, but with low miles.

I happened to stumble upon a 2012 XC60 in navy blue that had an interesting history. To the average car shopper this is just a normal Volvo. This one though, was a military order car. Meaning the original owner was in the military, and bought it in Germany. It is still a US spec car, but was sold through a German dealer that participates in US military/diplomat sales.  From a few others that I have seen that have done this in the military, these cars are optioned very high. They also seem to get options and features that we don’t see very often in the US. Whether or not that is because they might be a little cheaper over there or not, I don’t know, but almost every military ordered Volvo I have seen is optioned well.

I found the car at an online dealer in Dallas. This was the first time that I had dealt with an online dealer, and it was interesting. The dealer would only advertise cars online, and did not have a traditional car lot. Instead they had a giant warehouse packed with cars, some of them high end. I woke up one morning and headed to Dallas, to check the car out, and buy. The dealer had already offered me trade-in for my Outback, and the deal was practically done. When I arrived at the warehouse in Dallas, my eyes feasted upon the Volvo. I was taken back by how clean it was for a 2012. This car was about $5000 cheaper than I had paid for my Subaru, but was a few years older.

A few features to mention on the car that were interesting were: Volvo’s 4C active suspension, front facing camera, lane departure warning (not all that uncommon here), and rear entertainment. The 4C suspension is really kinda weird to see on an XC60. I have seen a few S80’s with it, and of course S60R’s, but people did not splurge on that feature often. It is most commonly found in S60R’s which were the generation before this. The 4C is really expensive to replace, but is not as bad as air ride. It gives you options like advanced, sport, or comfort, and adjusts the shocks accordingly. The front camera was a small camera that came from the front grille, and would give you a 45 degree view each way. I never really used this function, but only a few times when I couldn’t see around something. Other than that, it was kinda a waste of money.

I tried to track down the owners of this car, just to get some history on it, but could never find them. My guess is that they got deployed again, and didn’t have a place for the car. It did come with some cool manuals that had German text from when it was serviced at the dealer. Whoever owned it before me took very good care of it. For a 2012 with only 40,000 miles, there was not a scratch on the paint.

This car had a T6 motor paired with an AWD drive train. Don’t get this T6 confused with the earlier T6 that everyone grumbles about because of transmission issues. This is a completely different setup. As long as you get a T6 after 2006 you are good. The turbo 6 cylinder in this car was smooth, but the transmission was a bit odd. It was shifty, and did some weird things. It was the same way in my mom’s 13 XC60, but I had read later on they had switched over to a different transmission starting in 2008, and they had an update for it. I never got the update as I found out about it later, but it apparently would reprogram the computer to tell it when to shift better. The car was extremely comfortable to drive, and I installed a trailer hitch to pull our Scamp around. It was rated to tow 3500 pounds, but only have a tongue weight of 300 pounds or so. It did fine pulling, just as long as you didn’t get in a hurry.

I kept this car for a lot longer than my Subaru, but I did not drive it much. I mainly drove my XC90 because it was easier, and I did not think much if it got a door ding. Later on down the road, I had a few things go wrong with it, and the car was close to the warranty being up. The power tailgate got all out of whack and would do some strange things when prompted to close. Volvo wanted to put in a new motor and struts for a pricey sum. The power steering starting making a grumble sound that the dealer could never really seem to fix. It could have been nothing, but it bothered me in the back of my mind. Once the car got out of warranty, I started to look at other options. When I sold it, I also was down to one car, as I sold my XC90 when it started giving me trouble with the AWD, and alternator. In the end I looked for something familiar that I thought I would try again. I really enjoyed this XC60, and looking back it probably would have served me very well for a long time. I was just a bit shell shocked from the Subaru, and worried about every noise. My next COAL had me in something I felt like I just had.