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Auto review: Volvo XC60 Recharge: More power, range and 'one-pedal drive'

Volvo calls it "one-pedal drive" and its a new hybrid feature from the Swedish carmaker. Those familiar with electric vehicles know all about it: Press the accelerator to go, as usual, and lift off

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The Volvo XC60 Recharge.
Volvo/TNS
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There's plenty to talk about with the new Volvo XC60 Recharge T8, a plug-in hybrid. It has more horsepower for 2022, greater electric range and the promise of additional money back from the government.

But the most noticeable feature in the luxury compact crossover is, simply, its unusual drive mode.

Volvo calls it "one-pedal drive" and its a new hybrid feature from the Swedish carmaker. Those familiar with electric vehicles know all about it: Press the accelerator to go, as usual, and lift off the pedal to engage its regenerative braking. Often called "regen," it slows down the vehicle while recapturing energy and sending it back to the battery pack.

It's a different drive experience for a hybrid. Shift into B mode (B for braking) and you'll hardly need the brake pedal around town — the regen is at its most effective under 40 mph. At higher speeds you'll rely more on braking.

Volvo, which is aiming for an all electric/hybrid lineup by 2025, also beefed up the XC60's battery pack (located in a spine-like tunnel) with a third layer of cells. That improved the capacity from 9.1 kWh to 14.9, increasing the car's electric-only range from 19 to 36 miles.

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That is huge for two reasons. First, the extra range should qualify buyers for the bigger tax credit of $7,500 from the federal government, rather than the $5,419 awarded last year. Second, the longer range of 36 miles means folks can drive "Pure" (Volvo's term for electric-only) all day since most Americans average only 33 miles a day, according to Volvo surveys.

Of course, range can vary based on driving conditions, speed and hills. Cold climates also have an impact on range.

Now let's talk power — it's up everywhere. The electric motor's contribution jumps from 87 to 142 hp, while the turbocharged/supercharged 2.0-liter inline four was tweaked to 313 hp. Total value of the deal: 455 hp and 525 pound-feet of torque.

The all-wheel-drive XC60 can sprint to 60 mph in a crazy 4.5 seconds, reaching 100 mph in just 13 ticks. An 8-speed automatic transmission helps make it happen with quick and smooth gear changes.

Ride quality is on the firm side, but an active damping suspension monitors the road ahead and driving conditions and makes adjustments for comfort and safety. Most bumps and dips are swallowed up. Handling is acceptable, but no one will call the XC60 sporty.

Most will drive in hybrid mode but there's a Power button for maximum performance and a Pure button for solo electric, which is not as frisky. The conversion from electric to hybrid operation is virtually seamless.

Remember to plug in and expect a reward of 57 mpgE (equivalent) with gas and electric combined, according to the EPA; it drops to just 25 mpg combined under gas operation alone.

The five-seat crossover received a number of tweaks outside, starting with a new signature grille. (Neat tidbit to impress friends with: The logo on the grille has a heating element to keep ice off the sensor attached to it.) New chrome accents and a new rear bumper were added this year, too.

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Better changes are within the elegant cabin. Seats can be trimmed in a smart-looking gray wool blend, part of Volvo's effort to eliminate leather use by 2030. For those in warm climate, it means no leather-burned legs after the car has been parked in the sun; on the other hand, it's a bit scratchy on bare legs in shorts.

Seats are comfortable and supportive, however, and offer good head-, shoulder and leg room in front and rear.

The infotainment system still has a 9-inch touchscreen in the center but it now runs on an Android-based operating system — which does not allow multiple screens at a time. It does include improved voice-recognition software. Apple CarPlay is not available, but stay tuned because it's on the way, says Volvo.

A new 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster has a Google navigation map that "floats" with the direction of the vehicle. It is flanked by two data displays, while a head-up display adds speed limits and road signs.

Among the elegant touches are wooden inlays across the dash and a diamond-shaped crystal shifter: pull down twice for drive. A start-stop dial on the center console gets turned to the right to start or stop and, yeah, it's a little confusing at first. A 14-speaker Harman Kardon sound system is available.

For shopping and weekenders, the XC60 has one of the most generous cargo areas in the luxury-compact SUV class with 22.4 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 63.3 cubes with the second row folded down. If you're thinking about a trailer, it can tow up to 3,500 pounds.

Volvo, with safety as its classic trademark, includes a suite of driver-assist features, including lane-departure and collision warnings, adaptive cruise control with automatic emergency braking, driver-alert, parking sensors and surround-view cameras.

It won't be a surprise if Volvo achieves its goal to be all-electric by 2030. Meanwhile, it is making innovative and significant strides along the way.

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2022 Volvo XC60 Recharge T8

With Inscription trim

MSRP: $54,250

What's all the excitement about? Refreshed for 2022 with more horses, greater electric range and power, and better rebate from the Feds

Powertrain: 2.0-liter turbocharged and supercharged inline four with 313 hp, linked to 142-hp electric motor for total output of 455 hp; mated to 8-speed automatic transmission

How's the performance? Quick to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds; "One-pedal" driving reduces need for braking, helps recharge the battery pack

Fuel economy: EPA-estimated 57 mpgE with full charge; 25 mpg combined on gas-only

©2022 Tribune Content Agency, LLC

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