Sunday, June 20, 2021
Reviews 2021 Volvo XC60 T8 Inscription Expression Recharge Review: Plug It In Or...

2021 Volvo XC60 T8 Inscription Expression Recharge Review: Plug It In Or Get A T6

The Volvo XC60 T8 Recharge has advantages but the limitations still outweigh them


  • The Volvo XC60 is priced from $48,500 in Canada, $41,700 in the US.

  • The T8 Recharge PHEV trim starts at $66,650 in Canada, $53,500 in the US.

  • This PHEV’s all-electric range is only 31 km or 19 miles.


This is the second time in just under three years that I review the Volvo XC60 T8 PHEV. The first time around, I was left feeling cheated by a technology that was nothing more than smoke in mirrors. This second time around, I’ve only partially revised my thoughts, but the fact remains that PHEVs are compromised vehicles.

2021 Volvo XC60 T8 Inscription Expression Recharge | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

Over the last three years, and a little longer, I’ve driven and reviewed nearly all PHEVs available for sale in North America. From the Toyota Prius Prime to the Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid Sport Turismo, all are flawed with perhaps three exceptions. The Volvo XC60 T8 is not one of these exceptions.


Power and real-world fuel consumption

As always, the compromises that must be made in order to actually benefit from plug-in hybrid technology are numerous and to a certain extent, negate any advantages. In the Volvo’s case, one such advantage could be the 31kms (19 miles) of pure electric range, especially considering that’s it’s real and not exaggerated as it can be with other PHEVs. Another is power.

2021 Volvo XC60 T8 Inscription Expression Recharge | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

The T8 powertrain is a twin-engine, one petrol, one electric, configuration that produces 400-horsepower and 472 lb.-ft. of torque. The petrol engine is a twin-charged (turbo- and supercharged) 2.0-litre 4-cylinder that generates 316 horsepower (T6 output), mounted upfront and it is mated to an 87-horsepower electric motor positioned on the rear axle. The combined power is sufficient to get the XC60 T8 up to 100 km/h in only 5.3 seconds – this is one quick SUV. That then are the upsides.

The limitations and compromises begin with the fact that the T8 weighs nearly 500lbs more than the T6 which results in a real-world combined fuel consumption rating of 9.3L/100km, or exactly what a T6 will return in mixed driving.


Range and ride

2021 Volvo XC60 T8 Inscription Expression Recharge | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

The other is that 31km of range might cover what could be considered the average commute of just shy of 20km so long as driving conditions are ideal and driver demands are reasonable. This means that plugging in on every occasion is necessary. It has been found that many PHEV owners do not plug in regularly meaning that they are carrying around an extra 500lbs of dead weight everywhere they go.

The key to truly taking advantage of the battery’s charge is to activate the battery “Hold” button on the 9-inch touchscreen through the infotainment’s menus. This function locks out the battery’s remaining charge to be accessed at a later time. This is especially useful when hoping on the highway where a battery will quickly deplete itself. The mistake here, on Volvo’s part, is that the driver needs to scroll through a series of screens to find it.

2021 Volvo XC60 T8 Inscription Expression Recharge | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

The 2021 Volvo XC60 T8 Recharge’s ride and drive are very good. The Inscription rides on what Volvo calls the “dynamic chassis” but in reality, it’s the one most focused on comfort. The optional 20-inch wheels, as fitted to my test unit, negatively affect overall dampening. The standard 18-inch wheels are the better choice. Steering and brakes are perfectly assorted to the vehicle.


Pricey technology but classy styling

Acquiring the T8 Recharge plug-in powertrain isn’t an inexpensive decision either. If we compare base models, the T6 Momentum is nearly $15,000 cheaper than the $66,650 Inscription Expression. On the other hand, the gap narrows quite a bit when comparing the T6 Inscription which is only $5,000 less expensive. Either way, there’s a premium to be paid but it is offset by the currently offered Federal tax incentives.

2021 Volvo XC60 T8 Inscription Expression Recharge | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

From here on it, it’s all Volvo which means it’s practically all good. Other than the real risk of running into technological glitches – issues with the onboard infotainment system are very common. Beyond this, the dashboard is exceptionally well crafted and assembled to perfection. The scarcity of its layout is ultra-premium as are the materials used throughout. As always, the seats are exceptional and there’s plenty of room for five adults and plenty of gear.

Speaking about Volvo things, the XC60’s styling is unique, bespoke almost. No matter the generation, Volvo vehicles are instantly recognizable and that’s brilliant. The XC60’s proportions are ideal, and praise goes to the distinctive headlights, grille, and taillights.


The conclusion is still T6 > T8

2021 Volvo XC60 T8 Inscription Expression Recharge | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

As we, and Volvo, move closer to welcoming more and more Recharge full-EV models (confusing, I know), PHEVs like the T8s will seem obsolete and almost backward. While it’s difficult to predict, one could assume that this technology will suffer stronger depreciation as we get closer to 2030.

If anything, the tested 2021 Volvo XC60 T8 Inscription Expression Recharge, is interesting so long as options are kept to zero. This one featured nearly $10,000 in options for a grand total of $75,350. Bottom line is that a T6 Momentum will give you the same amount of prestige and consume no more fuel and save you almost $15,000 before incentives.

2021 Volvo XC60 T8 Inscription Expression Recharge | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

2021 Volvo XC60 T8 Inscription Expression Recharge | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

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Matt St-Pierre
Matt St-Pierre
Trained as an Automotive Technician, Matt has two decades of automotive journalism under his belt. He’s done TV, radio, print and this thing called the internet. He’s an avid collector of many 4-wheeled things, all of them under 1,500 kg, holds a recently expired racing license and is a father of two. Life is beautiful. Send Matt an emai

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