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For 2018, the XC60 moves to Volvo’s modular Scalable Platform Architecture (all images: Volvo).

What we're driving: 2018 Volvo XC60 T8 Inscription

No, Volvo hasn’t stuffed its old V8 into the new XC60, but that’s what the T8 nameplate of this new plug-in hybrid SUV might imply. Confused? You’re not alone.

Here, T8 is Swedish engineering code for the union of combustion-engine and electric power, the ICE being a 313-hp (233 kW) turbocharged-and-supercharged 2.0 L four, paired with a 87-hp AC motor to drive the rear wheels. In between them are a 46-hp (36-kW) e-motor, 8-speed transaxle and a 10.4-kW·h lithium-ion battery pack tucked into the center tunnel.

An Orrefors crystal gearchange lever puts the aggregate 472 lb·ft (640 N·m) to work on the top-line Inscription model I tested. Six driving modes offer everything from near-silent urban cruising on pure electric power (EPA rated at 18 mi/29 km range in ideal thermal conditions) to off-roading, in which the system locks the front and rear diffs at less than 25 mph (40 km/h). The Power mode tightens up the XC60’s suspension damping rate and steering response for sporty driving.

There’s plenty of oomph available on the highway for passing semis, but the calibrators missed a swath of turbo lag that results in a hiccup under wide-open throttle.

A revised throttle map may be the only thing missing in an otherwise uniquely Scandinavian luxury SUV. The Inspiration-level cabin is trimmed with genuine wood inserts and buttery leather covering the IP and seats—and audiophiles might justify the $3200 price tag of the optional Bowers & Wilkins 15-speaker/1100-w audio system. Volvo’s NVH team sweated the details to create a sedate XC60 interior and one that sounds great, too.

2018 Volvo XC60 T8 Inscription

  • Base price:        $56700
  • As tested:          $71290 (HEV eligible for $5,002 Federal Tax Credit)
  • Highs:               Dreamy Swedish interior; six drive modes; plug-in EV capability
  • Lows:               Throttle cals still need work; what’s a T8?
  • The takeaway:  Design and engineering harmony
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