Small block looms large in Volvo XC60

The 2016 Volvo XC60 T6 AWD combines supercharging/turbocharging. (Bud Wells photos)

The 2016 Volvo XC60 T6 AWD combines supercharging/turbocharging. (Bud Wells photos)

The bigger guys are playing with smaller blocks (as in engine blocks), when it comes to the luxury marques these days.

Once dominant V-8 engines some years back were cut to three-quarter size in favor of peppy V-6s with slight increases in fuel savings.

Today, those 6-bangers are giving way to 4-cylinder turbocharged power.

It’s all in the name of the higher fuel mileage and, at the same time, packing enough power to get up over the hills.

I got behind the wheel of the movement recently with the 2016 Volvo XC60 crossover.

The 4,000-pound Volvo has scrapped its naturally aspirated 3.2-liter 6-cylinder in favor of a 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder power package that is not only turbocharged, but also supercharged. Since there is no hesitation with a belt-driven supercharger, it is designed for takeoff boost in the Volvo, and the exhaust-driven turbo is for higher-end torque.

Luxury compact entry cars, such as the Audi A3, BMW 2 series and Mercedes-Benz CLA showed up in recent years with 4-cylinder power; bigger models since then have begun to test reception for the turboed 4s.

BMW has installed in its base 320i sedan a twin-power turboed 2.0-liter 4-cylinder that produces 180 horsepower and in its 328i is a turbo 4 that puts out 240 horses. A 2.4-liter turbo is the choice of Buick for its Verano and a 2.0-liter turbo is the standard for the Cadillac ATS.

So, the Volvo isn’t breaking new ground, it’s joining a trend.

Volvo’s “floating center stack” has prevailed over the years.

Volvo’s “floating center stack” has prevailed over the years.

From the Volvo crest on the grille out front of the sloping hood to the high-riding rear portion of the SUV crossover, the XC60’s presence appears larger than its 182-inch overall length. It looks like lots of size for 4-cylinder power.

Yet, its supercharged/turbocharged engine, which develops 302 horsepower and 295 lb.-ft. of torque, handles the XC very satisfactorily. It is mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission, capable of spirited performance. My overall fuel-mileage average of 23.5 was near the middle of its EPA estimate of 19/27.

Don’t try to make sense of Volvo’s naming of the 4-cylinder crossover; it is the XC60 T6 AWD Drive-E.

Well-bolstered seatbacks of soft leather add to the comfort of driving the XC60. Volvo initiated the floating center stack in its interior more than 15 years ago; it is still the best-looking and most practical of all those which have followed. Tilted toward the driver, the stack is topped by HVAC controls and a small screen for navigation/audio.

The five-passenger Volvo has large cargo space at the rear where, beneath the cargo floor and atop the spare tire and jack, is a white cloth for use as a cover in case of a punctured tire being stowed back there.

The Volvo’s base price of $43,350 climbs to sticker of $52,505 with the addition of pedestrian/cyclist detection with full auto brake, lane-departure warning, active cruise control, Harman Kardon premium sound system, power tailgate, active dual xenon headlights with washers, power retractable outside mirrors, dual two-stage child booster seats, heated front seats/steering wheel/windshield.

The Volvo recommends use of premium fuel for its empowered engine.