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Business

April 14, 2013

Volvo XC60 masters two personalities

I get lost with annoying frequency when walking to my car in parking lots. It’s not that I’m particularly forgetful. I’m just so often driving a different car, an evaluation model to support this column, that I have to stop and think, OK, what is it this week.

When I performed that exercise last week in the expansive lot outside Market Basket in Salem, N.H., the model I sought stood out so stylishly, with so much handsome poise and distinction, that I was startled. I thought, now that model would make any driver feel sharp.

The Volvo XC60 is a crossover wagon, or a passenger car that incorporates the high ride and superior traction of a sport-utility vehicle.

Inside the XC60 you sense its SUV character. Compact in overall body size but ample inside the cabin, the car has heft and substance, with pampering seats that provide an assuring overview of the traffic all around you.

But from the outside, the model’s passenger-car aspect appears more evident. The four-door, five passenger wagon looks slim, svelte and perfectly trimmed for forward movement.

It also exhibits a settled sense of luxury. Instead of big, loud and showy – the braggart’s approach to luxury – the Volvo XC60 appears more serene and self-confident. Prices for the four-door, five-passenger wagon start around $35,000.

Approaching it in the lot at Market Basket, I looked hard at the XC60 because its lightweight, balanced posture – with a slender, elongated beak and an elegant, backward-leaning top body – didn’t seem to belong to the model I had arrived in.

But after a second look I saw the Volvo’s sturdy, solid travel manners apparent down at the road level. They showed in the elevation over the pavement, the crisp, straight, visual cut-off at the floor, the stable, athletic wheel placement and the large wheels themselves.

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