After a few weeks behind the wheel, we’ve found that the 2018 Volvo XC60 is an evolution of both Volvo’s three-row XC90 SUV and S90 sedan—models that signaled the brand’s rebirth under new ownership.

It’s clear that Volvo’s newest model brings continued improvements to cabin quietness, interior space, and the Pilot Assist driver-assistance system.

The new XC60 has a roomy, well-appointed interior that holds its own against competitors in the class.

However, for a brand that built its reputation on safety, Volvo’s distracting infotainment system means drivers will have to rely on the standard advanced safety features more than they should.

2018 Volvo XC60 driving

Volvo’s clean-sheet redesign of the 2018 Volvo XC60 has resulted in a model that has addressed many of its predecessor’s shortcomings. It is quite comfortable, thanks to its seats, for racking up smooth highway miles. But encounter a rough road, and the occupants feel every bump in typical Volvo tradition.

The old XC60 wasn’t exactly a prime-time canyon carver with its clunky handling, but the new version is slightly better, with solid and secure handling. That said, the Audi Q5 and BMW X3 are more rewarding compact luxury SUVs to drive.

Volvo’s latest models get updates to the Pilot Assist II driver-assistance technology. In the XC60, the Pilot Assist system has improved capabilities, such as better judging lane markings and responding to vehicles in front as they change lanes and exit or enter the highway. The adaptive cruise control adjusts the SUV’s speed during traffic snarls, stops the car completely, and resumes progress all on its own, which can be a convenience.

We bought a 2018 Volvo XC60 T5 Momentum, which starts at $41,500 and is likely to be the sales leader. With some safety and convenience options, the total price came to $50,040. It is powered by a 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 250 hp and 258 pound-feet of torque.

So far, most CR test drivers have been pleased with this engine’s performance. It provides prompt thrust, and the eight-speed automatic is smooth, apart from occasional hiccups at low speeds. They also found the engine to be quieter and more pleasant-sounding than the gruff and raspy turbocharged and supercharged 2.0-liter engine in our XC90 T6. A 313-hp version of this engine is also available for XC60 and designated as T6, and the 400-hp plug-in hybrid is badged T8. Less expensive front-wheel-drive versions are not offered as part of the XC60’s initial launch.

The XC60 is among the largest compact luxury SUVs, and the front and rear cabin feel roomy—a big improvement over the old version. Now, rear-seat passengers have plenty of space, and five adults can sit comfortably for short trips. There is adequate cargo room for a family of four to take a weeklong road trip, although Volvo’s specifications show that the new XC60 has a bit less luggage space than before.

Learn more about compact luxury SUVs.

2018 Volvo XC60 interior.

Once you climb inside, you find that the XC60 is no scaled-down, cheaper, and cut-rate version of the XC90. Rather, the goodness from that larger, premium model carries over. Materials are on par with the competition, if not richer. Primary controls are all within reach of the driver, and most of us have had no problem finding a comfortable seating position.

One of the biggest changes from the old Volvo XC60 is the 9-inch touch screen that acts as the command center for the majority of vehicle functions. This system is distracting to use, and it has a steep—and long—learning curve. Users will need practice to become comfortable with its menu structure, and the convoluted logic that dictates where certain functions are hidden. Performing routine radio tasks requires lots of tapping, swiping, and precious seconds with eyes off the road.

At one point, Volvo was known as the brand for safety. Over time, many other manufacturers have caught up, particularly in crash-test performance and overall occupant safety. We’re quite happy to see that the XC60 comes equipped with a standard full-speed-range (starting at 2.5 mph) automatic emergency braking system. But we’re surprised to see that other important safety features, including blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic warning, are only optional. The Volvo’s convoluted, distracting control system only highlights the need for these advanced safety features.

With an all-new BMW X3 on the horizon and the recently redesigned Audi Q5, Lexus NX, and Mercedes-Benz GLC scoring highly in our evaluations, the new XC60 faces tough competition. That is good news for shoppers. Check back at CR.org to see how the XC60 performs in our road-test evaluations.

2018 Volvo XC60 rear.