2021 Volvo XC60 vs. 2020 Audi Q3

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

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The Volvo XC60 offers optional built in child booster seats. They’re more crash worthy than an added child seat because of their direct attachment to the seat. Audi doesn’t offer the convenience and security of a built-in child booster seat in the Q3. Their owners must carry a heavy booster seat in and out of the vehicle; XC60 owners can just fold their built-in child seat up or down.

The XC60 has a standard Whiplash Protection System (WHIPS), which use a specially designed seat to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the WHIPS allows the backrest to travel backwards to cushion the occupants and the headrests move forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. At the same time the pretensioning seatbelts fire, removing slack from the belts. The Q3 doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

The XC60’s driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The Q3 doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the XC60 and the Q3 have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, post-collision automatic braking systems, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available all wheel drive and around view monitors.

Warranty

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Volvo pays for scheduled maintenance on the XC60 for 3 years and 36,000 miles. Volvo will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Audi only pays for the first scheduled maintenance visit on the Q3.

Reliability

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To reliably start during all conditions and help handle large electrical loads, the XC60 has a standard 800-amp battery (850 T8). The Q3’s 680-amp battery isn’t as powerful.

The battery on the XC60 is in the trunk, which protects it from hot underhood temperatures that can degrade battery life. By keeping the XC60’s battery 20 to 30 degrees cooler, its life is increased by years. The Q3’s battery is in the hot engine compartment.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2020 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Volvo vehicles are better in initial quality than Audi vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Volvo 31st in initial quality. With 15 more problems per 100 vehicles, Audi is ranked 32nd.

Engine

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The XC60 T5’s standard 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder produces 22 more horsepower (250 vs. 228) than the Q3’s 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder. The XC60 T6’s standard 2.0 turbo/supercharged 4-cylinder produces 88 more horsepower (316 vs. 228) and 37 lbs.-ft. more torque (295 vs. 258) than the Q3’s 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder. The XC60 T8’s standard 2.0 turbo/supercharged 4-cylinder hybrid produces 172 more horsepower (400 vs. 228) and 214 lbs.-ft. more torque (472 vs. 258) than the Q3’s 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder. The XC60 T8 Polestar Engineered’s standard 2.0 turbo/supercharged 4-cylinder hybrid produces 187 more horsepower (415 vs. 228) and 236 lbs.-ft. more torque (494 vs. 258) than the Q3’s 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder.

As tested in Motor Trend the XC60 T5 is faster than the Audi Q3:

XC60

Q3

Zero to 60 MPH

6.2 sec

8.5 sec

Quarter Mile

14.7 sec

16.5 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

91.5 MPH

85.4 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

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On the EPA test cycle the XC60 T8 running on electricity gets better fuel mileage than the Q3 (56 city/57 hwy MPGe vs. 19 city/27 hwy).

On the EPA test cycle the XC60 running its gasoline engine gets better fuel mileage than the Q3:

MPG

XC60

FWD

T5 2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

22 city/29 hwy

AWD

T8 2.0 turbo/SC 4-cyl. Hybrid

26 city/28 hwy

T5 2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

21 city/28 hwy

T6 2.0 turbo/SC 4-cyl.

20 city/27 hwy

Q3

AWD

2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

19 city/27 hwy

The XC60 T8 can drive on battery power alone for up to 19 miles. The Q3 must run its internal combustion engine to move.

Regenerative brakes improve the XC60 T8’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The Q3 doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

The XC60 Hybrid’s standard fuel tank has 2.6 gallons more fuel capacity than the Q3 (18.5 vs. 15.9 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups. The XC60’s standard fuel tank has 2.9 gallons more fuel capacity than the Q3 (18.8 vs. 15.9 gallons).

The XC60 has a standard cap-less fueling system. The fuel filler is automatically opened when the fuel nozzle is inserted and automatically closed when it’s removed. This eliminates the need to unscrew and replace the cap and it reduces fuel evaporation, which causes pollution. The Q3 doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Brakes and Stopping

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For better stopping power the XC60 T8 Polestar Engineered’s front brake rotors are larger than those on the Q3:

XC60 T8 P. E.

Q3

Front Rotors

14.6 inches

13.4 inches

Rear Rotors

12.6 inches

12.2 inches

The XC60 stops much shorter than the Q3:

XC60

Q3

60 to 0 MPH

115 feet

125 feet

Motor Trend

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

129 feet

135 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

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For better traction, the XC60 T8 Polestar Engineered’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Q3 (265/35R22 vs. 255/40R20).

The XC60 T8 Polestar Engineered’s optional tires provide better handling because they have a lower 35 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Q3’s optional 40 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the XC60 offers optional 21-inch wheels. The Q3’s largest wheels are only 20-inches.

Suspension and Handling

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The XC60 offers an available driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads or off-road. The Q3’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

The XC60 T6/T8 has a standard automatic front and rear load leveling suspension to keep ride height level with a heavy load or when towing. The XC60’s height leveling suspension allows the driver to raise ride height for better off-road clearance and then lower it again for easier entering and exiting and better on-road handling. The Q3 doesn’t offer a load leveling suspension.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the XC60’s wheelbase is 7.3 inches longer than on the Q3 (112.8 inches vs. 105.5 inches).

For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the XC60 is 2.9 inches wider in the front and 3.3 inches wider in the rear than the track on the Q3.

The XC60 T5 AWD Momentum handles at .87 G’s, while the Q3 Premium Plus pulls only .79 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The XC60 T5 AWD Momentum executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.8 seconds quicker than the Q3 Premium Plus (26.6 seconds @ .64 average G’s vs. 28.4 seconds @ .65 average G’s).

For better maneuverability, the XC60’s turning circle is 1 foot tighter than the Q3’s (37.4 feet vs. 38.4 feet).

Chassis

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The design of the Volvo XC60 amounts to more than styling. The XC60 has an aerodynamic coefficient of drag of .32 Cd. That is significantly lower than the Q3 (.36) and many sports cars. A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the XC60 get better fuel mileage.

Passenger Space

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The XC60 has 19 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Q3 (103 vs. 84).

The XC60 has 1.5 inches more front legroom, 1.5 inches more front shoulder room, .4 inches more rear headroom, 1.9 inches more rear legroom and 1.2 inches more rear shoulder room than the Q3.

Cargo Capacity

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The XC60 has a much larger cargo volume with its rear seat up than the Q3 with its rear seat up (30.2 vs. 23.7 cubic feet). The XC60 has a much larger cargo volume with its rear seat folded than the Q3 with its rear seat folded (63.3 vs. 48 cubic feet).

A low lift-over cargo hatch design makes loading and unloading the XC60 easier. The XC60’s cargo hatch lift-over height is 26 inches, while the Q3’s liftover is 27.8 inches.

The XC60’s cargo area is larger than the Q3’s in almost every dimension:

XC60

Q3

Length to seat (2nd/1st)

37.8”/68.7”

34”/65”

Max Width

43.5”

54”

Min Width

39.8”

39”

Height

30.6”

28”

Towing

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The XC60’s standard towing capacity is much higher than the Q3’s (3500 vs. 1500 pounds).

Ergonomics

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The XC60 has a standard remote vehicle starting system, so the vehicle can be started from inside the driver's house. This allows the driver to comfortably warm up the engine before going out to the vehicle. The climate system will also automatically heat or cool the interior. The Q3 doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

When two different drivers share the XC60, the memory seats and mirrors make it convenient for both. Each setting activates different, customized memories for the driver and front passenger’s seat positions and outside mirror angle. The Q3 doesn’t offer a memory system.

The XC60 offers an optional heads-up display that projects speed and other key instrumentation readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The Q3 doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

The XC60’s power window, power lock, power mirror and cruise control switches are lit from behind, making them plainly visible and easier to operate at night. The Q3’s cruise control switches are unlit, making them difficult to find at night and operate safely.

Heated windshield washer nozzles are optional on the XC60 to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. The Q3 doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

To improve rear visibility by keeping the rear window clear, the XC60 has a standard rear fixed intermittent wiper with a full on position. The rear wiper standard on the Q3 only has an intermittent setting, so in a hard rain visibility isn’t as good.

Consumer Reports rated the XC60’s headlight performance “Very Good,” a higher rating than the Q3’s headlights, which were rated “Fair.”

In poor weather, headlights can lose their effectiveness as grime builds up on their lenses. This can reduce visibility without the driver realizing. The XC60 offers available headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The Q3 doesn’t offer headlight washers.

To help drivers avoid possible obstacles, the XC60 has standard cornering lights to illuminate around corners when the turn signals are activated. The Q3 doesn’t offer cornering lights. The XC60 also has standard adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle.

When the XC60 is put in reverse, both rearview mirrors tilt from their original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirrors into their original positions. The Q3’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.

Both the XC60 and the Q3 offer available heated front seats. The XC60 also offers optional heated rear seats to keep those passengers extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated rear seats aren’t available in the Q3.

Standard air-conditioned seats in the XC60 Inscription keep the driver and front passenger comfortable and take the sting out of hot seats in Summer. The Q3 doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

On extremely cold winter days, the XC60’s optional heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the vehicle heater warms up. The Q3 doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.

The XC60 Inscription offers optional massaging front seats in order to maximize comfort and eliminate fatigue on long trips. Massaging seats aren’t available in the Q3.

Model Availability

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The XC60 is available in both front-wheel drive and four-wheel drive configurations. The Q3 doesn’t offer a two-wheel drive configuration.

Economic Advantages

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The XC60 will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the XC60 will retain 45.65% to 49.07% of its original price after five years, while the Q3 only retains 44.62% to 45.25%.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the XC60 is less expensive to operate than the Q3 because it costs $64 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the XC60 than the Q3, including $161 less for a water pump, $116 less for a starter, $390 less for front struts, $420 less for a timing belt/chain and $631 less for a power steering pump.

Recommendations

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Consumer Reports® recommends both the Volvo XC60 and the Audi Q3, based on reliability, safety and performance.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the XC60 third among compact premium SUVs in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The Q3 isn’t in the top three.

The Volvo XC60 outsold the Audi Q3 by over two to one during 2019.

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