Volvo XC60 Snow and Winter Driving (Solved & Explained)

The Volvo XC60 is a luxury compact SUV, acclaimed for its elegant design, exceptional comfort, and cutting-edge technological features.

If you’re considering one for your next vehicle, it’s essential to evaluate its performance in snow and winter conditions.

This article will provide an in-depth analysis of the XC60’s capabilities in winter driving scenarios. Read on to learn more. 

Here is the short answer to whether the Volvo XC60 is good for snow and winter driving:

The Volvo XC60 is competent in snowy conditions with its advanced Haldex AWD system, elevated ride height, dynamic stability control, and adaptable drive settings, making it ideal for moderate snow.

Is the Volvo XC60 Good in the Snow?

The Volvo XC60 is well-equipped to handle snowy and winter conditions, largely thanks to its excellent ground clearance across generations – 9.1 inches for the 1st (2008-2013) and 2nd (2013-2017) generations, and 8.5 inches for the 3rd generation (2017-present).

It also boasts an advanced Haldex all-wheel-drive system which dynamically distributes power between the front and rear wheels and enhances traction and stability on slippery surfaces.

The XC60’s engines, including the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder (247 hp) and the more powerful plug-in hybrid variant (455 hp), provide sufficient power for navigating unplowed roads in snowy conditions.

For comfort and convenience during cold weather, the XC60 offers heated seats and a sophisticated climate control system. These features provide a comfortable and warm environment, enhancing the driving experience in cold weather.

The XC60 also features multiple driving modes, such as an Off-road mode, which boosts traction in tough conditions like steep inclines and uneven terrain. This mode enhances the all-wheel drive, provides lighter steering, and activates hill descent control, allowing for speed regulation solely through the accelerator.

The XC60 is lauded for its safety, earning a 5-star NHTSA rating and the IIHS Top Safety Pick+, thanks to its robust build, advanced safety features like rear cross-traffic alert and emergency braking, and a semi-autonomous driving mode.

These features, combined with top scores in crashworthiness tests, make the XC60 a highly secure and reliable vehicle, especially in challenging driving conditions.

What Do Owners Say?

“I think the 2 wheel drive XC60 is superb. I have never felt as safe and confident in a vehicle on the snow. Would the 4 wheel drive model been even better, probably it would.” –

“Just drove my [Volvo XC60] to work in Suffolk on snow covered roads and I was surprised at how good it was. I was extremely gentle on both the accelerator and brake, but did nothing special. I hope the trip home is as good.” –

“My XC60 is fitted with Michelin summer tires and I’ve found that the car is less likely to falter on snowy inclines than many front wheel drive cars, but once the tires lose traction, it makes very little difference if 4 wheels are spinning or 2. If you want to drive any car confidently on snow or ice, be it FWD, RWD, or AWD, you need to fit the appropriate tires.” –

Related: 15 Best & Worst Volvo XC60 Years (With Pictures & Stats)

What Features Improve Winter Driving?

Haldex All-Wheel-Drive System

The Volvo XC60, equipped with an advanced all-wheel-drive system, known as the Haldex Instant Traction AWD. significantly bolsters its winter driving capabilities. This feature, standard on many XC60 model years, plays a crucial role in its strong performance in snowy conditions.

Listed below are unique features and benefits provided by the latest Haldex AWD system:

  • Adaptive Power Distribution: Volvo XC60’s Haldex AWD system dynamically alternates power between front and rear axles. It primarily uses front-wheel drive for fuel efficiency, switching to rear-wheel drive as necessary for traction.
  • Enhanced Traction and Stability: Optimizes grip in conditions like snow or ice, improving vehicle stability and control, and reducing skid risks.
  • Improved Cornering: The system adjusts power during turns for responsive handling, enhancing the driving experience on curvy roads.
  • Seamless Operation: Transitions power between axles smoothly, providing a comfortable ride without noticeable changes to the driver.
  • Efficiency: Designed for front-wheel drive efficiency under normal driving, reducing the typical fuel economy loss of AWD systems.
  • Off-road Capability: Offers increased capability for light off-road and rough terrain driving, adding to the XC60’s versatility despite not being a primary off-road vehicle.

Dynamic Stability and Traction Control (DSTC)

Volvo’s electronic stability control system is typically referred to as the Dynamic Stability and Traction Control (DSTC). DSTC is a key safety feature in Volvo vehicles, designed to enhance driving stability and traction under various road conditions.

The DSTC system works by:

  • Detecting Skidding: It monitors the vehicle’s motion and compares it to the driver’s inputs through the steering, brake, and accelerator. If it detects that the car is starting to skid or lose traction, the system intervenes to help stabilize the vehicle.
  • Applying Brakes Independently: The system can apply brakes to individual wheels to help correct oversteer or understeer, and bring the vehicle back in line with the driver’s intended direction.
  • Reducing Engine Power: In addition to braking, DSTC can also reduce engine power temporarily to help regain traction and control, particularly useful in slippery conditions.

Heated Comfort Features

The Volvo XC60 features heated front seats and a heated steering wheel as available options, enhancing comfort during cold weather and providing a warm, enjoyable driving experience.

Automatic Climate Control

The XC60 comes with automatic climate control, allowing the driver and passengers to maintain a comfortable and warm cabin environment, essential during winter months.

Volvo Drive Mode Settings

The XC60 includes customizable drive modes, allowing drivers to adjust the vehicle’s characteristics to suit different scenarios, including winter conditions. These settings help to optimize the vehicle’s response, improving control and stability on snowy roads.

These are some of the common modes drivers can select:

  • Comfort Mode: This mode is designed for everyday driving, offering a balance between performance and fuel efficiency. It prioritizes a smoother ride and easier handling.
  • Eco Mode: Focused on maximizing fuel efficiency, Eco Mode adjusts the engine’s performance and other systems like the air conditioning to reduce fuel consumption.
  • Dynamic Mode: Also known as Sport Mode in some models, this setting sharpens the vehicle’s performance for a more engaging driving experience. It adjusts the engine response, transmission, and sometimes the steering and suspension systems for sportier handling.
  • Off-Road Mode: This mode adjusts various vehicle settings for better traction and stability on rough or slippery surfaces, such as gravel, snow, or mud. It’s typically intended for low-speed driving in challenging conditions.
  • Individual Mode: This allows drivers to customize various settings to their preference, combining elements from different modes. For example, one could combine the engine settings from Dynamic Mode with the steering response from Comfort Mode.

Safety Systems

Below is a list of relevant safety features of the XC60:

  • City Safety Collision Avoidance Technology: This system helps to prevent or mitigate collisions with other vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists, and large animals, both during the day and at night.
  • Lane Keeping Aid: This feature assists in preventing the vehicle from unintentionally drifting out of its lane, alerting the driver and gently steering back into the lane if necessary.
  • Road Sign Information: This system recognizes and displays various road signs such as speed limits, no passing zones, and other traffic-related signs on the driver’s display.
  • Run-off Road Protection: This system helps protect occupants in the event the vehicle unintentionally leaves the road, by tightening the front safety belts and, in some cases, deploying the energy-absorbing seats to reduce vertical forces on the occupants.
  • Oncoming Lane Mitigation: This feature helps to reduce the impact of a head-on collision by steering the car back into its own lane if an oncoming vehicle is detected.
  • Driver Alert Control: This monitors the driver’s behavior and steering inputs to detect signs of distraction or fatigue, providing a warning if it senses the driver may be becoming too tired to drive safely.
  • Automatic Emergency Braking: In critical situations, this system can apply the brakes automatically to prevent or mitigate a collision.
  • Rear Collision Warning with Braking: This system can detect if a rear-end collision is imminent and tighten seat belts in advance to protect the occupants. It can also activate the brakes to prevent secondary impacts.
  • Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) with Cross Traffic Alert: BLIS alerts the driver to vehicles in the blind spot, while Cross Traffic Alert warns of cross-traffic when reversing.
  • Whiplash Protection System (WHIPS): In the event of a rear-end collision, WHIPS cradles the spine and neck to reduce the risk of whiplash injuries.

LED Headlights with Active High Beam

LED headlights with active high beam in the XC60 provide excellent illumination in winter, enhancing visibility during darker, shorter days and adverse weather conditions.

Heated Windshield and Side Mirrors

Heated windshield and side mirrors on the XC60 ensure clear visibility by preventing frost and ice buildup, crucial for safe driving in winter weather.

Volvo On Call with Remote Start

The Volvo On Call app, available with the XC60, includes remote start functionality, allowing drivers to warm up the car before getting in, a convenient feature during cold winter mornings.

These features collectively make the Volvo XC60 a reliable and safe choice for tackling winter driving conditions.

Related: 6 Most Common Volvo XC60 Problems (Explained)

Does The Volvo XC60 Have a Snow Mode?

The Volvo XC60 does not come with a dedicated “Snow Mode.” However, it features a sophisticated all-wheel-drive system (Haldex AWD), capable of adapting to slippery conditions like snow. 

The vehicle’s drive modes, including the ‘Comfort’ and ‘Off-Road’ settings (available in some versions), adjust the car’s response to enhance traction and stability. 

While ‘Comfort’ mode ensures smoother handling, ‘Off-Road’ mode is particularly useful in lower-speed, challenging conditions, optimizing the car’s systems for better grip. 

It’s recommended to pair these functionalities with winter tires for maximum safety and performance in snowy environments.

Can You Install Additional Snow Gear on The Volvo XC60?

The Volvo XC60 can be equipped with various performance upgrades.

  • Snow Tires: Recommended for optimal grip and control in snowy conditions.
  • Studded Tires: Provide additional traction on ice, but usage may be regulated in certain regions.
  • Snow Socks: Lightweight and easily installable for a temporary traction boost on tires.
  • Snow Chains: Offer extra grip in deep snow or icy conditions, with usage guided by the vehicle’s manual and local regulations.
  • Winter Wiper Blades: Specially designed to prevent snow and ice buildup, ensuring clear visibility.
  • Roof Racks and Cargo Boxes: Expand storage capacity for winter sports gear or additional luggage.
  • Block Heater: Keeps the engine warm, aiding in easier starts in extremely cold temperatures.

Important Considerations: Always consult the Volvo XC60 owner’s manual for guidance on compatibility with any additional snow gear. Local regulations regarding the use of studded tires and snow chains should be adhered to for safe and legal driving.

How Much Snow Can an XC60 Handle?

The Volvo XC60, with its ground clearance of approximately 8.5 inches, is well-equipped to handle light to moderate snow depths. It can comfortably navigate through snow accumulations of up to about 6-7 inches. 

Nonetheless, caution is advised in conditions of deep snow or extreme winter weather. In such cases, utilizing additional snow equipment or considering alternative transportation options might be beneficial.

In deeper snow scenarios, the XC60 might face challenges like reduced traction, a higher likelihood of becoming immobilized, and potential control issues, primarily due to limitations in ground clearance when confronting substantial snow depths.

How Do XC60 Handle Low Winter Temperatures?

The Volvo XC60 is adept at managing cold winter conditions, thanks to its robust engine options, including the turbocharged four-cylinder powertrain. These engines are specifically designed to maintain efficiency and performance even in freezing temperatures. 

The XC60’s advanced cold-start systems ensure reliable starts, while optimal lubrication and heating technologies maintain engine health and cabin warmth.

For those in particularly cold regions, utilizing an engine block heater in the XC60 can significantly enhance cold-weather performance. It facilitates smoother engine starts, reduces wear on crucial components, and improves fuel efficiency during colder months.

Regular maintenance is vital for the Volvo XC60, especially in winter. Keeping up with scheduled services and using the recommended fluids ensures that the vehicle remains in peak condition, offering reliable and efficient performance throughout the winter season.

Can a Volvo XC60 Drive on Ice?

The Volvo XC60, equipped with Haldex all-wheel drive (AWD), is capable of handling icy conditions, but caution is always advised. The AWD system enhances traction by dynamically adjusting power distribution between wheels, crucial for stability on ice. 

However, for optimal safety and control, fitting the XC60 with winter or studded tires designed for ice is recommended. 

These tires, combined with the vehicle’s advanced traction control systems, improve grip and handling. Drivers should maintain controlled speeds and allow for longer stopping distances on icy surfaces to navigate safely.

Does the XC60 Have 4WD?

The Volvo XC60 is equipped with an advanced all-wheel-drive (AWD) system, primarily using the Haldex technology, rather than a traditional four-wheel drive (4WD) setup. 

This AWD system provides improved traction by dynamically distributing power between the front and rear wheels as needed, enhancing the vehicle’s handling and stability, especially in challenging conditions like snow or slippery roads. 

It differs from conventional 4WD systems, which typically distribute power equally to all four wheels and often require manual engagement.

Do Volvo XC60s Need Snow Tires?

The effectiveness of a vehicle in snow and ice heavily depends on its tires. The Volvo XC60 manages adequately with standard all-season tires, but for the best safety and handling in winter conditions, switching to specialized snow or winter tires is recommended.

Choosing established brands such as Michelin, Bridgestone, Continental, or Pirelli is advisable, as they offer superior traction on snowy and icy surfaces. It’s important to select tires specifically made for winter, featuring a design and rubber composition suited for colder climates. This provides enhanced control and grip, ensuring safer handling during snowy and icy weather.

Can You Mount a Snow Plow on an XC60?

Attaching a snow plow to a Volvo XC60 is not advisable. The design and structure of this vehicle are not suitable for the rigors of heavy-duty snow plowing.

Further, equipping an XC60 with a snow plow can adversely affect the vehicle’s warranty, its overall performance, and key safety features. This can lead to undue strain on parts that are not built to handle such tasks.

Therefore, it is recommended to consider other options, such as hiring professional snow removal services or using vehicles specifically designed for snow plowing, for your snow removal requirements.

What Essential Items Should I Carry in My Volvo?

  • Spade
  • Ice scraper
  • Initial aid box
  • Batteries and a rechargeable power pack
  • Hand warmers
  • High-protein, non-perishable sustenance (e.g., energy bars)
  • Thick cardigan and sweatpants
  • Face mask and gloves
  • Extended thermal undergarments
  • Road signal flare
  • Crisis thermal sheet



  • Ian Sawyer

    Growing up with a father who was a mechanic I had an appreciation for cars and motorcycles from an early age. I shared my first bike with my brother that had little more than a 40cc engine but it opened up a world of excitement for me, I was hooked. As I grew older I progressed onto bigger bikes and...