Needed to upgrade from my BMW 330i so I bought a Volvo XC60

I wanted a comfortable & luxurious SUV as I realised that sedans, especially those with sports bucket seats, were getting uncomfortable for my long highway stints.

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Disclaimer: I wrote this up approximately a year ago, so please bear in mind that some of the cars I have reviewed might be an older model year now.


Coming from a BMW 330i, I wanted a comfortable luxury SUV as I realized sedans, especially those with sports bucket seats were getting uncomfortable for long highway stints that I was performing more and more often.


  • Comfortable seats - by far the most important priority
  • SUV - for taller ride height - mainly for long-distance driving comfort
  • Drivetrain - prefer sporty without being harsh
  • Remote start - for the snowy winter days
  • Exclusivity - It's always nice to drive something that you don’t see as often on the road

Cars considered

BMW X3 xDrive 30i

I loved my overall experience with BMW, from the dealership and customer service experience to the product itself. Each drive was an occasion. The drivetrain was phenomenal. I thoroughly enjoyed the power delivery in the vehicle, especially in the sport drive mode, with the shifter in manual mode. It was fast without being dangerously quick. I considered the X3 as a natural successor to the 3 series.

  • Design: No mistaking it for anything but a BMW. I think it’s handsomely designed on the outside without a bad angle. Although, I did realize that the closer you are to the base model, the cheaper it looked mainly due to many of the terrible stock rims.
  • Interior: Again, a proper BMW interior. Well put together, high-quality materials, not a squeak in the cabin during my test drives. Although, it did look awfully similar to my F30 3 series rather than the new G20 3 series. Large 10inch screen was welcomed especially with wireless Apple CarPlay functionality. The seats in the X3 visually appear to be the same as the G20 3 series. Although real leather is an added upgrade, rather than a standard feature on most 50k X3s.
  • Drive: I enjoyed the sporty drive that I have come to love from this powertrain. The car was nimble, immediate to respond to the throttle, and handled the corners like a champ.
  • Pros: Design, powertrain and chassis, wireless CarPlay, BMW experience, BMW loyalty discount, maintenance is included for the first few years.
  • Cons: Base leatherette seats are rock hard and uncomfortable for long drives, felt familiar as it's very similar to the F30 3series. No remote start is frustrating at this price point.
  • Amongst the finalist

Mercedes GLC300 4matic

Overall, a really great car. I felt that the driving dynamics were on par with the X3. Powertrain was solid, and handling was equally great.

  • Design: In line with the current Mercedes designs although likely up for a refresh soon. It’s a non-offensive design that is rather handsome.
  • Interior: Visually this is a step-up from the BMW with wood, metal, and piano black plastic blending in well together. The infotainment is updated and running on the new MBUX which is rather glitzy and makes the driver feel special. The instrument cluster was endlessly customizable as well, which attributed to the special feeling of sitting inside the car. Again, this is my opinion of the interior after stepping out of an X3 interior that felt similar to what I have been used to. The quality did feel a notch lower than the X3 as pressing on the center console elicited squeaks. The seats felt comfortable and I have driven long distances in a family member’s Mercedes C300 (with real leather seats) which has similar seats to feel confident about their level of comfort. Interestingly though, I had trouble with ideal seat height. I had to sit lower to feel comfortable ergonomically. I felt a C300 would’ve been a better choice rather than an in-between option that this felt for overall seat comfort.
  • Drive: I was pleasantly surprised as to how sturdy this car felt on the road. I went into this test drive thinking that it will be a softer less sporty car as Mercedes emphasizes comfort over driving dynamics. I was proved wrong. I felt the Mercedes to be at the same level as the X3 in performance. This certainly put a smile on my face.
  • Pros: powertrain and chassis, MBUX is fantastic
  • Cons: expensive without as many incentives as the BMW, seats just didn’t feel right and real leather is rarely optioned around 50k MSRP, maintenance is not included
  • Excluded from contention due to price and ride height

Alfa Romeo Stelvio Sprint Q4

I entertained this car as the reviews on this car are all extremely positive regarding its driving dynamics. Which did end up being true. Overall, a really fun car with infotainment and interior that felt mediocre for the price point.

  • Design: Alfa Romeos are beautiful cars. Absolutely gorgeous. Unlike anything else on the road. There was green on tan Guilia at the dealership that was stunning and really pulled at my heartstrings. I really liked Stelvio’s design.
  • Interior: I wasn’t impressed with the interior as much. Seats felt comfortable except for the headrest which protruded outwards a lot. They were real leather and felt fairly soft. The gauges were analogue and fit in well with the sporty ethos. My god, the paddle shifters felt like they came straight from the Ferrari factory. The aesthetics of the interior reminded me of BMW’s design language although the quality just wasn’t there. The infotainment touch screen frustratingly lagged with every touch, and it did not feel intuitive. The rearview camera was low-res.
  • Cons: Dealership network is small and the closest dealer is well over an hour away from me. Concern regarding their reliability or rather the lack thereof.

Audi Q5 55e

What a well-oiled machine this was. This car had the most power and torque as it competed with the engine configurations a level above the rest of the cars that I test drove.

  • Design. This generation’s Q5 took an evolutionary approach from the last-gen. This is the expected design direction of the Germans. I dig it. It has an understated sharp business look with a sporty flair to it.
  • Interior. The interior pictures of this car just do not do it justice. The interior is fantastic. The moment you get in the car, you are greeted with a large greenhouse that makes it

Note: Out of contention due to the much higher price point and I wasn't interested in the non-hybrid for the Audi.

Lexus NX300

Lexus still does old school luxury right. So I thought to give the NX a try. Knowing that the refresh is around the corner, I wasn’t going to be keen on this one unless it was offered at a significant discount.

  • Design: Not a huge fan of the non-F sport model. But the F sport is not bad, although it lags behind significantly when compared to the other cars mentioned in this list of comparisons.
  • Interior. One word: dated. The moment you get in the car, you feel like you are back 5-6 years ago. It didn't help that the TD vehicle I received was likely a year or two old without the refreshed larger screen. The comfort of the seats was great. Plush soft leather, just as expected. Unfortunately, the rest of the interior was just too dated overall to feel that the car justified its 50k figure.
  • Drive: Pleasant suspension. The powertrain lacked the oomph factor.
  • Pro/Cons. Wasn’t even worth thinking about as the car’s age was hard to ignore. There was also no real discount on the car. People who want Lexus will keep buying it for the reliability it seems. And honestly, if I was buying a used car, I would also give Lexus the first nod.

Volvo XC60

Then came the XC60. I’ve always had an admiration for the car as a relative owned the first generation of the car and I found it to be an understated luxury vehicle. Once the current second-generation rolled out, the reviews were largely positive. Volvo has made great strides in improving its design language and luxury quotient.

  • Design: Personally, it's a very striking yet clean vehicle. Almost reminded me of the Audi of old - clean lines, beautiful styling without being over the top. It is certainly a design language that will age gracefully. Not a single bad angle in my view.
  • Interior. I was blown away by the comfort that the seats provided. It’s true, it was by far the most comfortable amongst the cars I test drove. The fit and finish were on par with the German trio. All digital gauges and center screen were easy to work with albeit are not as configurable as Mercedes. Overall feeling of the interior was pure Scandinavian bliss. It stood out and the amber color was refreshing. Standard panoramic roof is great to have. The Harmon Kardon speaker system is fantastic!
  • Drive. Comfort at its best. The powertrain is optimized for sheer comfort. Coming from a BMW it certainly lacks the sporty suspension and drive but it can hustle when placed in dynamic mode.
  • Pros: Fit my requirements perfectly except for the sporty drive. I knew I was asking for two different extremes with my wishlist asking for comfort along with a sporty chassis but the speed was a good consolation prize here.

Ended up getting the XC60 and with 10k miles under the belt so far, I couldn’t be happier! I turn around and stare at the car way too often!

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