I don’t feel neglected.
As a consumer between the ages of 18-35, with (mostly limited) expendable income and a Y chromosome, I thought most commercial television was created with a target fixation on my wallet.
Turns out, there’s a whole world of automobiles that has been ignoring me. Apparently.
Forget fire-breathing muscle cars, low-slung import sports cars or massively overcompensating-for-something-else trucks; the world of small SUVs now wants my attention. At least, that’s the feeling I get.
Here’s a perfect example: the 2012 Volvo XC60 R-Design.
In it’s more docile forms, the Volvo XC60 is a mini SUV with more femininity than a MAC makeup counter. Depending on where you live in relation to the Mississippi River, you’d either call the XC60 a “soft-roader” (west) or a “cute ‘ute” (east). Not content with offering the XC60 to half of the market, Volvo, along with a host of other automakers, decided that men’s wallets were an altogether good idea for growing business.
The R-Design, however, is the butched up like a Jason Statham movie. A more aggressive front fascia, bigger turbo and badges that beckon for boasting to your buds all appeal to the hunter-gatherer in us all. It couldn’t be more dude if it were watching baseball.
I don’t blame Volvo. If I had a dollar for every time I saw a woman — usually young — driving an XC60 I could afford more power tools.
Men avoid small SUVs like they were powered by “Sex in the City” episodes. No data exists on male/female buyer split for small SUVs, but considering the R-Design, the Lexus RX F-Sport, Porsche Cajun and Volkswagen Tiguan Mötorhead edition, I’d say men buy more eyeliner than small SUVs. (I made up the one about the Tiguan, but I hope VW is reading this and will consider my idea.)
That’s because several conditions are necessary to attract male buyers.
First, a driving position must be elevated to convey a sense of authority.
Whereas women generally like an SUV because it offers some sense of security to sit higher while driving, men want to be higher because the first rule of tactical warfare, as we all know, is always take the elevated position. Or something.
The XC60 offers excellent visibility and around 9 inches of ground clearance, satisfying that particular primordial tendency.
The second is that it must go fast — and look like it’s going fast even when it’s not moving.
Body-color side molding and 20-inch alloy wheels help the R-Design stand out from the decidedly less-masculine flock. The XC60 R-Design also borrows the boosted powertrain from the S60 R-Design sedan that it shares a platform with.
The 3.0-liter, 6-cylinder engine has been turboed up to 325 horsepower and over 350 ft.-lbs. of torque churning through its Haldex all-wheel drive system. Damping has been stiffened by around 10 percent and steering has been quickened by 10 percent to corral the extra power, which accounts for its 6.6-second 0-60 time.
Lastly, the car must appeal to our ego, which the XC60 R-Design does well. The interior is something I believe Swedish cows would be proud to give their lives for.
All seats in the XC60 offer plenty of support and bolster, rear seats included. The added gadgetry for this year and Spartan-like layout of Volvos appeal to the minimalist in us all.
Put together, the XC60 R-Design starts at around $44,000 and can run up to $52,675 for our test model.
That’s a lot of money when considering that a Honda CR-V and Toyota Rav4 start tens of thousands of dollars less and are roughly the same size — but those are total chick cars. Amirite?
Curiously, the XC60 R-Design’s biggest competition isn’t really other European crossovers, but instead perhaps the smaller sedan it shares its skeleton with, the S60 R-Design. At $2,000 more than that model, what you’re paying for is room in the XC60 enough for your children to vomit in the back seat when you’re powering up to 60 mph in under 7 seconds.
And that’s perfect for me.
After all I’m a sponge for advertising and any car with a bigger engine and badder exterior is worth my money.
At least I think so.
Aaron Cole is a syndicated auto columnist and he knows he’s wrong — he’d just rather hear it from you. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org