Traditional station wagons are an endangered species in the U.S., with SUVs and crossovers, due in part to their more adventurous image, having long ago won the hearts of most families. As a result, the population of wagons has dropped off precipitously in recent years, with most automakers adding lift kits and rugged-looking body cladding to their remaining models in attempt to draw in crossover-loving buyers (Volvo's own XC70 is an example of this trend).
However, the Volvo decided to go in a different direction with the V60, which sets itself apart from yesterday's sedate wagons not with faux-SUV cues but with alluring design.
Up front, the V60 sports a shapely rendition of Volvo's traditional grille along with a flared hood and an elaborately-detailed lower fascia. Things get racier at the rear, where a sloping rear window framed by thin, elongated taillights replaces the upright tail seen in most other wagons.
The V60's Scandinavian heritage is reflected by its simple, elegant cabin, which features high-quality materials as well as neat touches like a "floating" center console and a reconfigurable "Adaptive Digital Display" with three different modes. Performance mode includes a central tachometer with inset speedometer; Eco focuses on readouts that help the driver save fuel; and Elegance mimics Volvo's standard gauges.
All V60s are equipped with Volvo's "Sensus" infotainment system, a setup that displays the entertainment and navigation systems through a seven-inch screen. Sensus, along with the climate control system, is accessed through small buttons and knobs that are slightly intimidating in number but generally easy to use. Voice commands and steering wheel-mounted controls provide alternate means of accessing Sensus.
This being a Volvo, the list of notable technology naturally also includes an advanced safety system - "City Safe," a pre-collision warning system that alerts the driver to impending collisions with vehicles. An optional, upgraded version of City Safe can also recognize pedestrians and cyclists, and if necessary, apply the brakes to prevent or mitigate the severity of a crash.
As with most Volvo models, the V60's seats are extremely comfortable, even for cross-country journeys. Backseat legroom is slightly tight, however, and there's less cargo space than one might expect, a byproduct of the slinky rear styling. There's 15.2 cubic feet available with rear seats upright, while 43.8 cubes can obtained by folding the rear seats flat. Those numbers, while respectable, nonetheless are 10-20 cubic feet less than what some rivals offer.
Power, Handling and Fuel Economy
The V60 is available with three different engine options in addition to front- and all-wheel-drive.
The entry-level powertrain consists of a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder - the first in a range of efficient "E-Drive" motors that will eventually replace all existing Volvo engines - that produces 240 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. It sends output to the front wheels through and eight-speed automatic transmission.
Buyers who want more power can order a 3.0-liter turbo straight-six that features all-wheel drive and a six-speed automatic. The six is good for 325 ponies and 354 lb-ft of twist.
A limited-edition Polestar model (detailed below) dials the straight-six up to 350 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque.
Fuel economy is rated at 25 city/37 highway mpg for the Drive-E and 19/28 mpg for all iterations of the six.
Standard V60s are blessed with handling that, if not downright sporty, are certainly more engaging than the segment norm. Ride quality is a strong suite, with the chassis soaking up impacts from potholes and speedbumps before they trouble the passengers.
The R-Design amps up the driving experience not only with its stout six-cylinder, but also with a host of modifications that tighten up the suspension. Its anti-roll bars, rear dampers, springs, steering and front strut brace are all specially tuned for more immediate responses.
Finally, the Polestar adds an even stiffer chassis, six-piston Brembo front brakes and 20-inch wheels in addition to a front splitter and rear spoiler. Only 120 examples of the Polestar will be built.
Standard and Optional Features
The V60 is offered in T5 E-Drive FWD and T6 AWD R-Design trim levels. The first model is further divided into base, Premier and Platinum trims, while T6 buyers can choose from base or Platinum.
The base-model T5 comes standard with LED daytime running lights, an electronic parking brake, power locks, a moonroof, heated door mirrors, puddle lights, rain-sensing wipers, a multi-function steering wheel, cruise control, dual-zone A/C, a start/stop system, power seats with a memory function, an eight-speaker sound system and Bluetooth connectivity.
Premier models gain bright trim around the windows, roof rails, a TFT display in the instrument cluster, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror and navigation.
Platinum models up the ante with a Homelink transceiver, keyless drive, adaptive cruise control, active high beams, collision warning, distance alert, lane keeping assist, pedestrian and cyclist detection, power retractable door mirrors, a rear-view camera, Xenon headlights, headlight washers, accent lighting in the cabin, a grocery bag holder and a 12-speaker sound system.
Base T6 models ship with LED daytime running lights, an electronic parking brake, keyless drive, rear fog lights with an auto-off function, power locks, power heated mirrors, a power moonroof, rain-sensing wipers, roof rails, dual Xenon headlights, headlight washers, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, dual-zone A/C, shift paddles, eight-way adjustable front seats, an eight-speaker sound-system and navigation. It also get a number of R-Design specific add-ons including a sportier-looking grille, new side skirts, an air diffuser out back and a new steering wheel.
Finally, the range-topping T6 Premium boasts a Homelink transceiver, active high beams, adaptive cruise control, collision warning, pedestrian and cyclist detection, power-folding mirrors, accent lighting inside, and a 12-speaker sound system.
Several optional equipment packages are available. Notably, the Climate package bundles heated front and rear seats, a heated windshield, a heated steering wheel, heated windshield washer nozzles and Volvo's Interior Air Quality System.
The Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) package brings a blind spot information system, cross traffic alert, front park assist and lane change merge aid.
T5 models can be ordered with the 19" Sport package that adds a sport chassis, steering wheel-mounted shift paddles and -- you guessed it -- 19-inch alloys.
All V60 models come standard with dual front, front side and full-length side curtain airbags in addition to traction and stability control systems. A City Safe pre-collision warning system, which triggers the brakes if an impending collision is detected, is also standard.
A number of optional safety systems are available including an upgraded version of City Safe, a blind sport warning system, cross traffic alert and lane keeping aid (full details available above).
Rivals to the V60 include the more spacious, luxurious and powerful BMW 3-Series Sport Wagon; and the Volkswagen Golf SportWagen, with its comparatively low price, modest power but larger interior.