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.
The base V60 is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 240 horsepower at 5,600 rpm and 258 pound-feet of torque at just 1,500 rpm. Named T5, it spins the front wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive is available at an extra cost.
The next engine up is called T6 in Volvo-speak. It's a turbocharged and supercharged 2.0-liter four rated at 302 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. The T6 engine is exclusively offered with all-wheel drive.
Finally, speed junkies can order the V60 Polestar, which adds even more performance with a 362 horsepower, 347 lb-ft of torque version of the T6's four. In conjunction with a specially-tuned eight-speed automatic, that power is sufficient for the all-wheel-drive Polestar to sprint from zero-to-60 mph in 4.4 seconds.
To keep the extra muscle in check, the V60 Polestar features 80 percent stiffer springs and uprated Ohlins shocks. New brakes - with ventilated discs measuring 14.6 inches up front and 11.8 inches at rear - sit behind 20-inch model-specific wheels.
Standard and Optional Features
The V60 lineup is broken down into four trim levels named base, Premier, Platinum, and R-Design, respectively.
The base V60 comes standard with T-tec upholstery, 17-inch alloy wheels, low-speed collision avoidance technology, LED daytime running lights, a leather-wrapped three-spoke steering wheel, HD radio, a 40/20/40-split rear seat, power front seats, a power moonroof, a cargo cover, and rain-sensing wipers.
The Premier trim brings leather upholstery, navigation, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, silver roof rails, and more chrome accents inside and out.
Platinum models receive a Harman Kardon sounds system, Xenon headlights, accent lighting in the cabin, and the Convenience Package, which bundles keyless drive, a TFT display, a rear-view camera, a HomeLink transceiver, power-folding side mirrors, and a grocery bag holder. Platinum cars also get a long list of electronic driving aids that includes distance alert, lane-keeping assist, road sign information, active high beams, and adaptive cruise control.
In addition to all-wheel drive and the T6 engine, the range-topping R-Design model boasts a specific, sporty-looking body kit, 19-inch alloy wheels, sport pedals, sport seats for the front passengers, shift paddles, and a sport steering wheel.
The list of standalone options includes all-wheel drive, metallic paint, heated front seats, wood trim in the cabin, park assist pilot, and two-stage child booster seats.
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.
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.