Volvo V60 a very nice wagon that claims off-road strength
By Jim Bray
It almost seems as if station wagons are an endangered species in North America. Oh sure, there are hatchbacks, and "crossovers" but honest to goodness wagons seem limited to European manufacturers these days and even those are hard to find on Canadian streets.
I love wagons. They give you everything good that you can find in a sedan (such as the convenience of four doors) and add a lot of the storage you can get from an SUV. And because they're (mostly) still as low as a car they can offer sports car handling and fun.
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That's why I own a wagon, and undoubtedly why companies such as Audi, Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Volvo still offer them. Well, that and profitability, which is undoubtedly why these companies don't offer all their wagons here; Audi, for example, only offers a jacked-up version of its A4 as a wagon in Canada (called Allroad now instead of Avant), while in Europe you can wagon the car right up to the awesome RS4 Avant variant That's about as hot as a wagon as one could want.
When Volvo Canada offered me some quality seat time in their new V60 Cross Country I jumped at the chance. Not only do I love wagons, but I was a fan of Volvo's vehicles when I got to review them in the past. Alas, that honour hasn't happened for about a dozen years – other than a half hour or so at AJAC's Canadian Car of the Year TestFest a few times since then – so I was doubly excited to pick up the V60 to see if the ghost of Volvos past were still Volvos to be enjoyed in the present.
After all, a lot has happened to Volvo since the "oughts" – including its metamorphosis from a subsidiary of Ford to its current Chinese ownership. Have the evolutions in ownership, car technology and design – and the competitive landscape – passed Volvo by or has the Swedish carmaker kept up?
Judging from my week with the V60, it certainly seems as if the company has kept up. The V60 Cross Country is a very nice wagon that's comfortable, roomy, designed well, and – while not a rocket ship – plenty enjoyable to drive.
If I were buying, I might opt for the "not lifted" V60 that (thanks to an available supercharger) cranks out 316 horses and 295 torquey things – compared to the CC's turbo four and its still more than adequate 250/258 hp/torque – but the additional altitude you get with the "CC" (it's jacked up a bit compared to the "non-CC") means you can take it off the highway with more confidence, something I'd never want to try with my own "lowered" sport wagon.
So, to each his own, and it isn't as if the taller version wallows at all, especially if you keep it in its quite compelling Dynamic mode setting, which I did almost exclusively after I'd tried it in its default "Comfort" mode. In honour of Saint Greta I didn't try the ECO mode, but I'm sure it would have made me feel much better about burning slightly less gasoline.
Meanwhile, that Dynamic mode is very nice.
The T5 engine is a turbocharged two litre four-cylinder power plant and it gets the plant's power to all four wheels via a nicely-shifting eight speed automatic transmission.
The wagon itself is quite handsome inside and out; thankfully the boxy Volvos of decades past are, well, decades past. So, the V60 is modern and classy, and about as up to date as you can get these days. That includes stuff like LED headlights (Volvo's sample's were adaptive as well, thanks to the $2,550 Premier Plus Package), Dual Integrated Tailpipes, City Safety Collision Mitigation, Lane Keeping Aid, Park Assist Camera, rear Park Assist, Hill Star Assist and Hill Descent Control.
The V60 comes quite loaded even in its standard trim, with stuff like dual zone climate control, a panoramic sunroof, aquablade windshield washers (the water comes right from the blades as they sweep across the window, which is great – even more so because the rear wiper works the same way, which is unusual but very welcome).
Inside, the comfortable seats in both rows hold you nicely and are good for long hauls. We had to set the front passenger seat quite low to prevent the bashing of our heads on the door frame, but this isn't unique to the Volvo. Both front seats are powered, with memory on the driver's side, and of course they're heated. And the tailgate features power operation as well.
The car seems long enough to sport a third row of seats, but such isn't the case; instead, you get oodles of storage space and if that isn't enough, you can split/fold the rear seats to create an area you could probably rent out as a dormitory for the homeless.
From the driver's seat, everything is laid out nicely and all the stuff the driver needs to reach is placed at hand, and logically, though the huge center stack LCD was just a bit of a reach for my stubby arms.
That big LCD is more like an iPad than a typical car LCD, and I loved its size. Alas, the interface is a tad weird (sometimes you have to go down multiple levels to find what you want) and the virtual buttons are small and it takes a real press to active them. More than once I had to press a radio station preset multiple times before it would take, and while scrolling through options I tended to press a virtual button I was trying to scroll by, which added extra effort to the process and took my eyes off the road more than I liked.
At least it doesn't whine at you to put your eyes back on the road like those Subarus I drove a while back!
A nice touch is that the Volvo remembers your previous steering wheel and seat heater settings when you fire it up, though it doesn't remember the drive mode you left it in. Another nice touch is that the analogue-looking digital instrument panel also displays red light photo radar cameras, which is really handy. It wasn't always right, but it worked fine most of the time.
The V60 seems priced competitively. It starts, according to Volvo's Canadian website, at $48,900, whereas the Mercedes-Benz C class wagon starts at $47,700 and a base Audi A4 Allroad will set you back $50,200. Volvo's sample came with abundant options, too:
Premier Package ($2,600)
Premier Plus Package ($2,550)
Volvo's sample also came with handsome metallic paint ($900), leather ($1500), a charcoal headliner – in case you flip the car over onto a fire pit? – ($250), a lovely Harman Kardon Sound System ($1,200) and 19 inch five-double spoke matte graphite diamond cut alloy wheels ($1,000).
All this stuff adds up to $58,900, which ain't cheap but is still okay considering where this car sits in the array of automotive choices.
So, yeah, after 12 years away from reviewing Volvos I can say with confidence that the company is still offering nice, and good, vehicles. Well, one at least – and if the rest of their line is as nice as this one (and why wouldn't they be?), then you needn't worry about them.
Now I only wonder when the social justice warriors are going to take the company to task for its "patriarchal" logo, which to date is still the gender symbol for Men.
The horror! The horror!
Copyright 2020, Jim Bray