First, there aren’t many true wagons anymore. Second, Volvo absolutely nails the V60, if you want your wagon to feel like a sports sedan.
I could have sworn I was in an Audi or Mercedes and barely noticed this was a wagon thanks to this Volvo’s generous power and nimble handling abilities. My gorgeous light “power” metallic blue V60 T5 Drive-E was a rocket, but one that would chop off corners and stick to the road like it was designed mostly for a spin around Road America.
The V60, which is an early release 2015 model, features a 2.0-liter direct injected turbocharged I4 engine that creates 240 horsepower and 258 foot-pounds of torque. You touch the gas pedal and it jumps to life, one of the livelier power plants I’ve driven lately.
The front-drive wagon has good grip too, thanks to 19-inch R-rated low-pro Pirelli tires. Pushing the car hard into high-speed corners it hunkers down and sticks like a racer. The down side is that the ride is overly firm, which could be a drawback to some families. However, 17-inch tires are standard and without the car’s Sport Package ($1,500) that includes fancy wheels, a sport-tuned chassis, plus paddle shifters on the steering wheel and overly tight sport seats, the ride might feel just fine.
Shifts from the 8-speed Geartronic automatic are fairly seamless and feature Start-Stop technology that shuts the car’s engine off at stoplights or any time it sits motionless for a second or so. You’ll notice it at first, but this Volvo system offers a less abrupt shutdown than the pricier Jaguar XJL I drove earlier this year. These type of systems are already being used on hybrid cars.
Steering effort is a little heavy, but the response is so good you won’t mind. And braking from the big discs is quite good too. Traction and stability control are standard and there are a variety of safety features here, something that Volvo has boasted about and marketed for years.
There’s City Safety which uses radar to help the car brake quickly if a vehicle stops suddenly in front of you, or a person walks in front of your car. BLIS is Volvo’s blind spot warning system that alerts you if something is in your blind spot and a park assist system front and rear so you don’t bump into other cars in a parking lot. That also includes a rearview camera, which has become standard in many vehicles now.
Backing up the V60’s performance is a lean, low sporty profile that says this is not your dad’s Taurus wagon. It looks fast and aerodynamic and stands out in any parking lot. Folks look, and you can’t say that about most wagons, and certainly previous few Volvos.
Likewise, the Swedish-built car’s interior is stylish, the test car featuring black leather seats with white stitching, part of a $2,550 Premium Plus package. But there’s more, such as chrome surrounds on the center stack and doors, dash air vents, main gauge pod plus on the steering wheel hub. I like the textured brushed black metal look of the center stack’s face too. While the dash is well textured, its black plastic surface did not seem as upscale as the rest of the interior.
Seating is sport-oriented, which means tight buckets. I found them too tight in the hips, but otherwise comfortable and well cushioned. The test car adds heated front seats for $500, but heat is a must with leather, especially in our climate. A three-setting memory system also comes with the car and is located on the side of the bottom seat cushion.
Gauges are attractive and adaptive, meaning you can alter their appearance. That’s part of the sport package too, along with auto-dimming rearview mirrors, keyless ignition, HomeLink and several other features. I particularly like the dash slot that allows you to insert the key fob so it’s not cluttering up your pocket or purse.
Room inside is good front and rear, so five adults could travel in comfort, plus there’s a lot of trunk space. Hey, this IS a wagon. Both rear seats fold forward to increase cargo space too and there’s a heavy-duty fold-down armrest/cup holder in back.
Overhead is a sunroof, but it’s on the small side Yet it does come with a solid shade to block out the sun when needed.
Pricing? The V60 T5 is at the low end of the model’s lineup, starting at $35,300 with a $925 delivery fee. This one hit $42,225 with its variety of options. But you could save some dough if you don’t go the sport route.
Gas mileage for a fair sized wagon also was quite good. I got 27.2 mpg in about 60% highway driving, while the EPA rates this at 25 mpg city and 37 highway. That’s aided, of course, by the Start-Stop system that’s part of the 8-speed automatic.
Buyers also could consider the T5 with a 2.5-liter turbocharged I4 that gets 20 mpg city and 29 highway. That model features a 6-speed automatic and all-wheel-drive, but the engine gives you slightly more power with 250 horses and a torque rating of 266. High-end buyers can go even further, with the T6 R-Design Platinum with a 325-horse turbo V6. Gas mileage is 19 mpg city and 28 highway. Your wallet takes a bigger hit, naturally, at $48,225.
For the record, the Geely Holding Co. out of China now owns Volvo, but design and manufacture of the cars is still run out of Sweden.
Whatever you think of that, the V60 could make wagons the hot new thing, if people would just test drive this racy low-slung hauler. I say stick with the T5 and you’ll have a roomy sport-wagon that runs like a luxury sports sedan. Nothing wrong with that!
FAST Stats: 2015 Volvo V60 T5 Drive-E
Hits: Lean, low sporty looking wagon with excellent acceleration and handling, a sport sedan feel. Interior is stylish with heated seats, slot for key fob and blind spot warning system along with City Safety and other safety features.
Misses: Ride is firm with R-rated Pirelli tires, sunroof is small and front seats are tight in the hips.
Made in: Gothensburg, Sweden
Engine: 2.0-liter I4 turbo, 240 hp
Transmission: 8-speed Geartronic automatic w/Start-Stop tech.
Weight: 3,527 lbs.
Wheelbase: 109.3 in.
Length: 182.5 in.
Cargo: 43.8 cu.ft.
MPG: 25/37 (EPA)
MPG: 27.2 (tested)
Base Price: $35,300
Dealer’s Price: $34,107
Premier plus (leather seating, auto-dim rearview mirror, adaptive digital display, side window brightwork, silver roof rails, keyless drive, rear park assist camera, HomeLink, digital compass, grocery bag holder, power retractable side mirrors), $2,550
Sport package (sport chassis, paddle shifters, 19-inch BOR diamond cut alloy wheels,), $1,500
Blind spot information system (BLIS) w/front, rear park assist, cross traffic alert, lane change merge aid, $900
Metallic paint, $550
Heated front seats, $500
Test vehicle: $42,225
Sources: Volvo, http://www.kbb.com