Ah the humble station wagon. Once a staple of American life, they’ve long since handed over family hauling duties; at first to minivans, then SUVs, and now crossovers. But there are a few brands that have kept the wagon spirit alive, foremost among them Subaru with the Outback, and of course Volvo. After threatening to forever stop importing wagons three years ago, Volvo is back with a new one, the V60. And with it, Volvo is looking to have a little fun.
Volvo was never really been completely out of the U.S. station wagon market as the beefed up XC70 has continued to be sold. But, the 2015 Volvo V60 is a breath of fresh air for the brand, and more importantly to a barely relevant segment as it also revives Volvo’s “sport wagon” heritage.
The V60 is based on the S60 middle-weight sedan, so up to the B-pillar the looks are nicely familiar. It’s a little soft looking for a “sport wagon”, but that’s probably just fine for the typical mild-mannered Volvo buyer.
From the front doors back it evolves into a very substantial looking “estate” with smooth lines and hefty rear fender haunches. The slanted back glass gives it a not quite wagon, not quite hatchback look that we find very appealing.
The design inside is also an updated take on clean, modern Swedish style with very nice materials all around. Front seats are incredibly comfortable, the way only Volvo seems to be able to do it. Back seats are also very comfortable, but leg room is very tight for adults. Still, it would make a good option for couples on either side of the child rearing years.
A very low load floor, something no crossover can match, and a generous amount of space, means that there’s still plenty of practicality to be had. And versatility as well, as the 40/20/40 folding rear seatbacks expand cargo space to 43.8 cubic-ft. There’s also a liberal amount of under floor storage as well as cargo netting.
Controls are uniquely Volvo’s; with a pictograph for climate control, and radio inputs that are a bit fussier then they need to be; all nestled on a floating center stack with welcomed storage space behind. Up top, is a display screen that’s a tad small compared to many, but it does convey a wealth of information in a clear fashion. The virtual gauges however, were a bit disappointing, with their limited information. And we can do without the silly eco-minded power gauge. There are also some controls hidden behind the steering wheel on the left side of the dash, but for the most part they aren’t needed while driving.
No complaints from any of our drivers when it came to on road presence. The V60 has a concise feel that is remindful of the previous V40, but with a whole lot more refinement. It behaves much more like the S60 sport sedan, with a solid Volvo nature. But there’s a tad more of the Nouveau-Euro isolated feel, particularly in the steering department.
The automatic transmission is incredibly smooth, and didn’t feel busy at all; as some other 8-speeds tend to be. The automatic stop-start function however was very noticeable.
On the start, there is plenty of power from the standard front drive 2.0-liter turbo I4, with output of 240-horsepower and 258 lb-ft. of torque; accompanied by some diesel-like clatter at times. All-wheel-drive upgrades to a 2.5-liter 250-horsepower turbo I5, with a 3.0-liter 325-horsepower turbo V6 also available.
For more numbers we headed to our test track where our standard V60 charged to 60 in a very respectable 6.7-seconds. There’s torque aplenty off the line, with no torque steer to hamper the fun.
The engine revs very quickly with good power all the way to the red-line. Triggering the paddle shifters results in crazy hard shifts, and some very audible wastegate noise, on the way to a thoroughly enjoyable ¼-mile time of 15.0-seconds at 96 miles-per-hour.
Carrying speed through corners is even more fun. A fast, light, point-and-shoot feel with very precise steering and good balance gives your brain a sense of complete control, and your gut a feeling of joy. Very little body roll is the icing on this smooth performer’s sockerkaka.
The brakes however, were not quite as “sport wagon” minded as the rest of the chassis; with a spongy feel and longish stops from 60 averaging 130-feet.
Being a Volvo also means being a safety leader. City Safety is standard and advanced features like Blind Spot and Cross Traffic Alert are available. Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 25-City, 37-Highway, and 29-Combined. Our results were right on with 29.6 miles-per-gallon of Regular. The Energy Impact Score is 11.4-barrels of oil used and 5.1-tons of CO2 emissions yearly.
But our enthusiasm for this enjoyable V60 is tempered by its premium pricing which begins at $36,225. All-wheel-drive goes for $37,725. Our Premier Plus based at $38,775, without navigation.
There are better values and a host of crossovers. So, we know, and I bet Volvo knows, the 2015 Volvo V60 will have a limited take. But, like the Outback, there is a niche for it. Especially a wagon that deserves the word “sport” attached to it. So, the Volvo station wagon lives on, and we hope forever.
Engine: 2.0-liter turbo I4
Torque: 258 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 6.7 seconds
1/4 mile: 15.0 seconds @ 96 mph
EPA: 25 mpg city/ 37 mpg highway
Energy Impact: 11.4 barrels of oil/yr
CO2 Emissions: 5.1 tons/yr