The Volvo V60 wagon is designed for drivers who crave a sports sedan but appreciate practical virtues. Or maybe it’s for those who need a crossover SUV for its hauling ability but welcome nimble handling. From either direction, the V60 fulfills those needs. It is sleek and stylish and grips the road like a sports sedan.
The V60 was introduced as a 2015 model, but it’s based on the second-generation S60 sedan, which was introduced as a 2011 model then received a major update for 2014. Changes for the 2016 model year are minor.
The V60 comes in two major forms: the front-wheel-drive T5 Drive-E and the all-wheel-drive T6.
The V60 T5 Drive-E comes with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine powers the front wheels. The four-cylinder makes 240 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, mating with an 8-speed automatic transmission. Volvo says an overboost mode can boost torque output to 285 pound-feet for up to 10 seconds, at full throttle. Fuel-efficiency is at its best with the T5 Drive-E engine and front-wheel drive, EPA-rated at 25/37 mpg City/Highway, or 29 mpg Combined.
The V60 T6 R-Design uses a 325-horsepower turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 to power all four wheels through a 6-speed automatic transmission. The T6 R-Design is EPA-estimated at just 18/27 mpg, 21 mpg Combined.
Volvo also offers a V60 Cross Country model with a 250-horsepower engine and greater (7.9-inch) ground clearance, in base and Platinum trim levels.
All models offer three drive modes: Normal, Sport, and Eco+, which can cut off air conditioning and remap the throttle and transmission.
The V60 has a small but comfortable cabin. The front seats are excellent. The rear seats are comfortable and supportive but legroom is tight.
Cargo space is not in abundance, either. Folding the rear seat yields only 43 cubic feet of cargo room, which is less than half the volume available in the XC60 crossover.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) rated the 2015 Volvo V60 a Top Safety Pick+, granting a Superior rating for crash prevention with optional safety systems.
The 2016 Volvo V60 comes in a range of models. Four-cylinder T5 Drive-E models come in three trim levels with front-wheel drive, while the six-cylinder T6 R-Design AWD comes in two trims with all-wheel drive.
V60 T5 Drive-E ($35,950) comes with T-Tec textile upholstery, Bluetooth, satellite radio, HD radio, and 17-inch alloy wheels. T5 Drive-E Premier ($37,900) upgrades with navigation, leather seating surfaces, and an upgraded display. T5 Drive-E Platinum ($41,550) comes with Harman Kardon premium audio and other features.
T6 R-Design AWD ($45,800) T6 R-Design Platinum AWD ($49,200) are similarly equipped to the above.
With its steeply angled back window, the Volvo V60 looks less like a wagon, more like a streamlined hatchback variant of Volvo’s S60 sedan.
Volvo promotes the V60’s prominent wedge shape and slim coupe-like silhouette, highlighted by a gentle, yet strong, double wave that runs from the headlights back to the taillamps. A dip in the center of that wave tends to make the car appear a bit lower. Up front is a sculpted hood, while the rear end was designed to convey an impression of racetrack shapes.
The V60 comes with the same comfortable seats as the S60 sedan and XC60 wagon. Heavily bolstered, they rank among the best seats we’ve ever enjoyed, though the defined bolster shape might be snug for some folks.
The T-Tec fabric upholstery is nice until a dog that sheds gets in, then it’s hard to clean. Opt for the leather if there is a dog in the family.
The rear seats are nicely shaped and comfortable, with space for three small children or two adults. By midsize standards, legroom is not abundant, and the seats are low and close to the floor. In addition, the backrest angle is more severe than many passengers might find comfortable. Back seats are split 40/20/40, with a pass-through for skis and such.
On the dashboard, a Thin-Film Transistor (TFT) screen displays bright, clear virtual gauges (on upper-level models). Drivers can toggle through route directions, audio information and performance data, among other things. The dashboard itself uses firm soft-touch materials.
Common functions such as audio volume and phone controls are located on the steering wheel, but some controls aren’t so easy to locate. A console button lets the driver flip down both outboard rear-seat headrests, yielding a broad view out the rear window.
In the V60 T5 series, the 8-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly and quietly under most conditions. An exception is rapid downshifting through three or four gears during hard acceleration, as the transmission appears to search for the proper power band.
Noise suppression is good in the V60, which, as promised, handles like a sport sedan. In addition to delivering a firm but smooth ride, you can expect good centering action from the V60’s steering. This imparts a confident feeling, helping to make the V60 a worthy competitor to various German-made sport wagons.
Volvo claims a relatively swift 0-to-60-mph acceleration time of 6.1 seconds with the four-cylinder model. For peak fuel economy, the four-cylinder features a start-stop system that can shut off the engine at stoplights. Unlike some start-stop units, Volvo’s provides unusually imperceptible operation.
The Volvo V60 fills the bill for a sports sedan with some versatility behind the back seats. The V60 T5 Drive-E has a lot to offer. If you need all-wheel drive, the V60 T6 is the only choice, but it does not offer the fuel economy of the T5.
Driving impressions by Christian Gulliksen, The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.