Station wagons don't have the same appeal as they once did; National Lampoon's Family Vacation probably had something to do with it. But a few companies are trying to keep the dream alive, hoping that consumers will shed their SUVs for station wagons instead.
Volvo is one of those companies. The V60 – along with the larger V90 – is one of the few wagons left on sale in North America. And the company is doubling down with a redesigned version for 2019. Although it shares a lot in common with its S60 sedan sibling (read our first drive), there's enough for you to consider it over its four-door sibling.
The biggest carryover is styling. Not much has changed in the transformation from sedan to station wagon (apart from its butt). The V60 is just as sharp and stylish as its four-door counterpart and wears the Volvo design language exceptionally well. Its stout proportions are more pleasing to the eye than the larger, longer V90.
Opposed to the V60 R-Design option (which you can get on both the wagon and sedan), the all-wheel-drive Momentum model isn't nearly as eye-catching. The Metallic paint job ($645) is pretty generic, and the 19-inch wheels ($800) don't have the same sex appeal as the range-topping model. But there is one redeeming quality: The interior.
On the Momentum model, buyers can get the quirky, comfortable City Weave textile trim (or plaid) that covers the seats and a section of the door panels. And yes, it lives up to the hype. The 10-way power-adjustable seats look cool as hell and excel in the comfort department. The light beige and black leather accents up the style even further. If there were one reason to buy the V60 over the S60, this would be it.
That's not to say that the V60 and S60 don't share a lot in terms of overall layout, though. The V60's cabin is sleek and simple. No more than 10 buttons cover the dash, and the vertically oriented nine-inch touchscreen system is sleek and simple to operate. The configurable, four-tile layout is easy to use and the standard inclusion of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is a welcome inclusion.
Another big selling point of the V60 is its cargo space. The 29.7 cubic feet behind the second row may not be enough to coerce XC60 buyers, but the larger rear has a lot more space than any sedan in the segment. More importantly, the V60 is a big upgrade from the S60, which gets just 13.8 cubic feet of trunk space. With the rear seat folded flat, the V60's cargo room grows to 48.2 cubic feet.
The V60 is just as sharp and stylish as its four-door counterpart and wears the Volvo design language exceptionally well.
Even without the sporty R-Design trim, or an optional Polestar Engineered model (yet), the V60 is a joy to drive. The turbocharged and supercharged 2.0-liter inline-four (dubbed T6 in Volvo lingo) delivers 316 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque (same as the S60), and routes power to all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission.
Toss it into a corner and the V60 doesn't roll or waft like an XC60 might. It's flat and composed like a sedan – the extra junk over its trunk doesn't affect the driving dynamics too dramatically, either. The T6 engine always has power when you need it, and the gearbox is almost always in the right gear, whether you're in Standard mode or Dynamic mode.
The V60 can be pushed, but it’s more at home cruising the freeway or the California coast. The double-wishbone front and integral link rear suspension is better at smoothing out bumps and floating over impurities then it is carving tight corners. The cabin is whisper quiet at highway speed, and the light steering rack makes it an extremely easy driver.
Standard safety features include automatic emergency braking, forward-collision warning, and cross-traffic alert with automatic braking. Volvo’s semi-autonomous Pilot Assist feature is available as part of the Advanced package, and it’s worth the extra $2,500. It includes adaptive cruise control, a birds-eye-view camera, and a head-up display, and made LA traffic much less stressful with its proactive and responsive nature.
The V60 can be pushed, but it’s more at home cruising the freeway or the California coast.
The V60 loses one mile-per-gallon on the highway versus its sedan counterpart – that big butt undoubtedly has something to do with it. The V60 gets an estimated 21 mpg city, 31 highway, and 25 combined with all-wheel drive. Those figures beat the Buick Regal TourX (21/29/24) and the Audi A4 Allroad (22/30/25).
The Volvo V60 is the whole package: Efficiency, performance, and style combined into one. It has all the features we liked on the S60 – the Sensus Connect infotainment and T6 engine in particular – but offers more cargo room. Sure, you could buy an XC60 – but with a wagon this wonderful, why would you?