–Mount Wilson, California
I’ve been a philosophical utilitarian since I was pretty young: whatever causes the most good and the least bad is usually the best option. While my elementary school pals were drooling over 911 Turbos and Fords Mustang and GT90, I wanted a Chevrolet Caprice or Buick Roadmaster Estate. Utilitarians don’t like sports cars.
Even as a seven-year-old, I recognized that a Ferrari F40 would only let you bring one friend along, with no room for dogs, two-wheeler bikes, model airplanes, or Hot Wheels race tracks. For that stuff, you needed a wagon. Imagine six-year-old Brett’s shock, then, if you told him that in 28 years, he would drive something that carries a bunch of stuff and accelerates faster than almost every 1990s supercar, all while getting about 30 miles per gallon and enabling about 40 miles of all-electric driving if desired. That’s the case of the 2023 Volvo V60 Polestar Engineered – the utilitarian’s dream.
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|Quick Stats||2023 Volvo V60 Polestar Engineered|
|Engine||Turbocharged 2.0-Liter I4 Plug-In Hybrid|
|Output||455 Horsepower / 523 Pound-Feet|
|Drive Type||All-Wheel Drive|
|0-60 MPH||4.3 Seconds|
|Price As Tested||$72,190|
Gallery: 2023 Volvo V60 Polestar Engineered Review
Its trim dimensions and subtle styling give the Volvo V60 Polestar Engineered an undeniably handsome, Swedish appearance. But the design is half a decade old and wasn’t particularly ground-breaking when new, so folks looking for more stylistic personality would be better served by the outré BMW M3 sedan or the aggressive (and expensive) Audi RS6 Avant wagon. The sporty V60 does get some neat details, like gold-colored brake calipers, a block-textured black grille, and a white enamel Polestar badge on the back.
Inside, the Polestar feels all but identical to the S60 Recharge, with black leather and woven fabric seat upholstery. The V60 also gets Volvo’s flagship-signature Orrefors crystal gear selector, and the standard Bowers & Wilkins audio system features precision-cut metal speaker grilles. The V60’s gold seat belts set it apart as a Polestar product, however, tying in with the brake calipers.
The plug-in V60’s seats are among the best I’ve ever experienced, blending a cushy top layer of foam with a firm, supportive structure that made it very easy to get comfortable. The front and outboard rear seating positions are heated, as is the steering wheel, but unfortunately ventilation isn’t available. The cloth inserts helped compensate by retaining less body heat than leather or leatherette, and they held me in place during hard driving as well.
The Volvo V60 has more passenger space and vastly more cargo room than the BMW M3, and its upright roofline and relatively thin pillars mean even back-seaters can avoid claustrophobia. Unfortunately, the 18.8-kilowatt-hour battery takes up a fair amount of space in the center tunnel, encroaching on both center console storage and footroom when three people are in the rear seat. Still, the Polestar is a spacious little wagon that provides way more comfort than expected.
- Center Display: 9.0-Inch Touchscreen
- Instrument Cluster Display: 12.3 Inches
- Wireless Apple CarPlay / Android Auto: No / No
The Volvo V60’s Android Automotive operating system is new for 2023, bringing the Google ecosystem on board with Maps, Assistant, and the Play app store. Spotify and Pandora are also included if you’d prefer not to use the wired Apple CarPlay or Android Auto integration. Those external sources work nicely, but as I learned in the S60, the Volvo-designed stuff can be a bit laggy and frustrating to use. The worst offender is the climate control system, which only works via the touchscreen and doesn’t always register your inputs.
Audio quality from the Bowers & Wilkins speaker system is excellent, and I’m glad it’s standard on the Polestar – on the S60 Recharge, it’s a $3,200 option that I would struggle to pay for. Volvo also contracted the audio company to give the system a novel sound processing feature, replicating the acoustics of the Gothenburg Concert Hall for crisp, ringing sound and mellow, reverberating bass.
The V60 Polestar used to make do with Volvo’s unusual turbo- and supercharged 2.0-liter inline-four, but for 2023, the engine has been redeveloped to use spooled-up exhaust gases only. The turbo powertrain is smoother than before, and it’s now paired with a more powerful rear electric motor and larger 18.1-kilowatt-hour battery. With the gas engine driving the front wheels and electrons driving the rear, the V60 makes 455 horsepower and 523 pound-feet. Put your foot in it and you’ll hit 60 miles per hour in 4.3 seconds.
While the S60 Recharge I drove recently felt a little heavy and ungainly in fast driving, Volvo’s tuning arm made the V60 far more nimble. Adjusting the Polestar-specific Ohlins dampers is an unfortunately complicated affair – the fronts have simple knobs located under the hood, but to change things up in back, you have to lift the car and remove the rear wheels. No fancy active valving or sport mode buttons here.
Still, even with the car in an as-delivered middle ground, turn-in is sharper and the body is kept tightly under control, with limited porpoising and practically no body roll. And the Polestar’s flashy gold brakes are strong and grabby, yet easier to modulate than expected given the regen available from the rear electric motor. Although the V60 isn’t as fast or as sharp as sedan competitors like the BMW M3, it’s still an entertaining companion for a canyon drive, with a loveable je ne sais quoi personality.
- Driver Assistance Level: SAE Level 2 (Hands-On)
- NHTSA Rating: Not Rated
- IIHS Rating: Top Safety Pick+
The 2023 Volvo V60 Polestar Engineered comes standard with every safety feature in the automaker’s arsenal. Its Pilot Assist lane centering and adaptive cruise combination feels a little dated, with some bouncing around between the lane lines.
|Volvo V60 Polestar Engineered||31 MPG Combined / 74 MPGe With 40 Miles EV Range|
|BMW M3 xDrive||16 City / 23 Highway / 19 Combined|
The Volvo V60 Polestar Engineered doesn’t really have any one-to-one rivals – it’s the only sporty luxury wagon for less than $100,000. But it’s a screaming deal compared to similarly sized sedan models. The $76,995 BMW M3 is a bit more powerful and faster, at 473 hp and 4.1 seconds to 60, and it offers the fun of a manual gearbox. If maximum performance is the priority, there’s the 671-hp Mercedes-AMG C63 S E-Performance, which we estimate will cost between 80 and 90 grand when it arrives next year. But that plug-in hybrid’s 4,600-pound estimated weight matches its long name, and agility suffers a bit as a result.
If you’re hellbent on a fast wagon, the only other game in town is the Audi RS6 Avant, which costs $126,895 to start. BMW offers an M3 Touring long-roof overseas so there’s some hope the V60 Polestar will get a direct competitor soon, but for now, the Volvo’s unique combination of understated panache, fleet-of-foot driving manners, and impressive cargo-carrying ability put it in a segment of one. That’s fine by me – I’m used to being the only wagon fanboy in school.