Station wagons have generally vanished from the American road, replaced by the utility vehicle as the all-around family vehicle of American suburbia.
But every once in a while, a carmaker, generally European, makes a run at bringing back a wagon for the dwindling band of aficionados, who enjoy having a vehicle that is both practical and does not look like every other vehicle in whatever parking lot into which they happen to drive.
One of the latest iterations of the wagon is the Volvo V60 Cross Country T5 AWD, which is nothing like the station wagon of yore. It is nimble and filled with technology artfully refined for 21st century cars with utility that simply was not available back in the heyday of the station wagon. Old-line station wagons always seemed underpowered, but Volvo has given the V60 a subtle but efficient engine that delivers ample power when the V60 pulls away from the curb.
One of the strengths of appearance of the Volvo V60 is that it offers relief from the standard SUV or crossover vehicles. The silhouette of V60 is long and low, making it more like that of a shapely sedan rather than the boxy shape required for any kind of utility vehicle large or small.
The sleek silhouette gives the V60 a distinctive character, which is reinforced by the easy-to-recognize Volvo grille with is circular badge and bold diagonal line down through the grille that ties together the overall design of the vehicle’s front end.
The slope on the rear liftgate also adds to vehicles appearance and the Volvo tapers at the corners from the light fixtures with LED lights down to the design of the 18-inch wheels serves to enhance the visual appeal of the Volvo V60. It’s clear it wears its station wagon heritage quite proudly and with flourish.
The cabin of the V60 Cross Country is light, airy and spacious, which enhances the pleasure of taking the vehicle out for a simple errand or a long jaunt. It is also quiet and the neatly furnished in a careful, Scandinavian way with first-rate materials, such as Volvo’s unique “City Weave” textile on seating surfaces, that convey luxury without being ostentatious.
The V60 is loaded with technology and convenience features, and they are neatly integrated into the interior space for the convenience of the driver. The gauges and center stack are easy to read and standout nicely during night driving.
The steering wheel also includes controls for the entertainment system and cruise control. The interior also has ample space for luggage, packages or sporting gear. The visibility from the driver’s seat is excellent and the lighting scheme throughout the cabin at night does not distract the driver.
Volvo gave up on big engines a while ago and the V60 Cross Country is powered by a 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder engine with turbo charging and direct injection. The engine is matched to an 8-speed automatic transmission with a stop-start and all-wheel drive Volvo’s engineers promise delivers instant traction.
The powertrain used in V60, which comes with an adjustable drive mode, also produces 250 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. The V60 has a combined fuel-economy rating of 25 miles per gallon from the Environmental Protection Agency, which 22 mpg in city driving and 31 mpg on the highway.
Safety and Technology
Volvo takes great pride in offering the public safe cars and the V60 Cross Country comes with collision avoidance, cyclist detection, collision mitigation for low- and high-speed crashes as well as blind-spot detection with steering assist and cross-traffic alert, lane departure alert and lane-keeping assist along with run-off road mitigation.
The headlights turn as the vehicle corners and there frontal and side-curtain airbags. The V60 also comes head up display, 360-degree surround view camera, Bluetooth and 12.3-inch-driver display and Wi-Fi hotspot, satellite radio connection and HD Radio. It also comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, USB ports and apps such Spotify and Pandora as well as wireless charging.
The Volvo V60 has ample power and there is no sign of turbo lag when you step on the accelerator while the shifts, up and down, come smoothly. The stop-start system is invisible, and the suspension layout does well on all kinds of surfaces including a gravel or dirt roads. The relatively long wheelbase also adds aids the vehicles stability.
At the same time, the car has first-rate steering and in combination with the steady suspension, it makes the car feel quite nimble. The brakes also are first rate. The V60 offers a nice combination of power and finesse that makes it a lot of fun to drive even on ordinary round of errands. It’s also relatively easy to park compared to an SUV.
I thought the V60 came across as one the strongest offerings in a very strong Volvo line. It looks smart and the technology is neatly integrated, so it does not overwhelm or distract the driver. The shape is more appealing than that of a standard SUV. However, the version of the V60 that I drove was priced at $57,290, which includes the $1,095 destination, so it certainly is not in inexpensive vehicle. The V60 is plenty versatile but American taste has moved on from wagons so there is no telling how much longer it will actually be available to consumers in the United States.