Wagon sales have plummeted in the United States but this hasn't deterred Volvo from offering two great ones (four if you include the CrossCountry models). The V60 is Volvo's compact luxury wagon, which would compete against the likes of the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class wagons if either were sold here in the US. Volvo basically has this market to itself right now with only the lifted Audi A4 Allroad stealing some of the thunder from the V60 CrossCountry.
For the 2020 model year, Volvo has dropped the T6 powertrain from the V60 lineup, likely to cull the manufacturing complexity from a low volume model. Customers are left with just the base T5 powertrain or the plug-in hybrid T8 Polestar Engineered, which is technically counted as its own model and reviewed as such. The T5 sends its 250 horsepower from a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine smoothly to the front wheels via an eight-speed automatic gearbox. But the V60 excels in many areas with strong safety tech, a smooth ride, and wonderfully-appointed cabin. The V60 wagon costs more than its S60 sedan counterpart but after reviewing a base T5 Momentum trim for a week, we think it could be worth the premium.
For 2020, the T6 powertrain is culled from the lineup, leaving shoppers with the choice between the capable T5 and the eager-beaver T8 Polestar Engineered, though the latter Hybrid V60 is reviewed separately. The entry-level Momentum trim swaps out its 17-inch wheels for 18-inch ones, and the sporty R-Design now comes standard with quad-zone climate control and ambient lighting. All models chuck the power-folding rear backrests out the window, and the optional adaptive suspension is no longer offered for the V60. Some color changes have also been made to the exterior paint palette, and a new Slate Grey Nappa leather upholstery is offered on the R-Design. All Volvo cars come standard with a 12.3-inch digital driver display for 2020, too.
See trim levels and configurations:
While other luxury cars pretend that their owners are weekend racecar drivers, Volvo realizes that its customers just want to be comfortable on their way to work. The V60 still exhibits the traditional fitness and poise of a European car but it does feel softer than the majority of German options. Mashing the throttle presents the front wheels with a dilemma as they attempt to handle the steering and the power at the same time. There is a Dynamic Mode to force quicker shifts from the transmission but with no paddle shifters on the wheel of the Momentum trim, we felt it best to just leave the V60 in its Normal or Eco Mode. Besides, Volvo's 2.0-liter four-pot tends to sound a bit industrial when pushed hard, so letting the torque pull the V60 along at low rpm is the best way to enjoy the car.
The steering is a bit too light to be considered "fun" but it still feels accurate, giving you a nice feel for where the front wheels are positioned. Toss the V60 into a corner and it does lean in considerably but once the suspension settles, the car never feels unstable. If you'd like your V60 to feel more sporty, the R-Design with its sport chassis might be more your speed. This is certainly not the most exciting luxury car to drive but it makes for a wonderful long-distance cruiser. Volvo's Pilot Assist system is one of the best semi-autonomous suites on the market and it considerably eases the burden on the driver with light steering inputs. You end up getting out of the V60 feeling more refreshed than when you first hopped in.
Other automakers may have shunned the wagon segment but the Volvo V60 proves that these automakers backed out prematurely. The V60 shines as a practical and comfortable luxury vehicle that feels more compelling than a crossover. It offers a stellar interior, class-leading safety technology, and a modest powertrain that feels inoffensive. The lack of AWD could be a dealbreaker for some buyers but fortunately, the lifted V60 Cross Country still offers it. Wagon fans who crave a bit more zip can opt for the Polestar Engineered T8 trim, which adds a supercharger and hybrid motor for a total of 415 horsepower. The V60 Polestar should be the ultimate unicorn as performance wagons are nearly nonexistent in the US.
Despite lacking a more powerful engine option, the V60 feels like it is a class of its own. The V60's only near competitor is the Audi A4 allroad but it suffers from having a lifted ride height and body cladding that ruin its wagon proportions. Owners who need to drive up a dirt driveway may prefer the allroad's ruggedness but Volvo's V60 CrossCountry offers similar capability. If you are in the market for a luxurious wagon with a compelling package, the V60 is now your one and only option, and it's a good one.
Starting with a vast difference between price tags, the Outback comes in at a much lower asking of $26,645. While budgets are important, so is quality, and the Subaru is not as luxurious as the V60, whether you consider the outside or the inside. What the Japanese wagon does offer is the choice of two engines and all-wheel drive, which the V60 no longer offers and extra towing capability along with some extra off-road capability. The most powerful engine in the Outback's lineup is a turbocharged 2.4-liter engine that offers slightly more power than the V60, but not by enough to influence the final decision between the two. The Volvo offers safety and reliability that the Outback doesn't, but what the Subaru lacks in those departments, it makes up for with more interior space, better fuel economy and a nature more inclined to utility than its Swedish counterpart. Still, the Volvo manages to best the Outback in terms of luxury, comfort and fuel economy, and is the better buy of the two.
These Swedish barouches share the same turbocharged 2.0-liter engine and in turn, deliver the same power outputs of 250 hp and 258 lb-ft. The added weight from the bigger V90 means that the engine has more to lug around which results in lower EPA estimates of 22/33/26 mpg, but the option of a more powerful T6 engine and AWD for the V90 is very convincing. The two also share similar interiors, but the V90 offers slightly more luxury from its interior in the ways of wooden trim inserts and better standard upholstery. Put simply, the V90 is a bigger V60 and it offers more space from the inside and a bigger total cargo space, but strangely, a smaller trunk. The V90 also offers the T6 engine option that's a lot more powerful than the one found in the V60. If you're looking for added space and extra power, the V90 is the way to go. If you're not concerned with those two factors and want to be kind to your bank account, stick to the V60.
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