What vehicles catch folks’ attention these days? If you’re thinking big pickups or SUVs, you’d be way off base. That’s what folks buy, not what tickles their eyeballs.
Sporty wagons, now that’s a sensory surprise.
This week’s 2020 Volvo V60 T5 AWD Cross Country (that’s a lot of name) was as surprising to car watchers as a politician telling the truth. The Volvo is sleek, sexy and debonair. If James Bond drove a wagon, this is what he’d drive. The V60 looks as tailored as one of Bond’s tuxedoes.
The car is a handsomely swept back long-roof, yet handles and accelerates like a sport sedan. If you think crossovers and SUVs are fun to drive, well, I suggest settling your derriere into a V60. It’ll change your mind quicker than a Kardashian changes bikinis.
Beyond the look, consider the power. A frisky 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder is the only gas-engine choice, but it’s all you need. The small turbo cranks an impressive 250 horses and 258 lb.-ft. of torque. Acceleration is brisk and sporty, albeit with a considerable turbo lag in Normal drive mode.
Luckily there’s a Dynamic drive mode that churns the power more quickly and nearly instantaneously. Tromp the accelerator and WOOMP, the Volvo blasts off via an 8-speed Geartronic automatic transmission. There’s AWD too so if perchance the streets are wet or snowy you’ve got traction at all the wheels.
This is Volvo’s Cross Country model, meaning it’s aimed for some off-roading, not just kid and cargo carrying as in other V60 models. So ground clearance is 8.3 inches, which is two more inches than the standard T5 trims.
Note too there’s no T6 model this year with its 316-horse turbo and supercharged 4-cylinder. But Volvo now offers a hybrid model with a super- and turbocharged 4-banger along with electric motor and batteries to generate an impressive 415 hp and a 22-mile electric charge. This powerful engine also requires premium fuel.
Gas mileage is 30 mpg combined with electric, while the MPGe rating is 69. Meanwhile the tested Cross Country is rated 22 mpg city and 31 mpg highway, although I got just 21.6 mpg in about 60% highway driving.
While power is nice (many SUVs also have a fair amount), this 4,000-lb. wagon feels sporty and handles like a sport-tuned sedan. Handling is fairly light, easy and precise, creating a nicely controlled feeling in town or on the highway. You can whip this one around tight turns and it’s quick to respond. Note too that if you’ve slipped the Volvo into Dynamic mode the steering effort firms up quite a bit.
There’s an Economy setting plus an Off-Road setting that will help with traction when you take your luxury wagon into the wilderness.
Ride is near luxury too, but with a firm feel. A few large bumps stirred the interior a bit, but mostly the ride is well-controlled and smooth. Dynamic mode tightens things a bit so you may find potholes a bigger annoyance. Best to use Dynamic on highways and smoother roadways.
Inside, the Crystal White Metallic ($645 extra) test car, Volvo creates a luxurious interior that easily can make you forget you’re in a family-hauler.
Overhead is a panoramic sunroof with power sunshade and light gray headliners. Seats are a creamy white leather while the dash is black as is the outer edge of the thick leather-wrapped steering wheel. The sophisticated looking dash also features wood trimmed in chrome and there are chrome speaker covers in the doors. Volvo calls this a tailored dash and the term applies.
That’s also part of a $2,800 Cross Country Pro package that includes 19-inch alloy wheels, power front seat cushion extensions, fancier interior lighting, 4-zone automatic climate control and 4-way power lumbar adjustable front seats. The power passenger’s seat also has memory features.
Volvo’s seats are comfortable and well supported, but I have to say the power lumbar and lower seat cushion extensions were tricky to adjust, so once you find what you like be sure to lock that in with the memory function.
The test car added heated rear seats and a heated steering wheel for $750, which seems reasonable. Heated front seats come standard, although I had this during a hot week, so cooled front seats would have been welcomed.
Oddly Volvo uses a funky on/off twist knob that’s located on the center console. It just feels wrong and I would question how a bulky winter coat might get in the way of its easy use in winter.
On the plus side, the big infotainment screen was easy to see and use for radio adjustments, but it’s tall and works like an iPad touchscreen, so you slide the screen either direction to find more layers of electronic functionality. It works fine, but there are simply too many choices on those multiple layers to easily use while driving. Best to make all such adjustments before putting the car in gear.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the wagon’s stellar Bowers & Wilkins stereo. It costs $4,000 extra, which would stress my bank account. But if you’re an audiophile this stereo is superb. I heard notes I didn’t even know some old ‘70s tunes had. And because the interior is luxury car quiet you could fully enjoy the stereo. It really was special!
One other option, a $2,500 Advanced package rounds out the goodies list. I might skip this one, except it includes a 360-degree camera, smart cruise control, and LED headlights with active bending so they help you see around corners at night. The package also adds LED fog lights, head-up display, and a high-pressure headlight cleaning system. I could live without those.
The interior is roomy enough for four or five adults too and the tailgate is powered. Rear seats easily split and fold down, but there’s so much room behind that back seat (nearly 20 feet) it’s possible you’ll never need the extra room unless you carry skis.
Safety systems such as blind-spot warning, lane departure assist (a semi-autonomous driving mode), low and high-speed collision mitigation, driver alert, road sign information, and various collision avoidance systems all are standard and work well. I could drive this on the highway in cruise mode with really just a finger or two touching the wheel because the semi-autonomous driving system worked so well.
But you’d expect such precision and high-tech features on a luxury wagon that looks this sharp and costs this much.
How much? The base for the Cross Country is $46,095, including delivery, while the test car hit a more luxurious sounding $56,990. Still, a well-equipped mid-size to large SUV will start in the $50,000 range, especially if it’s not the entry-level model.
There are several V60 models and the base lists at $41,290, while the hybrid will run you $68,295. Compare this with Audi’s Allroad that starts a little higher for gas-powered models. Or, if you’re looking for a less costly option, consider the recently reviewed Subaru Outback Onyx Edition, which is roomy and also comes with AWD.
Yet if you like the attention a good-looking wagon may bring you, Volvo’s V60 should be your first choice.
Hits: Sexy yet debonair looks, sporty handling, good power and ride, plus AWD. Panoramic sunroof, heated front and rear seats, heated wheel, excellent stereo, big screen, power tailgate, elegant interior with highly adjustable seats. Three power modes, plus off-road setting.
Misses: Screen has many layers so should be adjusted before car is in motion, although radio stations are easily found. Funky on/off knob must be turned, power lumbar adjustment tricky.
Made In: Gothenburg, Sweden
Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder, 250 hp
Transmission: 8-speed Geartronic automatic
Weight: 4,002 lbs.
Wheelbase: 113.2 in.
Length: 188.3 in.
Cargo: 19-50.9 cu.ft.
MPG: 22/31, 21.6 (tested)
Base Price: $46,095 (includes delivery)
Major Options: Advanced package (LED fog lights, headlight high-pressure cleaning, head-up display, Driver Assistance w/smart cruise control, 360-degree camera, LED headlights w/active bending), $2,500
Cross Country Pro package (exterior styling kit, 4-zone automatic climate control, 4-way power lumbar front seats, linear lime deco inlays, grocery bag holder, power passenger seat memory, interior high-level illumination, 19-inch alloy wheels, tailored dash, power front seat cushion extensions), $2,800
Heated rear seats/heated steering wheel, $750
Metallic paint, $645
Bowers & Wilkins premium sound, $4,000
Park assist pilot, $200
Test Vehicle: $56,990
Editor's note: Mark Savage's auto review column, Savage On Wheels, looks at a new vehicle every week and tells consumers what’s good, what’s not so good, and how the vehicle fits into the marketplace.