Before the SUV became the most popular vehicle in America, one vehicle was synonymous with taking around the kids, pets and stuff: the station wagon. It’s too bad station wagons fell out of fashion around the same time Chrysler introduced the first minivan. Now the minivan gets the bad rap from consumers who want to drive SUVs. But the dearth of station wagons has made them cool again!
When my neighbor saw a Volvo V60 gracing my driveway, he asked, “What kind of low-slung SUV is that?” Almost like someone slammed a Volvo XC90. But it’s the vehicle that Volvo has not given up on. To make it cooler, they call it an estate, not a station wagon. Not only does it offer tremendous flexibility and practicality, but it also can handle curves better than most sedans-on-stilts impersonating true SUVs. Moreover, even though this was the midsize platform (Volvo also offers the V90 wagon), it offered plenty of room for a family of five.
My loaded V60 T6 AWD Inscription featured the 2.0-liter turbocharged and supercharged engine with 316 horsepower. Yes, you read that correctly. There is no lag for boost; the Volvo powerplant uses a supercharger for low-end grunt and a turbocharger for top-end duty. If you stay out of the boost, the benefits are great fuel economy numbers. I got around 25 mpg with mixed city and highway cruising.
The interior of the V60 is very nicely done, with natural open-pore, low-gloss driftwood. My tester’s light interior even matched the color of the remote key fob that was wrapped in the same leather. That is some nice attention to detail! A massive panoramic moonroof fills the car with natural light if desired. The Volvo electronics are centered around the iPad-like Sensus infotainment system. The portrait-oriented touchscreen enables easy and fast access to most of the car’s functions. It becomes easy to adjust the settings for the well-designed seats or even the heated steering wheel. Having a large screen is wonderful for SiriusXM, letting the user see a list of the channels, artists and songs all at the same time, and easily choosing on the fly. However, we recommend having the passenger be the DJ to keep eyes on the road.
Luckily, the safety technology is also on point as this is a Volvo, after all. When you fire up the car, the V60 does a check of all its sensors to make sure you can pull away from your driveway under Volvo’s vast electronic safety umbrella. There is Blind Spot Information System with Cross Traffic Alert. Another system monitors pedestrians, cyclists and animals. The Lane Keeping Aid keeps you between the white lines, and another sensor will wake up the Heads-Up Display and alert you to brake in case you are approaching something too quickly. Automatic braking will take over if you do not react fast enough. Once you have a vehicle with this many safety features at the ready, it becomes more difficult to put loved ones into vehicles that don’t have the same level of technology. Luckily, your local mobile electronics retailer can add aftermarket Advanced Drivers Assistance Systems that can keep an eye out for lane drifting and vehicles in front of you coming to an abrupt halt.
Overall, the Volvo cabin was a quiet, serene place to spend time. A really nice surprise was the 1,400-watt Bowers & Wilkins sound system, which was among the best I have ever heard from an OEM manufacturer. For the $3,200 upgrade, the system features the brand’s superlative Nautilus tweeters in the doors and center channel, and Kevlar midrange drivers. Most importantly, they’re located in the correct place. Volvo built a cavity in the door to support the speakers, creating a wonderful front sound stage. There are additional speakers for the rear passengers and even a few speakers in the rear roof. A small factory subwoofer is about the only thing that lacks authority like a high-end aftermarket unit. With a well-designed aftermarket subwoofer system, this system would be among the best.
With the advent of the popularity of SUVs in the U.S., the return of the mainstream station wagon is probably not going to happen anytime soon. However, the V60 makes a strong case for being different and abandoning your SUV, especially if your idea of off-roading is a puddle in the mall parking lot. The V60 has the AWD system to conquer that hurdle with ease, combined with the performance of a comparable Volvo sedan.