Nothing produces an automotive landscape shift like a newborn: babies not only require their own separate seating setups, they come along with cargo-intensive needs including (but not limited to) strollers, changing bags, Baby Björns and portable play pens. Needless to say, my four-wheeled world was turned upside down with the arrival of my son and all the inherent accoutrement-both spatially and psychologically.
Although the entire Volvo portfolio was up for grabs when I was selecting my long-term test car, I consciously resisted the SUV urge and picked the S60, which is classified by the EPA as a compact sedan. Maybe it was the S60's vestige of sportiness or its traditional three-box design, but choosing the small sedan was a way to hold on to what I love about cars-the priority of fun and driving enjoyment over left brain concerns like cabin volume and trunk space.
How's it working out so far?
For starters, the crucial car seat question has pretty much been a non-issue. Volvo championed the concept of the rear-facing baby seat in 1964, and thankfully the S60 is well prepared for the arrangement. Placing the baby behind the driver's seat doesn't work out so well since it puts me closer to the steering wheel than I'd like, but the S60's 33.5 inches of rear legroom offers enough space for the bulky kid seat to fit in the middle or right rear seat without much fuss. The LATCH points are easy to reach, and though the front seat needs to be nudged forward an inch or two to make room for the baby seat, there's still enough front legroom to avoid feeling cramped. It still takes some getting used to, but checking on my little one through a small convex mirror offers a reassuring glimpse that everything's okay in the back.
Trunk space, on the other hand, is dangerously close to reaching critical mass. The 12 cubic foot trunk isn't quite big enough to place the stroller lengthwise, so flipping it sideways requires careful positioning that can sometimes impinge on packing other big items, like a carry-on suitcase. At least the rear seats fold down with a 60/40 split, and the center armrest allows for a ski-type pass-through, which allowed us to bring a small Christmas tree home without having to strap it to the roof.
With increasing demands for space come compromises and concessions, but the S60 has accommodated our new baby quite nicely so far. Though it sometimes feels that we're approaching the edge of our comfort zone space-wise, the three of us have traveled with two additional adults in snug but adequately comfortable style, and the car's compactness actually makes it feel like our baby is in our immediate reach when we need to feed or comfort him.
So there you have it: though it's sometimes a tight squeeze with a baby and all the trinkets that comes with the territory, the S60 still allows me to enjoy driving with my precious cargo onboard. It also completely avoids that bloated SUV feel. Perhaps the only thing that could cramp my future style is a serious growth spurt, or perhaps the addition of another bambino; then, no doubt, all bets would be off.
Want to learn more? Follow our long-term test of the Volvo S60.