Long known for its safe, reliable family wagons, Volvo wants to upgrade its image -- and the 2015 Volvo V60 wagon is just the car to do it. Sharing its platform with the S60 sedan, the V60 wagon stretches the sedan's shapely look by lengthening the roof, adding a swept-up rear beltline and Volvo's signature elongated D-pillar taillights. This wagon looks lean and mean, and thanks to a new turbocharged 4-cylinder engine under the hood, it is. Inside, the V60 is surprisingly accommodating with good front and rear headroom, though rear-seat legroom is snug. Snug is also a good way to describe the V60's cargo area, which is one of the smallest in the segment.
Volvo's newest 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder Drive-E engine produces as much power as Volvo's 2.5-liter 5-cylinder but with greatly improved fuel economy and low-end torque. A new 8-speed automatic also helps improve performance and fuel economy. Sadly, this wonderful new powerplant is only available on the front-wheel-drive models, so if you need the added traction of AWD or desire the upscale accommodations of the R-Design trim, you'll be stuck with last year's larger and more fuel-thirsty engine options.
What's New for 2015?
The 2015 Volvo V60 is all-new, adding a sleek sport wagon to the lineup and carving out a new niche for the Volvo brand.
What We Like
Powerful and fuel-efficient new E-Drive engine; sleek styling; comfortable front seats; available AWD
What We Don't
New E-Drive engine not available on AWD or R-Design trims; limited rear-seat legroom; small cargo space; small center-stack buttons all look the same
The V60 T5 FWD trim is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that makes 240 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. A new 8-speed automatic transmission is standard, as is stop/start technology. Fuel economy ratings for this engine are 25 miles per gallon in the city and 37 mpg on the highway. The T5 AWD uses a 2.5-liter turbocharged engine rated at 250 hp and 266 lb-ft of torque, coupled to a 6-speed Geartronic automatic transmission. Environmental Protection Agency fuel economy ratings for this drivetrain are 20 mpg city/29 mpg hwy.
The V60 T6 R-Design uses a 3.0-liter inline 6-cylinder engine rated at 325 hp and 354 lb-ft. All-wheel drive is standard, which results in a slightly lower fuel economy rating of 19 mpg city/28 mpg hwy.
Standard Features & Options
The V60 is offered in T5 Drive-E FWD, T5 AWD and T6 R-Design AWD trim levels. Each trim offers only a few optional packages.
The V60 T5 FWD ($36,225) comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, exterior LED accent lamps, dual-zone climate control, a leather-trimmed steering wheel and shifter, a power moonroof, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel, cruise control, a power driver's and passenger seat with driver's side memory and lumbar control, an 8-speaker HD audio system with a 7-in display and Sirius satellite radio, Bluetooth phone and audio, and a 40/20/40 split folding rear seat with pass-through.
The T5 Premier Package ($38,025) adds different 17-in alloys, leather upholstery, side-window bright trim, silver roof rails, Keyless Drive with push-button start, an adaptive TFT gauge cluster with driver-selectable themes and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.
The T5 Premier Plus Package ($38,775) contributes a rear park-assist camera, a quick-fold front passenger seat, a HomeLink garage door opener, power-retractable side mirrors and a compass.
The T5 Platinum Package ($41,375) tacks on auto-dimming exterior mirrors, ambient interior lighting, a navigation system with voice control and a 12-speaker surround-sound audio system.
All-wheel drive adds $1,500 to any T5's bottom line.
The T6 R-Design ($45,225) adds AWD, sport suspension, active HID headlights, a unique Blue Adaptive Digital TFT instrument cluster, electric folding rear headrests and R-Design seats, trim and exterior ground effects.
Finally, the T6 R-Design Platinum Package ($48,225) adds roughly the contents of the T5's Platinum Package.
Many of the upper-end trims' standard features are available on other trims as options. This includes the Technology Package (providing adaptive cruise control, a collision-mitigation system with automatic braking and various other safety systems), the Climate Package (heated front and rear seats, heated windshield-washer nozzles, a heated steering wheel and an interior air-quality system) and a dual-screen rear entertainment system. The Blind Spot Information System Package adds a blind spot monitoring system, rear cross-traffic alert, front and rear parking assist, and lane-change merge aid.
The V60's 43 cu ft cargo capacity (with second-row seats folded) is among the smallest in the midsize luxury-wagon segment.
Volvo cars are known for their safety standards, and the V60 is no exception. In addition to a full complement of airbags, the V60 includes Volvo's City Safety system that helps minimize or prevent collisions at 31 miles per hour or below by automatically priming or applying the brakes if it detects excessive speeds upon approaching an object.
Although neither the government nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has crash-tested the 2015 V60, we expect it to perform on par with its S60 sedan cousin, which earned perfect 5-star ratings in all National Highway Traffic Safety Administration test categories. It's also a 2014 IIHS Top Safety Pick.
Behind the Wheel
We rather like the minimalist approach to the V60's interior, from its numerous soft-touch surfaces to its clean dash and instrument cluster to the rear headrests that can be lowered electronically to provide better rear-seat visibility. Volvo's floating center stack is another visual bonus, but we can't say the same for the numerous identically sized and colored plastic buttons that operate the audio and climate control functions.
We spent the majority of our time behind the wheel of the V60 T5 Platinum and came away rather impressed by the little Drive-E 2.0-liter engine. Power comes on low in the rpm band despite the turbocharger needing time to spool up, and the 8-speed automatic allows for smooth and linear power progression right up to redline. Fuel economy was also very impressive, with an observed 35 mpg in a very heavy-footed highway driving loop.
Those seeking more power or AWD will be equally happy with the 2.5-liter turbocharged engine in the AWD models, though its 6-speed transmission isn't as enjoyable as the new 8-speed unit. If fuel economy and price are the least of your concerns, the T6 R-Design's 325-hp 3.0-liter is the best choice for the V60.
On the road, the V60 is a smooth operator, absorbing most bumps and blemishes without numbing the ride completely. A stiff body, nicely weighted steering wheel and well-heeled suspension hit the sweet spot between sporty driving and comfortable ride.
Other Cars to Consider
Audi allroad -- Audi's allroad costs more than the V60, but it also offers more luxury features and a nicer interior. The allroad doesn't offer the option of FWD, so its fuel economy can't match the FWD V60s.
Acura TSX Sport Wagon -- The TSX may have a slight upper hand in the areas of handling and ride comfort, but it can't match the V60 for power or fuel economy, and doesn't offer the option of AWD.
Subaru Outback Limited -- Subaru's Outback Limited is pretty nicely equipped, costs less than the V60 and, when equipped with the 4-cylinder engine, offers less power but much better fuel economy than the AWD V60 models.
If you don't need AWD, we'd go with the V60 T5 Premier and add on the Climate and Technology packages. This combo gives you a nicely equipped wagon with the latest safety features for just a shade over $40,000.