If you're shopping for a new car or crossover, you might think that Volvo's time has come and gone. But think again -- the company's new Chinese owners are investing aggressively, and they're supporting that Swedish tradition of meticulous design and craftsmanship. The result? The company is healthier than it's been in many years, and we can once again recommend the brand without hesitation. Here are three models you should watch carefully.
With their top dog, the S80, having grown a bit long in the tooth, Volvo's best all-around sedan is the S60. It's also one of our favorites in the entry-level luxury segment. Whether you choose the base 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine (240 horsepower), the 2.5-liter 5-cylinder (250 hp) or the 3.0-liter inline-6 (300-325 hp), you get smooth, spirited and turbocharged performance. And if you stick with the 4-cylinder, the S60 returns a dazzling 37 miles per gallon on the highway. Available all-wheel drive makes the S60 an excellent year-round choice, but even the standard front-wheel-drive vehicle has been tested and approved on Sweden's snow-covered roads. Inside, the dashboard is minimalist in a distinctly modern way, and materials are top-shelf. As for the front seats, they're among the most comfortable you'll find in any car, at any price. Last but not least, the S60 comes up aces in crash tests, confirming the company's reputation as a safety leader.
Based on the S60, the new V60 shares the former's engine options, so there's a range of strengths to choose from. The same can't be said for the 4-cylinder-only Audi allroad or BMW 328i Sports Wagon. In terms of versatility, the V60 can accommodate 43.8 cu ft. of cargo space with the rear seatbacks folded, giving it more than 3.5 times the capacity of the S60's trunk. It also has killer styling, especially for a wagon; its aesthetically pleasing, impeccably trimmed cabin is a most welcome hand-me-down from the sedan.
Volvo XC60 Crossover
The XC60 debuted a number of years ago, but Volvo's commitment to its compact crossover has led to numerous improvements since. Most recently, the 2.0-liter 4-cylinder joined the fray alongside the 5- and 6-cylinder engines, promising highway fuel economy of over 30 mpg. As ever, the XC60 offers a genuinely hospitable back seat (with optional integrated child booster seats), and its 67 cu ft. of cargo space puts it near the head of its class. It's also a joy to drive, with good body control and quick, direct steering. Crash-test scores? Perfect, of course.
A brand-wide Volvo perk is its European delivery program, which allows you to pick up your new vehicle in Europe and drive it around for a while. This used to be a BMW specialty, but Volvo's nipping at the Bavarians' heels these days. If you've already crossed this brand off your list, you might want to reconsider.