The 2018 Volvo V60 is a premium compact wagon. But stick around and keep an open mind. Just because this isn’t a crossover — nor even a sedan — doesn’t mean it’s not worth considering. It could actually be a fantastic alternative to either. The V60 is an absolute pleasure to drive, yet still completely sensible. And it offers all-wheel drive.
We’re talking niche here, but Volvo has a long and illustrious career making wagons that are practical, comfortable, safe and even (depending on the eye of the beholder) stylish.
Sharing its platform with the S60 sedan, the V60 lengthens the roof while adding a swept-up rear beltline and Volvo’s signature elongated D-pillar taillights. The interior is surprisingly accommodating, with good headroom front and rear, although rear-seat legroom is somewhat snug.
What’s New for 2018?
A new entry-level trim comes in the form of the T5 Dynamic. This also means a shake-up of equipment. Whereas the previous year had a few different trim levels, Volvo now makes more equipment available through options packages. See the 2018 Volvo V60 models for sale near you
What We Like
Punchy and fuel-efficient engines; sleek styling; super-comfortable front seats
What We Don’t
Limited rear passenger legroom; small buttons on center stack look too similar; engine stop/start feature can be intrusive
The T5 drivetrain consists of a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine developing 240 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. An 8-speed automatic transmission is standard, as is an engine stop/start function. Front-wheel drive is the regular setup; all-wheel drive is optional.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates fuel consumption at 25 miles per gallon in the city, 37 mpg on the highway and 29 mpg in combined driving with front-wheel drive, and 22 mpg city/31 mpg hwy/26 mpg combined with all-wheel drive.
The T6 arrangement drives all four wheels with a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that is both turbocharged and supercharged to produce 302 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. Again, it’s an 8-speed automatic transmission, and there’s an engine stop/start feature. The EPA numbers are 22 mpg city/32 mpg hwy/26 mpg combined.
The Polestar takes that engine, swaps in some beefier components and tunes it all up to make a meaty 362 hp and 347 lb-ft of torque. Fuel consumption is 20 mpg city/27 mpg hwy/22 mpg combined.
Standard Features & Options
The 2018 Volvo V60 comes in T5 Dynamic, T6 R-Design and Polestar trim levels.
The T5 Dynamic ($39,245) has 18-inch alloy wheels, active xenon headlights, LED daytime running lights, dual-zone climate control, a powered moonroof, roof rails, heated mirrors, rain-sensing wipers, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel, leather upholstery, ambient cabin lighting, cruise control, 8-way power-adjustable front seats with driver’s-side memory and lumbar control, a self-dimming rearview mirror, 40/20/40-split folding rear seats with pass-through, power-folding rear headrests, Bluetooth phone/audio and an 8-speaker audio system with a 7-in display, HD Radio, satellite radio, a USB port and an auxiliary input.
A heated front seat/heated steering wheel package joins a list of options bundles that also includes a navigation/audio package (including a 12-speaker/650-watt Harman Kardon Surround Sound system) and a Sport package (including a sport suspension, paddle shifters and 19-in alloys).
The Technology package includes adaptive cruise control, forward-collision mitigation with automatic braking, lane-keeping assistance, automatic high-beam control, rain-sensing wipers, driver-drowsiness monitoring and pedestrian and cyclist detection.
The Vision package brings rear parking sensors, a reversing camera, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, a digital instrument cluster and keyless entry/ignition.
The T6 R-Design ($50,095) has the Sport, navigation/audio, Vision (minus the blind spot monitoring) and Technology packages, plus automatic high beams as standard, all-wheel drive, R-Design seats and a few cosmetic changes.
Other options include a dual-screen rear entertainment system, automated parking, child booster seats in the rear, heated rear seats, heated windshield-washer nozzles and a cabin air-quality system.
For the Polestar ($62,595), think a BMW M car or an S version of an Audi. As well as the stronger engine, the suspension and braking systems are also upgraded significantly. The front seats are especially snug sport items, and the car is stocked with pretty much everything except for an optional sunroof.
The V60’s maximum cargo capacity of 43.8 cu ft. (with the rear seats folded) is not as good as that of rivals from Audi and BMW, but the split/fold rear seats and pass-through (sometimes referred to as a ski hatch) bring some flexibility. And we like the retractable dog net.
In addition to a full complement of airbags, the V60 includes Volvo’s City Safety system, which helps minimize or prevent collisions at 31 mph or below by automatically priming or applying the brakes if it detects excessive speeds when approaching an object.
Although the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has not crash-tested the V60, we would expect it to perform on par with its S60 sedan sibling, which earned perfect 5-star ratings in all categories.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has given the V60 top marks in all major tests and named it a Top Safety Pick+.
Behind the Wheel
The interior’s unfussy approach is highly pleasing. It features many soft-touch surfaces, a minimal dashboard and instrument cluster, and rear headrests that can be lowered to provide better rearward vision. The floating center stack is another visual bonus, except for the number of identically sized and colored plastic buttons that operate the audio and climate control functions.
The engine in the T5 is impressive. Torque comes in strong at low revs, despite the turbocharger needing time to spool up, and the 8-speed automatic allows for smooth and linear power delivery right up to the redline. Fuel economy is also impressive, even capable of achieving 35 mpg in heavy-footed highway driving. Those seeking more power will be more than happy with the T6’s turbocharged and supercharged engine.
Enhanced by some of the most comfortable front seats in the automotive world, the V60 moves smoothly, absorbing most bumps and blemishes without numbing the experience completely. A stiff body, a nicely weighted steering wheel and a well-tuned suspension strike a fine balance between sporty driving and a relaxed ride.
The Polestar is the most specialized of the range, with an all-wheel-drive system that sends the majority of torque to the rear wheels in normal driving conditions. It’s a serious performance machine with excellent speed and handling. And there’s something wonderfully nonconformist about having a tuned-up wagon.
Other Cars to Consider
2018 Audi A4 allroad — Costs more than the V60, but it also offers more luxury features, an even nicer interior and 58.5 cu ft. of cargo area. No front-drive version, though, so fuel economy can’t match that of its V60 counterparts.
2018 BMW 3 Series Wagon — The all-conquering 3 Series also comes in cool all-wheel-drive wagon form, with 53 cu ft. of cargo space and the option of diesel power. A new generation is due for 2019.
2018 Subaru Outback — Nicely equipped, all-wheel drive is standard, has 73.3 cu ft. of cargo space and costs less than the V60. But this is more of an SUV wannabe. The 4-cylinder engine has less power than the T6, but better fuel economy. Updated for 2018.
Used Mercedes-Benz E-Class Wagon — Much larger than the V60 and quite rare. But it’s powerful and luxurious, and even has a certain charm.
Assuming whoever is going to buy the Polestar knows what they want, the ideal mass-appeal version would be the T5 Dynamic with a few options. Bear in mind that a new generation is expected for the 2019 model year.