Volvo’s XC60 mid-size SUV may be its best seller these days, but the brand long known for station wagons hasn’t given up on the segment just yet. The V60 is the XC60’s wagon counterpart, and it shows there’s still virtue in going against the grain.
Wagons are almost extinct, but paradoxically they have never looked better. That’s certainly true of Volvo’s V60, which emerged from its 2019 redesign with a sharply tailored new pack of sheetmetal. It also boasts less nose-heavy, more athletic proportions. Four years later, tweaks to the grille, rear bumper and wheel designs mark the ’23 model, but bigger changes are on the inside and under the hood.
Volvo offers the V60 wagon in a choice of two powertrains, both with standard four-wheel drive. A turbocharged 2.0-liter four assisted by a 48-volt hybrid system powers the mainstay offering, the V60 Cross Country. A 2.0-liter plug-in hybrid, the Polestar Engineered, or V60 Recharge, produces 455 horsepower and can also drive up to 41 miles on battery power alone. Most buyers will choose the version tested here, the Cross Country.
The electrically assisted powertrain is new to the V60 Cross Country, but rolled out in other Volvos last year (the XC60 midsize SUV, the S60 midsize sedan, the S90 large sedan and the V90 Cross Country wagon). While some of those models also offer a more powerful B6 version that makes 295 horsepower, the V60 Cross Country no longer offers a mid-level choice, just the standard B5 that makes 247 horsepower.
Volvo is keen to announce the news that all of its cars are now electrified, meaning they either use some form of hybrid assistance or are EVs. For the V60, the advantages over corporate bragging rights are modest at best.
Most importantly, our instrumented testing has shown that performance takes a hit. The V60 Cross Country needs 7.1 seconds to reach 60 mph, and it crosses the quarter mile in 15.4 seconds at 92 mph. That’s significantly behind the last V60 we tested with the previous T5 engine, a front-driver that hit 60 in 6.4 seconds and cruised through the quarter-mile in 14.9 seconds at 96 mph.
Buyers looking for a little more oomph can check the box for the Polestar Engineered Optimization package. That retunes the base engine to wring out a few more horsepower along with more midrange torque—the latter maxing out at 280 pound-feet, up from 258. Then, of course, there’s the much more powerful plug-in hybrid model . When it made 415 horsepower, we measured a 4.4-second blast to 60 mph; the 2023 model packs another 40 horses.
What about fuel consumption? You might think the arrival of electric assist would be a boon to gas mileage, but the gains at the pump turn out to be mostly illusory. Compared to the unassisted 2.0-liter turbo four, the EPA city estimate climbs 1 mpg to 23 mpg, but the highway figure drops by a similar amount, to 30 mpg. In our own 75-mph highway fuel-economy test, the V60 returned 29 mpg.
The new powertrain may not do much to move the needle, but it’s certainly pleasant to live with. We’re not sure how much to give the hybrid system, but throttle response is pretty linear even in light throttle applications. And the operation of the automatic stop-start system has been smoothed out to the point where most drivers probably won’t be bothered by it. Typical of its genre, this turbo four doesn’t produce the most soulful engine note, but the V60 overall is pretty quiet. We measured 68 decibels at a cruise of 70 mph.
Some will remember when the Cross Country nameplate first appeared on Volvo wagons, towards the end of the box era, promising some off-road capability with a lifted suspension and body cladding. Today’s V60 Cross Country dialed back the trim; the modest pieces of plastic around the wheel arches and along the rocker panels are barely noticeable. An off-road mode, hill descent control and 8.1 inches of ground clearance lend some credence to the Cross Country moniker.
Volvo previously offered optional adaptive dampers on the V60 Cross Country, but they are now reserved for the PHEV model. No matter, they are hardly missed. The passive dampers combined with control arms and coil springs up front and a multi-link rear with a transverse leaf spring deftly served up a soft, controlled ride over patchy pavement and roller coaster in New York’s Catskill Mountains. At the same time, the V60’s chassis tuning—and the wagon’s lower center of gravity versus a longer-bodied crossover—allows the driver to push this Volvo through fast corners without protest. Too bad the steering is such an unenthusiastic partner: numb, overboosted, and without much sense of straight ahead, even when switched to its firm setting. With 20-inch wheels (19s are standard) and Pirelli P Zero all-season tires, the V60 exhibited 0.85 g of stick at our skidpad and required a long 179 feet to stop from 70 mph.
Volvo’s adaptive cruise control with Pilot Assist is standard, and we found the system acquitted itself well on the highway, maintaining lane position smoothly; however, it lacks the ability to perform lane changes, and it does require a driver’s hand on the wheel.
It’s not such a hardship, given the smooth leather that wraps the V60’s wheel—and is used liberally throughout the interior. Volvo draws on Sweden’s Scandinavian design heritage with its interiors, and the V60 cabin is no exception, at once frugal, tasteful and modern. The minimalism unfortunately extends to storage in the cabin, which is however limited.
Our test car wore the Ultimate trim level, and the $5300 extra it commands over the base Plus level gets you four-zone climate control with an air cleaner, a head-up display, a crystal gear selector, upgraded interior trim, additional seating adjustability, ventilated front seats, a higher-grade sound system and 19-inch wheels. Our example had optional seven-spoke 20-inch alloy wheels and an even higher-grade Bowers & Wilkins premium sound system, each of which added a further $3,200. A digital instrument cluster is standard, but doesn’t offer much configurability: it can show the navigation map, or not.
Volvo’s previous in-house Sensus Connect touchscreen interface was slow to start up, but easy to interact with once it was fully awake. The new Google-based system, housed within the same 9.0-inch vertically oriented touchscreen, looks sharp and works faster. Google Assistant is on hand to field your queries and generally does a good job of understanding spoken destination input. As before, the system’s only physical button at the bottom of the screen brings up the home screen, which shows four tiles of information that can be customized. Touch any of them for the full screen display. The audio system retains a knob for volume and find up/down buttons just below the screen, but the finicky climate controls are unfortunately screen-based and have small touch points unless you open the climate control screen first. Apple CarPlay is supported, but not Android Auto.
Rear-seat passengers enjoy sufficient head and legroom for a six-footer to sit comfortably behind a similar-sized driver, although access to the rear seats requires ducking under the low roofline and driving yourself around the rear wheel arch (the XC60 has the advantage here). . However, the wagon gives nothing away to the SUV in its cargo capacity and can swallow eight carry-on bags behind the rear seats and 22 with them folded (the XC60 reaches a maximum of 20 bags).
The starting price of the V60 Plus has crept up to nearly $50K ($49,895), but even in that base form the car is well equipped. Standard kit includes leather, heated seats, a panoramic sunroof, adaptive cruise control and a 360-degree view camera system. A similarly configured XC60 (B5 engine, all-wheel drive, Plus trim) is $51,095, so choosing the wagon over the SUV saves a few shekels. However, the XC60 also offers a lower spec trim level (core) and can be had with front-wheel drive, bringing its entry price down to $44,545.
In choosing between the V60 and the XC60, money matters are unlikely to sway buyers one way or the other. Those select few who go for the bandwagon make the non-conformist’s choice, and we salute them.
2023 Volvo V60 Cross Country B5 AWD Ultimate
Vehicle type: front engine, four-wheel drive, 5-passenger, 4-door wagon
Base/As Tested: $55,195/$63,585
Options: 20-inch 7-spoke wheels with all-season tires, $3200; Bowers & Wilkins premium audio, $3200; climate package – (heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, headlight wipers), $750; metallic paint, $695; luggage cover, $345; power tailgate, $200
turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve inline-4, aluminum block and head, direct fuel injection
Displacement: 120 inches31969 cm3
Power: 247 hp @ 5400 rpm
Torque: 258 lb-ft @ 1800 rpm
Suspension, F/R: control arms/multilink
Brakes, F/R: 13.6-in ventilated disc/12.6-in ventilated disc
Tires: Pirelli P Zero All Season
245/40R-20 99V Extra load VOL
Wheelbase: 113.2 inches
Length: 188.5 inches
Width: 72.8 inches
Height: 59.2 inches
Passenger volume: 94 feet3
Cargo volume: 23 feet3
Curb weight: 4151 lb
C/D TEST RESULTS
60 mph: 7.1 sec
1/4-mile: 15.4 sec @ 92 mph
100 mph: 18.5 sec
Results above show 1 foot deployment of 0.3 sec. away.
Acceleration, 5–60 mph: 7.7 sec
Top Gear, 30–50 mph: 3.5 sec
Top Gear, 50–70 mph: 4.9 sec
Top speed (gov ltd): 115 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 179 ft
Road holding capacity, 300-ft Skid road: 0.85 g
C/D FUEL ECONOMY
Observed: 22 mpg
75 mph highway driving: 29 mpg
75 mph highway range: 460 miles
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/City/Highway: 26/23/30 mpg
C/D TEST EXPLAINED
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