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. V60 is the XC60’s estate counterpart, and it shows there’s still merit in standing up to the crowd.
Wagons are practically extinct, but, paradoxically, they have never looked better. That’s certainly true for the Volvo V60, which arrived after its 2019 redesign in a new sheet metal suit. It also boasts a less heavy nose and sportier proportions. Four years later, changes to the grille, rear bumper and wheel designs mark the ’23 model, but the big changes are inside and under the hood.
Volvo offers the V60 wagon with two powertrains, both with standard four-wheel drive. A 2.0-liter turbocharged four with a 48-volt hybrid system powers the base V60 Cross Country offering. The 2.0-liter Polestar Engineered Plug-in Hybrid or V60 Recharge produces 455 horsepower and can travel up to 41 miles on a single battery. Most buyers will opt for the Cross Country version tested here.
The electric transmission is new to the V60 Cross Country, but last year appeared on other Volvos (the XC60 mid-size SUV, mid-size sedan S60, the S90 large sedanand the V90 Cross Country wagon). While some of these models also offer a more powerful 295-horsepower version of the B6, the V60 Cross Country no longer offers a mid-level choice, only the standard B5, which has 247 horsepower.
Volvo is excited to announce the news that all of its cars are now electrified, meaning they either use some form of hybrid assistance or are electric. For the V60, however, the benefits beyond corporate bragging rights are modest at best.
Most notably, our instrumented testing showed that performance takes a hit. The V60 Cross Country takes 7.1 seconds to hit 60 mph, and it runs through the quarter mile in 15.4 seconds at 92 mph. That’s a long way behind the last V60 we tested with the previous T5 engine, the front engine, which hit 60 in 6.4 seconds and ran the quarter mile in 14.9 seconds at 96 mph.
Buyers who want a little more can tick the Polestar Engineered Optimization package. It retunes the base engine to squeeze out a few more horsepower along with more midrange torque—the latter tops out at 280 lb-ft, up from 258. Plus, of course, there’s a much more powerful plug-in hybrid model. . In those days it was 415 horsepower, we measured a 4.4-second blast to 60 mph; the 2023 model packs another 40 horses.
What about fuel economy? You might think the introduction of electric assist would be a boon for gas mileage, but the benefits at the pump turn out to be mostly illusory. Compared to the non-assisted 2.0-liter turbo four, the EPA city estimate increases by 1 mpg to 23 mpg, but the highway figure drops by the same amount, to 30 mpg. In our own 75 mph highway fuel economy test, the V60 returned 29 mpg.
The new transmission may not move the needle much, but it’s certainly a pleasure to live with. We’re not sure how much credit the hybrid system deserves, but throttle response is fairly linear even with light throttle applications. And the action of the automatic stop-start system has been smoothed to such an extent that most drivers are unlikely to be bothered by it. As is typical of its genre, this turbo four doesn’t produce the heartiest of engine notes, but overall the V60 is pretty quiet. We measured 68 decibels at 70 mph.
Some remember when the Cross Country nameplate first appeared on Volvo wagons at the end of the boxy era, promising a modicum of off-road capability with a raised suspension and body-side cladding. Today’s V60 Cross Country has changed the cladding; modest bits of plastic around the wheel wells 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 these are now reserved for the PHEV model. It doesn’t matter, they are unlikely to be missed. Passive dampers, paired with control arms and coil springs up front and a multi-link rear with a transverse leaf spring deftly served up a lush, controlled ride over the patchy asphalt and roller coasters of New York’s Catskill Mountains. At the same time, the V60’s chassis setup—and the wagon’s lower center of gravity compared to the taller crossover—allows the driver to push the Volvo through fast corners without protest. It’s a shame the steering is such an unenthusiastic partner: numb, over-boosted and without much straight-ahead feel, even when switched to firm. Riding on 20-inch wheels (19’s are standard) and Pirelli P Zero all-season tires, the V60 exhibited 0.85 g of stick on our slide 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 to do well on the interstate, keeping lane smoothly; however, it lacks the ability to perform lane changes, requiring the driver’s hands on the wheel.
That’s not too much of a stretch, given the smooth leather that wraps around the V60’s steering wheel — and is used extensively throughout the interior. With its interiors, Volvo draws on its heritage of Swedish Scandinavian design, and the V60’s cabin is no exception, at once understated, tasteful and modern. The minimalism, unfortunately, also extends to the storage space in the cabin, but it is limited.
Our test car was in the Ultimate trim, and for $5,300 over the base Plus, you get four-zone climate control with an air cleaner, a head-up display, a crystal-clear gear selector, upgraded interior trim, an adjustable booster seat, ventilated front seats, more quality audio system and 19-inch wheels. Our sample had optional 20-inch seven-spoke alloy wheels and an even higher-end Bowers & Wilkins premium audio system, each of which added an extra $3,200 to the bottom line. A digital instrument cluster is standard, but doesn’t offer much configuration: it can show a navigation map or not.
Volvo’s previous Sensus Connect interior touch interface was slow to load, but was easy to interact with once it was fully awake. Housed in the same 9.0-inch vertically oriented touchscreen, the new Google-powered system looks crisp and runs faster. Google Assistant is ready to fulfill your requests and is generally good at understanding destination voice input. As before, the system’s only physical button at the base of the display brings up the home screen, which shows four customizable tiles of information. Touch any of them for full screen display. The audio system retains the volume knob and up/down buttons below the screen, but the fussy climate controls are unfortunately screen-based and have tiny touch points unless you open the climate control display first. Apple CarPlay is supported, but not Android Auto.
Rear-seat passengers enjoy enough headroom and legroom that the six-footer is comfortable behind a driver of similar size, although access to the rear seats requires crouching under the low roofline and around the rear wheel arches (the XC60 has the advantage here). However, the station wagon does not give anything away to the SUV in its carrying capacity and can fit eight carry-on cases behind the rear seats and 22 when folded (the XC60 has a maximum of 20 suitcases).
The starting price of the V60 Plus has risen to almost $50,000 ($49,895), but even in its basic form the car is well equipped. Standard equipment includes leather trim, heated seats, a panoramic sunroof, adaptive cruise control and a 360-degree camera system. XC60 with a similar configuration (B5 engine, all-wheel drive, Plus trim) costs $51,095, so choosing the wagon over the SUV will save you a few shekels. The XC60, however, also offers a lower trim level (Core) and can be had with front-wheel drive, bringing the price of entry down to $44,545.
When choosing between the V60 and the XC60, money matters probably won’t sway buyers one way or the other. The select few who get on the bandwagon are making the nonconformist choice, and we applaud them.
2023 Volvo V60 Cross Country B5 AWD Ultimate
Vehicle type: front engine, four-wheel drive, 5-seater, 4-door station wagon
Base / As Tested: $55,195 / $63,585
Options: 20-inch 7-spoke wheels with all-season tires, $3,200; Bowers & Wilkins Premium Sound, $3,200; climate package – (heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, headlight washers), 750 UAH; metallic paint, $695; luggage cover, $345; power tailgate, $200
turbocharged intercooled DOHC, 16-valve inline-4, aluminum block and head, direct fuel injection
Displacement: 120 inches31969 cm3
Power: 247 horsepower at 5400 rpm
Torque: 258 lb-ft at 1,800 rpm
Suspension, front/rear: wishbones/multi-link
Brakes, front/rear: 13.6-inch ventilated disc/12.6-inch 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: 4,151 lbs
C/D EXAMINATION RESULTS
60 mph: 7.1 sec
1/4 mile: 15.4 seconds at 92 mph
100 mph: 18.5 sec
The results above are omitted 1 foot deployment 0.3 sec.
Start from 5–60 mph: 7.7 sec
Top Gear, 30–50mph: 3.5s
Top Gear, 50–70 mph: 4.9 sec
Top speed (gov ltd): 115 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 179 feet
Road grip, 300-foot pad: 0.85g
C/D FUEL ECONOMY
Observed: 22 mpg
Highway driving at 75 mph: 29 mpg
Highway distance at 75 mph: 460 miles
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/city/highway: 26/23/30 mpg
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