Full 2016 Volvo V60 Review

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Full 2016 Volvo V60 Review
The 2016 Volvo V60 drops the base AWD model and reshuffles the content in optional equipment packages; otherwise it is a carryover from 2015.

Introduction

Full 2016 Volvo V60 Review

When launched last year, Volvo’s V60 wagon re-established the Swedish automaker in the midsize station wagon market.

It’s a tiny niche (wagons have long been eschewed in the U.S. as a relic of the 1950s and 60s) but it serves people who find crossovers, SUVs and minivans to be too big, boxy or bulky for their needs. The 2016 V60 firms up Volvo’s position in that market. It is, essentially, the wagon version of the separately reviewed 2016 Volvo S60 luxury sedan. It brings Swedish styling and more than 20 cubic feet of cargo room to the table while sharing the sedan’s praise-worthy performance, interior layout, fuel efficiency, technology and safety features.

The 2016 Volvo V60’s sleek styling is likely the first thing that catches the eye, but it’s not the only noteworthy feature. Volvo’s turbocharged 2.0-liter Drive-E engine in the base T5 model delivers plenty of power and an impressive EPA rating of 29 mpg in combined highway and city driving in the front-wheel-drive format. The sporty T6 AWD R-Design roils the waters in wagon-land with a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 that makes 325 horsepower: 345 hp for the special-order, limited-availability Polestar edition. There’s a stand-alone Sport package for the base T5 that boosts its already engaging handling. Add Volvo’s outstanding safety features, sublime front seats, attractive interior and new lifetime parts and service warranty and the V60 makes a compelling argument for the return of the station wagon.

There are a few shortcomings, notably the V60’s tight rear seat area that falls short of the competition regarding legroom. There’s a bit less cargo space than in BMW’s rival wagon, and Volvo’s efficient Drive-E engines aren’t yet available in all-wheel-drive versions of the V60.

There aren’t many competitors in the sporty, upscale midsize wagon category, but shoppers definitely should consider the other offerings. We find that the BMW 328i xDrive offers sharper handling and a more balanced ride along with a very efficient diesel engine, while the A4-based Audi Allroad provides more ground clearance and a top-notch cabin. Both come only as all-wheel-drive wagons and can cost thousands more than the V60. Volvo’s XC70, an outdoorsy version of the V70 wagon, is worth a look for folks who feel that a wagon that’s larger and more rugged than the V60 would better fit their lifestyles.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2016 Volvo V60 is a five-passenger, midsize, entry-level luxury wagon. It is offered in four trim levels based on powertrains: T5 Drive-E and T5 Drive-E Platinum andT6 R-Design AWD and T6 R-Design AWD Platinum.

Standard equipment on the V60 includes 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, LED running lights, automatic wipers, heated mirrors, a sunroof, front and rear foglights, cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, “T-Tec” fabric upholstery, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, eight-way power front seats with driver memory functions and manual lumbar adjustment, 40/20/40-split rear seats with power-folding head restraints, Volvo’s Sensus Connect infotainment system, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and an eight-speaker audio system with a CD player, satellite and HD radios, an auxiliary audio jack and a USB/iPod interface.

Volvo’s Premier package adds roof rails, leather upholstery, the Sensus Navigation system, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and customizable digital gauges.

The Platinum trim adds adaptive auto-dimming xenon headlights with washers, auto-dimming rearview and outside mirrors, interior accent lighting, a 12-speaker Harman Kardon surround-sound audio system and all the features of the Convenience and Technology packages (explained below).

The performance-oriented T6 AWD R-Design trim level starts off with Premier equipment and adds 19-inch alloy wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, the most powerful engine available, keyless entry and ignition, power-retractable exterior mirrors, power-folding rear head restraints, appearance upgrades and adaptive xenon headlights.

The T6 R-Design AWD Platinum trim adds the same features that the T5 Platinum model gets.

A limited-availability “Polestar” edition of the R-Design Platinum takes things a few steps farther with 20-inch alloy wheels, bigger front brakes, a performance-tuned suspension, special engine tuning, paddle shifters and a unique aerodynamic kit, interior details and “Rebel Blue” exterior paint.

The Technology package, standard with the Platinum trim, consists of adaptive cruise control with frontal collision warning and braking, pedestrian and bicyclist detection and braking, lane departure warning, lane-keeping assist (T5 Drive-E models only), active high beams and a driver alertness monitor. The Convenience package includes keyless ignition, a rearview camera, power-retractable exterior mirrors, a grocery bag holder in the cargo area and a HomeLink garage door opener.

There are a number of other packages and stand-alone options available on most V60 models. The Climate package adds a multi-filter cabin air filtration system, heated front and rear seats, a heated steering wheel, a heated windshield and heated windshield washer nozzles. The Sport package available only for the T5 Drive-E model adds the sport-tuned suspension, 19-inch alloy wheels, front sport seats and steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters.

Stand-alone options include 18-inch alloy wheels; metallic paint; adaptive xenon headlights; a navigation system; an automatic parallel parking system; heated front seats; Volvo’s new “Contour” seats with beefier thigh, side and shoulder bolstering; a pair of built-in child booster seats; a dual screen rear seat entertainment system and a front-view parking camera.

Powertrains and Performance

The 2016 Volvo V60 is available with three powertrains.

The T5 Drive-E model gets Volvo’s 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that puts out 240 hp and 258 pound-feet of torque. This engine is only offered with front-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission. A standard automatic engine stop-start system shuts off the engine when the car is stopped to save fuel. EPA fuel economy estimates are 29 mpg combined (25 city/37 highway). A V60 T5 Drive-E returned 32.9 mpg on the 116-mile Edmunds evaluation route.

In Edmunds testing, that same V60 T5 Drive-E went from zero to 60 mph in 6.4 seconds, which essentially splits the distance between the quicker BMW 328i and slower Audi Allroad.

The T6 AWD R-Design features a turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder good for 325 hp and 354 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed automatic is standard. EPA fuel economy estimates fall to 21 mpg combined (18/27). The Polestar edition uses the same engine retuned to deliver 345 hp, but keeps the EPA-estimated 21 mpg combined rating. Volvo estimates that the standard R-Design AWD will reach 60 mph in 5.5 seconds. That’s cut to 4.9 seconds for the Polestar edition.

Safety

The 2016 Volvo V60’s list of standard safety features includes antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, active front head restraints and Volvo’s City Safety system that can automatically apply the brakes at speeds up to 31 mph to prevent or minimize a frontal collision. Many more advanced safety technologies are offered on upper trim levels or as options, including additional frontal collision warning with full auto-braking and pedestrian and bicyclist detection and braking; lane departure warning and lane-keeping assist; blind spot warning with rear cross traffic alert and rear parking sensors; and a driver inattention warning system.

No government crash test results were available for the V60 when this was written, but the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the V60 its top rating of “Good” in the moderate-overlap and small-overlap frontal-offset impact tests. It also earned a “Good” score for the side-impact, roof-strength and whiplash protection (seats and head restraints) tests. Finally, the IIHS gave a “Superior” rating to the V60’s front collision warning and mitigation system.

In Edmunds testing, a V60 T5 Drive-E with the Sport package and summer tires came to a stop from 60 mph in 110 feet. This is a short distance, but typical for summer tires.

Interior Design and Special Features

The 2016 Volvo V60 offers a stylish interior fitted with premium materials.

The look is subtly classy and as appealing as that of any of its direct competitors. The cabin is quiet, providing a serene atmosphere that’s enhanced by the car’s composed ride quality. Things get a bit stiffer, though, with the special-order Polestar edition, which is aimed at weekend rally and road race enthusiasts who prefer a wagon body and won’t mind the firmer ride during daily commutes.

The interiors of all V60s have a high-tech feel, especially on upper trim levels that feature the driver-configurable gauge cluster with three different pre-programmed looks. The audio system’s phone-style number pad and surrounding buttons may look a bit antiquated in the luxury class these days, but they make controlling basic stereo functions easy. For more complicated tasks like selecting a media player playlist, programming the optional navigation system or controlling more complicated vehicle functions, the V60 relies on the Sensus Connect and On Call systems. They’re fairly easy to use and similar to competitor systems, though the multipurpose knob’s location on the dash (rather than the center console) is not ideal.

The V60s front seats are some of the most comfortable and supportive you’ll find in any car, at any price, especially the optional Contour and Sport seats. Bigger folks may find themselves a little squished between the ample bolsters, however. Adults in the rear seats will also wish for a little more legroom, but it’s livable for short hops and perfectly fine for younger kids. The available built-in booster seats are remarkably handy for parents and grandparents who need to transport little ones.

Fold those rear seatbacks down and you end up with 43.8 cubic feet of cargo room. That’s less space than some of its competitors offer, but the V60’s 40/20/40-split design and the available fold-flat front passenger seat provide flexibility that helps make the best use of the space available. The cargo area’s two-position, roll-out dog security net and available pop-up grocery bag holder are two clever features that go beyond simply providing a big old space in which your stuff (and four-legged friends) can roll around.

Driving Impressions

With the company’s history of building station wagons long on utility and short on verve, you might be skeptical regarding the 2016 Volvo V60’s performance. You shouldn’t be.

Equipped with the new Drive-E turbocharged four-cylinder, the V60 accelerates strongly without any undue hesitation or racket. The new eight-speed automatic delivers quick, almost imperceptible shifts on its own, and responds well when run up and down through the gears via the available paddle shifters. The T6 AWD R-Design with its turbocharged inline-6 is by far the most powerful wagon in this admittedly small segment.

Through turns, the V60’s responsive steering delivers commendable feedback and a reassuring amount of effort. We wouldn’t call it a sport wagon, but the V60 isn’t a sleepy kid-carrying grocery getter, either. Overall, we like the balanced approach to ride and handling capabilities. The T5 Drive-E’s available Sport package further sharpens the base model’s handling, but what was a soft, comfortable ride can become a little too stiff for some because of the firmer suspension and bigger wheels.

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