Long before the SUV craze, those who needed extra room and capability found their way into the station wagon. With extra load-carrying, up to three rows of seats, they were the workhorses of larger families.
And of course, no discussion of wagons can go without mentioning Volvo. Since the 122 Amazon to the iconic 245 wagon, the Swedish carmakers lived on a blend of function, extreme durability, and anti-establishment chic. Later models became much more stylish, much quicker, but owning a Volvo wagon still puts you a tasteful distance from the mainstream. We like that. And we also like that wagons are making a comeback – checkout the huge sales numbers of the Subaru Outback, for one. So how does the latest Volvo stack up?
Sleek and Seductive
This is one good looking wagon. Say goodbye to images in your head of boxy people haulers, the latest Volvo’s are jaw-dropping, yet elegant. The V60 looks very much like a scaled-down version of the V90 we loved so much, and perhaps the smaller size makes the proportions even better.
The front end is fluent in Volvo’s design language, with the familiar round badge with a chrome line running diagonally across. “Thor’s Hammer” LED headlights make it clear this could only be the stylish Swede.
The profile is especially sleek and sporty – no chunky SUV here! – with a crisp aero look that’s modern and enticing. Being a cross country, our tester does get a little bit of a taller stance, with 8.3 inches of ground clearance and black fender guards. It’s enough to say capability, but not over the top like the latest Subaru Outback. We’re especially fond of the 18-inch alloys that give a particularly sporty presence.
Like the front, the rear is tasteful and simple. The wrap around taillights that climb the C-pillar are pure Volvo, while a lower rear fascia with dual chrome exhaust tips hint at the performance within. The finishing touch on our tester was the white metallic color that just shows off the clean lines in an understated way.
Inside is like your favorite high-end Scandinavian design store (not the one with the yummy pancakes), that has made the current Volvos such wonderful places to spend time. Our tester seduced us immediately with the optional Lounge Package, with rich perforated Nappa leather in a maroon brown that’s simply stunning. Matte-finish wood and metal trim bringing a simple, clean and upscale vibe.
The dash is modern, with a 12.3-inch digital display that features clean analog-style gauges – even a sign reader that flashes speed limit signs at the bottom of the speedometer. Between the gauges is a center section that pulls up all sorts of useful info, including navi maps. Our tester also enjoyed a heads-up display for a quick read of info as well.
Info-tainment is served up on a large vertical tablet that would make any Tesla owner feel at home. You have three main screens to swipe across to pull up info, and with a little familiarity it works great. What doesn’t work so great is the info-tainment that is slow to boot-up, and you find yourself backing out of the driveway, and your audio, navi, climate and other info is still not up and running. It takes a minute – and it can be a little annoying.
Well, that’s about the only complaint we have about the V60 interior. The front seats are hugely comfortable as you’d expect from Volvo; firm and supportive, and our tester’s massage function front seats were a little slice of heaven. We love the little twist-to-start ignition knob, and the driver’s mode control tumbler looks like a tiny piece of artwork.
Speaking of art, the Bowers and Wilkins audio system is superb, and we love the flowing design of the speak covers and the center pod on the top of the dash. We also like the audio environmental controls, The slight reverb of a jazz club? Done. How about the depth of the Gothenburg Concert Hall? Ya, shoor! Fantastic, and an amazing way to listen to your favorite tunes.
Those in the rear seats get equally excellent support and plenty of legroom. Living up to its wagon mission, there’s plenty of cargo space with the rear seats up, and it’s huge with the rear seats down.
The drive is equally cosseting. Under the hood is Volvo’s familiar 2.0-liter, turbo 4-cylinder with a smooth 250 horsepower and 258 lb. ft. of torque under your toe. The 8-speed is equally smooth, and it lets you ride a wave of turbo power that’s quite pleasant and quick. No paddle shifters mean you’ll have to manually move the shift lever to max out performance, but we found the V60 didn’t seem require it. It loves to build boost and pull hard.
Now If you are looking for a Swedish rocket wagon, you should pony up for the Recharge T8 Polestar version, with a jaw-dropping hybrid/turbo/supercharged powertrain kicking out a massive 415 horsepower and delivering 0-60 mph well below 5 seconds! Sounds like our kind of hybrid!
The taller stance of the Cross Country gives the V60 a wonderfully supple ride, and standard all-wheel drive gives plenty of confidence whether you’re carving up traffic or heading for the slopes.
One thing we really loved about the V60 was its physical size – while it is roomy on the inside, it is so well packaged that the compact exterior makes it great for tight parking spaces and maneuvering the cut and thrust of the daily drive. That makes the Cross Country just about perfect for anything from long trips to short hops. Oh, did we mention the massaging front seats? Mmm comfy.
Volvo has long meant safety, and you get all the expected goodness, including standard automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection and lane departure warning with lane keep assist. Our tester’s rear auto braking saved our bacon when a bicyclist zoomed behind us as we were backing out of parking space. Our tester’s 360-degree camera also made easy work of parking, and the large info-tainment screen makes it easy to see.
We also like the available adaptive cruise control, which keeps a reasonable distance – but not so much like others we have tested that has you constantly being cut in front of.
Value for the Krona?
Pricing is like other Europeans – options can be your friend – or foe. If you don’t need all wheel driver or the tall stance, a V60 wagon starts at $40,950 and that is one handsome premium package at that price. Stepping up (literally) to the V60 Cross Country begins at $45,450.
Our tester showed what goodness (or evil) awaits in the option list, with the Climate Package ($750), Lounge Package ($2,800), Advanced Package ($1,800), Crystal White Metallic Paint ($645), Backrest Massage Front Seats ($500), Bowers & Wilkins Premium Sound ($4,000), Advanced Air Cleaner ($250) and Destination ($995). All totaled, we rang the bell at $57,290.
Competitors would include the Audi A4 Allroad, comparable value at $57,590, and the Mercedes E-Class Wagon starting at a pricey $67,760. Both excellent vehicles, but we like the Volvo’s uniqueness.
An interesting alternate might be the Subaru Outback at just $41,070 comparably equipped, and like the Volvo, it has its own interesting non-mainstream vibe that buyers love.
Stylish on the outside, gorgeous on the inside, and a sweet, swift ride. The Volvo V60 Cross Country remains the king of wagons for those who don’t want to be in the mainstream.
Ben Lewis grew up in Chicago, and after spending his formative years driving sideways in the winter – often intentionally – moved to sunny Southern California. He now enjoys sunny weather year-round — whether it is autocross driving, aerobatics, and learning to surf.