2016 Volvo V60 Review

2016 Volvo V60 T5 Drive-E Road Test Review

 
 

Superb efficiency and best in class safety

 

If you want the spaciousness of a compact SUV combined with the low ride height and handling of a sport sedan, not to mention the premium experience of a luxury brand, look no further than Volvo's new V60 sport wagon. Just your luck, it's also great looking, beautifully made, and powered by one of the most advanced engine lineups in the industry. 

Drive-E is Volvo's new family of lightweight high-pressure die-cast aluminum DOHC, 16-valve, direct injection, four-cylinder engines capable of six- and eight-cylinder levels of output, depending on their state of tune. The entry-level V60's version is a turbocharged and intercooled 2.0-litre unit capable of 240 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, the latter available from a very tractable 1,500 rpm. It comes mated to a smooth shifting, quick reacting eight-speed "Geartronic" automatic with manual Sport mode, adaptive shift control, and auto start/stop that, when switched to Eco+ mode, even disengages the engine when coasting at the 5 km/h mark instead of the usual complete stop. While plenty quick off the line with ample passing power, this version of the Drive-E mostly focuses on reduced fuel consumption and minimized pollutants, the base V60 good for a 9.6 L/100km city and 6.7 highway rating that's 20-percent more efficient on the highway than Volvo's old inline-five. 

 

While an impressive base powertrain, V60 engine and driveline options are actually wide and varied, also including an all-wheel drive version of the same engine with no additional power upgrades yet a new T6 Drive-E AWD name; while the T5 AWD still incorporates the 2.5-litre inline-five for 250 horsepower and 266 lb-ft of torque; the T6 AWD adds Volvo's inherently smooth inline-six capable of 300 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque; and the T6 AWD R-Design increases that latter engine's output to 325 horsepower and 354 lb-ft of torque; but in my opinion the V60's pièce de résistance powertrain is the T6 Drive-E AWD R-Design featuring both a turbocharger and supercharger for 310 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque plus fuel economy rated at 11.3 L/100km city and 8.2 highway, which is very efficient considering its performance. Volvo claims the Drive-E AWD as the world's cleanest combustion powertrain relative to power, with an emissions rating of 148 g/km of CO2, which means it delivers more than 2 hp per gram of CO2. 

Along with the energetic Drive-E FWD powertrain my entry-level tester was quite capable through the curves, wonderfully controllable over rough pavement, and reportedly excellent in inclement weather (although I never experienced such), much due to a rigid body structure and well-sorted fully independent suspension, while it also benefits from a nice, compliant, luxurious ride that suited its premium personality ideally. 

It's quiet too, Volvo having done a good job of filling hidden crevices with sound deadening material and covering most every surface with NVH reducing soft touch synthetics. There's an overall sense of quality throughout the cabin, with beautifully textured aluminum and satin-finish metal trim highlighting key areas, the floating centre stack filled with superbly crafted aluminum and composite switchgear, a personal favourite design element. All pillars are fabric wrapped as well, with the B pillars incorporating directional vents for rear passengers. 

 

The primary gauge package is an attractive combination of analog dials with bright orange/red needles and digital displays, although this is the V60's base version and therefore isn't as bright, crisp and graphically stimulating as the top-line cluster. The standard seven-inch Volvo Sensus infotainment system is full-colour and packed with features, the 160-watt, eight-speaker standard audio system providing particularly good sound. 

This base model's seats are upholstered in attractive mesh cloth with genuine feeling T-Tec leatherette bolsters, and in Volvo tradition were sublimely agreeable to my backside. There's also good shoulder and hip room front to back, plus ample leg and headroom. The cargo compartment is also spacious with 692 litres of capacity behind the rear seats, while laying its 40/20/40-split rear seatbacks flat results in a total of 1,220 litres, which should be ample for most peoples' active lifestyles. I really like this ultra-versatile seating configuration too, as you can pile long items like skis down the middle allowing two rear passengers to enjoy the more comfortable window seats, which I might add can optionally be heated. 

 

At just $40,600 plus freight and fees the standard menu is quite complete for a D-segment luxury compact, with items not yet mentioned including LED DRLs, 17-inch alloys, powered heatable side mirrors, an electromechanical parking brake, pushbutton ignition, a leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel, rain-sensing wipers, Bluetooth with audio streaming, dual-zone auto climate control, an eight-way powered driver seat with memory, a powered front passenger seat, heatable front seats, HD and satellite radio, Volvo On Call, a powered glass sunroof, power-folding rear headrests, and more. 

The V60 also includes a list of standard active and passive safety features that set it apart from other base models in the segment, such as City Safety autonomous braking, Dynamic Stability Control with sport mode, and torque vectoring Corner Traction Control, the latter two enhancing the base "Touring" suspension's handling as well. This makes the V60 and its four-door S60 sibling the only base models in the premium D-segment to achieve a best possible Top Safety Pick Plus score from the IIHS. 

My tester also included a $1,350 Climate package with heated windshield and wiper nozzles, a heatable steering wheel, those aforementioned heated rear outboard seats, and an interior air quality system, or for the same price you can get all of the above sans heatable rear seats that get replaced with segment-exclusive dual two-stage child booster seats integrated within the rear cushions, while the set of child safety seats is also available standalone for $650. Safety in mind, a $1,000 Blind Spot Information System Package adds blindspot warning with cross-traffic alert, a lane change merge aid, plus front and rear parking sensors, or alternatively you can opt for the blindspot and cross-traffic warning duo with auto self-parking for $1,500. The base model can also be upgraded to include active dual-HID headlamps with washers for $1,100, and lastly a $1,200 Sport package adds gorgeous 19-inch "Bor" diamond-cut alloys, paddle shifters and a sport suspension. 

Rather than upping content in base trim you can add $2,200 to your budget and get the V60 Premier, which includes unique 17-inch alloys, bright window mouldings, silver roof rails, proximity access, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, the full-colour adaptive digital TFT gauge cluster mentioned earlier, and leather upholstery, while this trim level can also be had with the same option packages mentioned a moment ago, as well as an $800 Convenience package featuring a garage door opener, digital compass, grocery bag holder, and a rearview camera; a $2,950 Navigation package with GPS route guidance and mapping, 12-speaker Harman/Kardon audio, power-folding auto-dimming side mirrors, and LED accent lighting; while a $1,600 Technology package adds the aforementioned active dual-HID headlights, plus adaptive cruise control with Queue Assist, Distance Alert, Driver Alert Control, road sign information, lane departure warning, collision warning plus pedestrian and cyclist detection with full auto braking, and lane keeping assist. Of course, more features get added with other engine and trim lines, the options mentioned only reflecting the base T5 Drive-E powertrain. 

 

If you still can't make up your mind whether to get an efficient wagon or compact SUV such as Volvo's XC60, the V60 Cross Country splits the difference with crossover-style body cladding and 63 mm of extra ride height resulting in 200 mm of trail capable ground clearance, or maybe the V60 Polestar can tempt you back toward a wagon, its 350 horsepower I-6 and specially calibrated six-speed auto with paddles capable of 5.0-second sprints to 100km/h, while performance is further improved with 80-percent stiffer springs, Öhlins shocks, upgraded brakes, and more. 

V60 buyers might even be more impressed with Volvo's sixth-place ranking amongst luxury brands in Consumer Reports' 2016 report card on reliability, mind you, while the brand also earned an above average score in J.D. Power's 2016 Vehicle Dependability Study, so all models mentioned should provide reliable service. 

I must admit to really liking the base V60, especially its sleek minimalist styling, beautifully finished high-quality cabin, excellent balance of performance and comfort, impressive engine technology, and of course its class-best safety. 

 

Story credits: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press 

Photo credits: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press 

Copyright: Canadian Auto Press Inc.
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