2017 Volvo V60 T5 Drive-E AWD Special Edition Road Test Review

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 Copyright: Canadian Auto Press Inc.

Comfortable, efficient sport wagon delivers superb value 

Volvo makes the most affordable sport wagon in the compact luxury class, but more importantly it's also one of the nicest. Along with sleek windswept styling, a high quality fully appointed cabin, and a fully functional five-door design with plenty of passenger and cargo space, the 2017 V60 boasts a powerful yet fuel-efficient lineup of powertrains along with engaging handling and a wonderfully comfortable ride. For these reasons it's a serious contender in the hotly contested compact luxury D-segment, and worth a closer look.


Starting at just $40,600, the V60 T5 Drive-E is powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder that's rated at 240 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque and mated to front- or all-wheel drive, yet compared to most others that only provide one engine in this class Volvo offers two uniquely different upgrades as well, including a turbocharged and supercharged version of the same engine dubbed T6 Drive-E AWD that puts out a potent 302 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque and then routes it solely through all-wheel drive, while an even more imposing T6 Drive-E AWD Polestar edition is capable of 367 horsepower and 347 lb-ft of torque. All V60 engines mate up to an eight-speed automatic transmission with manual mode and auto start/stop that shuts the engine off when it would otherwise be idling, plus engine braking energy regeneration.


More fuel-efficient powertrain options than any competitor 

Of note, despite offering three times as many engine options as most of its competitors for 2017, the Swedish brand has actually reduced this number since last year when a five-cylinder with 250 horsepower and 266 lb-ft of torque was also available, as was an inline-six capable of 300 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque. The move to more fuel-efficient, environmentally friendly four-cylinder powertrains is now brand-wide, with even Volvo's larger mid-size S90 sedan and V90 wagons powered solely by variations of the new 2.0-litre engine, not to mention the brand's impressive XC90 mid-size SUV that also gets the option of a plug-in hybrid that's good for 400 horsepower.


My V60 tester was equipped with the T5 Drive-E AWD powertrain, this the second most fuel-efficient in the lineup at 10.7 L/100km city, 7.8 highway and 9.4 combined compared to the base FWD model's 9.6 L/100km city, 7.0 highway and 8.4 combined, the latter of which is actually 20-percent thriftier on the highway than the old five-cylinder model (five-percent of which is derived from Eco+ mode alone). I'm finding myself using such eco modes more often these days, as much due to environmental concerns as savings at the pump (have you noticed the price of gas is no better now than it was when crude hovered around $100 per barrel?), so a fuel-friendly wagon like this is ideal for my lifestyle.

I'd be tempted to up the V60's performance ante beyond my tester, however, as the more powerful T6 Drive-E AWD is only off by fractions in the city and combined at 10.9 and 9.5 L/100km respectively, while its highway rating is even better at 7.7, whereas the Polestar super-wagon is ultra-efficient compared to most anything with similar performance at 8.5 L/100km city, 11.8 highway and 10.3 combined.


Great performance despite its miserly mileage 

Still, I certainly never felt hard done by while motoring around town, cruising down the highway, or taking to the curves in the lesser model. First off, the four-cylinder's turbo helps spool up torque quickly so that all 258 lb-ft is available from just 1,500 rpm, making accelerating from standstill brisk to say the least. Of course, AWD only improves the situation, especially in inclement weather. In this class I would only purchase AWD, but this is more because of my personal desire to bypass mandatory chain-up requirements on the way up the ski hill than much need around town. The FWD model comes with a bevy of standard active safety features such as traction and stability control, the V60's Dynamic Stability Control even boasting a Sport mode, whereas the car's standard Corner Traction Control (CTC) uses torque vectoring to maximize grip, all of which makes AWD less necessary than in decades past, but AWD certainly has its advantages for those with active lifestyles during the snowy winter season.


It should be noted that the V60's AWD actually improves handling on any road surface or condition, and while I wouldn't consider my T5 Drive-E AWD tester a canyon carver, at least not to the level of the V60 R-Design or Polestar, it certainly holds its own on a winding road. Its fully independent suspension is also sublime over rough patches of pavement and other bumpy surfaces, with ride quality that's unsurpassed in the class and made even better due to some of the best seats available anywhere.


Special Edition trim makes for especially good value 

This is where I need to mention my loaner's upgraded $53,050 Special Edition trim, which is the only way you can get the V60's T5 Drive-E AWD mechanicals in Canada. Along with AWD the unique SE gets some unique exterior detailing including a silver front centre undertray and rear diffuser plate, bright metal window surrounds and silver roof rails, sophisticated dual xenon headlights with auto high beams, active cornering and washers, a gorgeous set of bright silver twinned five-spoke 18-inch "Skadi" alloys (lesser models use 17-inch alloys), an upgraded Dynamic sport suspension, power-retractable side mirrors, proximity access with Keyless Drive pushbutton ignition, Off-Black or Soft Beige leather upholstery, textured Milled Aluminum inlays, a heated windshield and washer nozzles, a heatable steering wheel and heated rear outboard seats, adaptive cruise control with Queue Assist low speed follow, a special Interior Air Quality System (IAQS), an adaptive digital TFT primary gauge display, navigation, a backup camera, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a HomeLink garage door opener, a digital compass, and more.


Standard safety features with this package are also impressive, including Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake (CWAB), Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection with Full Auto Brake, Distance Alert, Driver Alert Control, Lane Departure Warning with a Lane Keeping Aid, a Lane Change Merge Aid (LCMA), blindspot detection and rear cross-traffic alert, road sign information, and front and rear parking sensors, all of which help the V60 Special Edition earn a best possible IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus rating.


A luxurious interior that provides plenty of room for passengers and cargo 

All of this upscale kit gets added to a base V60 that already comes with LED daytime running lightsb, heatale powered front seats, memory for the driver's seat and side mirrors, a leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel, rain-sensing wipers, dual-zone automatic climate control, a 7.0-inch colour Volvo Sensus infotainment system, HD and satellite radio, Bluetooth phone connectivity with streaming audio, Volvo On Call telematics, a powered glass sunroof, power-folding rear headrests, highly versatile 40/20/40-split folding rear seatbacks that expand the V60's 430 litres of cargo capacity to a maximum of 692 litres, and last but hardly least, City Safety that warns of pedestrians and cyclists in your lane.


It all comes in a cabin that's wonderfully quiet and very well finished, the V60 not as ritzy as the new S90, V90 and XC90 models that feature unique jewel-like faceted metals and piano black lacquered trim, but rather a more subdued quality of soft touch synthetic surfaces, textured and satin-finish aluminum accents, fabric-wrapped pillars, and more. The V60 incorporates Volvo's trademark floating centre stack filled with superbly crafted aluminum and composite switchgear, long a personal favourite design element, its surfacing mostly finished in aluminum and vent direction controls that are ultra-easy to sort out thanks to an aluminum pictograph of a body, while the colour infotainment system up top delivers everything most owners require. That said the fully configurable primary gauge package ahead of the driver is right over the top, a state-of-the-art technology packed with a visual feast of features.


Along with the V60's unparalleled comfort is a layout that delivers more than enough room up front, with headroom especially good. I suppose this makes sense being that Swedes are an inch taller than Canadians on average, plus a lot of Danes and Norwegians drive Volvos too and they're amongst the tallest people anywhere. Along with lofty headspace the V60 provides good side-to-side roominess, while rear seat passengers should be plenty comfortable too, even if three adults are sitting beside each other being that the V60 is wider than the segment average. When only two are in back a large armrest with integrated cupholders can be folded down from centre, adding to rear passenger comfort and convenience.


A strong contender in the compact luxury class 

If it sounds like I'm more focused on practicalities than luxuries, please don't get me wrong. I only do so because wagons are designed for those who prioritize passengers and cargo, but the V60 is no less of a luxury car than its four-door S60 sedan counterpart, both of which measure up well against the premium German, Japanese and American brands they compete against. The V60 delivers a wonderfully hushed  environment that's hard to beat, while style, performance, features, fuel economy and safety come close to class leading, and its value proposition is best by far. Also, don't forget that if you'd rather have a crossover styled wagon, Volvo's slightly taller and more rugged looking V60 Cross Country can be had for as little as $45,200.

Truly, the V60 should be high on any sport wagon lover's shopping list.


Story credits: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press 
Photo credits: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press 
Copyright: Canadian Auto Press Inc. 

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