Volvo’s XC60 mid-size SUV may be its bestseller these days, but the brand long known for station wagons hasn’t yet given up on the segment. The V60 is the XC60’s wagon-bodied counterpart, and it shows there are still virtues in going against the crowd.
Wagons are all but extinct, yet paradoxically, they’ve never looked better. That’s certainly true of Volvo’s V60, which emerged from its 2019 redesign wearing a sharply tailored new suit of sheetmetal. It also boasts less nose-heavy, more athletic proportions. Four years on, tweaks to the grille, rear bumper, and wheel designs denote the ’23 model, but bigger changes are afoot on the inside and under the hood.
Volvo offers the V60 wagon in a choice of two powertrains, both with standard all-wheel drive. A turbocharged 2.0-liter four assisted by a 48-volt hybrid system powers the mainstay offering, the V60 Cross Country. A 2.0-liter plug-in hybrid, the Polestar Engineered, or V60 Recharge, makes 455 horsepower and also can drive up to 41 miles on battery power alone. Most buyers will choose the version tested here, the Cross Country.
The electrically assisted drivetrain is new to the V60 Cross Country but rolled out in other Volvos last year (the XC60 midsize SUV, the S60 midsize sedan, the S90 large sedan, and the V90 Cross Country wagon). While some of those models also offer a more powerful B6 version that makes 295 horsepower, the V60 Cross Country no longer offers a mid-level choice, only the standard B5 that musters 247 horsepower.
Volvo is eager to herald the news that all its cars are now electrified, meaning they either employ some form of hybrid assistance or are EVs. For the V60, though, 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 needs 7.1 seconds to reach 60 mph, and it crosses the quarter-mile in 15.4 seconds at 92 mph. That’s significantly behind the last V60 we tested with the previous T5 engine, a front-driver that hit 60 in 6.4 seconds and busted through the quarter-mile in 14.9 seconds at 96 mph.
Buyers seeking a bit more oomph can tick the box for the Polestar Engineered Optimization package. It retunes the base engine to wring out a few more horsepower along with more midrange torque—the latter reaching a max of 280 pound-feet, up from 258. Beyond that, of course, there’s the far more powerful plug-in-hybrid model. Back when it made 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 arrival of electric assist would be a boon for gas mileage, but the gains at the pump prove mostly illusory. Compared to the unassisted 2.0-liter turbo four, the EPA city estimate climbs by 1 mpg to 23 mpg, but the highway figure drops by a similar amount, to 30 mpg. In our own 75-mph highway fuel-economy test, the V60 returned 29 mpg.
The new powertrain may not do much to move the needle, but it’s certainly pleasant to live with. We’re not sure how much to credit the hybrid system, but accelerator response is nicely linear even in light throttle applications. And the action of the auto stop-start system has been smoothed out to the point where most drivers are unlikely to be bothered by it. Typical of its genre, this turbo four doesn’t produce the most soulful engine note, but the V60 overall is pretty quiet. We measured 68 decibels at a 70-mph cruise.
Some will remember when the Cross Country nameplate first appeared on Volvo wagons, toward the end of the boxy epoch, promising a modicum of off-pavement capability with a lifted suspension and body-side cladding. Today’s V60 Cross Country has dialed back the cladding; the modest plastic bits around the wheel openings and along the rocker panels are barely noticeable. An Off-Road drive mode, hill-descent control, and 8.1 inches of ground clearance give some credence to the Cross Country moniker.
Volvo formerly offered optional adaptive dampers on the V60 Cross Country, but they’re now reserved for the PHEV model. No matter, they’re hardly missed. The passive dampers combined with control arms and coil springs up front and a multilink rear with a transverse leaf spring, deftly served up a plush, controlled ride over patchy pavement and roller-coaster whoop-de-dos in New York’s Catskill Mountains. At the same time, the V60’s chassis tuning—and the wagon’s lower center of gravity versus a taller-bodied crossover—allows the driver to push this Volvo through fast corners without protest. Too bad the steering is such an unenthusiastic partner: numb, overboosted, and without much sense of straight ahead even when switched into its Firm setting. Riding on 20-inch wheels (19s are standard) and Pirelli P Zero all-season tires, the V60 exhibited 0.85 g of stick at our skidpad and required a longish 179 feet to stop from 70 mph.
Volvo’s adaptive cruise control with Pilot Assist is standard, and we found the system to acquit itself well on the interstate, smoothly maintaining lane position; it lacks the ability to execute lane changes, however, and it does require a driver’s hand on the wheel.
That’s not such a hardship, given the smooth leather wrapping the V60’s wheel—and used liberally throughout the interior. Volvo leans into Sweden’s Scandinavian design heritage with its interiors, and the V60 cabin is no exception, at once spare, tasteful, and modern. The minimalism unfortunately extends to in-cabin stowage, however, which is limited.
Our test car wore the Ultimate trim level, and the $5300 extra it commands over the base-level Plus gets you four-zone climate control with an air purifier, a head-up display, a crystal gear selector, upgraded interior trim, additional seat adjustability, ventilated front seats, a higher-grade audio system, and 19-inch wheels. Our sample featured optional seven-spoke 20-inch alloy wheels and an even-higher-grade Bowers & Wilkins premium audio system, each of which added a further $3200 to the bottom line. A digital instrument cluster is standard but doesn’t offer much configurability: It can show the nav map, or not.
Volvo’s previous in-house Sensus Connect touchscreen interface was slow to boot up but easy to interact with once fully awake. The new Google-based system, housed within the same 9.0-inch vertically oriented touchscreen, looks sharp and is faster-acting. Google Assistant is on hand to execute your queries and generally does a good job understanding spoken destination inputs. As before, the system’s lone physical button at the base of the display calls up the home screen, which shows four tiles of info that can be customized. Touch any of them for the full-screen display. The audio system retains a knob for volume and seek up/down buttons just below the screen, but the fussy climate controls are unfortunately screen-based and have tiny touchpoints unless you first open the climate-control display. Apple CarPlay is supported but not Android Auto.
Rear-seat passengers enjoy sufficient head- and legroom for a six-footer to sit comfortably behind a similar-size driver, although access to the rear seats requires ducking under the low roofline and threading oneself around the rear-wheel arch (the XC60 has the advantage here). The wagon gives away nothing to the SUV in its cargo capacity, however, and can swallow eight carry-on suitcases behind the rear seats and 22 with them folded (the XC60 maxes out at 20 cases).
The starting price of the V60 Plus has crept up to nearly $50K ($49,895), but even in that base form, the car is well equipped. Standard kit includes leather, heated seats, a panoramic sunroof, adaptive cruise control, and a 360-degree-view camera system. An XC60 similarly configured (B5 engine, all-wheel drive, Plus trim) is $51,095, so choosing the wagon over the SUV saves a few shekels. The XC60, however, also offers a lower-spec trim level (Core) and can be had with front-wheel drive, which lowers its price of entry to $44,545.
In choosing between the V60 and the XC60, money matters probably aren’t going to sway buyers one way or the other. Those select few who go for the wagon are making the nonconformist’s choice, and we salute them.
2023 Volvo V60 Cross Country B5 AWD Ultimate
Vehicle Type: front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door wagon
Base/As Tested: $55,195/$63,585
Options: 20-inch 7-spoke wheels w/all-season tires, $3200; Bowers & Wilkins premium sound, $3200; climate package – (heated rear seats, heater steering wheel, headlamp cleaners), $750; metallic paint, $695; luggage cover, $345; power-operated tailgate, $200
turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve inline-4, aluminum block and head, direct fuel injection
Displacement: 120 in3, 1969 cm3
Power: 247 hp @ 5400 rpm
Torque: 258 lb-ft @ 1800 rpm
Suspension, F/R: control arms/multilink
Brakes, F/R: 13.6-in vented disc/12.6-in vented disc
Tires: Pirelli P Zero All Season
245/40R-20 99V Extra Load VOL
Wheelbase: 113.2 in
Length: 188.5 in
Width: 72.8 in
Height: 59.2 in
Passenger Volume: 94 ft3
Cargo Volume: 23 ft3
Curb Weight: 4151 lb
C/D TEST RESULTS
60 mph: 7.1 sec
1/4-Mile: 15.4 sec @ 92 mph
100 mph: 18.5 sec
Results above omit 1-ft rollout of 0.3 sec.
Rolling Start, 5–60 mph: 7.7 sec
Top Gear, 30–50 mph: 3.5 sec
Top Gear, 50–70 mph: 4.9 sec
Top Speed (gov ltd): 115 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 179 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft Skidpad: 0.85 g
C/D FUEL ECONOMY
Observed: 22 mpg
75-mph Highway Driving: 29 mpg
75-mph Highway Range: 460 mi
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/City/Highway: 26/23/30 mpg
C/D TESTING EXPLAINED