The Volvo V60 and Audi Allroad are two examples of good crossover-SUV alternatives. Each maker offers SUVs of about the same footprint—taller, bulkier, and less fuel-efficient—but these are old-school wagons derived from sedans.
The V60 is a recent addition to Volvo's line, though the S60 sedan that spawned it has been with us since 2010. The Allroad is new this year, and effectively is the A4 Avant wagon we don't get in the U.S.
Both offer enjoyable driving, some cargo space, and all-wheel drive. Which one should you buy?
We think the Allroad does a better job at all its sundry missions than the Volvo, which is nearing the end of its shelf life. Both offer excellent road manners and safety; the Audi has better in-car technology and interior space. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The Volvo V60 is as far as you could possibly get from the boxy, upright Volvo 240 and 740 wagons of a few decades ago. Its steeply raked rear window makes the V60 look less like a wagon and more like a sleek hatchback variant of the S60. It's a handsome, racy machine, but it certainly doesn't say "wagon" on first or even second glance.
The Audi Allroad is an A4 Avant wagon with more ground clearance, some body cladding, and styling flourishes that butch it up, just as the first Subaru Outback did to the pedestrian Legacy wagon 20 years ago. The raised ride height and distinctive lower-body styling give it a stronger stance from the side, and a vertically ribbed chrome grille and aluminum-look exterior trim are distinct from any other Audi.
Inside, the V60 doesn't offer anything like the interior space of a classic wagon. Folding the rear seat gives only 43 cubic feet of cargo room—less than half that in Volvo’s XC60 crossover on the same underpinnings. The V60 benefits from the remarkably comfortable seats in the S60 and XC60. They're heavily bolstered, and high-end models have power adjustment including a variable lumbar support. Rear seats are also well shaped and comfortable, with room for two adults or three smaller children, but there's not a lot of leg room by mid-size standards, and riders sit low to the floor.
Seating in the Allroad is excellent, although its back seat is a bit snug. Up front, even the base seats give great support for longer trips, with good side bolstering. In back, the seating position is low, and better contoured than in most crossovers. The Allroad offers 24.2 cubic feet behind the rear bench, and an easy-folding seat arrangement that gives you up to 58.5 cubic feet.
The Volvo V60 offers two quite different powertrains. In the base T5 model, a new and very efficient 240-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4 is paired to an 8-speed automatic transmission that shifts smoothly and quietly under most conditions. This model only drives the front wheels, though. Buyers who want the added traction of all-wheel drive have to move up to the Cross Country T5 AWD, with an extra 2.6 inches of ground clearance and more body cladding, or the T6 R-Design and its supercharged and turbocharged 302-hp inline-4.