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.
2016 Volvo V60 4-door Wagon T6 R-Design AWD Angular Front Exterior ViewEnlarge Photo
2016 Volvo V60 4-door Wagon T6 R-Design AWD DashboardEnlarge Photo
2016 Volvo V60 4-door Wagon T5 Drive-E FWD TrunkEnlarge Photo
2016 Volvo V60 4-door Wagon T6 R-Design AWD Angular Rear Exterior ViewEnlarge Photo
There's only one powertrain in the Allroad, and it's excellent. The 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 produces 252 hp, and it's paired with a responsive 8-speed automatic transmission and standard all-wheel drive.
The Audi is rated at 25 mpg combined; the Volvo V60 T5 gets a laudable 29 mpg combined, but that's with front-wheel drive. The better comparison to the Allroad is the V60 T6, at 25 mpg combined.
It's on the road, in tight esses or down any back road that the Allroad excels. Despite a stockier stance than the A4 sedan, it seems to handle a bit better. Big 18-inch wheels and taller-profile tires give it better stability than the standard A4 as well.
The NHTSA hasn’t rated the crashworthiness of the 2017 Volvo V60, but the closely related S60 sedan received across-the-board five-star ratings. The IIHS gives the V60 its Top Safety Pick+ designation, with the highest scores on every crash test and a full suite of available active-safety systems. As for the Allroad, it's too new for crash-test scores, but the related A4 sedan has done extremely well.
Among other features, the Audi has a stunning screen that replaces the gauges on most versions; it also offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Either of these Euro wagons will delight drivers and their better halves who want a little more cargo space but still crave the handling of a sedan, not the bulkiness of a fully-functional crossover utility vehicle. Their AWD is for traction and winter weather, not off-roading. They're not meant for families with children, especially teens; that's what SUVs are for.
The V60 handles well, but the Allroad excels on...well, all roads that aren't the kind Jeep owners seek out. The Audi has a nicer interior, more cargo space, and a few tech options that Volvo doesn't offer, but the Volvo comes in at a few thousand dollars less than the Audi.
Our scores show Audi is the clear winner, and we tend to agree.