2019 Volvo V60 vs. 2019 BMW 3-Series: Compare Cars

January 3, 2019
2019 Volvo V60 R-Design

2019 Volvo V60 R-Design

Once upon a time, station wagons were the family car of choice. Today, they’re mostly lost in a sea of crossover SUVs with a commanding view of the road ahead. The 2019 Volvo V60 and 2019 BMW 3-Series are two of the last wagons, and you’d better act fast if Bavaria’s finest wagon is on your shopping list. BMW has indicated that it won’t follow up with a new 3-Series wagon next year.

Both the V60 and the 3-Series are solid choices with plenty of compelling reasons to lure buyers away from crossover SUVs that share showroom space at Volvo and BMW dealers.

MORE: Read our 2019 Volvo V60 and 2019 BMW 3-Series reviews

The V60 is new this year and it’s the companion to the equally fresh Volvo S60 sedan. Volvo dealers won’t stock the V60 but it’s available for order in a wide range of trim levels and powertrain choices. Stick with front-wheel drive and the V60 uses a turbo-4 rated at 250 horsepower. All-wheel-drive V60s sub in a turbocharged and supercharged engine rated at 316 hp. Both engines are teamed to an 8-speed automatic transmission. The more powerful V60 is predictably thirstier at 25 mpg combined compared to 28 mpg combined for the front-wheel-drive version, according to the EPA.

2019 Volvo V60 R-Design

2019 Volvo V60 R-Design

2019 Volvo V60 R-Design

2019 Volvo V60 R-Design

2019 Volvo V60 R-Design

2019 Volvo V60 R-Design

For 2020, a high-riding V60 Cross Country will join the lineup to further blur the line between crossovers and wagons.

This year, just one BMW 3-Series wagon is available: the 330i xDrive with a 248-hp turbo-4 that sends power to all four wheels via an 8-speed automatic. While BMW dealers can stock the 3-Series wagon, it’s a rare sight in most showrooms. The 330i xDrive is rated at 27 mpg combined.

BMW wins for engine refinement. Its turbo-4 is hushed and smooth. Both wagons are fun to drive, with good handling, sharp steering, and a comfortable ride, aided by a low center of gravity that makes them out-handle crossover SUVs such as the Volvo XC60 and BMW X3.

Inside, the V60’s contemporary design centers around a vertical 9.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment. What few functions aren’t controlled through the touchscreen are grouped in a single ribbon of buttons below the screen or clustered in the center console.

The V60’s interior is airy and spacious, and that’s not just because of its narrow roof pillars. Its front seats are all-day comfortable and its second row has good room for two adults or three in a pinch. The V60 is more spacious in its cargo area than the XC60 SUV, too. The V60 will hold 51 cubic feet of cargo with the second row folded and 32 cubes with the back seat upright.

The 3-Series trades avant garde design for convenience inside. Big, clear gauges sit behind a thick-rimmed steering wheel and BMW includes a row of configurable preset buttons for radio stations, favorite destinations, or even commonly dialed phone numbers.

2019 BMW 3-Series Wagon

2019 BMW 3-Series Wagon

2019 BMW 3-Series Wagon

2019 BMW 3-Series Wagon

2019 BMW 3-Series Wagon

2019 BMW 3-Series Wagon

The 330i’s front seats aren’t as supportive as those in the V60, but its second row has terrific leg room. The BMW is impressively voluminous for cargo. BMW quotes about 28 cubic feet behind the rear seat and a maximum capacity of 62 cubic feet with the second row folded flat.

Volvo V60 and BMW 3-Series features and costs

The V60 costs about $39,000 to start and includes leather upholstery (with a fashionable plaid-like fabric and leather combination available as a no-cost option), a power moonroof, and a 9.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment with standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. Stepping up to the V60 T6 brings the more powerful engine and all-wheel drive for about $43,500.

BMW charges about $46,000 to start for a 330i xDrive wagon. Adding most additional features such as leather seats and Apple CarPlay compatibility requires first selecting a $850 package. Frustratingly, BMW charges $80 annually for CarPlay after the first year of ownership.

Volvo takes the lead on collision-avoidance technology. The V60 comes standard with automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection. A $2,500 package on most trims includes an advanced adaptive cruise control system that uses various sensors to keep the V60 in its lane. It’s not quite a self-driving wagon, but the V60 is a big step in that direction.

BMW offers that level of technology in other models but not its 2019 3-Series wagon. The 330i’s automatic emergency braking is designed to function at city speeds and it doesn’t offer active lane control.  

Without exercising restraint with BMW and Volvo’s generous options lists, it’s possible to configure a $60,000 wagon from either automaker. A judiciously optioned V60 with all-wheel drive pampers for around $50,000, which is about $2,000 less than a similarly equipped 330i.

The V60’s fresh design and broader range of active safety tech nudges it ahead of the BMW 330i xDrive in our eyes. Either way, we wholeheartedly recommend looking at these two wagons if you’re in the market for a crossover SUV such as the BMW X3 or Volvo XC60.

Summary

7.2
Expert Rating
The 2019 Volvo V60 is the rational choice in a market of irrational crossover SUV temptations.
7.3
Expert Rating
The 2019 BMW 330i moves back toward the sweet spot in sport-sedan greatness, with M Sport and M editions still to come.

Styling

8.0
Expert Rating
The 2019 Volvo V60 gets the long-roof, low-slung wagon look just right.
Read More
7.0
Expert Rating
The 2019 3-Series doesn’t stray too far from BMW’s new golden mean.
Read More

Performance

7.0
Expert Rating
Strong turbo- and supercharged 4-cylinder engines give the 2019 Volvo V60 sprightly acceleration.
Read More
8.0
Expert Rating
BMW extracts ample power from the 2019 330i’s turbo-4, and it steers with more verve.
Read More

Comfort & Quality

8.0
Expert Rating
The 2019 Volvo V60 uses its small footprint well for good interior room and a classy, upmarket feel.
Read More
7.0
Expert Rating
BMW snips some rear-seat shoulder room, but the 2019 3-Series has abundant space for adults and luggage.
Read More

Safety

The 2019 Volvo V60 comes standard with a high level of active safety tech, but the most advanced features are costly extras.
Read More
9.0
Expert Rating
Not all crash-test data has emerged for the 2019 BMW 3-Series, but it still earns a top score.
Read More

Features

8.0
Expert Rating
The 2019 Volvo V60 wants for little in base specification and feels downright sumptuous fully loaded.
Read More
7.0
Expert Rating
BMW gives no free love to smartphones, but ladles on the 3-Series options.
Read More

Fuel Economy

5.0
Expert Rating
Thrifty 4-cylinder engines mean the 2019 Volvo V60 is a relatively eco-friendly choice.
Read More
6.0
Expert Rating
The 3-Series posts impressive fuel economy.
Read More

MSRP

from $38,900
from $40,250

Invoice

from $36,566
from $37,935

Fuel Economy - Combined City and Highway

28
30

Engine

Intercooled Turbo Premium Unleaded I-4, 2.0 L
Intercooled Turbo Premium Unleaded I-4, 2.0 L

Drivetrain

Front Wheel Drive Read Full Specs
Rear Wheel Drive Read Full Specs
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