2018 Volvo V60 Review

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2018
The Car Connection
2018
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Andrew Ganz Andrew Ganz
February 1, 2018

The 2018 Volvo V60 is the practical choice among small luxury cars—and it makes more sense than most SUVs.

The 2018 Volvo V60 is among the last of its breed: a compact luxury station wagon. It’s available in a variety of flavors that prioritize comfort, performance, and even off-road ability.

Although the V60 is among the oldest designs in its class, it retains an upmarket feel let down by some cumbersome controls and an interior that can be tight for a full load of passengers.

Overall, it’s 7.0 out of 10 on our scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

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The 2018 V60 is available in Dynamic, R-Design, Polestar, and Cross Country configurations, each with its own unique take on family and gear-hauling. Its only change of note for 2018 is a standard cold weather package with heated seats and heated steering wheel. What else would you expect from the Swedes?

Overall, the V60 is starting to show its age, especially since Volvo’s crossovers and its larger wagon and sedan are far more modern in every way. Still, the V60 is a compelling choice partly because of its limited competition. Want a small wagon with an upmarket feel? Your shopping list will be short and the V60 makes a good case for itself.

Available with either front- or all-wheel drive, the V60 Dynamic uses a 2.0-liter turbo-4 engine rated at 240 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, which Volvo brands T5. The V60 Cross Country splits the difference between wagons and crossovers with its taller ride height and chunky looks. It shares the Dynamic’s 240-hp engine.

From there, the lineup gets a little sportier. The V60 R-Design has a firmer suspension, larger alloy wheels, and a version of the 2.0-liter that’s both turbo- and supercharged for 302 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque called T6 in Volvo-speak.

Topping the lineup is the pricey but unrivaled V60 Polestar, the only high-performance compact luxury wagon on the market. That’s admittedly a small market, but those who do plunk down upward of $60,000 for one will be rewarded with an Ohlins race-derived suspension and an uprated engine with 362 hp and 347 lb-ft of torque—impressive figures for a small displacement inline-4.

The V60 Dynamic’s personality is serene, with a comfortable ride and good performance. Dynamics are as peppy as most of us will need, while the V60 Polestar does a good job impersonating a sports car on a twisty road. With an additional 2 inches of ground clearance, the V60 Cross Country is Volvo’s take on the Subaru Outback. It’s tighter but dressier inside, which helps justify a price tag that climbs to nearly $50,000 with a few options selected.

Most V60 buyers pick the wagon over the related S60 sedan for its cargo capacity: about 25 cubic feet, which swells to nearly 44 cubes when the second row is folded forward. Otherwise, the wagon mirrors the sedan’s comfortable front seats and good, but not exceptional, rear seat room. The long-wheelbase version of the S60 sedan isn’t available in a wagon configuration.

Safety, always a Volvo hallmark, is delivered in spades in the V60—with one odd exception: a rearview camera is optional on the base wagon. Otherwise, all versions come with automatic emergency braking and have performed well in crash-testing.

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2018 Volvo V60

Styling

The 2018 Volvo V60 has its curves in all the right places.

Forget the notion of a boxy, upright wagon: the 2018 Volvo V60 is curvy in all the right places.

Its interior can feel a little dour, but we like the way the V60’s exterior takes a conventional sedan shape and adds more utility without feeling like an afterthought.

Accordingly, we’ve assigned the V60 a point above average for its styling. It earns a 6 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Each version of the V60 has its own appearance. The Dynamic peppers in some chrome, R-Design offer upsized wheels and racier body kits instead. Topping the lineup, the Polestar is perhaps most notable for its Smurf Blue paint (actually, Volvo calls the shade Cyan Racing Blue), but it has its own styling elements and a quartet of gorgeous alloy wheels wrapped in the thinnest veneer of rubber.

The V60 Cross Country stands tall with an extra couple inches of ground clearance and some convincingly rugged hints like unpainted fender flares and silver faux skid plates. It’s as at-home in Aspen as it is in Asheville, ready for a day of mountain exploring or antiquing.

Inside, all versions share the same dashboard with its “floating” center stack and myriad buttons grouped together like a not-so-smart phone. It’s a dated look overall, but it can be dressed up with shiny and matte surfaces that impart a more upscale feel than the standard aluminum trim.

Similarly, the V60’s standard leather upholstery is available in shades more interesting than beige and black. V60 Polestars have synthetic suede and contrasting stitching, while Cross Country wagons can be outfitted with a thickly grained saddle-hued leather.

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2018 Volvo V60

Performance

Relaxed or surprisingly sporty, the 2018 Volvo V60 is competent if short on refinement.

The 2018 Volvo V60’s trio of engines offer a wide range of performance, but they’re a bit unrefined and even the Polestar isn’t quite the performance icon its styling and marketing would like it to be.

As a result, this lineup rates an even 5 out of 10, although the soft-roading V60 Cross Country’s anti-SUV feel nearly earns it an extra point. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

V60 Dynamic and Cross Country variants share a 2.0-liter turbo-4 rated at 240 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque that Volvo calls T5. Base V60 Dynamics shuttle power to the front wheels, while an all-wheel-drive system is optional and is standard on Cross Country wagons. An 8-speed automatic is standard on all versions of the V60.

The base engine provides more than adequate thrust with limited turbo lag. It can thrum into the cabin at idle and sounds coarse while underway compared to similarly sized engines under the hoods of rivals like BMW and Audi. Nicely weighted steering and a ride tuned more on the soft side provide the V60 Dynamic with a comfortable, relaxed feel.

Step up to the all-wheel-drive V60 R-Design and you’ll net a version of the inline-4 called T6 that adds a supercharger. This high-tech engine cranks out 302 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque and feels noticeably stronger, if not a lot more refined. Underneath, the R-Design’s stiffer suspension tightens things up and its standard 19-inch wheels filter out fewer small road imperfections. We’ve found the combination to be too firm for our taste.

Topping the lineup, the V60 Polestar has 362 hp and 347 lb-ft from a version of the same turbo- and supercharged engine. V60 Polestars come standard with all-wheel drive, something that’s essential to put that much power to the ground. While the R-Design rides and handles with a sporty flair, the Polestar turns up the spice considerably without undue harshness. With its Ohlins struts, it manages to be both more compliant and also more entertaining than the R-Design, which justifies a $12,000 premium.

The Cross Country goes in the opposite direction with its 2 additional inches of ground clearance. That’s enough to provide some confidence on the way to a hiking trail or in deep snow, but this buffest of V60s isn’t ready to tackle a serious four-wheeling trail.

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2018 Volvo V60

Comfort & Quality

The 2018 Volvo V60 upholds the brand’s comfortable seats and good cargo-hauling maxims.

A comfortable interior swathed in high-quality materials and a roomy cargo area help the 2018 Volvo V60 earn 8 out of 10 points. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Though not as commodious as Volvos of yore, the 2018 V60 can swallow about 20 cubic feet with its second row upright and nearly 48 cubes with the split-folding rear seat flattened. That’s on par with many smaller crossovers, few of which match the V60’s pleasant driving dynamics and fuel economy.

Even the base V60 comes standard with leather upholstery and its interior is covered in soft-touch, nicely grained materials that feel a cut above average. The standard aluminum trim finish is a little cold—both literally and figuratively—for our tastes, but matte and glossy wood trims are inexpensive options on most trim levels to help elevate the interior.

Befitting Volvo tradition, the V60’s front seats are all-day comfortable with standard power adjustment for the driver with memory. This year, heated seats are standard up front and optional out back. Rear seat riders don’t have a huge amount of stretch-out leg space, but the bench itself is nicely padded and there’s decent head room.

Optional on the base V60 and standard elsewhere is a configurable LCD instrument cluster. Several different modes swap around relevant information in clear, legible displays that eliminate conventional analog instruments.  

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2018 Volvo V60

Safety

The 2018 Volvo V60 aces every crash test, but a rearview camera should be standard.

The 2018 Volvo V60 wouldn’t be a Volvo without superlative safety scores. Preventing this wagon from earning top marks, however, is the brand’s reluctance to make a rearview camera standard.

The 2018 V60 scores 8 out of 10 points here for its safety gear and crash-test scores, but it loses one for the brand’s thrifty decision to make a rearview camera optional. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Every V60 comes standard with six airbags, anti-lock brakes, and stability control, as well as low-speed automatic emergency braking that can detect pedestrians.

Full-speed automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control are standard on most trim levels aside from the base V60 Dynamic and V60 Cross Country, where they’re reasonably priced options.

A rearview camera is standard on most trim levels, but it’s bundled with a $1,900 Vision Package on V60 Dynamic and Cross Country wagons that also includes rear cross-traffic alerts and blind-spot monitors that are standard elsewhere across the V60 lineup.

Additionally, the V60 is available with a built-in child booster rear seat for $500 aimed at children between about 33 and 80 pounds.

The IIHS calls the similar S60 a Top Safety Pick when fitted with the extra-cost HID headlights. We'll carry that over to the V60, which in the past has aced the agency’s full barrage of crash tests and its automatic emergency braking systems are highly rated.

The federal government hasn’t yet rated the 2018 V60, but its scores for the S60 are top notch: five stars all around. Given that the V60 is merely an S60 with more luggage capacity and a longer roofline, we feel confident in extending an extra two points for the five-star overall rating.

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2018 Volvo V60

Features

A wide variety of options and trim packages make it easy to make your 2018 Volvo V60 your own.

The 2018 Volvo V60 is well-equipped for the money and it’s available in a wide range of configurations. Preventing it from earning an extra point is it outdated infotainment system, which is far more button-centric and lacking in features than most rivals.

Overall, the V60 rates 7 out of 10 on our scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

All V60s share the same 7.0-inch infotainment screen. Although the display is bright and crisp, it lacks Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality and it also requires that inputs be made through a phone-like keypad that normally controls the audio system. Overall, Volvo’s infotainment is cumbersome and a step behind the times.

The V60 range starts with the Dynamic trim level, which is well-equipped from the get-go with leather upholstery, a power driver’s seat, heated front seats, HID headlights, automatic emergency braking, and 18-inch alloy wheels. A handful of option packages let buyers dress up their V60 Dynamic wagons with goodies. The Vision Package is worthwhile with its keyless ignition, an LCD instrument cluster, rear park assist, a rearview camera, and blind-spot monitors with rear cross-traffic alerts.

The Technology Package on the V60 Dynamic adds adaptive cruise control, automatic high-beam headlights, full-speed automatic emergency braking, active lane control, and road sign information for a reasonable $1,500. One option we’d avoid on the V6 Dynamic is the Sport Package. Its firmer suspension is too stiff without being truly sporty.

The V60 Cross Country is equipped about like the V60 Dynamic and offers similar option packages. A separate trim level, the V60 Cross Country Platinum builds on the base trim with HID headlights, Harman Kardon audio, and full-speed automatic emergency braking.

The V60 R-Design adds in the more powerful T6 engine plus a firmer suspension and 19-inch alloy wheels, plus it makes standard most of the packages that cost extra on the V60 Dynamic.  

At the top of the range, the V60 Polestar is the only high-performance wagon under $100,000 on the market. At around $62,000, it’s fully loaded. The only decision to make is which of five colors you want Volvo to paint yours.

If you’re one of the precious few interested in a big-buck, high-po Volvo wagon, good on you.

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2018 Volvo V60

Fuel Economy

The 2018 Volvo V60 offers above average fuel economy, especially with front-wheel drive.

Unless you opt for all-wheel drive, the 2018 Volvo V60 is especially fuel-efficient—enough to earn a heady 8 out of 10 on our scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

It’s rated at 25 mpg city, 36 highway, 29 combined.

But even the snow-ready V60 isn’t bad. With the T5 engine, it’s rated at 22/33/26 mpg. Pick the V60 Cross Country, though, and there’s a big compromise for that extra ride height. Its fuel economy drops to just 22/30/25 mpg.

The V60 R-Design’s turbo- and supercharged inline-4 rates 22/32/26 mpg. The high-performance V60 Polestar is thirsty, but not totally unreasonably so, at 20/27/22 mpg.

All versions of the V60 have a stop/start system that cuts their engines out at idle to save fuel and reduce emissions. No hybrid version of the V60 is available, unlike Volvo’s larger and more modern V90 wagon.

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$38,250
MSRP based on T5 FWD Dynamic
 
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7.0
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 6
Performance 5
Comfort & Quality 8
Safety 8
Features 7
Fuel Economy 8
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