This is not your dad’s college Volvo. This is not the steal wagon with a little oil burning that we all remember from high school. And this is most definitely not what you expect it to be.
Minus a few rides in the past, such as the Volvo V60R, the Swedish auto manufacturer has not necessarily been known for a performance car. Don’t get me wrong; their rides do perform and handle well, but I have never really been overly impressed with the full package. The focus on safety, while important, has seemingly become a roadblock in the balance of the perfect ride, and often the vehicles are left in the category of the mom-car.
Having driven the S60 sedan, which did not really impress me with its features, ride, or comfort, I walked into the 2014 Volvo V60 T5 estate with a bit of a hesitation. I have always loved Volvos, especially the older ones that never seem to die, but since their break from Ford, the company was on the rocks in defining the brand. So after adjusting the seats, getting everything perfect for my week in the ride, it was time to see if I would be left wanting a whole lot more.
I wasn’t. From the very start, the V60 impressed me. The seats are some of the best I have ever experienced in a smaller car, the ride control was more connect with the ground, and the overall feel of the car was balanced. The engine, a 250-hp 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission and the Haldex all-wheel-drive system, had a good amount of power as it went through the corners with grace. All the technology included helped the experience, even if some are a bit gimmicky. The dash colors and layout can be changed among three settings, and the center dash had the standard Volvo flair with too many buttons, but overall it all came together in one nice Polestar blue package. It handled the corners like a pro, the traction control keeping me going exactly where I wanted to go even when I tried to push the limit. It was impressive and fun to say the least.
So what makes it so different? Well, to start, it is a solid wagon (estate), and has no real competition in its size class, making is stand out from the rest. The styling from the front to back has elegant lines and smooth curves, with a striking roof line and raked rear end. It’s not necessarily the best for cargo space, but can still handle the average family’s truck-junk for the every day. It is balanced on the road, connected to the asphalt as it flies down. It is definitely not the fastest off the line or getting up to speed, but it hits the curves with gusto and keeps going strong. Not once did I feel like I could lose control as I drove this through the Colorado mountains.
For those that know me, the following is pretty hard for me to admit as well. The Volvo V60 estate is the car that the Audi A3 wish it could be. Yes, the Audi is a sedan, a bit faster, and a little cleaner inside, but it feels a bit lost in the passion on the road that all Audi rides used to have. This Volvo on the other hand, hits it right on the mark, presenting in a neat, beautiful package a sense of passion, commitment, style, and sportiness, that can be enjoyed year round. And don’t let the wagon form fool you; this is an every-man car, one you can hit the mountains with for bike rides and skiing, and then the city for a date. It is classy, refined, unique, and beautiful. And I expect to still see these on the road 20 years down the line, becoming the next “old” Volvo that gets passed down generation to generation to generation.
This is the first real Volvo I have driven in years, but the furthest from the older cars as it could be.