Saturday, April 4, 2015

Volvo's V60 wagon is big on sporty vigor

Mark Glover’s AutoGlo car reviews also can be seen on the Business page of The Sacramento Bee’s website

Sacramento, California – Volvo has introduced a new V60 sport wagon, and it’s heavy on the sport part.

My 2015.5 Volvo V60 T6 AWD R-Design showed up wearing write-me-up red exterior paint, and at first glance, I took it as a smallish wagon.

A few minutes behind the wheel had me forgetting all about that smallish reference.

Power comes from a 3-liter turbocharged, six-cylinder engine rated at 325 horsepower and 354 foot-pounds of torque.

That equates to zero to 60 miles per hour in a short and sweet 5.5 seconds, but for me, the blast was not in the numbers but the feel.

Swinging it down the entrance ramp onto Interstate 80 was not the normal experience as the V60 dug in and was in full, glued-to-the-road performance mode in what seemed like an eye-blink.  Surrounding cars just fell away, or so it seemed.

Lots of people boast about cars that do this.  In truth, very few actually do it in spades.  So, the V60 had my attention right off the bat.

Performance is impressive on freeway straights, uphill runs and twisty country roads.  The car does not put a foot wrong, even when the driver is endeavoring to make that happen.

Volvo’s touted “Corner Traction Control through Torque Vectoring” might need an hour of explaining from a top automotive engineer.  But I figured it out with one 65 mph rip around a sharp, uphill corner in the Sierra Nevada foothills.

Fun to drive, for sure, but what about the practical stuff?

It turns out that the V60 is quite comfortable from the cockpit seat, and the rear boot has ample space for the cargo that most of us carry.  If you want to tow a big boat, this isn’t your vehicle, but if you do a lot of weekend road trips, you’ll probably be happy with this vehicle’s size.

Back seat passengers told me they did feel cramped amid a full load of travelers.  A couple of them complained that you had to duck your head dramatically when entering the vehicle, lest you belt the frame with you melon.  Just saying.

The tester had a liberal dose of safety, luxury, comfort and convenience features in the true Volvo tradition.  It had enough stuffed in it to justify its starting price of $45,150, in my view.

I will say that it takes some confidence to launch a sport wagon in the hugely competitive U.S. market these days, and I wonder how many buyers Volvo will lure to the lots with its V60.  From my experience, this V60 deserves to be on a prospective buyer’s test-drive list.

There are other well-known sport wagons out there, but you’re missing something if you overlook this one.  This V60 is a strong new offering, getting a rock-solid “B” grade from me. 

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