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It's Hip to be Unsquare: 2015 Volvo V60

2015 Volvo V60

Any one familiar with the history of Volvo station wagons knows that for years they were among the boxiest-looking cars on the market. And people loved them. They were also among the safest cars available, and Volvo rode that reputation to worldwide success, even way back in the 1970s when most of our own automotive industry was focused on horsepower.

My first Volvo wagon experience came in 1980, working for a gentleman who owned a 1979 245 DL which I got to drive occasionally on errands downtown. Even though it was the polar opposite of my sporty ’78 VW front wheel-drive coupe, I was mighty impressed and always looked for an excuse to get behind the wheel.

Fast forward 34 years (omg!) to the 2015 Volvo V60 wagon I test drove last week at Northtown Volvo. Again, I was impressed, but driving this new wagon reminded me (in a good way) of my old VW Scirocco. The V60 is sporty, responsive, comfortable, and a great-looking car.

That’s saying a lot for something that seemingly has to compete with both mid-sized SUVs and crossovers. I’m just not sure why anyone would choose one of those over the V60. There’s room for five real people and their stuff, it goes like the dickens, and it has a normal ride height even when equipped with optional all wheel-drive. I’m not saying that crossovers are a total waste of time (am I?) but for my money I’d rather drive a normal car. But that’s just me.

The test car, and thanks to Northtown’s Greg Schmidt for answering my questions, was an Ice White T5 Drive-E FWD Premier model, which sounds like a mouthful. Let’s break that down. Drive-E refers to Volvo’s new powertrain technology—a 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbocharged engine rated at 250 hp, hooked-up to an eight-speed Geartronic automatic transmission (the T6 model has a 3.0-liter, 325-hp turbocharged inline six). This set-up has the start/stop feature, which shuts the engine off when the vehicle comes to a complete stop; it starts itself when the driver lifts his/her foot off the brake. This, as you can imagine, is a real fuel saver in city traffic where there’s a lot of stop-and-go. And if, when you’re driving the car for the first time you forget it has the start/stop, you’ll proclaim a “#%**@#” at your first red light when you think the car has stalled-out on you. Doh!

The Premier part in the model designation refers, as you might imagine, to more equipment than the non-Premier model. Stuff like: leather seating surfaces, auto dim rearview mirror, adaptive digital display, alloy wheels, silver roof rails, side window brightwork, and keyless drive with personal car communicator. The test car also came equipped with heated front seats, power moonroof, automatic temperature control, and heated door mirrors (among other things). It listed at $38,620.

Although the V60 is by no means a high car, it’s easy to get into and out of both the front and rear seats. The driver’s spot is very comfortable, and the controls are all at hand and relatively easy to figure out. Even with the sunroof I had adequate headroom in all seating positions. The steering and braking are confidence-inspiring, as is the response of the turbocharged engine. Although I’m no hot rodder, it’s nice to know the power is there when you need to pass, merge, or just impress the person in the passenger seat.

The V60 I guess, to me anyway, would be the perfect car for the sports car enthusiast who now has family responsibilities and room for only one car in the driveway. And if you let your new hire drive it every once in a while, you’ll make a long-lasting impression.

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Read more of Jim Corbran's You Auto Know every other week in Artvoice, and more frequently on Artvoice Daily.

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