2017 Volvo V60 T5 Drive-E AWD Special Edition Road Test

There are wagon fans and then there are those who just don’t quite grasp what all the excitement is about. The latter notion
2017 Volvo V60 T5 Drive-E AWD Special Edition
The V60’s sleek lines have always been pleasing to the eye. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
is understandable, especially amongst those my age and considerably older who grew up with station wagons as their go-to family haulers and therefore disdain them as much as those raised in minivans dislike their parents’ modus operandi, but despite falling into the former camp I remain an ardent follower of wagons.

Of course, today’s sport wagons are nothing like the wooden decaled behemoths that wafted down the highways and byways of my youth, their distorted AM radios buzzing War’s “Low Rider” through grossly underpowered single-speaker sound systems, or an “8-Track Stereo” if your folks happened to pay more for the luxurious tufted velour upholstery upgrade. In comparison, most of today’s mainstream volume brands reserve their “five-door” models for upper trim levels with
2017 Volvo V60 T5 Drive-E AWD Special Edition
With a sporty profile and tall distinctive taillights, the V60 looks 100-percent premium. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
more options, while premium brands often do likewise because of low take-rates compared to the popularity of four-door sedans and SUVs, or alternatively only offer a single drivetrain so as not to incur too many costs, this forcing wagon lovers to make do with whatever they’re given. Not so with Volvo.

BMW and Audi are the only other carmakers currently providing compact D-segment wagons to Canadian luxury buyers, with Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar and Cadillac having given up on the class altogether. BMW’s $45,700 3 Series Touring can only be had with a single 2.0-litre turbo-four making 248 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque connecting to an all-wheel drivetrain, whereas Audi’s $47,600 A4 Allroad also features just one 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine with 252 horsepower and
2017 Volvo V60 T5 Drive-E AWD Special Edition
The Special Edition gets upgraded headlights with cornering control, 18-inch alloys and unique aluminum-style trim. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
273 lb-ft of torque fed to all four wheels, but this model is only available with raised ride-height and crossover-like styling, similar in concept to Volvo’s V60 Cross Country.

In comparison the much more affordable $40,600 V60 T5 Drive-E is a true five-door sport wagon that’s also powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder rated at a similar 240 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque and mated to front- or all-wheel drive as tested, yet Volvo offers two uniquely different upgrades to this engine as well, including a turbocharged and supercharged version dubbed T6 Drive-E AWD that puts out a potent 302 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque and then routes it solely through all-wheel drive, plus an even more imposing
2017 Volvo V60 T5 Drive-E AWD Special Edition
The V60’s interior is beautifully finished with upscale materials. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
T6 Drive-E AWD Polestar edition (Volvo’s racetrack tested M and AMG fighter) capable of 367 horsepower and 347 lb-ft of torque. Like the Germans, all Volvo power units mate up to an eight-speed automatic with manual mode and auto start/stop that shuts the engine off when it would otherwise be idling, and engine braking energy regeneration.

Of note, despite offering three times as many engine options as its competitors for 2017, the Swedish brand has actually reduced this number since last year when a five-cylinder with 250 horsepower and 266 lb-ft of torque was also available, as was an inline-six capable of 300 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque. The move to more fuel-efficient, environmentally friendly four-cylinder powertrains is now brand-wide, with even its larger mid-size S90 sedan and V90 wagons powered solely
2017 Volvo V60 T5 Drive-E AWD Special Edition
The driver-centric cockpit is ergonomically ideal. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
by variations of the new 2.0-litre engine, not to mention the brand’s impressive XC90 mid-size SUV that also gets the option of a plug-in hybrid making 400 horsepower.

As noted, my V60 tester was equipped with the T5 Drive-E AWD powertrain, this the second most fuel-efficient in the lineup at 10.7 L/100km city, 7.8 highway and 9.4 combined compared to the base FWD model’s 9.6 L/100km city, 7.0 highway and 8.4 combined, the latter of which is actually 20-percent thriftier on the highway than the old five-cylinder model (five-percent of which is derived from Eco+ mode alone). I’m finding myself using such eco modes more often these days, as much due to environmental concerns as savings at the pump (have you noticed the price of gas is no better now than it was when crude hovered around $100 per barrel?), so a fuel-friendly wagon like this is ideal for my lifestyle.

2017 Volvo V60 T5 Drive-E AWD Special Edition
A fully configurable digital gauge package is standard with the Special Edition. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
be tempted to up the performance ante due to negligible running costs and environmental impact, the more powerful T6 Drive-E AWD only off by fractions in the city and combined at 10.9 and 9.5 L/100km respectively while its highway rating is even better at 7.7, whereas the Polestar super-wagon is ultra-efficient compared to most anything with similar performance at 8.5 L/100km city, 11.8 highway and 10.3 combined.

Still, I certainly never felt hard done by while motoring around town, cruising down the highway, or taking to the curves in the lesser model. First off, the four-cylinder’s turbo helps spool up torque quickly so that all 258 lb-ft is available from just 1,500 rpm, making accelerating from standstill brisk to say the least. Of course, AWD only improves the situation, especially
2017 Volvo V60 T5 Drive-E AWD Special Edition
Volvo’s trademark floating centre stack is the centerpiece of the interior design. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
in inclement weather. In this class I would only purchase AWD, but this more because of my personal desire to bypass mandatory chain-up requirements on the way up the ski hill than much need around town. The FWD model comes with a bevy of standard active safety features such as traction and stability control, the V60’s Dynamic Stability Control boasting a Sport mode, whereas the car’s standard Corner Traction Control (CTC) uses torque vectoring to maximize grip, all of which makes AWD less necessary than in decades past, but AWD certainly has its advantages for those with active lifestyles during the snowy winter season.

Of course, AWD improves handling on any road surface or condition, and while I wouldn’t consider my T5 Drive-E AWD tester a canyon carver, at least not to the level
2017 Volvo V60 T5 Drive-E AWD Special Edition
Standard 7.0-inch Volvo Sensus infotainment includes navigation in Special Edition trim. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
of the R-Design or Polestar, it certainly holds its own on a winding road. At least as importantly its fully independent suspension is sublime over rough patches of pavement and other bumpy surfaces, its ride quality unsurpassed in the class and made even better due to some of the best seats available anywhere.

This is where I need to mention my loaner’s upgraded $53,050 Special Edition trim, this being the only way you can get the V60’s T5 Drive-E AWD mechanicals in Canada. Along with AWD the unique SE gets some unique exterior detailing including a silver front centre undertray and rear diffuser plate, bright metal window surrounds and silver roof rails, sophisticated dual xenon headlights with auto
2017 Volvo V60 T5 Drive-E AWD Special Edition
Myriad buttons depict high-end audio equipment, while a pictograph makes vent direction easy. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
high beams, active cornering and washers, a gorgeous set of bright silver twinned five-spoke 18-inch “Skadi” alloys (lesser models use 17-inch alloys), an upgraded Dynamic sport suspension, power-retractable side mirrors, proximity access with Keyless Drive pushbutton ignition, Off-Black or Soft Beige leather upholstery, textured Milled Aluminum inlays, a heated windshield and washer nozzles, a heatable steering wheel and heated rear outboard seats, adaptive cruise control with Queue Assist low speed follow, a special Interior Air Quality System (IAQS), an adaptive digital TFT primary gauge display, navigation, a backup camera, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a HomeLink garage door opener, a digital compass, Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake (CWAB), Pedestrian
2017 Volvo V60 T5 Drive-E AWD Special Edition
The eight-speed automatic is smooth, sporty and efficient. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
and Cyclist Detection with Full Auto Brake, Distance Alert, Driver Alert Control, Lane Departure Warning with a Lane Keeping Aid, a Lane Change Merge Aid (LCMA), blindspot detection and rear cross-traffic alert, road sign information, and front and rear parking sensors, with all of the active safety features earning the V60 Special Edition a best possible IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus rating.

All of this kit gets added to a base V60 that already comes with LED daytime running lights, heatable powered front seats, memory for the driver’s seat and side mirrors, a leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel, rain-sensing wipers, dual-zone automatic climate control, a 7.0-inch colour Volvo Sensus infotainment system, HD and satellite radio, Bluetooth phone connectivity with streaming audio, Volvo On Call telematics, a powered glass sunroof, power-folding rear headrests,
2017 Volvo V60 T5 Drive-E AWD Special Edition
These are two of the most comfortable sport seats available. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
highly versatile 40/20/40-split folding rear seatbacks that expand the V60’s 430 litres (15.2 cubic feet) of cargo capacity to a maximum of 692 litres (24.4 cubic feet), and last but hardly least, City Safety that warns of pedestrians and cyclists in your lane.

It all comes in a cabin that’s wonderfully quiet and very well finished, the V60 not as glitzy as the new S90, V90 and XC90 models that feature unique jewel-like faceted metals and piano black lacquered trim, but rather a more subdued quality of soft touch synthetic surfaces, textured and satin-finish aluminum accents, fabric-wrapped pillars, and more. The V60 incorporates the brand’s trademark floating centre stack filled with superbly crafted aluminum and composite switchgear, long a personal favourite design element, its surfacing mostly finished in
2017 Volvo V60 T5 Drive-E AWD Special Edition
Rear seat spaciousness is good, especially headroom. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
aluminum and vent direction controls ultra-easy to sort out thanks to an aluminum pictograph of a body, and while I wouldn’t call the infotainment system particularly large or state-of-the-art it delivers everything most owners require, whereas the fully configurable gauge package is over the top.

Along with the V60’s unparalleled comfort is a layout that delivers more than enough room up front, headroom especially good. I suppose this makes sense being that Swedes are an inch taller than Canadians on average, plus a lot of Danes and Norwegians drive Volvos too and they’re amongst the tallest people anywhere. Along with lofty headspace the V60 provides good side-to-side roominess, while rear seat passengers should be plenty comfortable too, even if three adults are sitting beside each other being that the V60 is wider than the segment
2017 Volvo V60 T5 Drive-E AWD Special Edition
The V60’s 40/20/40 split-folding rear seatbacks allow rear passengers more comfort on their way to the ski hill. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
average. When only two are in back a large armrest with integrated cupholders can be folded down from centre, adding to rear passenger comfort and convenience.

If it sounds like I’m more focused on practicalities than luxuries, please don’t get me wrong. I only do so because wagons are designed for those who prioritize passengers and cargo, but the V60 is no less of a luxury car than its four-door S60 sedan counterpart, both of which measure up well against the premium German, Japanese and American brands they compete against. The V60 delivers a wonderfully hushed environment that’s hard to beat, while style, performance, features, fuel economy and safety come close to class leading, and its value proposition is best by far. Also, don’t forget that if you’d rather have a crossover styled wagon, Volvo’s slightly taller and more rugged looking V60 Cross Country can be had for as little as $45,200.

Truly, the V60 should be high on any sport wagon lover’s shopping list.
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