The V60 manages to prove that the wagon is still relevant for Canadian families.
When it comes to the endangered species that is the station wagon, Volvo has been helping to maintain population numbers for the last several decades. The 2016 Volvo V60 T6 Drive-E AWD is the latest and greatest effort by the Swedish car company in this much-loved yet perpetually threatened segment of the Canadian automotive market. With the jacked-up crossover sport-utility vehicle (CUV) encroaching on market share year after year, the wagon has to fight hard to remain relevant. For 2016 model year, Volvo combines their Drive-E twin-charged powertrain – that’s turbocharged AND supercharged – with all-wheel drive. The DoubleClutch.ca editorial team recently spent a week with an Osmium Grey V60 T6 Drive-E, and got to see first-hand what the long-roof twin-charged Volvo was all about.
At a base price of $47,900, the T6 trim comes fairly well equipped and includes rain-sensing wipers, sunroof, 18-inch wheels, and power driver and passenger seats. For $1,350, the Climate Package includes rear heated seats, heated windshield, heated steering wheel, as well as heated washer fluid nozzles. A $2,950 Navigation Package adds navigation, Harman/Kardon premium sound, and accent lighting, and dual xenon headlights were $1,100. Among other options, including adaptive cruise, blind-spot and forward collision warning systems, the as-tested price came out to $58,350.
With seating for five and an ample amount of cargo space with the seats up or down, the V60 is a great place to spend time. The seats are typical Volvo, with comfort levels that are second to none. The Harman/Kardon audio did a good job with keeping ears happy, but the infotainment is a little bit long in the tooth. There’s no touch screen function, but thankfully the dials and buttons paired with the Volvo Sensus 7-inch screen are fairly easy to navigate. Interior design is smart and simple, and the monochrome colour palette works well thanks to a variety of different textures. One of the neatest touches is the outline of a person for the fan position controls, and the wooden texture on the centre stack is an especially nice detail.
For 2016, Volvo has married the Drive-E twin-charged 2.0-litre turbocharged and supercharged four cylinder to the 8-speed automatic, as well as all-wheel drive. Prior to this year, if buyers wanted Drive-E, they had to make do with a detuned front-wheel drive version on base T5 trim only. The T5 AWD carries over the older 2.5-litre turbocharged inline five, and when moving up to the T6, both the previous turbocharged 3.0-litre inline six and Drive-E are available. The twin-charged engine is definitely the one to have, with 300 horsepower at 5,600 RPM and 295 lb-ft of torque available between 2,100 and 4,200 RPM.
On the road, Drive-E provides for gobs of usable low-end torque, and the supercharger provides instant response compared to a traditional turbocharged-only engine. In the upper rev range, the turbo comes on strong, taking over the forced induction duties from the supercharger. While the transition is generally seamless, there are some points during mid-throttle application where a surge is noticed as the two power adders pass the baton back and forth with each other.
Paired with the V60’s Drive-E engine is an eight-speed automatic transmission sourced from long-time partner Aisin. Shifts are quick and smooth, and even though it has many options, the Volvo doesn’t spend a lot of time hunting between gears. The extra ratios help to keep the Drive-E engine in the sweetest part of the powerband for just about any given driving condition, and when combined with start-stop technology, fuel efficiency is considerably better than the older inline-five and inline-six powertrains in Volvo’s lineup. Nominal city consumption is rated at 11.3 L/100km, and highway consumption is 8.2 L/100km. The V60’s week on test netted an observed value of 9.0 L/100km, with a bit of a slant towards highway driving. Unlike the inline-five and six options, the twin-charged engine cannot accept regular octane fuel – it’s premium only for Drive-E.
In terms of driving dynamics, the V60 T6 did not disappoint. The test car was saddled with winter tires in the thick of summer, but still managed to impress with confident brakes, a tight chassis, and accurate steering that make it a competent handler. Ride quality is excellent, with highway cruising being an absolute dream in terms of noise, vibration, and harshness. The Volvo does come in softer than the likes of the BMW 328i Touring (reviewed here), but doesn’t sacrifice a whole lot of handling compared to its German rivals – at least, on a day-to-day level. The BMW may come out ahead in a racetrack environment, but let’s be honest – that isn’t how most wagon buyers will be treating their car.
All in all, the 2016 Volvo V60 T6 Drive-E AWD managed to prove that the wagon is still relevant for Canadian families. Having been around since the 2011 model year, the interior is getting a little bit dated, but the overall chassis and driving experience still remains very competitive. Buyers who have owned Volvos in the past are likely to enjoy the V60 with the Drive-E engine and eight-speed automatic. As the owner of a 1990 Volvo 240 DL, the V60 feels like a natural progression of the basic Volvo personality: simplistic yet smart design, emphasis on safety, and a smooth and refined ride that gives it a healthy touch of class. Its German rivals may handle and look better, but the V60 still shines in ways that aren’t as tangible.