The stunning new Volvo V60 proves Sweden still knows station wagons
With most automakers mourning the station wagon in the face of the crossover onslaught, relegating the loyal estate car to some dusty corner of museums celebrating disco and pet rocks, Volvo keeps the dream of carrying around a husband, wife, and 2.5 kids in style with the 2019 V60 Sportwagon.
Though Sweden's top car builder always had a wagon or two in its line, the V60 is a fairly new player for the 90-year-old company. Debuting in 2011 and refreshed three years later, the attempt to make a wagon with stronger performance and luxury elements did well enough for Volvo over the last seven years that it earned a redesign.
The 2019 version just made its international debut in an unusual, if appropriate setting. Any V60 looks most comfortable parked outside a nice house in the suburbs. So, Volvo execs introduced the this new model outside a nice house in the suburbs. The automaker bussed in a United Nations subcommittee of journalists from downtown Stockholm to a white, gleaming, and ultramodern Swedish home in the comfy hills overlooking the city.
While central casting provided a pleasant flurry of tea saucer snowflakes, the V60 arrived—sporting new aesthetics gleaned from its makers' Scalable Platform Architecture (SPA). This very modern wagon features the extended nose of a performance sedan and the sloping haunches of a small SUV—but there remain echoes of ye olde station wagon blended in with those unmistakable Volvo visual touchstones of dignity and elegance. New "Thor's Hammer" LED headlights tucked into a tweaked grille and bumper complete the nips and tucks.
A surprising looker in every regard, this V60 shares its scalable architecture signatures with the larger S/V/XC90 trio and the XC60 SUV. Now, only the S60 remains to be added in the plan to overhaul and energize the look of the entire line.
Sitting on one of those ergonomic couches so beloved by Swedish designers and so impossible to sit on comfortably, Robin Page (Volvo Senior Vice President Design) set the V60 up as the "centerpiece of the Volvo brand."
While stressing to the assembled press that this was still a Volvo with all of the sensibility and defiant build quality intact, Page made it clear that the new aesthetics stress more "beautiful proportion and stance."
When the V60 arrives later this year, it'll include T6 and T5 gasoline models—with a more stripped-down T4 gas setup arriving in early 2019. Front-wheel drive D3 and D4 diesels with a choice of manual or automatic transmission will complete the standard fuel choices. (Whether the diesels come to the US or not remains to be seen.)
In keeping with Volvo's well-publicized pledge to become the first automaker with an all-electrified catalog by 2019, the V60 offers two plug-in hybrid powertrain options. The new T6 Twin Engine AWD gasoline plug-in hybrid will generate a combined 340hp (254kW), while the T8 Twin Engine AWD gas plug-in hybrid adds 50 more equines (390hp/291kW).
While its new exterior styling aesthetic remains sleek and understated, the interior is where these new Volvo SPA vehicles shine. When redesigning their machines over the last couple of years, Volvo aspired to maintain that unique look of northern European simplicity and elegance throughout the cockpit. Its Sensus in-car infotainment system keeps the interface clean and puts a unique vertically orientated touchscreen to work in the center console.
When you combine Sensus with Volvo's environmental control system (as it maintains interior temperatures while filtering dust and germs), you end up with what Volvo calls its Scandinavian Sanctuary experience. Their engineers want their cars to do more than merely transport the driver. They want those drivers protected from the outside world while at the controls.
You can reverse the common car cliche and suggest that military minds build their tanks like Volvos as the automaker's new driver support systems make their way from the V90 and XC60. City Safety with Autobrake uses titular automatic braking and detection systems to help avoid collisions. It remains the only software in the business that can recognize pedestrians, cyclists, and large four-legged animals. We're not sure though if it's safe to assume it can also scan a moose riding a bicycle while crossing the street. While there are other auto-braking systems that will stop a car from rear-ending another vehicle, Volvo reports City Safety is the first to "mitigate oncoming collisions."
The 2019 V60 will be available for sale, lease, or via the new subscription service "Care by Volvo." Drivers will pay a monthly flat-fee subscription to use the car, with Volvo taking care of everything except fuel. The plan is modeled on how we use and pay for our cell phones, only for a car that won't fail you if you're too far from a microwave tower, surrounded by tall buildings or lost somewhere in the lofty, rural suburbs of Stockholm.
Listing image by Volvo