Best Wagon: Volvo V60/V60 Cross Country

Automotive trends, like fashion, are often cyclical. Once the most popular choice for a grocery-getting, family-hauling vehicle, the wagon fell out of favour and was eclipsed by the minivan. The minivan was then replaced by the crossover and SUV, chosen for their utility and increased ride height. The massive, inefficient wood-panelled land barges of old have been replaced by tasteful modern wagons that appear to be gaining popularity in Canada once again. For those in search of utility and cargo capacity but unwilling to compromise the engaging handling, efficiency, and performance of a car, a wagon may be just the ticket.

Consisting of more than 20 automotive experts from across the country, our jury whittled down the list of wagons available for sale in Canada to five finalists. Taking a wide range of parameters into account, each vehicle was critiqued on the factors that would most appeal to wagon buyers; namely, practicality, comfort, convenience, the integration of innovative technology and safety amenities, ergonomics and fuel efficiency. A modern wagon should be stylish and refined, while also being enjoyable to drive. Ranging in size and approach, level of standard equipment and amenities, the shortlist of models also varied greatly in price. Offering high value for the money also plays a large part of the equation since our jury needs to feel confident in their decision to recommend the winner.

Beating out the Mercedes E-Class Wagon, Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen and Alltrack, Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo and Mercedes C-Class Wagon, our team of testers confidently identified the winner: the Volvo V60/V60 Cross Country.

The boxy Volvo wagon is an iconic mainstay of automotive culture, but those old bricks are no more. Now featuring graceful, sweeping curves, Volvo has gone upmarket. Complementing the elegant exterior are high-quality interior options that provide a comfortable, quiet and supportive space to enjoy the ride. Intuitive technology is seamlessly integrated to keep the driver’s attention on the road while navigating menus and activities within the large 8- or 9-inch infotainment screen by hand or voice command. The power rear hatch opens to reveal one of the largest cargo compartments in the segment. Where the Volvo V60 truly excels is how quickly and easily it fits into your daily life.

Over the years, Volvo phased out its five- and six-cylinder engines in favour of exclusively using four-cylinder powerplants. These fuel-efficient Drive-E engines are both turbocharged and supercharged, offering robust low- and mid-range performance.

The well-equipped Momentum trim level starts at an MSRP of $43,900 with the T5 engine that’s good for 250 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque exclusively paired with front-wheel drive. Opting for the T6 powertrain adds all-wheel-drive capability and features 316 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. A sportier option, the R-Design trim starts at $54,800 and is available exclusively with a T6 in AWD. Steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, standard variable drive modes and the lowered sport chassis feature a firmer ride and more dynamic handling characteristics. Inscription trim starts at $55,400 which adds LED bending headlights with active high-beam, a selection of exterior design cues and interior upgrades, including a Bowers & Wilkins premium sound system and the option for massaging seats.

The V60 Cross Country comes in a single trim while the only powertrain offering is the T5 mated to all-wheel drive. Visually, the Cross Country gets some extra plastic cladding for a more rugged appearance, revised chassis and suspension that adds an extra 75 mm of ride height and all-wheel drive as standard equipment. It also offers hill descent control and an off-road drive mode.

The V60 and V60 Cross Country are equipped with a laundry list of passive and active safety equipment for which the brand has been synonymous since its inception in 1927 – most of which you’ll never see and hopefully never have to experience. Opting for the Vision Package adds a 360-degree camera, front and rear park assist, auto-dimming mirrors and the blind spot information system with cross-traffic alert. A rigid safety cell constructed from ultra high-strength boron steel shields occupants, while strategic crumple zones, air bags, whiplash and side impact protection areas dissipate and absorb energy in the event of a collision. After all, Volvo has a reputation for making safe vehicles that it needs to uphold.

The V60 also utilizes both radar and camera technology to recognize and alert the driver of potential hazards both day and night – automatically applying the brakes if it senses that a collision is imminent with another vehicle, a cyclist, a pedestrian or even a large animal.

Scandinavians know a thing or two about winter, so cold weather comfort and peace of mind come as standard equipment for the family-minded owner. The V60 and V60 Cross Country are wagons we can feel confident in recommending to our close friends and family.

Stylish, capable, confident 1/20/2020 12:00:00 AM