Test Drive: 2019 Volvo V60 Inscription

If you’re one of these mythical SUV decliners that are rumoured to exist, listen up. The new 2019 Volvo V60 is an excellently proportioned vehicle that can move a proper amount of stuff and is luxurious and stylish without breaking the bank – or at least, not as badly as similarly sized vehicles from other upscale brands. Those who are looking for something that’s different but still practical and that stands out without being ostentatious should give the V60 a serious look. The only catch is that some features many drivers won’t want to live without, such as blind spot monitoring or a heated steering wheel, can only be added with extra-cost packages.

Styling: 9/10

Just when you thought that a wagon couldn’t get any more beautiful, Volvo goes and outdoes itself. From the concave grille to the “Thor’s hammer” headlights, the artfully placed key-line side panel accents, and the elongated vertical taillights set off against the roof-mounted spoiler, every curve and line is intentionally placed and it shows. The only car that does wagon better is its larger sibling, the Volvo V90, for which this is an ideal smaller companion.

Safety: 8/10

Volvo has a reputation to uphold, not the least of it being a stated desire that no one be killed or seriously injured in a Volvo by 2020. (That’s next year, people!) Front collision-mitigation support, lane-keep assist, and rain-sensing wipers are standard equipment on every trim, while the Inscription also comes with LED bending headlights with active high-beams. Unfortunately, the blind spot information system with cross-traffic alert can only be equipped with the Vision Package, which also comes with a 360-degree surround camera, front and rear park assist, and auto-dimming mirrors. Those are desirable features that some buyers will be disappointed to find cost extra. As for real-world safety testing, the IIHS hasn’t rated the latest V60 as of this writing, so that’s yet to be determined.

Practicality: 8/10

Wagons are uber-practical, so this score should be through the roof, right? Well, yes and no. The V60 is, in this writer’s estimation, far and away more practical than its S60 sedan sibling or other similarly sized sedans in that its seating and cargo configurations make it incredibly versatile. And everything north of the Momentum T5 trim, including this Inscription T6, comes with all-wheel drive. But it is a very low-slung car, which is excellent from a styling standpoint but means living with some sacrifices in a world that seems made for SUVs. For example, ground clearance is relatively low at 14.2 centimetres, which is not only less than ideal for clearing snowplow leavings but also means living with a persistent upward reach at the Tim’s drive-through.

User Friendliness: 8/10

For the most part, the highly simplified centre console layout works well thanks to streamlined buttons and storage solutions. That said, there’s a slight dock in points worked in here for the infotainment system. Overall, I’m a big fan. Unlike the previous-generation V60, this one has several places to store a smartphone, and it also includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. I especially enjoy that the very large screen allows for scrolling through SiriusXM stations to see which songs are playing at any given moment. It’s a great setup for music lovers, but as hard as this is to admit, it does have the potential to break a driver’s concentration and take their eyes off the road for too long.

Features: 8.5/10

Along with the aforementioned infotainment system and safety features, the base V60 comes with standard leather upholstery, heated and power-adjustable front seats with a driver’s side memory function, power-folding rear seats and rear headrests, panoramic sunroof, power tailgate, black roof rails, and 18-inch alloy wheels. Jump up to this Inscription trim and four-zone climate control with a cooled glove box, the larger 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, and Nappa leather upholstery with ventilated front seats become standard equipment. A massaging function, a premium sound system, and additional convenience features such as heated rear seats are available as extra-cost add-ons.

Power: 8/10

For this car, the 316 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque from the T6 supercharged and turbocharged engine feels just about perfect. I don’t think I’d opt for the T5, not only because the power output isn’t quite as satisfying but also because the entry-level engine can’t be paired with all-wheel drive. I find myself cruising around in Dynamic mode more often than not for its more energetic throttle response and gearing setup through the eight-speed automatic transmission, but drivers who prefer a much more relaxed driving experience will enjoy Comfort mode.

Comfort: 8.5/10

This is a truly beautiful cabin to spend time in. The materials are pleasing to look at and touch with real chrome and wood – although the slats on the retractable covers in the centre console aren’t perfectly aligned on this test unit – and the comfort and ergonomics of Volvo’s seats are legendary. Heated and ventilated front seats are standard on this Inscription trim, and a massaging function is available for the front row while heated rear seats and steering wheel can be added with the Climate Package. A light and airy greenhouse with a massive standard panoramic sunroof bring a breath of fresh air.

Driving Feel: 8/10

The V60’s low-slung stance makes it a surprisingly good corner-carver in Dynamic mode, and the adjustable throttle response and steering feel allow for plenty of customizability. Comfort and Eco mode give a more relaxed driving experience, which is more desirable for some drivers than others. If you have two drivers in your home with vastly different tastes in driving character and you’re looking for a single vehicle, the V60 is likely to fit the bill.

Fuel Economy: 7.5/10

With all-wheel drive, as most Canadians will purchase it, Natural Resources Canada estimates that the V60 will use 11.1 litres per 100 kilometres of premium fuel in the city, 7.3 on the highway, and 9.4 combined. My actual figure after a week of testing lands at 11.5, and that’s with a fairly even mix of city and highway driving – although I made liberal use of Dynamic mode when I wasn’t stuck in traffic, for what that’s worth.

Value: 8/10

Whether you’re comparing this against similarly appointed SUVs or the selection of German wagons available for the Canadian market, it doesn’t take long to realize that the luxury appointments and mix of available features here sees the V60 end up priced at a solid value relative to its rivals.

Conclusion

There’s one final point worth highlighting here: Yes, the Volvo V60 is one of the cars available through the Care by Volvo subscription service, which lets drivers pay an all-in monthly fee for two years – including maintenance, winter tires, and wear-and-tear protection – with an option to move to a new vehicle after 12 months. However, if you want the absolute top-of-the-line that is this Inscription model, you won’t find it there. Care by Volvo offers Momentum and R-Design models only; to get a V60 Inscription, you’ll have to commit for longer.

At any rate, signing up for a Volvo wagon makes you feel like you know something everyone else around you doesn’t, like you’re joining a secret club. If this style of car speaks to you, you should consider joining. The new V60 is likely to be enjoyed by those who will broaden their horizons enough to discover it.

2019 Volvo V60 Inscription
Engine Displacement: 2.0L
Engine Cylinders: I4
Peak Horsepower: 316 hp @ 5,700 rpm
Peak Torque: 295 lb-ft @ 2,200–5,400 rpm
Fuel Economy: 11.1/7.3/9.4 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb
Cargo Space: 658 / 1,441 L seats down
2019 Volvo V60 Inscription
Base Price $55,400
A/C Tax $100
Destination Fee $2,015
Price as Tested $66,715
Optional Equipment $9,200 – Birch light metallic paint $900; Vision Package $1,800; Climate Package $1,250; Convenience Package $1,500; Bowers & Wilkins 1,100-watt, 15-speaker sound system $3,750
Optional Equipment
10 0
Scoring breakdowns 8.2
9 Styling
8 Powertrain
8 Quality
8 Comfort
9 Practicality
8 Drivability
8 Usability/Ergonomics
8 Fuel Economy
8 Features
8 Value