The much maligned, once coveted station wagon; what happened?
Can't help but extrapolate that those of a certain age could easily conjure up memories (mostly pleasant) of an extended family vacation utilizing this road-worthy warrior.
Take the 1983 cinematic triumph 'National Lampoon's Vacation' when the Grizwold family trudged out a Ford LTD Country Squire when chronicling their trek west from suburban Chicago to experience the wonders of Wally World.
In a coincidental time twist, 1983 also saw the unveiling of the 1984-model year Plymouth Voyager. Voyager, along with its Dodge Caravan twin, ushered in the minivan era, the first salvo fired against the station wagon's family-friendly domination. Minivan popularity nearly vanquished the wagon altogether.
Fear not. Faltering minivan sales encouraged niche players like Volvo to reboot the one time must-have family hauler not just in Europe, but here stateside. It's an uphill battle though as station wagon sales accounted for less than 1.5 percent of total new-car sales in 2019.
Back in the 2015 model year, Volvo began marketing the five-passenger V60 wagon in the States. The V prefix signifies 'Versatile,' an apt description for the modern station wagon. The numerical suffix reflects girth, with 60 indicating mid-size dimensions. Volvo also offers the larger V90 wagon.
In addition to the V series of wagons, luxury automaker Volvo markets the S Series of sedans (S60, S90) and traditional, higher standing five-door crossovers utilizing the XC prefix (XC 40, XC 60, XC90).
Volvo's five-passenger station wagon offers two flavors; the conventional, well-equipped V60 and our tester, the recommended V60 Cross Country, abbreviated V60 CC.
The 2020 Volvo V60
CC measures 1.2-inches wider than the conventional V60 while standing 2.7 inches taller. Also, the V60 CC includes all-wheel drive standard and a specially-tuned suspension for enhanced handling both on and off road. In addition, the V60 CC adds an off-road driving mode with new-for-2020 hill decent control. The V60CC corners competently similar to the S60 sedan without the body sway of a taller-standing crossover.
Another distinction; Volvo simplifies V60 Cross Country marketing as it's sold in one well equipped trim. The conventional V60 offers three trims (Momentum, R-Design and Inscription).
The V60 CC's substantial 8.3 inches of ground clearance measures just a pinch less than its taller standard XC60 crossover sibling.
In the 2019 calendar year, Volvo U.S. sales surpassed the 100,000 mark. Of all the luxury nameplates across three continents, Volvo posted the best year over year sales increase while pumping up its U.S. market share ever so slightly to 0.4 percent, the same percentage as the Lincoln Motor Company. Volvo's total U.S. sales hit 108,234, its best annual showing in a dozen years. Total V60 CC sales hit 1,803 in 2019 while the slightly more pedestrian V60 reached 861 units.
Nordic countries know a thing or two about taming snow and the best strategies to counter slushy roadways. Our V60 CC tester got put to the test early January during much hyped snow-ice storm while traveling east from snowy Chicago to slushy Detroit to attend North American Car/truck/utility of the year awards (rather than west to warm, welcoming Wally World). The results: snow-ma-geddon fizzled while V60 proved competent and surefooted.
Volvo utilizes four-cylinder powertrains in all vehicles with supercharging and/or turbocharging technologies helping goose up horsepower through forced air technology. Our V60 CC's sole engine was Volvo's 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder cranking out 250 horses which Volvo dubs the T5 and connects with an eight-speed automatic transmission. The fuel tank holds 14.5 gallons of recommended premium fuel while highway fuel estimates reach 31, average for a mid-size vehicle.
The base V60 wagon offers this identical turbo engine (T5) and a turbo/supercharged four-cylinder providing a 316 return on investment designated as the T6.
The 250 horses proved sufficient during our extensive week of testing. This turbo engine also includes start/stop technology quieting the engine at prolonged stops before restarting when hitting the gas pedal. Volvo now does an excellent job of a seamless transfer with little perceivable rumblings.
The 2020 model year Volvo V60 CC welcomes the company's game-changing 'Scalable Product Architecture' (SPA), a global, modular format Volvo debuted in the XC90 full-sized crossover four years ago.
The 2020 V60 CC starts at $45,100 U.S. dollars (or 54,255 Swedish Krona). A sprinkling of stand-alone options and package groups brought the bottom line up to $56,990 with $995 destination charge. By comparison, a 2020 V60 Momentum starts at $39,650.
Consider the $56,990 bottom line a bargain in the luxury segment with a vehicle boasting underpinnings of an off-road capable crossover and the riding characteristics of a lower-slung sedan.
A $2,500 Advanced Package added fog lights, heads-up windshield display and active bending headlights, swaying and illuminating in sync with steering wheel maneuvers. A $2,800 Cross Country Pro Package brings forth 19-inch alloy wheels, four-zone automatic climate control, four-way power lumbar seats and tailored dashboard. A-la-carte add-ons include heated rear seats and steering wheel ($750), metallic paint ($645), premium stereo ($4,000) and park assist pilot ($200).
The rather low-slug stance with long torso hints of a sleek, athletic-like missile when parked next to taller-standing Volvo XC crossovers. Narrow side windows add a sleek theme, erasing memories of faux wood-paneled Ford LTD Country Squire.
Another shared family trait: a 'Thor's Hammer' front light design prominent in S sedans and XC crossovers. Thor's Hammer, in this instance, lies on its side with the longer lower stalk pointing towards the grille with bejeweled LED headlights intertwined. The hammer provides double duty as a prominent blinking amber turn signal indicator and white daytime running light. In back, red taillights frame the power hatch' side with hints of an alpine slide.
Windshield wipers include cleaning fluid spritzing from the wiper themselves rather than a small nozzle near the windshield allowing smoother operation especially with snow and ice present.
Like most 2020 models, electronic start comes standard. Unlike most, it's not push operated via a dashboard button, instead, Volvo adds twist. A tactile, brushed aluminum raised orb between front bucket seats twists right to crank the engine; a second right twist turns off the power. Directly aft, a brushed aluminum thumb-fore finger operated scroll bar selects one of four drive modes. An electronic parking brake resides nearby. To the right, dual inline beverage holders able to squeeze in a third if extra parched.
The V60 CC borrows an interior design identical to what's found with the mid-size S60 sedan and XC60 crossover; a good lift as quality materials create a clean, non-cluttered delightful ambiance. Our off-white interior shade provided a Scandinavian highlight.
A portrait situated nine-inch, in-dash flat screen is flanked by long, slender, vertical air vents. Square vents adorn ends of the soft-touch dash. Smartphone-friendly Apple CarPlay and Android Auto adaptions come standard, allowing easier transfer of applications and stored phone information to the in-dash screen and sound system.
The tall-standing, touch-sensitive and swipe-able screen works in tandem with a large, multi-purpose tactile dial below flanked by a half-dozen small buttons including front and rear defrosters. Remaining HVAC functions command through the touch screen. The lone dial controls volume and on/off functions.
A sizeable, 12.3-inch digital instrument panel awaits driver perusal. This animated display utilizes an old-school design with two circular orbs mimicking an analog pattern with logical, easy-to-interpret, informative factoids.
Taller-statured folks (including this scribe) will enjoy the optional power cushion extensions, comforting cranky old knees and part of the recommended Pro Package. One request in future model years: a power-operated tilt steering column, the current manual version is out of step in a posh Volvo.
2020 Volvo V60 CC
Price as tested: $56,990
Wheelbase: 113.1 inches
Overall Length: 187.4 inches
Overall Width: 72.8 inches
Overall Height: 56.18 inches
Engine: 2.0-liter turbo charged
Fuel Economy: 22 mpg city/ 31mpg highway
Curb weight: 4,202 pounds
Assembly: Gothenburg, Sweden