Curing our Crossover Blues
Crossover fatigue. This term, which was uttered half-jokingly during a recent staff meeting discussing one of the many crossover comparison tests we were attempting to execute, describes consumers who might be overwhelmed (and perhaps underwhelmed) by the countless crossovers available today. Our recommended remedy? Wagons! Wagons such as the 2017 Volvo V60, which is just as practical and luxurious as its more popular crossover sibling, the XC60. But unlike the XC60, the V60 is a tad more special because it can be had in a high-performance variant from Volvo’s Polestar division.
The 2017 Volvo V60 Polestar (and its sedan counterpart, the S60 Polestar) received some major changes under the hood for this model year. Replacing the transverse 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six is Volvo’s Drive-E 2.0-liter I-4 that is both supercharged and turbocharged. The new engine churns out 362 hp and 347 lb-ft of torque versus 345 hp and 369 lb-ft before. Also significant is the gearbox routing that power to all four wheels—an eight-speed automatic, which does away with the somewhat lazy six-speed.
Acceleration feels brisk and immediate, showcasing the Drive-E’s advantage of having a supercharger to provide the initial grunt that gets the wagon moving in a hurry. The new four-cylinder sounds decent, but the active exhaust is the aural star here, emitting a nice, deep, and sporty snarl. That said, the numbers we achieved with the V60 Polestar’s new powertrain were a mixed bag compared to the inline-six-powered version we tested back in 2015. Its 4.9-second 0–60-mph time, for example, is a tenth quicker than before, and both ran the quarter mile in 13.5 seconds. Brembo brakes are standard, stopping the 3,953-pound (1,793-kg) wagon in a tidy 111 feet while showing little sign of fade.
There was an improvement at the figure-eight course, however, with the updated Polestar posting a lap time of 24.9 seconds and 0.93 average g on the skidpad versus 25.5 seconds and 0.89 g. (Both test vehicles were wearing Michelin Pilot Super Sports). Figure-eight expert and testing director Kim Reynolds praised the new eight-speed automatic for its eagerness to downshift, though he wished the wagon’s steering had a tad more feel. And like before, the V60 Polestar still understeers quite a bit at the limit. Canyon jaunts at a more leisurely pace, however, are much more enjoyable.
And although the suspension is tuned on the stiffer side, the ride is still fairly compliant on the rough roads of Los Angeles. The driver’s seat is near perfect—comfortable while offering excellent lateral and thigh support. The minimalist interior still feels special overall, but the infotainment system takes some time to master and simply feels behind the times compared to recent offerings such as Volvo’s own Sensus interface found in the new XC90, S90, and 2018 XC60.
When it comes to competitors, the V60 Polestar is essentially a one-man show. The Audi A4 Allroad and BMW 330 xDrive wagons have the edge on cabin tech, but both can only be had with much tamer turbo-fours. And at the other end of the wagon spectrum is the bonkers 600-plus-hp Mercedes-AMG E63 S. That said, it doesn’t get more special than the Volvo V60 Polestar, especially in our tester’s eye-catching Rebel Blue Metallic paint. And with the next-generation V60 just around the corner, we’re hopeful Volvo will continue to supply us with our fix of fast and fun wagons.
|2017 Volvo V60 Polestar|
|BASE PRICE/TESTED PRICE||$62,595/$62,595|
|DRIVETRAIN||Front engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door wagon|
|ENGINE||2.0L/362-hp/347-lb-ft turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||3,953 lb (60/40%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||182.5 x 73.4 x 58.4 in|
|0-60 MPH||4.9 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||13.5 sec @ 102.4 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||111 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.93 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||24.9 sec @ 0.76 g (avg)|
|REAL MPG, CITY/HWY/COMB||18.1/27.9/21.5 mpg|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||20/27/23 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY||169/125 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||0.86 lb/mile|