How high and how fly?
Awaiting me at the airport on my return flight from driving the new XC60 in Barcelona was its slightly lower-slung long-roof stablemate, the V60 Cross Country. That wagon-ute soldiers on for another year on the older Ford-shared platform underpinnings before graduating to the XC60’s hot new SPA architecture. But its 2.0-liter turbocharged engine lineup, eight-speed automatic transmission, and all-wheel-drive system are pretty darned similar to the ones in the new XC60. So if your lease is up now and you’re antsy about waiting for XC60s to arrive later this year, might a V60 or V60 Cross Country serve you just as well?
For many, a decision like this will come down to how high you need to ride and how important it is for you to be seen wearing the latest automotive fashion. On the height/ground-clearance front, the XC stands 65.3 inches tall with 8.5 inches of ground clearance, and the tallest V60 Cross Country stands 60.8 inches tall with 7.9 inches of clearance. (The around-town V60 wagons are down at 58.4 and 5.4.)
As for the looks, even in its sixth model year the lower-slung station wagon body looks pretty sleek to these eyes—especially sprayed as this one is with $560 USD worth of optional Twilight Bronze Metallic paint. But then again, I learned to drive in a station wagon and am a car-scribbler, so wagon-philia comes naturally—especially if said wagon is brown. (If it also offered a manual and a diesel, its powers of attraction to my tribe would be utterly irresistible.) I could take or leave the ute-drag costume’s faux front and rear skidplates and black wheel arches (which add 1.4 inch to the width), but the 7.9 inches of ground clearance proved sufficient to tackle the long rutted driveway in to our construction-site summer cottage. (Normal cars all scrape their underbodies.)
The Haldex all-wheel-drive system proved well matched to the task of a tricky three-point turnaround at the far end of the driveway in a soupy slurry of nowhere near enough gravel on way too much wet, mucky clay after what seems like a stretch of Old Testament–grade rain. Systems that rely on wheelspin from the dominant axle to engage the helper axle have formed ruts in here, but the Volvo’s system is proactive, so it gently managed the pirouette without a single degree of rut-digging wheelspin. The XC60 would surely have fared equally well, thanks to SPA weight loss that erases what has been roughly a 175-pound (79-kg) weight difference between the XC60 and the V60 Cross Country.
Inside, the advantage goes to the XC60 big time in terms of aesthetics and the second-gen Sensus touchscreen, both of which are big improvements over the old architecture’s increasingly quaint array of buttons and a small central screen. My back also prefers the new architecture seat shape to the old, but after sampling both, my Automobile mag colleague and driving partner in Barcelona felt this V60’s older seats fit his frame more comfortably. So your results might vary. The XC’s 3.6-inch-longer wheelbase also affords way more stretch-out room for leggy riders in the rear seat.
Of course achieving that roomy back seat meant moving the seat back into the cargo area, which means the wagon now offers way more cargo room than the ute—43.8 cubic feet to 29.7. When you’re schlepping materiel to the work site, 14.1 cubes is like a whole other sedan trunk’s worth of space. The V60’s 40/20/40 folding rear seat back is another bonus the new ute misses out on. That feature allowed me to carry five 10-foot PVC sewer pipes while preserving four seating positions. The new XC60 only provides a ski pass-through in the center position (good for maybe one or two of my pipes). One more advantage for the wagon: the availability of child booster seats in the second row (part of the $1,550 USD Climate package with Child Booster Seats group). This feature is not available at launch on the XC60. Naturally, both cargo holds are outfitted with four cargo tie-down points, each can accept Volvo accessory pet/cargo retention nets with the rear seat up or down, and both feature roof rails that will accept Volvo accessory crossbars.
Driving pleasure ranks pretty evenly. The T5 engine is rated 10 hp less in the V60, but that’ll be tough to notice for most folks. Steering feel isn’t wonderful on either, but both vehicles corner reasonably flatly—the new XC60 thanks to its transition to control arms in front, and the V60 thanks to its lower center of gravity. Safetyniks will want to wait for the XC60’s emergency steering assist and run-off-road spine-compression prevention gizmos. The V60 lacks these things, but it is otherwise pretty well equipped on the protection front.
Faced with choosing right this minute, I’d probably grab the wagon. With a bit longer time horizon, I’d probably wait for the SPA-grade V60—and hope its cargo area doesn’t shrink as much as the XC60’s did.
|2018 Volvo XC60||2017 Volvo V60/Cross Country|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV||Front-engine, FWD/AWD, 5-pass, 4-door wagon|
|ENGINES||2.0L/250-hp/258-lb-ft turbocharged DOHC 16-valve I-4; 2.0L/316-hp/295-lb-ft supercharged and turbocharged DOHC 16-valve I-4; 2.0L/313-hp/295-lb-ft supercharged and turbocharged DOHC 16-valve I-4 plus 46-hp/111-lb-ft front and 87-hp/177-lb-ft rear electric motors; 400 hp/472 lb-ft comb||2.0L/240-hp/258-lb-ft turbocharged DOHC 16-valve I-4; 2.0L/302-hp/295-lb-ft supercharged and turbocharged DOHC 16-valve I-4; 2.0L/362-hp/347-lb-ft supercharged and turbocharged DOHC 16-valve I-4|
|TRANSMISSION||8-speed automatic||8-speed automatic|
|CURB WEIGHT||3,950-4,600 lb (mfr)||3,700-4,000 lb (mfr)|
|WHEELBASE||112.8 in||109.3 in|
|LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT||184.6 x 78.7 x 65.3-66.9 in||182.5-6 x 73.4-74.8 x 58.4-60.8 in|
|0-60 MPH||4.9-6.4 sec (mfr est)||6.9 sec|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||Not yet tested||20-25/27-36/23-29 mpg|
|ON SALE IN U.S.||August, 2017||Currently|