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  7. 2020 Volvo V60 T5 Cross Country

John Coyle | Oct 23, 2020

Exterior view of the 2020 Volvo V60 T5 Cross Country

It's an interesting time for Volvo. Just a free years ago, the iconic Swedish brand was struggling to find its footing. But after being purchased by Chinese automotive giant Geely, a much- needed cash infusion gave the company a shot in the arm, and today, Volvo is producing some of the best vehicles we've ever seen from the company.

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I should say that I learned to drive on a Volvo 240, and I've always had a soft sport for the marque. But as lovely as I found it, I have to say that the V60 T5 didn't remind me of the company's boxy, 1980-era vehicles at all. Nope. This is a sleek, elegant machine in every respect, and it's poised to give high-end European competitors a run for their money.      

2020 Volvo V60 T5 Cross Country Exterior

Exterior view of the 2020 Volvo V60 T5 Cross Country

In a market which has seen wagon offerings shrink, it's an unfortunate fact that the V60 doesn't have much straight competition in the looks department. That said, I think Volvo's longroof looks better than any recent offering from the Volkswagen group, and as good or better than Mercedes-Benz's ferocious AMG E-Class wagon. From a purely aesthetic standpoint, the Jaguar XF Sportbrake was probably its best rival, but sadly, the big cat has been phased out.

But comparisons aside, this is a beautiful car. In profile, there's a blunt edge at the top of the front fascia, and the angular elements of the grille are reflected in the flared, aggressive housings for the driving lights in the lower corners. The headlights wrap around into the fenders, as if pushed by forward momentum, and the precise creases and sculpted sheet metal give the long axis a taut, athletic look.      

The liftgate is probably the place where I can most see the Volvos of old, in the way that the taillights stretch from the corners and up along the rear glass. But the tiny spoiler which extends from the roof provides the V60 with a sportier vibe than we ever saw from the 700 or 900 series cars.

All told, there's a Goldilocks-level of balance between aggressive and refined at work with the V60, and this design worked for me in every way. Whether I was scrutinizing it from across the parking lot, surveying it from a balcony, or bearing down on it with my camera, I couldn't find a bad line on this car.   

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2020 Volvo V60 T5 Cross Country Interior

Interior view of the 2020 Volvo V60 T5 Cross Country

There's nothing flashy about the interior of the V60, but there's an organic flow to the design that feels at once starkly elegant and vastly comfortable. The leather seats are large and supportive, and even rear-seat passengers have access to heating and cooling functions, which is rare even for high-end luxury cars. Touchpoints are universally excellent, and I was repeatedly struck by how the tiny knob at the middle of the central climate vents felt like the crown of a high-end watch. Physical space abounds, and the giant panoramic sunroof gives the greenhouse an airy vibe. Overall, this is a fantastic place to soak up miles.            

The elegance of the center stack is possible because most of the cabin's functions are handled by the 9.3-inch touchscreen in the middle of the dash. The only real complaint I had about Volvo's Sensus infotainment system is that it took its time booting up after I started the engine. But once everything was up and running, this is a great, intuitive system which anyone familiar with a tablet will adjust to almost immediately. The home button at the base of the screen is an incredibly useful touch, so even during my first moments in the car, I was never lost for long. And while I've written before about how climate controls should always be physical buttons, on the Volvo, they're always at the bottom of the touchscreen, and the set up worked well.

As you'd expect, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, and I have to note that the optional 15-speak Bowers and Wilkins audio system is a must-have for audiophiles. For those unfamiliar with the brand, Bowers and Wilkins made the speakers for the Beattles' legendary Abbey Road studios, and the set up in my test car sounded absolutely phenomenal. For what it's worth, the aluminum speaker grates look trick too.

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2020 Volvo V60 T5 Cross Country Powertrain

View of the 2020 Volvo V60 T5 Cross Country engine block

Under the hood is a turbocharged 2.0-liter good for 250 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, and while those aren't crazy numbers in today's power-hungry age, they're certainly respectable.

There are four drive modes available, including Comfort, Eco, and Off-Road, with Dynamic being the most athletic. And when pushed? The V60 will plunge forward with enthusiasm. Independent tests have put the zero-to-60 time in the mid six-second range, and it feels quick, if not blindingly fast when you're behind the wheel. During my week with the V60, I never passed up the opportunity to take a winding stretch of pavement, and I found it to be both capable in the bends and adept at handling the crunchy, far-from-idea pavement of some of Seattle's less-traveled roads. Steering feel was good, if not overly communicative, and the all-wheel drive system proved more than a match for all of the slick, wet surfaces I encountered.

Aside from the occasional snowboarding trip, I'm not much for the outdoors. But even if you never leave the urban jungle? The 8.4 inches of ground clearance provided by the Cross Country is confidence inspiring, and I imagine that the V60 would feel just fine in the white stuff. 

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2020 Volvo V60 T5 Cross Country Safety

View of safety equipment in the 2020 Volvo V60 T5 Cross Country

Safety has always been a hallmark of Volvo's appeal. So it should come as no surprise that the V6 T5 earned a Five-Star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Every Volvo V60 comes with a wide array of safety technology, including Forward Collision Warning, Automatic Emergency Braking, Pedestrian Detection, and Road Departure Mitigation. Even a Driver Condition Monitor, which can detect when the person behind the wheel has become impaired from fatigue or other reasons, comes standard.

My test vehicle was also equipped with a host of additional safety features, like Blind Spot Monitoring, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and Rear Collision Warning. The most impressive features were probably the Adaptive Headlights, which turn in tandem with the steering wheel, and the absolutely stellar Surround-View Parking Camera System. Between the crystal clear optics of the cameras and the huge display in the center of the dash, visibility was never a problem.

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2020 Volvo V60 T5 Cross Country Overall

Now, it's a stereotype that automotive writers tend to favor wagons, and I'm absolutely proof that it's true. In my opinion, long roofs just look great, and the practicality of the extra cargo space is hard to argue with. Also, as I've said before, if you're looking for something with "car-like handling?" It really helps if you start with a car. 

For me, the Volvo V60 hits all the marks. It's beautiful, practical, comfortable, and more than fast enough to handle the rigors of the daily grind. Plus, its all-wheel drive capabilities mean it'll be sure footed when conditions are less than ideal.

Every time I walked away from this lovely Swedish steed, I looked back over my shoulder at it, and I was always stoked to see it waiting for me in a parking lot. So if you appreciate driving and sleek lines, make sure to take the V60 T5 Cross Country for a spin before you talk yourself into a crossover. It'll make you wonder why you don't see more wagons on the road.    

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