There was a V60 at work today that needed driving, so I volunteered, being a Volvo enthusiast and two-time Volvo wagon owner, despite my recent replacement of my Volvo with a Mazda, and I'm always vehicularly curious. I'm a big fan of Volvo's lineup, and the S60 is a recurring favorite if mine amongst European luxury vehicles, despite being FWD and the fuel door being on the wrong side if the vehicle. Being familiar with Volvo's offerings over the last three decades, I had a good guess what to expect, that is, an S60 with a more practical body, much like pretty much every Volvo wagon yet made. What I encountered was surprising, and in a good way.
Why was it surprising? Simple. Looking at a V60, one sees a gradually rising beltline from the front to the back, resulting in a ever-shrinking window size the further down the vehicle it is, almost appearing pinched at the end. This is not exclusive to Volvo, of course, but Volvo seems to have made it look elegant and pleasant rather than a military or SWAT vehicle with necessarily small windows or portholes. One expects the visibility out the rear and rear 3/4 to be severely compromised, much like a Dodge Magnum, Cadillac CTS wagon, BMW "Grand Touring" models and X6, the Honda CrossTour, Acura ZDX, etc. However, visibility was surprisingly good, especially with the rear headrests down. Not as good as my old 760 and 740 wagons, of course, but given the safety quotient and aesthetics at play, it seems an acceptable compromise. There wasn't as much storage space as a 7##-series, of course, but the rear seats feel more roomy and of course the interior feels massively more modern and upscale, not to mention library-quiet. I don't mind the semi-controversial infotainment system, as I've taken the two minutes to learn the ins and outs of the system (key tip: The upper right button and rotary dial on the center stack are critical for proper navigation), and although visibility was pretty good, I would have preferred this model - a 2.0L "T5" with Drive-E - had been equipped with a backup camera or parking sensors, though of course that will be required next year going forward.
Speaking of the 2.0L "T5", I was impressed with its power and feel. With 280hp it has more power than my Mazda with the V6, and approaching double what my 760 Tirbo had (160ish factory), and more than double the NA 740's paltry 130-ish. It also isn't that heavy, and not at all cumbersome, a real treat compared to the bulky-feeling and staid Germans.
This is a dangerous car.
Not that it isn't safe (duh, it's a Volvo), but because I almost almost want one. I just bought a car that I'm more or less satisfied with, and here comes a newer, affordable vehicle that has a lot of what I like and very little that I don't. Of course, for the same money, I could get the Mazda CX-5 or CX-9 my wife would want us to have, or the CX-3 or new Mazda6 I'd want, and be pretty similarly satisfied: All are FWD, but the Mazdas have a closer dealership and fuel doors on the correct side, plus I'd want to wait for the new XC90's design language to spread through the lineup, despite my love and near-adoration of the waterfall tail lights of current Volvos. And of course the seats are near perfection.