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2015 Volvo V60 T5 Drive-E Luxury Wagon Review

Benjamin Hunting
by Benjamin Hunting
December 29, 2014
7 min. Reading Time
2015 Volvo V60 T5 Drive-E ・  Photo by Benjamin Hunting

2015 Volvo V60 T5 Drive-E ・ Photo by Benjamin Hunting

For a long time Volvo was the go-to wagon supplier for so many families - until suddenly, it wasn't. Citing dwindling sales in the face of stiff competition from the growing pack of crossover options, Volvo pulled the plug on the V70, its only remaining wagon, for the 2011 model year. Hoping that its own XC70 crossover-cum-wagon would pick up the slack, North America faced several dark years where not a single traditional Swedish long-roof found a new home. Not even in Vermont.

That's about to change, as Volvo has seen the error of its ways and swooped in with the all-new 2015 V60 T5 Drive-E to save wagon fans from much gnashing of teeth and forlorned thousand yard stares as they open the doors to their respective garages and wonder how, exactly, they're going to replace their aging 245s. More to the point, the Volvo V60 T5 Drive-E isn't just a pity play to snare repeat customers: it's also a daring statement that fans of European luxury can break free from crossover syndrome and snag a useful, comfortable, and stylish daily driver that will meet their every need while shaming local land yachts in the fuel mileage department. Sure, the V60 is up against direct rivals like the BMW 3 Series Sports Wagon, and to a lesser extent the Audi Allroad, but it's also staring down less obvious competitors such as the Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class and the Volkswagen Tiguan - and it's not flinching.

Models and Prices

Although there are several versions of the 2015 Volvo V60 available, I'm going to stick with describing the T5 Drive-E model that I drove for a week because its frugal, yet powerful drivetrain is most indicative of the fresh direction at the Swedish automaker (and it is the only non-carry-over motor for the current model year). The entry-level T5 Drive-E (MSRP $35,750) includes dual automatic climate control, imitation leather seats, a sunroof, fog lights at the front and the back of the vehicle (along with LED running lights), automatic wipers, power-folding rear headrests, power adjustable front seats, a CD player, satellite radio, and Bluetooth connectivity.

Stepping up to the Premier trim level (MSRP $37,650) is a small price to pay for genuine leather seats, a push-button starter, roof rails, and a unique gauge display, while the Premier Plus trim ($39,920) installs a rearview camera and power folding mirrors (plus a folding front passenger seat). The Platinum (MSRP $41,120) version of the V60 adds a navigation system, surround sound audio, and improved interior lighting.

My 2015 Volvo V60 T5 Drive-E Premier came with a number of options: the Climate package (heated front and rear seats, heated windshield and steering wheel, cabin air filtration system), a blind spot monitoring system, the Technology package (adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with automatic braking, lane departure warning, sign-reading capability), sport leather seats, and metallic white paint. Altogether, the total price for my tester came to approximately $43,050.

 Photo by Benjamin Hunting

Photo by Benjamin Hunting


The 2015 Volvo V60 T5 Drive-E has emerged from the chrysalis of previous small wagon designs from the Swedish automaker and shed all of the sometimes plain and occasionally awkward cues that had been associated with sub-V70 models. The car is quite attractive both head-on and in profile, and even in its modest T5 Drive-E duds, the V60 comes across as a sporty and vital family conveyance. Thanks to the clever shaping of the rear glass and trim, the roof appears to drop down towards the rear of the car, when in fact the sheet metal stays near-flat to preserve head and cargo room. There's really not a bad angle for the wagon, which also offers good rear visibility through hatch glass that hasn’t been scrunched into a gun-slit as with so many other similarly-sized crossovers

The interior of the V60 T5 Drive-E is more restrained, and not to its benefit. While the saddle brown leather sport seats outfitted to my tester were easy on the eyes and expertly matched to the door panel inserts, the dashboard and gauge cluster of the Volvo is an exercise in simplicity bordering on barren. It's simply not interesting to look at, nor does it hold up well when compared to efforts from German and Japanese rivals in its segment. Volvo's cockpit design language feels a bit trapped in the early 2000s, which is in stark contrast to the evocative nature of the V60's exterior attitude.

 Photo by Benjamin Hunting

Photo by Benjamin Hunting

Comfort and Cargo

One of the best aspects of the 2015 Volvo V60 T5 Drive-E is that it prioritizes passenger comfort and practicality alongside style as the three most important aspects of its premium package. As a result you have a car that features sink-into seats front and rear along with respectable amounts of legroom at all five positions. The car's ride is equally plush, absorbing much of what the road throws at its suspension system without too much complaint being transmitted to the cabin. In terms of cargo space, there's 43.8 cubic feet in total available with the rear row folded forward - a significant improvement over the sedan and yet a bit behind models like the BMW 3 Series Sports Wagon, which offers over 50 cubes. I found it to be enough for my day-to-day hauling, but if you are looking for the utmost in space, you might have to broaden your horizons (despite the V60 matching many compact crossovers in the cargo department).

 Photo by Benjamin Hunting

Photo by Benjamin Hunting

2015 Volvo V60 T5 Drive-E Review: Features and Controls

As I hinted earlier, the 2015 Volvo V60 Drive-E's control set looks and feels more retro than it really should. The center stack offers four dials and a numeric pad, combined with a climate control graphic for directing hot or cold air at various parts of your body. These elements are arranged in such a way that there's a considerable amount of dead space rising up from the console, which is an unfortunate match for the blank dashboard and small, deeply-inset LCD screen that serves as the vehicle's information clearing house. The gauge cluster can be configured to display one of three motifs, but data such as the odometer and fuel efficiency can be easily obscured by questionable readouts like 'Power,' a vague up-and-down bar to the right of the speedometer/tachometer. It just doesn't feel premium - almost like a work in progress that's still awaiting final finishing details - and in the luxury segment, that's going to be a problem when attempting to attract new buyers.

 Photo by Benjamin Hunting

Photo by Benjamin Hunting

Safety and Ratings

  • The 2015 Volvo V60 Polestar carries over last year's S60 safety features.

The 2015 Volvo V60 T5 Drive-E that I drove was packed to the gills with safety gear, much of it of the optional variety. On all versions of the V60 T5 Drive-E you'll get side impact airbags up front, dual forward airbags, side curtain airbags that run the full length of the cabin, and of course, electronic stability control and traction control. Volvo's 'City Safety' system is also included, which delivers automatic braking at speeds between two and 30-mph should a potential collision be detected.

My car came equipped with a full-range adaptive cruise control system that also offered automatic braking even at highway speeds in order to mitigate a collision, along with a lane departure monitor and a blind spot monitoring system. As with all Volvos, you can configure how this safety suite interacts with you while you are driving, which is great for turning off the numerous reminders that yes, there is a car in front of you, and yes, you really did mean to follow it a little bit more closely than the Swedish engineering team that designed your car thought was prudent.

The Volvo V60 has yet to be crash tested by either the NHTSA or the IIHS, but the sedan version - the S60 - received a five-star overall rating from the former and a Top Safety Pick+ rating from latter.

 Photo by Benjamin Hunting

Photo by Benjamin Hunting

Engines and Fuel Economy

  • The 2015 Volvo V60 T5 Drive-E introduces a new 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine.
  • An eight-speed automatic gearbox joins the drivetrain mix for the first time.

The 2015 Volvo V60 T5 Drive-E derives the last aspect of its name from the drivetrain that has become the new entry-level motivator for both the V60 wagon and the S60 sedan. I wouldn't call it a 'base' anything, however, as the 2.0-liter four-cylinder mill is turbocharged to produce 240 horsepower and as much as 280 lb-ft of torque. That peak twist only lasts for 10 seconds with the gas pedal floored, which is as long as the car's overboost feature is programmed to perform. In normal driving, you'll benefit from 258 lb-ft of torque, which is quite good for a car in the V60's class.

All-wheel drive is forbidden with the Drive-E setup (you have to opt for a five or six-cylinder engine if you want the extra traction) but the turbo four is the only V60 motor that comes with an eight-speed automatic transmission. This gearbox helps the vehicle achieve an EPA fuel mileage rating of 25-mpg in city driving and 37-mpg on the highway. I saw about 22-mpg combined with a lot of stop-and-go factored in, a respectable figure for a compact car working against freezing winter weather and slippery slush and snow.

 Photo by Benjamin Hunting

Photo by Benjamin Hunting

Driving Impressions

I have already mentioned that the 2015 Volvo V60 T5 Drive-E is softer than several of its European contemporaries when it comes to its overall driving experience. The T5 Drive-E doesn't offer the most precise handling, nor an enthusiast-friendly level of chassis communication, but the expectation of high performance is out of step with the intentions of the model. If you want to autocross your wagon, then the V60 Polestar is waiting for you; if you're more interested in an efficient and effective daily driver with a heaping helping of practicality, then the T5 Drive-E is more than willing to fulfill that role.

Don't think that just because you can't easily thread the needle with the front-wheel drive Volvo that it's Drive-E drivetrain is a chump, too. The 2.0-liter turbo under the hood of the V60 is far more boisterous than the wagon's otherwise sedate driving personality would indicate. Highway passing is accomplished quickly and with little fuss, and if you ramp on the throttle a little too hard from a stop you'll be facing the kind of wheel spin and torque steer not normally seen outside of a Sonic parking lot on a Friday night. The V60 T5 Drive-E is easily the equal of the BMW 328i xDrive Sport Wagon in the power department, even taking into account the German variant's all-wheel drive advantage. I can't remember the last four-cylinder Volvo I drove that didn't make me want to chew my own arm off waiting for the 60-mph mark, so consider the new V60 a feather in the automaker's cap.

The eight-speed autobox making it all possible in the Volvo V60 T5 Drive-E is also substantial upgrade over the six-speed unit that has long called the shots in other Volvo models. Shifts were seamless and well-timed, and it was difficult to catch the four-cylinder engine off-boost. I experienced very little lag even when rolling at the sub-10-mph speeds that small-displacement turbocharged motors tend to struggle with.

 Photo by Benjamin Hunting

Photo by Benjamin Hunting

Final Thoughts

The 2015 Volvo V60 T5 Drive-E is the perfect road trip companion, a long-distance mile-eater that comfortably coddles passengers in a bubble of leather and near-luxury as they hurtle from A to B. It's also a great daily warrior with the kind of cargo versatility that makes runs to the hardware store as easy as picking up the kids from school or loading in half the team's hockey bags for a 5 a.m. practice.

If it sounds like I'm describing an SUV, and not a wagon, that's because the V60 T5 Drive-E is every bit as useful as any comparably-sized crossover, only without the higher fuel bill at the end of the month. If you legitimately need to ride six to eight inches off of the ground to ford the moat of mud/lava/snakes that separates your driveway from the subdivision's main road, then by all means invest in a heavier and less-efficient SUV. If you live in the same world that I do, then take a chance on the Volvo V60 T5 Drive-E and rediscover what made Swedish wagons an American obsession for so many decades.

 Photo by Benjamin Hunting

Photo by Benjamin Hunting

Pros and Cons


  • Great fuel mileage from a powerful turbocharged engine
  • Stylish looks
  • Practical for both people and cargo
  • Very comfortable ride 


  • Plain dashboard spoils otherwise attractive interior
  • No all-wheel drive option with Drive-E
  • Some safety features can feel intrusive in regular driving
  • It's easy to add $10k in options to the car's bottom line

Volvo cars Canada supplied the vehicle for this review.

 Photo by Benjamin Hunting

Photo by Benjamin Hunting


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