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Station Wagons

2020 Volvo V60 T5 AWD Cross Country: A DriveWays Review…

by Frank A. Aukofer

So smitten are American motorists with sport utility vehicles and crossovers it’s a wonder that a smart station wagon like the Volvo V60 Cross Country is even offered on these shores.

It helps that it’s an all-wheel drive version of the midsize V60 wagon, which attracts customers in snow and ice country. Also plotting against its own creation, Sweden’s Volvo also offers a comprehensive lineup of tall crossover SUVs more palatable to current Yankee tastes.

New Care by Volvo Additions

At one time, station wagons — especially the big ones — ruled the family roosts. Ours was a 1970 Chevrolet Kingswood Estate with applique wood-grain doors and fenders, three rows of seats with the third row facing backward, a 400-cubic-inch (6.6-liter) V8 engine with 265 hp mated to a three-speed automatic transmission, and rear-wheel drive.

It was 18 feet long, weighed 462 lbs more than two tons, got 11 mpg (14 if you feather-footed it on the highway), but gasoline was around 36 cents a gallon, similar to the 2020 pandemic price of $1.75 in some places.

MY2020 Volvo Model Program - Banff Location

The Chevy was ideal for a family with four kids under 10 years old who traveled 800 miles back and forth between Washington, D.C., and Milwaukee, Wis. Pile all the stuff on the top carrier in a waterproof cargo storage bag, flop the rear seatbacks flat, and toss in blankets and pillows. Put the kids in pajamas, scold them for arguing until they fall asleep and drive all night.

That was life on vacations and travel, and it worked dandy for multitudes of families in the days before you’d get arrested for not strapping the kids in car seats. But the thirsty big wagons soon fell out of favor and sport utility vehicles started encroaching in the 1990s. Now SUVs and their tall car-based crossover companions are the hottest sellers in the market, taking over not only from wagons but sedans as well.

New Volvo V60 Cross Country exterior

It’s mainly an American phenomenon. Station wagons like the tested Volvo with the tongue-twisting name of V60 T5 AWD Cross Country are popular in other parts of the world, particularly in Europe, where wagons often are regarded as upgrades from sedans.

Volvo would not need such a long title for its wagon because the V60 T5 AWD is the only Cross Country model sold in the U.S. It’s a midsize by the U.S. government’s definition with 93 cubic feet of space for passengers and 19 cubic feet for cargo behind the second row seat.

New Volvo V60 Cross Country interior

That’s shy of what you get in the XC60 crossover, which is taller and more powerful with 100 cubic feet for passengers and 30 cubic feet for cargo. But it’s also more expensive, heavier and craves premium gasoline.

The tested V60 T5 comes with Volvo’s ubiquitous 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. In this application, it makes 250 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, delivered to all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission that can be manually shifted.

New Volvo V60 Cross Country interior

There are four driver-selectable drive modes: eco, comfort, dynamic and off-road. The last activates the new hill-descent control and alters the computer programming for the all-wheel drive. To enhance its modest off-road capability, the Cross Country has been jacked up on its suspension system by about three inches. However, this is not a vehicle for serious bashing back country bashing.

The advantage of a wagon over a crossover is maneuverability, although differences are becoming narrower with more sophisticated suspension system tuning. But the V60 Cross Country handles more like a sedan, with a lower center of gravity. However, the suspension is biased toward handling so the ride in some circumstances is a bit choppy.

New Volvo V60 Cross Country interior

The eight-speed automatic transmission shifts crisply, though it occasionally gets a bit confused by hiccups from the turbo engine in automatic drive. If you’re in a hurry on a twisting road, best to shift manually in dynamic or comfort mode.

As with most Volvos, the interior is beautifully designed, with supportive seats front and rear. But center-rear seat comfort is compromised by a large floor hump.

2020 Volvo V60 Cross Country - Banff

The infotainment center screen, which requires swipes as well as touches, gets fussy but practice helps. One complaint: the sunshade for the panoramic glass sunroof is made of perforated cloth, which allows too much intrusion of sunlight.

The V60 Cross Country comes equipped with most everything found on a premium European automobile. It starts at $46,095, including the destination charge. As tested here, the bottom line came to $56,990.

2020 Volvo V60 Cross Country - Banff

Specifications

  • Model: 2020 Volvo V60 T5 AWD Cross Country four-door station wagon.
  • Engine: 2.0-liter four-cylinder, turbocharged; 250 hp, 258 lb-ft torque.
  • Transmission: Eight-speed automatic with manual shift mode and all-wheel drive.
  • Overall length: 15 feet 8 inches.
  • EPA/SAE passenger/cargo volume: 93/19 cubic feet.
  • Weight: 3,950 pounds.
  • EPA city/highway/combined fuel consumption: 22/31/25 mpg.
  • Base price, including destination charge: $46,095.
  • Price as tested: $56,990.

Disclaimer: The manufacturer provided the vehicle used to conduct this test drive and review.

New Volvo V60 Cross Country exterior

Photos (c) Volvo

The 2020 Volvo V90 T6 AWD Cross Country is Hot Stuff

by Jason Fogelson

Gothenburg, Sweden is at 57.7 degrees north of the equator, just 7.8 degrees below the Arctic Circle. It also happens to be the hometown of Volvo – and those two facts are closely related to my review of the 2020 Volvo V90 T6 AWD Cross Country.

I live in the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan (42.3 degrees north of the equator), an area famous for its winter weather. Most winter nights have freezing temperatures, which means that a car that sits outside collects a heavy coating of frost and the interior can be downright frigid when morning hits.

New Volvo V90 Cross Country Studio

The V90 has the best defrosting and quick warming system I’ve found to date. The wagon’s heated front seats (standard) and optional ($425) heated rear seats start providing warmth in minutes, while the assertive front and rear defrosters attack the ice on the glass in a hurry. Winter weather features have got to be important to the folks in Sweden, and they’ve got them down to an art in the V90. Impressive.

New Volvo V90 Cross Country Studio

This latest V90 variant is a continuation of Volvo’s popular Cross Country trim level, which has been applied to select models over the past few generations. More than just a layer of cladding (which it does have), the Cross Country includes all-wheel drive, a raised ride height and ground clearance, Off-Road mode, front and rear skid plates, exclusive 19-inch wheels, and Black Walnut inlay interior trim pieces. Added to the already sexy and sophisticated full-size four-door V90 wagon, the V90 Cross Country is a great-looking package at the top of the line.

New Volvo V90 Cross Country Studio

Available only in T6 trim with a 2.0-liter turbocharged and supercharged four-cylinder engine (316 hp/295 lb-ft of torque) with an eight-speed automatic transmission, V90 Cross Country is an eager performer (0 – 60 in 6.0 seconds). Double-wishbone front suspension and integral link rear do a great job of smoothing the way in many conditions. Multiple drive modes are available, controlling steering feel, throttle, transmission shift points and other factors. Don’t expect your V90 Cross Country to become a rock crawler when you select Off-Road mode – but prepare to be impressed with its stability on dirt roads and trails. I’m confident that swapping in a set of winter tires (all-season radials are standard) will make the V90 Cross Country into a great choice for those snowy February Michigan mornings – no SUV required.

 

Volvo V90 Cross Country Volvo Ocean Race

In case you missed the memo, wagons are cool. It’s a shame that there are so few to choose from, but there are some very solid choices out there. Whether or not they’re called wagons, I’d include the Subaru Outback, Jaguar XF Sportbrake, Mercedes-Benz E-Class Wagon, Audi A6 allroad and Volkswagen Golf Alltrack– a wide spread, which should also include the compact Volvo V60 Cross Country.

Volvo V90 Cross Country Volvo Ocean Race

The 2020 Volvo V90 T6 AWD Cross Country starts at $54,550. My test vehicle, which included the Advanced Package ($2,450), Metallic Paint ($645), 20-inch alloy wheels ($800), Bowers and Wilkins Premium Sound ($4,000), heated rear seats ($425), Park Assist Pilot ($200), Premium Air Suspension in rear ($1,200), and a $995 Destination price, came with an as-tested price of $65,265 – definitely luxury territory. But with the included safety and driver assistance features, along with Volvo’s excellent and intuitive Sensus infotainment interface, the price feels about right.

New Volvo V90 Cross Country Studio

Especially when it’s cold outside, and the prospect of scraping a windshield and sitting down on freezing seats looms in the driveway. Did I mention that Remote Start is included as part of Volvo’s free mobile app?

Sweden knows winter, and the V90 Cross Country Wagon can handle it.

Volvo V90 Cross Country Volvo Ocean Race

Disclaimer: The manufacturer provided the vehicle used to conduct this test drive and review.

Cross Country Range

Photos (c) Volvo

2019 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design: A DriveWays Review…

by Frank A. Aukofer

Now rounding out its lineup with the 2019 Volvo S60 sedan and V60 station wagon, the Swedish manufacturer likely has never seen an era when its name was more appropriate. In Latin, the word “volvo” means “I roll.”

Starting with its full-size XC90 three-seat crossover sport utility vehicle in 2016, Volvo is nearing completion of its plan to field a full line of new sedans, station wagons, crossover SUVs and hybrid models. There are now 10, from compact through midsize and large, plus different trim levels.

S60R-Design05The company also has set a goal of selling one million electrified vehicles by 2025. With the S60, it means all-wheel-drive T8 plug-in hybrid models with gasoline engines up front and electric motors at the rear wheels. As with all of its other vehicles, Volvo is sticking with 2.0-liter gasoline engines in various tunes with turbochargers and turbo/supercharger combinations.

Volvo also is among a few manufacturers that are bravely bucking the American aversion to station wagons and preference for tall crossover SUVs. The V60 is a wagon version of the S60 that, for now, still is built in Sweden.

The S60, now in its third generation, marks a milestone. It is the first Volvo ever built in the United States, in a new plant in Ridgeville, South Carolina, near Charleston. With 2.3 million square feet of space on a 1,600-acre campus, it represents a $1.8 billion investment and can produce up to 150,000 cars a year.

S60R-Design04As a premium brand, the S60 competes with the compact BMW 3-Series, Infiniti Q50, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Lexus IS and Audi A4. The starting price of the base front-drive T5 Momentum model is $36,795.

Its turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine makes 250 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, delivered through an eight-speed automatic transmission with a manual-shift mode. Volvo says it will accelerate to 60 mph in 6.3 seconds and deliver city/highway/combined fuel economy of 24/36/28 mpg on premium gasoline.

It is equipped with full modern safety equipment — a Volvo tradition — including oncoming lane collision and run-off road mitigation, automatic braking with pedestrian, cyclist and animal detection, and lane-keeping assist.

S60R-DesignInterior05Like all S60 sedans, the Momentum model comes with a panoramic sunroof as standard equipment, along with leatherette upholstery, audio system with SXM satellite radio, automatic climate control, power front seats and power-folding rear-seat headrests.

However, there are a couple of imperatives that Volvo has not adopted. The sun visors on the S60 and other Volvo models do not slide on their support rods to adequately block sunlight from the sides. And the sunshade for the panoramic sunroof, following a current cliché on luxury vehicles, is made of a flimsy perforated cheesecloth-like material that admits too much sunlight onto passengers’ heads. Sunshades should be opaque.

If your need or preference points toward all-wheel drive, add $4,500 to the price equation. The T6 Momentum AWD model starts at $41,295. The other two trim levels are the R-Design and Inscription.

S60R-DesignInterior08Driven for this review were two S60 sedans: T6 R-Design with all-wheel drive and T8 all-wheel drive Polestar. Also available was the V60 T6 Momentum all-wheel drive station wagon.

The first, the T6 all-wheel drive R-Design, came with a supercharged and turbocharged 316-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that made 295 lb-ft of torque. That’s good for a zero-to-60 acceleration time of 5.3 seconds and 21/32/25 mpg on premium gasoline. It started at $47,395 and, with options, had a $49,895 sticker.

Polestar Engineered is Volvo’s moniker for high performance machinery — in this case a hybrid gasoline/electric power train that includes the 2.0-liter four-banger, supercharged and turbocharged, with 328 hp and 317 lb-ft of torque, mated to an electric motor at the rear wheels.

New Volvo V60 exteriorTogether, they deliver 417 hp with a zero-to-60 acceleration time of 4.3 seconds, according to Volvo, with city/highway/combined fuel economy of 27/34/30 mpg. Also, as a plug-in hybrid, the Polestar Engineered S60 can run up to 21 miles on electric power alone.

The new Volvo S60 sedans and V60 wagons present an almost dizzying array of choices. What all three of those tested have in common are a solid, flex-free chassis and a supple, sporting suspension system for fuss-free cornering, and plenty of power to go wheel-to-wheel with their premium competitors.

Oh, make sure to check out the “city weave” seat covering in Momentum models. It’s a comfortable, classy cloth that, to this reviewer, is preferable to leather.

S60R-Design005Specifications

  • Model: 2019 Volvo S60 T6 R-Design AWD four-door sedan.
  • Engine: 2.0-liter four-cylinder, turbocharged and supercharged; 316 hp, 295 lb-ft torque.
  • Transmission: Eight-speed automatic with manual-shift mode and all-wheel drive.
  • Overall length: 15 feet 7 inches.
  • EPA passenger/cargo volume: 94/16 cubic feet.
  • Weight: 3,780 pounds.
  • EPA city/highway/combined fuel consumption: 21/32/25 mpg. Premium fuel required.
  • Base price, including destination charge: $47,395.
  • Price as tested: $49,895.

Disclaimer: This test drive was conducted at a manufacturer-sponsored press event. The manufacturer provided travel, accommodations, vehicles, meals and fuel.

S60R-Design002Photos (c) Volvo

2018 Audi A4 allroad: A DriveWays Review…

by Frank A. Aukofer

If you’re done with conventional sedans and station wagons but not quite ready for a tall crossover sport utility vehicle, take a look at a ‘tweener like the 2018 Audi A4 allroad.

It is a station wagon, yes, but taller — though not as tall as the crossovers that are steadily taking over the marketplace to the point where sedans and wagons are an endangered species.

2017-Audi-A4-allroad-582Unfortunately, tall wagons are few in number and mostly  tilted toward the luxury class. Besides the A4 allroad, they are the Volvo V60 and V90 Cross Country models, the Jaguar XF Sportbrake and the Buick Regal TourX.

All of these offer all-wheel drive and a lower center of gravity for more sporting handling than most crossovers. They also are slightly taller than their station wagon brethren.

The Audi allroad is the granddaddy of the tall wagons, dating back nearly two decades in A6 and A4 trim. For 2018, as in 2017, the A4 allroad arrives with a 252-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that makes 273 lb-ft of torque.

A seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission sends the power to Audi’s famed quattro all-wheel drive system, now with a new wrinkle. For economy, it operates in front-wheel drive under normal conditions. As soon as slippage is detected, it switches instantly and seamlessly in milliseconds to all-wheel drive.

2017-Audi-A4-allroad-583We know this only because we have been told verbally and in the literature. Driving the A4 allroad, you never detect the changeover. The twin-clutch automatic is similarly quick, said by Audi to shift in 1/100thof a second.

All of this conspires to launch the allroad to 60 miles an hour in less than six seconds, according to Audi and independent tests. Top speed is governed at 128 mph, though most owners likely will never bother to experience it.

However, the rapid acceleration can’t happen if you allow the engine stop-start to be turned on. Then you get that dreaded hesitation off the line, although it doesn’t shudder as much on the allroad than on some other vehicles. Fortunately, the stop-start can be turned off, though you must do it every time you start the engine.

Of course, you don’t buy a tall wagon like the A4 allroad to compete in autocrosses or bounce over trackless terrain like a Jeep or Land Rover. However, it is equipped with five driver-selectable drive modes, including an off-road setting that optimizes transmission shifting, steering and adaptive suspension settings that enhance performance off the pavement.

2017-Audi-A4-allroad-571Besides off-road, the other settings are comfort, automatic, individual and dynamic, with the last the tightest for on-road performance. The individual setting can be tailored for the driver.

Most owners are unlikely to do much off-roading in any case. The allroad, like other Audi models, is a classy, luxury vehicle to be polished and admired, not bashed and scratched.

The quattro all-wheel drive does impart an ambiance of confidence in foul weather conditions, especially deep snow, and does so with the panache of a quiet butler in a palace, always ready with a tray full of capabilities.

One of those, of course, is utility. The allroad has midsize sedan space for passengers, though the center-rear position, as is usual in almost every vehicle, is cramped and uncomfortable. But the big payoff lies in cargo space. There’s 24 cubic feet of it behind the second-row seats, more than enough for everyday favorite things. Flop the rear seatbacks and it expands to 59 cubic feet to haul the dorm room stuff of a new college freshman.

2017-Audi-A4-allroad-578Though it is a luxury vehicle, the allroad is not outrageously expensive given its features. The base price is $45,475 and, with options that included a Premium Plus package, the tested price came to $53,750.

That covers full safety equipment, including Audi’s pre-sense collision avoidance system, which detects objects and pedestrians, and can bring the allroad to a stop anywhere under 25 mph — a boon in modern urban stop-and-go traffic.

Other equipment included LED lighting all around, Audi telematics with navigation, Bang & Olufsen audio with SXM satellite radio, tri-zone automatic climate control, perforated leather upholstery with heated front and rear seats, eight-way power front seats with memory settings, power tailgate, garage-door opener, heated and folding outside mirrors, and a parking assistance system.

However, the equipment did not include such items as adaptive cruise control, lane departure mitigation or blind-spot warning.

2017-Audi-A4-allroad-592Specifications

  • Model: 2018 Audi A4 allroad 2.0T quattro S tronic four-door station wagon.
  • Engine: 2.0-liter four-cylinder, turbocharged, 252 hp, 273 lb-ft torque.
  • Transmission: Seven-speed twin-clutch automatic with manual-shift mode and all-wheel drive.
  • Overall length: 15 feet 7 inches.
  • EPA passenger/cargo volume: 94/24 cubic feet. (59)
  • Weight: 3,815 pounds.
  • EPA city/highway/combined fuel consumption: 22/30/25 mpg.
  • Base price, including destination charge: $45,475.
  • Price as tested: $53,750.

Disclaimer: The manufacturer provided the vehicle used to conduct this test drive and review.

2017-Audi-A4-allroad-570Photos (c) Audi.

2018 Buick Regal TourX: A DriveWays Review…

by Frank A. Aukofer

There are several clues that the 2018 Buick Regal TourX has its roots in foreign soil, not in the United States. The biggest is that it is a station wagon.

Wait. A Buick station wagon, something we’ve not seen since the big Roadmaster of two decades ago? Yup.

American buyers, who embraced big station wagons for 50 years after World War II as essential family haulers, all but abandoned them after the inventions of the minivan, sport utility vehicle and crossover SUV.

2018 Buick Regal TourX

A notable flop in recent years was the Dodge Magnum, a rear-wheel drive wagon with some performance chops that was introduced as a 2005 model but lasted only until 2008.

Still, a few manufacturers — none of them American — persisted in building wagons, mainly because they continued to be popular in other parts of the world. In Europe, for example, many buyers regard a station wagon as a step up from a traditional sedan, though they too are starting to succumb to the allure of crossover SUVs.

Note that traditional SUVs are based on pickup trucks, with rear- or all-wheel drive and body-on-frame construction. Crossovers usually have front- or all-wheel drive and the unit-body construction of traditional sedans. For example, the Chevrolet Tahoe is an SUV; the Chevy Equinox is a crossover.

2018 Buick Regal TourX

Yet despite the fact that some foreign manufacturers — Honda, Mazda, Hyundai and Subaru — tested the U.S. market with wagons, all of them fizzled. Subaru finessed the situation by converting its Legacy wagon into the Outback by jacking it up for better ground clearance and calling it a crossover SUV. Currently, a few lonely automakers still persist here with wagons, including Sweden’s Volvo and Germany’s Audi, BMW and Volkswagen.

So, the Buick Regal TourX comes as something of a surprise, especially coming in the tire tracks of the Regal Sportback, a four-door hatchback with fastback styling that resembles the Audi A5 and A7, as well as the new Kia Stinger.

As with many automobiles in an industry that has become globalized, the Regal TourX is an ethnic amalgam. Based on the Opel Insignia, it is built in Germany with a U.S. engine and a Japanese transmission. Only about a quarter of its components come from the U.S. and Canada.

2018-Buick-Regal-TourX-011A couple of minor tipoffs to its origins: as with some other European cars, the sun visors do not slide on their support rods to adequately block sunlight from the side, and the steering wheel telescopes but does not tilt.

Nearly 16.5 feet long with streamlined styling, the Buick TourX displays the modern attributes that could herald a station wagon comeback. It has 33 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seatbacks, which expands to 74 cubic feet if you fold the seatbacks. With its low profile comes a low lift-over height, which facilitates loading.

It also comes standard with all-wheel drive, which will come in handy in slippery conditions. But don’t think of the TourX as an off-road vehicle. There’s only 5.8 inches of ground clearance, where the Subaru Outback has 8.7 inches.

2018 Buick Regal TourX

The Outback is one of only a couple of competitors. It has comparable interior space to the TourX, though it’s a foot shorter. It also is less expensive. The only other competitor is the Volvo V60, which has a new model that arrives in 2018.

Motivating the new TourX is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, which is becoming an industry standard. In this application, it makes 250 hp with 295 lb-ft of torque, delivered to all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission with a manual-shift mode.

In daily driving, the TourX proves itself to be a responsive companion in traffic, though there’s hesitation off the line because of the stop-start technology that shuts off the engine at stoplights to enhance fuel economy. The city/highway/combined fuel consumption, as rated by the EPA, is 21/29/24 mpg.

2018 Buick Regal TourX

Handling is nearly up to midsize sports sedan standards, with a solid steering feel around corners and good straight-line tracking. The brakes are excellent with a strong pedal feel. One minor drawback: the TourX’s length requires searches for generous parking spaces.

The tested TourX Essence was well equipped with a base price of $36,015. With options that included adaptive cruise control, forward pedestrian alert, automatic braking and collision alert; rear cross-traffic alert and park assist; blind-spot warning; premium audio, HD radio, and navigation and infotainment systems, the bottom-line sticker came to $40,950.

2018 Buick Regal TourX

Specifications

  • Model:2018 Buick Regal TourX Essence AWD four-door station wagon.
  • Engine:0-liter four-cylinder, turbocharged; 250 hp, 295 lb-ft torque.
  • Transmission:Eight-speed automatic with manual-shift mode and all-wheel drive.
  • Overall length:16 feet 4 inches.
  • EPA passenger/cargo volume:101/33 cubic feet (74).
  • Weight:3,745 pounds.
  • EPA city/highway/combined fuel consumption:21/29/24 mpg.
  • Base price, including destination charge:$36,015.
  • Price as tested:$40,950.

Disclaimer: The manufacturer provided the vehicle used to conduct this test drive and review.

2018 Buick Regal TourX

Photos (c) General Motors.

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