Volvo V60: Is this the shape of the future of wagons?

It should come as no surprise that there’s a new Volvo V-series wagon on the way. After all, wagons are what the Sweden-based automaker does best.

The new midsize V60, available in early 2019, joins the larger V90 in Volvo’s wagon lineup and is closely related to the taller XC60 utility vehicle. Volvo actually only has two sedans in its inventory: the S60 and S90.

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Compared to the outgoing V60, the 2019 model is about 13 centimetres longer and has been stretched by about 10 centimetres between the front and rear wheels, resulting in more legroom for rear-seat passengers.

The fact the V60’s overall height has been reduced by five centimetres gives it a more aerodynamic appearance and exaggerates the increase in length.

The sleeker look is enhanced by a concave grille, large air intakes and “Thor’s hammer” LED headlights. They front a sharply sloping hood that provides an aggressive appearance (for a Volvo, anyway). Additionally, the stylish creases running the length of the V60 add character while reducing the slab-sided shape common to many wagons.

Nobody does taillights quite like Volvo. They sweep upward to the roof, wrap around the rear quarter panels and spill over onto the liftgate. Visually, they tie the back and sides of the car together.

The V60 is built on the Volvo’s Scalable Product Architecture platform, claimed to add rigidity for improved ride and handling qualities while also adding crash protection.

The V60’s cabin is a bit less Swedish Modern than the V90’s, but it is no less attractive. A standard 20-centimetre touchscreen sits between a pair of equally dominant air vents. The available stitched-leather dash top, perforated-leather seats and satin-nickel-look door and floor console trim (with wood accents) lend an upscale air to the interior.

The V60’s traditional shift lever bucks the current trend by other automakers to use buttons, switches and dials, which are mostly lacking intuitiveness.

Volvo’s commitment to an all-four-cylinder engine lineup is apparent with the V60’s available picks. The T5 Momentum and R-Design trim levels run with a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder that makes 250 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. The T6 Inscription is equipped with a supercharged and turbocharged version of the 2.0, which is rated at 316 horsepower and 295 pound-feet. At lower engine speeds, the supercharger alone provides the boost, but above 3,000 rpm the turbocharger joins in.

Regardless, the transmission is an eight-speed automatic with manual-shift mode.

According to Volvo’s stopwatch, the T5 can accelerate to 100 km/h) from rest in 6.4 seconds, a time that’s trimmed to 5.5 seconds for the T6.

Fuel economy has yet to be finalized, but the V60 T5 shouldn’t be much different than the S60, which is rated at 11.0 l/100 km in the city and 8.1 on the highway.

All-wheel-drive is a T6 staple, but initially, the T5 will be front-wheel-drive only.

Also due to arrive later is a T8 AWD hybrid version that, like the S60 T8, makes 400 horsepower and 472 pound-feet of torque.

At an estimated base price of $46,000 (including destination fees), the base V60 T5 Momentum shows up with a long list of content, including a panoramic roof, climate control and power-adjustable front seats with lumbar support. The mid-level R-Design adds navigation, premium Harmon Kardon sound system and a power-operated tailgate.

The top-of-the-line T6 Inscription gets a full range of active-safety technology — such as emergency braking — under the Pilot Assist banner, plus quad-zone climate control, better quality seats and coverings and a power-folding second row.

Although demand for utility vehicles is strong and growing, traditional wagons such as the Volvo V60 deserve serious consideration. That’s especially true if you prefer the style and driving qualities of a sedan, but with extra cargo capacity.

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