Back on the Wagon

A look at the 2023 Volvo V60 B5 Cross Country

by Isaac Bouchard

Courtesy Volvo

Wagon aficionados amongst us—of which there are admittedly few—treasure each that is available here in the US, and can feel protective of them. Their sales numbers are miniscule, since Americans are overwhelmingly attracted to crossovers and SUVs, which make up 60 percent of sale. Volvo made updates to one of the most attractive models, the V60, at the end of last year, and while many are appreciated, one seems a retrograde step.

Courtesy Volvo

For ’23, the plastic cladding that once defined the Cross Country has been dialed back, highlighting the V60’s excellent proportions and stance and minimizing its 8.1 inches of ground clearance. It looks good on either the standard 19-inch wheels or the upgrade 20s, with a long hood and that lovely, flowing tail section that is what defines the breed. Inside, it remains as compelling as all modern Volvos, with classy materials and an upscale, clean design. The vertically-oriented, 9in center touchscreen is now run by Google software, making it much faster and generally more intuitive. The lovely, whirly twirly volume knob remains, changing output of the incredible Bowers & Wilkins audio system—simply put, one of the best available in an upper-mid-priced automobile. The bucket seats remain supremely comfortable and the second row capable of comfortably ensconcing 6-foot passengers sitting behind similarly-sized folks in front. Folded, there is a long and low cargo area that can carry most loads, being of the same volume as Volvo’s XC60 crossover.

Courtesy Volvo

Dynamically, the V60 rides better than its taller brethren, with a smoother secondary ride over sharp bumps and a lovely, flowing gate over long, wavy pavement that eludes most SUVs. It handles fine too, though it isn’t trying to be a sportwagon. It is also very quiet, isolating passengers from road and wind noise adroitly. There is little noise from the 2-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine, which is a good thing, as this is one area where the new model isn’t an improvement. Labeled B5, this new, 247 horsepower mill feels less powerful, and, in independent testing, it is, being three-quarters of a second slower to 60mph and a half second slower through the quarter mile. Despite its mild-hybrid status, it doesn’t seem to improve on real-world fuel economy, and its EPA ratings are basically the same as the outgoing model. Its torque curve feels completely flat; there is no reward from winding it out, but it does appear to have slightly less lag than the old, T5 machine.

Courtesy Volvo

Volvo will happily sell you the Polestar Engineered Optimization package, which bumps power and especially torque. Or one can spring for the V60 Recharge, a plugin hybrid with 455hp and a 41-mile electric range that also crushes the 0-60 dash in 4.4 seconds. As may be; the V60 is a compelling machine in any form, and should be celebrated just for bucking trends and still being sold here. One of the upsides of low volume is that, for those of us choosing wagons, there is a wonderfully fulfilling sense of pride in being a nonconformist, and choosing the vehicle shape that is inherently more logical, economical and dynamically superior—all of which describe the V60 Cross Country.


Courtesy Volvo

EPA Ratings: 23/30/26mpg

0-60mph: 7.1sec

Price as tested: $63,535

Rating: 4 Stars

Here is what Volvo has to say.

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