7.04.2015

Un-American, In A Good Way: The 2015.5 Volvo V60 T6 R-Design

Front 3/4 view of 2015 Volvo V60 T6 R-Design
The 2015.5 Volvo T6 R-Design.
There's been a lot of buzz in the media this week about the most American car being the Toyota Camry. The source is Cars.com's annual American-Made Index, which lists the cars with at least 75% of their parts content coming from the U.S. or Canada. The longtime champ, the Ford F-150, fell below that 75% threshold with this year's alumnium-heavy redesign.




The 1994 American Automobile Labeling Act set that 75% domestic parts standard to determine what are and aren't domestic cars.  And while the number of cars eligible has fallen from 29 five years ago to seven this year, there are still a fair number of cars that people might think of as "foreign" with healthy percentages of American content (I'm testing two this week...an Acura ILX, which has 60 percent domestic content and a Ram ProMaster City that, despite being assembled in Bursa, Turkey, still manages to source 34% of its parts from North America).

And then there's the Volvo V60 T6 R-Design, which has one percent...yes, one percent....domestic content.  And to that, I say....good.

Volvos have always been the counterculture of cars.  While not quite as quirky as its late, lamented Swedish competitor SAAB in its glory days, Volvo in large part made its mark in this country by doing the exact opposite of what American carmakers (in those days the "Big Three"...General Motors, Ford and Chrysler) weren't doing.  When the Yanks were building cars deliberately intended to go out of style (or fall apart) in three years to prompt you to buy another and another and another, Volvo was building cars that looked the same for a decade or more and lasted 15 or 20, while running ads like these:



And a few years later, when American cars were all about velour upholstery, vinyl roofs and carriage lamps, Volvo emphasized safety:




And now that the industry has moved on to seeing how many different sizes (beyond small, medium and large) of crossovers it can make, Volvo is putting time, energy, money and promotion into....a station wagon. Once again, out of step with the mainstream, but in the best possible way.  Fact is, the vast majority of crossover owners never use the extra ground clearance (if any) and would, if they could bring themselves to test drive, let alone buy a station wagon, discover a more comfortable, better-handling and more economical family vehicle.

If they follow the path to the V60 T6 R-Design, they also get some serious performance in the bargain.

Rear 3/4 view 2015 Volvo V60 T6 R-Design
2015.5 Volvo V60 T6 R-Design.
How serious?  0-60 miles per hour in five seconds. Five. 5.0.  Cinco flat.  That makes it not only the fastest Volvo wagon ever, it makes it as quick to 60 as the $52,600 Porsche Macan S, if that Macan S is equipped with the optional $1,290 Sports Chrono Package.  If not, the Volvo is 2/10ths of a second quicker (not to mention $7,450 cheaper in terms of base price and more economical...an EPA estimate of 19 city/28 highway to the Macan S' 17/23).

What sorcery is this, you ask?  None whatsoever...just good old-fashioned power and engineering combined with the natural advantage of a wagon compared to a crossover.

The Macan S has a twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6 that makes 340 horsepower and 339 pounds per foot of torque.  The Volvo also has a 3.0-liter V6 with a single twin-scroll turbo that makes 325 horsepower and 354 pounds per foot of torque.  That extra 15 pounds of  torque, which peaks at 3,000 rpm, makes a difference, as does the fact that the Volvo is more than 100 pounds lighter than the Porsche and one heckuva lot more aerodynamic.

Interior view of 2015 Volvo V60 T6 R-Design
2015.5 Volvo V60 T6 R-Design interior.
The base price of $45,150 buys the aforementioned engine, a six-speed Geartronic automatic transmission with paddle shifters, all-wheel drive with instant traction and DSTC, corner traction control through torque vectoring, anti-lock brakes with electronic brake distribution and assistance, R-Design sport seats with leather seating surfaces, 18-inch alloy wheels with all-season tires, a sport chassis, unique rear and lower front spoilers, an R-Design rear diffuser with polished tailpipes, an exclusive blue adaptive TFT display (which looks really, really cool), aluminum inlays and aluminum sport pedals, an R-Design leather sport steering wheel and gearshift knob, a 160-watt, 8-speaker audio system with HD Radio, SiriusXM, a single-slot CD player, Bluetooth and auxilary inputs, a 7.5-inch color LCD monitor with Sensus Navigation with Mapcare, Sensus Connect and Volvo On-Call (the last two a free 6-month subscription and the last three additional features that are part of the 2015 and a half model), Volvo's City Safety low-speed collision avoidance system, Volvo's impressive passel of active and passive safety features, a security system with a back-up battery, tire pressure monitoring, LED daytime running lights, a rear cargo cover, a power glass moonroof, 8-way power front seats with 3-position memory for the driver, dual Xenon active-bending headlights, keyless entry and drive with safe approach lighting, electronic ignition with pushbutton start and stop, a tilting and telescoping steering wheel, an electronic parking brake, dual-zone electronic climate control, an auto-dimming inside rear-view mirror, and heated memory power outside mirrors.

That's serious value for the money.  Our tester had a couple of options on top of that.  $750 went to upgrading to 19-inch IXION wheels with summer tires (worth every penny), $900 bought the Blind Spot Information Package with cross-traffic alert, lane change merge aid and front and rear parking assist, and $500 bought heated front seats (no, they're not standard in Volvos).  Toss in $925 destination charges and the bottom line is $48,225.

Compared to what you'd pay for the Macan S, especially after trying to option it up to a comparable spec, the V60 T6 R-Design is something of a bargain.  And what price can you put on the smiles it will induce on the road (oh, yes...we took it on some marvelous winding back roads between Folsom and Kyburz (a bit more than halfway to Lake Tahoe)?  The 2015 and a half Volvo V60 T6 R-Design is a winner...and has both earned and charmed its way onto the TireKicker's Best Cars list on the right of this page.

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