No more boxes: Volvo wagon has striking new look

  • Article by: TERRY BOX , Dallas Morning News
  • Updated: July 12, 2014 - 5:28 PM

The dramatically styled V60 also boasts a satisfying turbocharged four-cylinder engine.

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The striking 2014 Volvo S60 may change perceptions about the brand, with a sleek body and a new two-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine twisting out a stout 240 horsepower.

Photo: Volvo, McClatchy

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In my leafy suburb, the vegans and Democrats — all 11 of them — drive dusky old Volvo wagons shaped like cargo containers.

Square and steely as Richard Nixon, these Swedish boxes on skinny wheels could probably survive an airdrop.

But the car’s parka-and-rubber-boots image began to radically change a few years ago with the introduction of the svelte S60 sedan, a Volvo that people actually park in garages.

And now comes the striking V60, a wagon guaranteed to alter our view of Volvos as vehicles for people who grow vegetable gardens in their front yards.

As a libertarian on the edge of town, I’ll miss those all-weather warriors.

But just take a look at the V60 I had recently, a wagon so dramatically styled that it could almost pass for a concept car lounging atop flashy 19-inch wheels.

Did we get hit by a meteor or something?

Ford owned Volvo for years — the current Taurus sedan is still on a Volvo-derived platform — but it sold the company to Geely Group Holdings in China in 2009.

Since then, Volvo — Latin for “I roll” — has mostly struggled in the U.S., its sales down 10 percent last year and another 9.8 percent through May.

Maybe consumers just haven’t adjusted to Volvos in tight-cut, 21st-century suits.

New this year to the U.S., the silver-blue V60 wagon I had recently wore a version of Volvo’s traditional big grille, now a more aerodynamic, four-bar model flanked by highly contemporary headlamps.

A long, sloping hood sort of blurred the fact that the V60 was front-wheel drive. Moreover, the hood was raised, with chiseled lines on its perimeters.

A well-placed character line swept off the back side of the headlamps, tying the front of the car to its distinctive, extremely vertical bat-wing taillamps.

Even odder for a Volvo, the V60’s sleek body clung tightly to good-looking 10-spoke wheels and 235/40 tires. (Volvos of the past had all the stance and grace of a John Deere tractor.)

Still, the single most appealing line on the V60 — and one you would least expect on a station wagon — was its top.

Relatively low even at the windshield, the top slid alluringly down to angled rear pillars, looking absolutely New Age California beach bum.

Rad, dudes and dude-ettes, and who could have predicted rakish in a Volvo?

Under the hood

  • 2015 Volvo V60 T5 E-Drive

    Type of vehicle: Front-wheel-drive, five-passenger wagon

    Price as tested: $42,225

    Fuel economy: 25 mpg city, 37 highway

    Weight: 3,550 pounds

    Engine: Turbocharged two-liter four-cylinder with 240 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque

    Transmission: Eight-speed automatic

    Performance: 0 to 60 mph in 6.1 seconds (manufacturer’s estimate)

    SOURCES: Volvo Cars of North America; Motor Trend

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