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Long term test: 2015 Volvo V60 T5 wagon delivers the goods, quickly

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Today we wrapped up our long term test of the 2015 Volvo V60 T5 Drive-E sport wagon. It's a car that Volvo just brought back to the States this year and has all new engines to boot. We wanted to see how well it delivers on its promise of high efficiency, performance as well as utility.

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Right up front, Vovlo gave its 60 series a significant facelift for the 2014 model year which made it a good deal more handsome. This included a new grille, headlamps, lower fascia and LED driving lights which carried over into our 2015 model here.

Our tester was well optioned with the Premier Plus and Sport Package which afforded some healthy visual upgrades like the 19” “diamond cut” alloy wheels, as well as bright trims on the side windows and roof rails.

The R-Design suspension also lowers the V60 by a half inch, giving it a more sinister stance. Slick LED driving lights look very cool but one surprise for this price range was that old school halogen headlamps are still the standard item, not even HID.

While it's called a wagon, the V60 doesn't have the square and boxy shall we say, more utilitarian rear silhouette of the past. Instead it has a much more stylish and raked rear hatch that indeed looks a lot sexier.

The stylistic forays do cut into the rear cargo area just a little, but it remains far more utility centric than a sedan's trunk. In fact with the seats folded flat it makes for nearly the same space offered up in many compact crossover SUV's.

The interior of the Volvo is a case study in understated design elegance. High quality materials like aluminum and rubberized trims make for a place that feels as upscale as its price suggests. Volvo does things with aluminum trim that many automakers can't seem to pull off nearly as well.

The Sport Package gave us highly bolstered sport seats with memory for the driver as well as genuine aluminum paddle shifters. A fully digital and customizable TFT display and key-less drive with push button start came along with the Premium Plus package.

The center console is Volvo's trademark waterfall design with infotainment screen up top and their small panel of buttons and QWERTY keypad below. The look is very appealing to the eye, but honestly sometimes can frustrating to use while on the go.

The infotainment interface doesn't have touch screen capability. All menu and selection functions take place using various knobs and buttons. When first behind the wheel it can be very frustrating to figure out basic tasks like storing a radio station in you favorites.

The screen itself is a weak spot with its small and hard to read fonts on screen. Confounding is the radio presents, which lists titles with seemingly random samples of either the song that was playing, the station call letters, or the actual frequency number.

Luckily once you get it where you want it, the sound quality is very good and will please most audiophiles. It makes good use of its 160 watts and 8 speakers, but would not play some of the latest formats of digital music from our USB devices.

Our V60 was also optioned with a number of driving aids like blind spot information, cross traffic alerts, lane change alarm and park assist – all of which worked in a way that was informative but never heart-attack inducing.

Under the hood is Volvo's all new proprietary 2.0 liter direct-injected and turbocharged Drive-E engine. With 240 horsepower and a healthy 258 lb-ft of torque, the new engine shares no design or architecture with previous brand owner Ford.

The engine is a delight under foot. The power curve is fat and luscious with only a small hint of turbo lag. It's refined and quiet in a way that is quite surprising for a four-cylinder, and the transmission is well mated for fun on the back roads.

Mated to a new 8-speed automatic transmission with manual mode and steering wheel mounted paddle shifters, the power-train offers up both power and efficiency. The EPA rates the V60 T5 Drive-E at 25 mpg city, 37 mpg highway and 29 mpg combined. We achieved 28 mpg combined in our testing which reflects a full week of using the air-conditioner and driving spiritedly on Arizona's back roads as you see here.

The R-Design chassis package really did tighten up the V60 a lot with its aforementioned 15mm lower ride height, front strut brace, more aggressive spring and roll-bar rates and the larger 19” wheels with 235/40R/19 Bridgestone Potenza tires.

The 2015 Volvo V60 wagon makes for a nice combination of sport, efficiency and utility you can't get in a crossover SUV. Its return to our market adds it to a small pool of competitors including the Audi Allroad and BMW 328i Sports Wagon, both of which are in roughly the same class.

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