The T5-equipped wagon is a smooth operator in performance and ride… while you won’t burn rubber at the green light, it will take off when necessary…

The XC60 Volvo, on its way through and to Las Vegas.
The XC60 Volvo, on its way through and to Las Vegas.
The XC60 Volvo, on its way through and to Las Vegas.
The XC60 Volvo, on its way through and to Las Vegas.
The XC60 Volvo, on its way through and to Las Vegas.
The XC60 Volvo, on its way through and to Las Vegas.
The XC60 Volvo, on its way through and to Las Vegas.
The XC60 Volvo, on its way through and to Las Vegas.
The XC60 Volvo, on its way through and to Las Vegas.
The XC60 Volvo, on its way through and to Las Vegas.
The XC60 Volvo, on its way through and to Las Vegas.
The XC60 Volvo, on its way through and to Las Vegas.
The XC60 Volvo, on its way through and to Las Vegas.
The XC60 Volvo, on its way through and to Las Vegas.
The XC60 Volvo, on its way through and to Las Vegas.
The XC60 Volvo, on its way through and to Las Vegas.
The XC60 Volvo, on its way through and to Las Vegas.
The XC60 Volvo, on its way through and to Las Vegas.

Las Vegas, Nevada.

Volvo is hitching some of its revival hopes to a wagon – the 2015 Volvo V60 Sportswagon.

Its grille is clearly all-Volvo but those typically boxy looks that characterized the make from your dad’s day are gone. In looks it’s a design variation of the S60 sedan and it will be a welcome sight for loyalists of the Swedish brand, having witnessed the demise here of  the V50 and midsize V70 wagons. The wagon featured recently along with the S60 and XC60 crossover at a launch event in the Nevada desert.

The Volvo execs present proudly talked about their new Drive-E powertrains, developed thanks to the megabucks available now that the company is owned by the Chinese Geely Automotive. Ford ownership may now be retreating in Volvo’s rearview mirror but it is still beholden to the US manufacturer for the platforms upon which these three 2015 models ride. That will change later this year when the full-size XC90 crossover is set to sit atop Volvo’s so-called Scalable Product Architecture platform.

Model year 2014 saw a refresh of all three midsize Volvo models showing in the desert so this was truly about the new engines. The Drive-E family of gas, diesel and hybrid (the latter not yet, but soon) engines are built around a single, 2.0-litre four-cylinder powerplant.

It’s a brave gamble, worthy of Vegas, when you ponder the XC90 relying on such a small engine. Asked if this were a safe bet, the Swedes just smiled and promised the performance of the four-cylinder configuration will equal their big brothers by using such technologies as direct fuel injection, turbocharging, supercharging and… electrification.

Here in the Great White North, just the two gas engines will be offered initially – the new turbocharged T5 pumps out 240 horsepower, while the turbo’ed and supercharged T6 adds another 62 horses.

The base front-wheel-drive V60 T5, with a new eight-speed automatic transmission, will set you back $39,800. Volvos have never been cheap. The other three Sportswagons will continue to use existing powerplants, six-speed automatic transmissions and Haldex all-wheel-drive systems.

Did a little shopping off the strip in the XC60, which came into its own, its cavernous rear swallowing up my bulky purchases. I’ll reserve comments on the crossover until I’ve had a chance to put it through its paces in BC.

However, I got much more seat time in the V60 and S60 (S60 with T5 $37,750 / T6 $42,850) taking in the awe-inspiring beauty of the Valley of Fire state park and Red Rock Canyon.

The T5-equipped wagon is a smooth operator in performance and ride. And while you won’t burn rubber at the green light, it will take off when necessary… not that we got any chance to pass in the low speed limit state park! Volvo says it will hit 100 km/h in 6.3 seconds if given the lead foot treatment. (The T6 in sedan tells a slightly racier story. Ok, maybe I’m exaggerating but only a little and I look forward pressing the pedal to the metal where I can legally do so.)

The T5 fuel economy ratings fare well in comparison with the market competition – 9.4/6.3/8.1 L/100km (city/highway/combined). These numbers are squeezed out of the power plant with the help of the standard engine stop/start system and the efficient new eight-speed transmission, which slips into a neutral coasting mode when you lift your foot off the gas.

Inside, the instrument panel stretches the span of the car and features an attractive floating centre console, which mixes good looks with functionality. Swedes are safety conscious, of course, and that means lane change, cross traffic, blind spot warnings and alerts.

The front seating is comfortable if a little soft on a long drive. Rear seating ditto and headroom is good despite the coupe-style slope of the rear. And a good view of the road fore, fore aft and side is enjoyed by all.

Great stowage room in the rear. The 40/20/40 split second row folds flat to provide enough space to move a small apartment’s furniture.

Just kidding, but you get the picture.

2015 Volvo V60 Sportwagon T5 FWD

Base sticker price: $39,800

Power: 2.0L, 16-valve, 240 hp, turbocharged DOHC I-4, mated to eight-speed automatic

Fuel consumption: 9.4/6.3/8.1 L/100km (city/hwy/combined).

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