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2017 Volvo 60 Series Cross Country

Frank Washington | 11/2/2016, noon
The program was billed as Volvo’s Drive-E Experience. It was a sort of out with the old in with the ...

The program was billed as Volvo’s Drive-E Experience. It was a sort of out with the old in with the new – as in engines. The Swedish automaker used the introduction of the 2017 model year to debut the installation Drive-E engines into its 60 Series Cross Country nameplates.

In other words, the 2016 model year was the last to see the venerable T5, the five-cylinder engine powering many of its Cross Country badged 60 Series cars. We were told that we’d be the first to test drive Volvo’s T5 AWD with the Drive-E engine in the 2017 S60 Cross Country, the 2017 V60 Cross Country and the 2017 XC60 Inscription.

Volvo has switched from a family of six engine blocks to a family of two. Both of them are four-cylinders, one diesel and the other gasoline powered. The U.S. will not see the diesel but we’ve got and will get four versions of the gasoline powered four-cylinder.

The T5 all-wheel-drive engine was a 2.0-liter turbocharged direct injected four cylinder engine that made 240 horsepower and 258 pound feet of torque at an incredibly low 1,500 rpm. It was mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission.

The T6 made 302 horsepower and it too was mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. And the T6 engine in Polestar, Volvo’s performance line, will make 362 horsepower. Both engines are mated to eight-speed automatic transmissions. And then there is the T8, not used in the 60 Series, that makes 400 plus horsepower.

In the long run, this new engine philosophy will allow Volvo to save a bunch of research bucks and focus its intellectual currency on just two engine architectures. That should lead to more powertrain innovations.

The 2017 Volvo V60 T5 AWD Cross Country that we drove here from Denver’s International Airport had a fuel efficiency rating of 22 mpg in the city, 30 mpg on the highway and 25 mpg combined. It was roughly a two-hour uphill drive on I-70 West. An engine loses horsepower when climbing, about 10 horsepower for every thousand feet.

Denver’s elevation was 5,280 ft., that’s why it’s called The Mile High City. But Vail is at 8,189 ft. If we were anywhere else the climb to the ski resort would be called through the mountains but this is Colorado so these sizable mounds were the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.

The point in all this geography is that Volvo’s T5 engine didn’t lose power, not that we could tell. That’s because of the turbocharger. We never got the sense that the engine was working hard.

Heck, it was like we were driving at zero elevation on a long straightaway. Instead, we were climbing up I-70, a three lane highway, sometimes two, that cut through mountains, er, foothills.

The interior of the V60 was of the Scandinavian philosophy: clean lines and minimalist. Still, the grained material used on the top half of the dash could have been softer, so could the material used on the bottom half. Some areas of the door materials were way too hard to be considered luxury, or even premium for that matter. They were of good quality but our test vehicle cost $50,130. As Volvo repositions itself from a premium automaker to a purveyor of luxury vehicles the latter is conveyed in the interior and in the V60 Volvo Cross Country, the interior materials could be a little better.