The Volvo V60 has been a member of the CarAdvice long-termer stable for a while now. To get a fresh perspective on the safety feature-packed T5 Luxury model, we loaned it to one of our friends at The Carousel, a leading women's lifestyle site.
Paula Crawford has been the video producer for The Carousel for the past two years and enjoys hitting the road with her partner. Over the years, Paula has literally criss-crossed Australia, spending countless hours behind the wheel travelling around the country for both work and pleasure.
She usually drives an SUV and was excited to try the Volvo and interested in finding out more about the safety feature packed wagon. I caught up with her after her time with the V60.
"I live an hour's drive from Sydney in the Hawkesbury Region of NSW but work in the city, so my commute consisted of a blend of rural and urban roads, providing a good all-round drive experience across the week.
"Saturday and Sunday involved a variety of activities from the golf club to shopping mall with a bit of antique hunting in between, and finally a friend’s birthday celebration in Manly (so a quick visit beachside for good measure).
"Monday to Friday took me into Sydney for work and around the city on a hunt for a shoot location for a video we’re filming. And, finally, I took a spin via the Hawkesbury River crossing at Wisemans Ferry an hour north-west of Sydney and into the Blue Mountains so I could get a feel for the Sports mode without too much other traffic around."Was the car comfortable to travel in?
"This is an extremely comfortable car. The leather seats and sporty steering wheel felt good to the touch and it held on to the road well, which is as important on wet, winding and sometimes steep country roads at 5am as it is on the motorway in peak-hour traffic. In particular, the Sports mode gave the sensation of a lowered center of gravity – it felt more road-hugging as a result. The overall sensation, however, was one of being safe; that feeling you get when you hear a solid 'thunk' as the car door closes beside you and security ensues."
"I normally drive a massive 4x4 Nissan Patrol, so I thought parking the Volvo would be a cinch, especially with the help of the automatic tilting side-mirror which shows the kerb-line as the car is put into reverse, plus the help of a rear parking camera and sensors. But I think the culmination of all those alerts threw me and trashed my 40-plus years of parking savvy-ness. I struggled to reverse straight and was super-aware of pillars and other object in parking garages, perhaps due to all the alerts I’m not used to hearing. Low road clearance may also have added to my bad judgement."
"Bluetooth iPhone connectivity in this car was easy to set up and use. I settled for the radio when it came to entertainment so didn’t attempt live streaming or iPod connections. The impressive 10-speaker sound system was perfect for both AM and FM and the steering wheel controls made for easy station switching/volume adjustments.
"I found the satellite navigation system clunky and time consuming to use as it’s based on a Nokia-type button system. It's worth noting that the sat nav can be controlled by voice, but it wasn’t obvious how this should be achieved. To key in an address to get directions took a few minutes and I eventually just used my iPad instead (handily powered by the USB socket). On the other hand, when running low on fuel, the nav automatically offered directions to the closest service station and one press of a button got me straight there. Sweet."
"The controls for lights and wipers were self-explanatory and one of my favourite features of this car was the headlights that automatically dip when they sense an oncoming car. At this time of the year I drive a lot in the dark on un-lit country roads and this feature meant I wasn’t constantly having to watch out for oncoming vehicles’ lights and dimming in time to avoid blinding other motorists. The headlights also ‘track’ around corners, which is particularly handy when there could be wildlife on the road."
"The console was easy to understand, and when in doubt I found one click of the ‘My Car’ button showed the way. Particularly obvious (and pleasantly so) are the climate control features, and the heated front seats were another very welcome addition at 5am on a winter’s morning."Were the ergonomics a good fit for you?
"You can sense the Scandinavian flair and comfort throughout, from the subtle electric handbrake control to the accident-free zone, which is the console cup-holder (I swore I wasn’t going to talk about cup-holders in this review, but these hugged my early-morning coffee cup like it was a baby).
"The safety features for which Volvo is known were present in abundance throughout the car, from the BLIS (Blind Spot Information System), which shows when a vehicle comes into that region on either side of the car, to the Lane Departure System that detects the white lines and makes the steering wheel vibrate if you start to veer out of your lane. The latter is great if you are easily distracted.
"A feature I had never heard of before was the Speed Zone indicator, which reads the traffic signs along the road. It's perfect for those pesky areas where the speed limit changes several times within a kilometre. One exception to this was in school zones where, of course, it reads 40km/h regardless of the time of day or day of the week.
"Luckily the collision avoidance technology that ‘reads’ the traffic ahead and applies the brakes automatically if needed wasn’t engaged during the week."What did you like about the car?
"In no particular order:
- Automatic transmission's dual drive modes – the best of both worlds.
- Automatic dim on high beams
- Speed limit recognition technology/indicator
- Cruise control is in 5km/h increments (so easy to keep track of the setting)
- White line reader
- Heated seats
- Reverse camera with guidelines"
"There weren’t many features I didn’t like about this car, however:
- Automatic night-time tinted rear-view and wing mirrors made it difficult to judge the distance of cars behind in the dark. I needed to look ultra-carefully before pulling out in multi-lane situations.
- The shock absorbers are probably built to handle better roads than those I was driving on (all sealed however), resulting in a bumpier ride than I had expected from a car in this price range.
- The navigation system keyboard felt old-fashioned. If there was a voice-control option, I didn’t find it.
- I experienced sensory overload on the first drive with all the safety alerts (lights, beeps, buzzes and steering wheel vibration). The temptation to switch off some of the alerts occurred to me, but I soon got used to them. Once I went back to driving my own car however, I realized that I had become used to having these conveniences and I wonder whether they could lead to complacency when driving."
"I would definitely recommend this car to others.
"The safety features would appeal to most people who clock up a lot of kilometres each year or appreciate the additional attention in keeping passengers out of harm’s way, but the sporty drive and cool acceleration can’t be ignored either. It was nice to feel that extra power and manoeuvrability when wanted. I didn’t use a full tank of fuel so I wasn’t able to see how economical it was on long drives, but I enjoyed the fact that the engine cut off when the car was stopped then kicked in again the moment the brake was released. Good for the environment and for the wallet.
"A test drive of the Volvo V60 T5 Luxury should definitely be on the list of anyone who is after a wagon and has $60,000-odd to spend."
To read more about Paula's experience with the car, click here.
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