Wagons

The Volvo V60 T8 plug-in hybrid isn't coming to America -- and that's OK

Outside of America, Volvo sells its V60 wagon with a 390-horsepower plug-in hybrid powertrain. It makes for a wagon that’s pretty and potent, but ultimately imperfect.

Volvo

Volvo makes a plug-in hybrid version of its V60 wagon that has 390 horsepower and 472 pound-feet of torque and can accelerate to 60 miles per hour in less than 5 seconds. Sounds great, right? It's called the V60 T8 Twin Engine, but Volvo isn't planning to offer it in the United States. As far as I'm concerned, that's fine.

The V60 itself is a fantastic car. It's one of the prettiest wagons on sale anywhere, and I love its nicely appointed, handsome interior. Even the most basic T5 Momentum model is a luxurious affair, and you can get it with the ultracool City Weave cloth upholstery. The US-spec T5 and T6 models both drive exceptionally well, with great ride quality and appropriate power from their boosted engines.

The T8, however, is harder to love. The issue isn't the V60 itself, of course, it's the behavior of the plug-in hybrid powertrain. Stop me if you've heard this one before: As you can see from our recent reviews of the S90 T8 sedan, XC60 T8 crossover and even the new S60 T8 Polestar Engineered sedan, the Roadshow team has repeatedly had a hard time enjoying this PHEV setup.

For starters, the T8 Twin Engine powertrain has a lot going on. There's a 2.0-liter I4 engine under the hood, with both a turbocharger and supercharger bolted on for extra oomph. At the back of the car, Volvo mounts a 10.4-kilowatt-hour battery pack and an electric motor that drives the rear axle. The resulting output numbers might be impressive on paper, but the car never really feels that enthusiastic from behind the wheel. Power delivery is hardly linear, with weird bursts as different parts of the electric and turbocharged/supercharged assist arrive at different times.

The non-electrified T6 engine is a much smoother operator, and as I said in my first drive of Volvo's new V60 Cross Country, the turbo-only T5 offers the best powertrain refinement.

The battery and electric motor add more than 350 pounds to the V60's curb weight.

Volvo

The brakes are another big weak point, as Volvo still hasn't quite nailed the symbiotic relationship between the mechanical and regenerative stopping power. There's a noticeable lack of bite as you hit the brake pedal; the initial regenerative braking is vague in its response. Your natural reaction is to dig a little deeper, when the physical brakes add real assist, and it's a jarring affair. I've tested several T8 Volvos and, even after multiple days of driving at a time, can't seem to get the hang of these brakes. Thankfully, the V60 T8's stopping power isn't quite as jerky as the S60 Polestar Engineered's, with its more powerful Brembo setup.

An added benefit to the T8 Twin Engine powertrain is the ability to run on electric power for short amounts of time. The Volvo V60 T8 is rated for about 30 miles of range under the European NEDC testing regimen, which doesn't directly translate for the US EPA cycle. (A US-spec S60 T8 sedan, for reference, can do about 20 miles on electricity alone, according to EPA data.) Unfortunately, due to the subzero temperatures during my time testing the V60 T8 in Lulea, Sweden, the only time the car ever ran solely on electricity was when it was parked.

The good news is nothing about the T8 powertrain affects the V60's excellent ride and handling characteristics, and the extra weight of the motor and battery over the rear axle gives it a slightly more planted feeling while cornering. Volvo's European data says the heaviest V60 T8 tips the scales at 4,569 pounds, which is 367 pounds heavier than an all-wheel-drive V60 T6.

The T8's interior is the same as any other V60, except for the hybrid-specific crystal shift lever.

Volvo

In addition to the T8, Volvo offers the new V60 with a T6 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid option in other markets. It's less powerful and less expensive, but Volvo has already told me on several occasions that we won't get this powertrain in the US -- even in the S60.

And indeed, cost is already the biggest issue with the T8 setup. Obviously, US pricing for the V60 T8 doesn't exist, but we can look at the S60 sedan for a pretty solid comparison. The S60 T8 is only available in R-Design and Inscription trims, and costs $55,045 and $55,400, respectively. The T6 R-Design and Inscription models, meanwhile, are a full $8,000 less.

An $8,000 upcharge for a powertrain that most people won't buy, in a body style that'll likely sell in less than half the volumes of its S60 counterpart? I can't blame Volvo for not bringing the V60 T8 to the US. And since it's not as nice to drive as the already sweet V60 T5 and T6 models, you shouldn't be heartbroken about it, either.

The only thing prettier than a Volvo V60 is the surrounding Swedish landscape.

Volvo

Editors' note: Travel costs related to this feature were covered by the manufacturer. This is common in the auto industry, as it's far more economical to ship journalists to cars than to ship cars to journalists. While Roadshow accepts multiday vehicle loans from manufacturers in order to provide scored editorial reviews, all scored vehicle reviews are completed on our turf and on our terms.

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