Volvo ran a Super Bowl promotion earlier this year, promising to give away $1 million worth of free cars if a member of either team scored a safety. You could pick from any Volvo, you just had to do so ahead of time I made the "car guy" choice: the V60 T8 Polestar Engineered wagon.
Like the rest of America, I didn't win a new Swedish speed machine — the 49ers and Chiefs stuck with traditional touchdowns and field goals. But a few months later, Volvo wound up loaning me the exact same car I'd been lusting of. Sometimes, things just work out.
On paper, the V60 Polestar sounds like nirvana for moms and dads who love to drive. Its hybrid powertrain puts out 415 hp and 494 lb-ft of torque. It can accelerate from 0-60 mph in 4.4 seconds. It doesn't blind anyone with chrome trim, and it doesn't feign being a crossover with that body cladding seen on Volvo's Cross Country models. It's also safe, reasonably spacious, has all-wheel-drive — and earns a not-especially-guilt-inducing 30 mpg or so combined.
That sounds perfect, in principle. And in practice, the V60 Polestar lived up to my hopes. Driving one was love at first drive.
The V60 Polestar transitions from goofing off to adulting more seamlessly than I do
It looks like your standard sensible Volvo wagon, but it's a legit performance car. The V60 T8 E-AWD Polestar can scoot in a straight line; the Polestar Engineered performance mode is a great deal of fun, even if some nagging part of your brain tells you that you probably should have been saving fuel instead of burning it so recklessly.
It's not just a straight-line rocket; it's agile, too, and stays planted in the corners. It comes with a tight suspension (firm to the point my two-year-old son commented about the bumps), but beyond that, it's a comfortable, serene luxury car that calms right down under normal driving.
Milking nearly 500 lb-ft of torque from a 2.0-liter four-cylinder with the help of an electric motor, turbocharger and supercharger undoubtedly creates some noise, but you can't hear that sorcery from the cockpit. The V60 T8 E-AWD Polestar can go from spirited driving to school run to the exceedingly rare date night.
You do have to mind the battery charge
I'm not a huge plug-in hybrid fan. The added EV-only range over a standard hybrid (which never lives up to the promises on the window sticker) feels like a small benefit for the added hassle of charging all the time. The V60 Polestar's standard drive mode delivers a smooth, EV-heavy ride when the battery is topped off, but it doesn't stay topped off for long. Like in the XC90 SUV, you can watch the meter drain in real time while you're driving.
You can plug it in overnight to top off the battery, and it has a drive mode that charges the battery on the fly. But even if it's not a deal-breaker, it is a noticeable annoyance.
The V60 Polestar is a great value...and yet, also a poor one
You can make cases for and against the V60 T8 E-AWD Polestar being a good value. Glass half-full: you have about as much power as you can reasonably use off a track; it's about $50,000 cheaper than a Mercedes-AMG E 63 S wagon or an Audi RS6 Avant; and it's much kinder to the environment. The counterpoint: the Polestar Engineered V60 T8 comes at about a $30,000 premium versus the standard T5 version. The latter is still reasonably potent, with 250 hp and 258 lb-ft, and gets close to the same gas mileage in the real world.
Volvo has taken away the regular T5's all-wheel-drive option, though; if you want a V60 that puts power to all four wheels, you're stuck choosing between the Polestar Engineered version and the lifted, body-clad V60 Cross Country. Assuming you're not put off by the T8's price, that really isn't all that hard a choice.
Car: 2020 Volvo V60 T8 E-AWD Polestar Engineered
Base Price (Price as Tested): $67,300 ($68,940)
Drivetrain: Turbocharged and supercharged 2.0-liter inline-four with electric motor and separate battery; eight-speed automatic; all-wheel-drive
Power: 415 hp, 494 lb-ft
EPA Fuel Economy: 30 MPG combined city/hwy in gas-only mode, 69 MPGe combined city/hwy in hybrid mode