Once the icon of stodgy sensibility, the Volvo station wagon went out of production after the 2011 model year.
Now its back, as a “sports wagon” variant of the existing S60 sedan, the automaker announced at the 2013 New York International Auto Show.
“The V60 builds on our wagon heritage,” Volvo Cars of North America Chief Executive John Maloney said in a statement. “And this time, we’ve added sophistication with the dynamic driving performance of a sedan.”
A high-performance version, the V60 R-Design, made its world debut Thursday at the 2013 New York Auto Show.
The V60 wagon will arrive in the U.S. early next year as a 2014 model. Volvo has not yet announced pricing or specifications. But the current S60 sedan has base prices ranging from $31,900 to $44,100 in three different trim levels with two turbocharged engine choices -- a 2.5-liter five-cylinder and a 3.0-liter six-cylinder -- and available all-wheel-drive.
Sales goals are “modest,” about 3,500 units a year, said Volvo spokesman Geno Effler. That would be considerably better than the mere 555 units the last Volvo wagon -- the V50 -- sold in 2011 or the 1,720 sold in 2010.
But the S60 sedan on which the new wagon will be based has been a comparative blockbuster in sales for the niche Swedish brand, which was acquired in 2010 by Geely Motors of China from Ford Motor Co. for $1.8 billion. Volvo sold 23,356 of the sedans last year, about a third of its overall sales.
When the S60 and V60 were introduced globally three years ago, Volvo chose not to bring the wagon version to the U.S. because “the wagon segment was very weak,” Effler said. “So bringing the V60 to America would have put a real strain on our marketing efforts without much chance of sales success.”
Wagons still have difficulty distinguishing themselves in a market dominated by crossover SUVs -- now nearly a fifth of all U.S. vehicle sales -- but Volvo nonetheless sees an opening.
“The wagon market still isn’t what it used to be,” Effler said, “but we see an opportunity for modest sales growth.”
Volvo also announced updated versions of its flagship S80 sedan and its XC70 crossover at the New York show. The front and rear of both models have been redesigned. Inside, both will offer a new Internet-connected 7-inch touchscreen that allows browsing, though not while driving.
New “transmission optimization” software called Advanced Quick Shift will shave about half a second off their zero-to-60 mph times, now 6.5 seconds for the XC70 and 6.0 seconds for the S80, Volvo says.
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