Nowhere is the old saying “the hardest part of any journey is the first step” so applicable as Los Angeles. The whole of the U.S. lies east of the city limits and with it, endless opportunity for adventures large and small, but first you have to get out of the city. To do so efficiently, you must either leave before morning traffic, hit the lunchtime lull just right, or leave after evening traffic. Should you manage to execute any of these escape plans, you’re out of the greater LA region within an hour and half. Should you not, you’re at the mercy of a sea of people that apparently have better things to do than pay attention to the task at hand, driving.
I very nearly nailed my mid-day departure, in fact for the first 20 minutes I thought I had. Then came the alerts on my phone and sure enough the green lines turned orange, then red, then a deeper red. I would no longer make Flagstaff before dark. For a brief moment I considered turning around and trying again first thing in the morning, but then I took stock of my situation. I was on nobody’s schedule but my own. I was at the wheel of a car with adaptive cruise control sitting in an incredibly comfortable seat. I had A/C that was frosty, I had all the music I could possibly ask for at my fingertips ready to play through what turned out to be a superb Harmon/Kardon stereo. I had snacks.
I set the adaptive cruise, selected the new Taj Mahal/Keb Mo album “TajMo” and opened a bag of plantain chips. Before I knew it the city had faded into the distance, the 2010 re-master of Sticky Fingers was pulsing through the speakers and the plantain chips were gone. Ahead of me asphalt snaked its way across the eastern edge of the Mojave Desert, shimmering in the sweltering triple digit mid-afternoon heat.
Inside the V60 I remained quite content. Were it not for the external temperature display showing 112 degrees, I would not have known the severity of the climate outside. My immediate world was leather and carefully considered ergonomics. The chunky “R-Design” steering wheel was my access point for connecting with the V60 and connect I did. It may have interior design language that pre-dates the 1st iPhone, but that doesn’t make it any less of an enjoyable place to spend time.
There’s plenty of storage for water bottles, sunglasses and phones, room to rest an arm on either side and the old recessed infotainment screen isn’t that bad. It displays the information you need when you need it and the rest of the time it’s not distracting. I know people love big screens that are the focal point of a dashboard these days, but it’s refreshing to get in a car where you’re encouraged to you know, look out the windows at the scenery around you.
This is where a fundamental divide in the world of drivers becomes most apparent. There are those who want the most tech laden luxurious ride to get them to their destination as fast as possible, which is all well and good. But then there are those who of course want to be comfortable, but can forego the “latest and greatest” in exchange for a vehicle they can bond with.
I struggle to make a connection with the majority of new vehicles that I drive, I even parted ways with my most recent personal car because it never felt like it was a companion. The V60 and I on the other hand, we were fast friends. I kept the reasonable amount of gear I brought along for the 6 day trip neatly organized in the rear cargo area and while the rest of the cabin took on the quintessential “lived in” wagon look. What can I say? The car had a relaxing effect on me and if that’s not the ultimate endorsement of a vehicle, I don’t know what is.
Over the course of the 2,000 + miles I covered through 5 states, I never found myself bored, disappointed, annoyed or otherwise out of sorts. The V60 was there for me throughout, a long distance cruiser on the wide open roads through the Colorado Plateau and a spry little sport wagon on the winding run up Pikes Peak. I folded down the seats to nap when I needed to, used the rear of the roof to support a hefty zoom lens when shooting handheld on the fly and watched sunsets sitting in the back. Never once did I find myself wanting for the additional “capability” provided by a crossover and I suspect that unless you’re looking to do legitimate offroading you won’t either.
The V60 provides ample amounts of fun and function in a package that’s already shown it will age well, because it has already aged. On our shores, there’s nothing else like it for the money and with big changes on the horizon for Volvo powertrains, it’s unlikely there will be again. You can roll the dice and wait to see what the next V60 brings, but with deals on the T6 R-Design already out there, why not opt for satisfaction now?
Andrew Maness is a creative type who is especially good with words and photography. Not much of a painter though. Contact him at email@example.com and follow his automotive exploits @theroadlessdriven on Instagram.
Even More Photos!
Congratulations! You made it to the end! As a reward, here are 3 photos of a Lada that’s been around the world with 3 Czech guys!