2015 Volvo V60Enlarge Photo
After several years of keeping quiet, Volvo is finally starting to roll out new and updated products--especially in its core mid-size segment.
We've now driven three of them, all 2015 models: the XC60 crossover utility, the S60 sport sedan, and the new V60 wagon, the first actual Volvo wagon to be sold here in a few years.
MORE: 2015 Volvo V60 - review
All of our test cars were fitted with the company's brand-new 2.0-liter four-cylinder Drive-E engine, a highly efficient new powerplant that will ultimately replace no fewer than eight different engines across Volvo's entire lineup of vehicles.
The Drive-E engine, in two different versions, powers the wheels of these three models through a new eight-speed automatic transmission.
The goal, of course, is to maintain the power and performance its customers expect, while radically improving the fuel economy delivered by a smaller, lighter engine.
Unfortunately, due to packaging constraints, the Drive-E engine is only fitted to front-wheel-drive versions of these three models.
2015 Volvo XC60Enlarge Photo
Next XC90 on scalable platform
The Drive-E's first appearance in an all-wheel-drive vehicle will be in the upcoming all-new and redesigned 2015 Volvo XC90 large crossover utility vehicle, which will be unveiled this fall and likely go on sale early next year.
That new XC90 will be the first of many new Volvo models built on a Scalable Platform Architecture that can be used to underpin cars and utility vehicles of various lengths, widths, and heights with a single set of components.
Economies of scale from such scalable architectures are the only way a small carmaker like Volvo can maintain a full model range while building fewer than 1 million vehicles a year. Mazda and Subaru, among other small makers, use the same approach.
The first Drive-E variant we drove was a 240-horsepower direct-injected and turbocharged 2.0-liter four, known as the T5 (meaning a power output of roughly 250 to 300 hp). It's offered in 2015 models of the S60, V60, and XC60.
2015 Volvo S60Enlarge Photo
Turbo, or turbo AND super
The second and more powerful version, the T6, adds a supercharger to increase low-end power as well as the turbocharger for higher engine speeds. It puts out 302 hp.
At least for 2015, that engine is only offered in the S60 and XC60, not the V60 wagon.
Each engine provided good power in the cars we drove, but obviously the T6 is the hot rod of the two, with 0-to-60-mph acceleration of just 5.6 seconds in the S60 T6 sport sedan.
Yet both engines return far better EPA gas-mileage ratings than the older, heavier engines they replaced.
In the S60, for example, the previous best EPA ratings were 24 mpg combined (21 mpg city, 30 mpg highway) with a 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine, six-speed automatic, and front-wheel drive.
The new S60 T5 Drive-E engine and eight-speed automatic bring that up to 29 mpg combined (25 mpg city, 37 mpg highway)--more than a 20-percent boost.