Volvo is now producing two plug-in hybrid versions of the V60 executive estate. The T8 is fiercely quick but pricey. And the T6 is hardly slow, combining a 253hp petrol engine with an 87hp electric motor.
The combination promises fuel economy as well as speed, with an official combined figure of 141.1-156.6mpg. What’s more, the Volvo should be capable of up to 33.6 miles on electricity alone.
For tow car drivers, it’s also pleasing that Volvo has set a legal maximum of 2000kg, which is 400-500kg higher than the limits of most plug in hybrid estate cars. With a kerb weight of well over two tonnes, the Volvo makes a sensible match for a wide variety of caravans.
What are we looking for?
Plug-in hybrids are improving very quickly. Does the Volvo V60 Recharge T6 AWD Inscription make sense for towing, as well as for short commutes?
One advantage of choosing to tow with a plug-in hybrid is that these cars are usually very heavy. The V60 T6 has a kerb weight of 2075kg (listed as the running order weight in Volvo’s brochures), which gives an 85% match figure of 1764kg.
There’s plenty of headroom between the 85% weight and the two-tonne towing limit.
Pulling a heavy caravan shouldn’t be a problem, thanks to the combined strength of both petrol engine and electric motor.
To put that to the test, we matched the V60 to a Swift Fairway Platinum 580 with a MiRO of 1437kg, borrowed from Broad Lane Leisure in Kenilworth.
Ideally, we’d have liked a heavier tourer, but even allowing for the Swift’s middling weight, we couldn’t fail to be impressed by the V60’s performance.
At low speeds, it would happily tow on electric power alone. With petrol and electric power working in tandem, the Volvo wasted no time in pulling the caravan up to 60mph.
We started our test with a fully charged battery you can set up the car to hold a full charge and rely on the petrol engine, which is what we did on our drive up to Broad Lane Leisure).
With the electric motor able to make a full contribution, the Volvo was a quiet tow car, smoothly switching from electric-only to using both power sources together. As the battery ran low, the petrol engine took on more of the work and noise levels went up a notch, but even then, the V60 was quiet and refined at a steady cruise.
Accelerate hard and the engine is quite vocal, but it doesn’t become intrusive or irritating, and performance stays strong.
Stability at speed is excellent. Whether on the motorway or a country road, the V60 is secure and confidence-inspiring.
Once in a while there was some slight movement from the van when overtaking an HGV, but the Volvo always felt in control. It’s the kind of car that makes long-distance towing stress-free.
Being powerful and four-wheel drive, the V60 should have no problem with hill starts – so it proved when we started on a 1-in-10 slope. The electronic parking brake held both car and caravan still, then released smoothly, and the Volvo pulled away with no strain. Our testing took place in the dry, but the four-wheel-drive system should help the V60 cope with damp Tarmac.
Arrive on site and the Volvo is mostly easy to manoeuvre, once you are used to the speed with which it will reverse, even with your feet off the pedals. It’s a little quicker than we would like, but something you can soon adapt to.
The reversing camera gives a clear view when hitching up, and can display a line on the screen showing the direction the towball is heading if the current steering angle is maintained, which is useful.
The towball drops down at the press of a button, but must be locked in place by hand. The electrics are on the side of the towbar, easy to access and well clear of the bumper. In every respect as a tow car, the V60 sets a very high bar.
Leave the caravan behind, and the Volvo is a pleasure to drive. Like any plug-in hybrid, it’s at its best when the battery can be charged regularly. Not only will this keep running costs down, it means more miles can be covered in near-silence. It really is a very relaxing way to travel.
Surprisingly brisk acceleration is possible without needing any help from the petrol engine, and when it does join in, the V60 gathers speed with real urgency.
That said, if you are looking for a sporty hybrid estate car, the BMW 330e might be more to your taste. Despite being fast, the Volvo is more of a long-distance express than a car that comes alive on a favourite B-road. The gearbox is sometimes a little slow to grab a lower gear, and comfort is the priority, rather than nimble handling.
That’s not to say the V60 doesn’t corner neatly, but it suits a smooth and sensible driving style.
Despite its chunky 19-inch alloys, the Volvo’s well-judged suspension smooths all but the worst road surfaces.
Switching to ‘Power’ mode sharpens the car, with more responsive steering and quicker gear changes, but the default ‘Hybrid’ setting better suits the Volvo’s character. There’s also a ‘Pure’ mode for electric running, and a ‘Constant AWD’ setting to make sure power is always sent to all four wheels.
Space and practicality
The Volvo is both comfortable and practical. Build quality is excellent, as you’d expect, and the dash design is uncluttered.
However, we’re not big fans of the Sensus infotainment system. It looks great, but is fiddly to use and doesn’t always respond immediately to every touch. It’s also possible to swipe across to a new menu when you mean to press an icon.
The driving position has a wide range of adjustment and we found the seats supportive and comfortable for long days behind the wheel.
The panoramic sunroof (part of the £1750 Lounge – Harman Kardon pack) does steal quite a lot of headroom, though.
Those in the rear seats have lots of room to stretch out. Air vents in the door pillars should keep everyone cool, and there are two handy USB ports.
However, the rear seats are more comfortable for two than three, because the transmission tunnel gets in the way if anyone is in the middle seat.
With all seats upright, boot capacity is 529 litres – more space than in a BMW 330e Touring. With the rear seats lowered, there’s a slight slope to the floor but no step, and the capacity increases to 1441 litres. There’s a tyre repair kit under the floor, but not enough room for a spare, even as an option.
Buying and owning
With price tag of £48,150 the V60 Recharge is pricier than the Škoda Superb iV or Volkswagen Passat GTE plug-in hybrids.
But the Volvo is significantly quicker than either rival and the price looks reasonable compared with a BMW 330e Touring with similar kit. What Car’s? research suggests healthy discounts are available, too.
Running costs are potentially rock-bottom. It all depends on how far your drive each day, and how often you get a chance to top up the batteries. Someone with a short daily commute and a home charging point could go for weeks without using petrol; but regular long-distance driving without the chance to recharge won’t be so efficient.
Volvo quotes an all-electric range of 33.6 miles, although the T6 Recharge will have more range and power from 2022. Our experience suggests that mid- to high 20s is more likely. Even with a low battery, we still saw better than 40mpg on a motorway drive.
Over our towing economy route, the V60 average 40.1mpg until the electric-only range dropped to zero.
On the full 73-mile circuit, it returned 27mpg, so towing economy will be reasonable even on long trips.
The Volvo is one of the best plug-in hybrids we have tested, as a car to tow with and to enjoy every day.
The extra weight of the electric motor and batteries makes the V60 Recharge very heavy for its size, which benefits matching ratios. And unlike many of its rivals, the Volvo has a legal towing limit that broadly matches those of similar diesels, so there will be no need to compromise your choice of tourer.
With the punchy petrol engine and electric motor working together, the V60 is a very rapid tow car – you’re up to 60mph almost before you know it.
More importantly, the Volvo is stable when it gets there, with hardly a twitch from the caravan. Starting out with a full battery makes for very quiet towing over the first few miles, and even after the charge runs low, the Volvo is an urbane cruiser. It’s a car that takes long journeys in its stride, with or without a caravan in tow.
In everyday driving, the V60 Recharge combines strong performance with a comfortable ride. It’s not as thrilling to drive as a BMW 330e, but if you value a restful and relaxing drive over excitement, the Volvo is likely to be the car for you.
The V60’s cabin sets high standards for style and practicality. We found the infotainment fiddly and the thick transmission tunnel is irritating, but otherwise, there’s plenty of room for people and luggage.
Stable, quick, frugal and practical – you couldn’t ask for more. The Volvo makes a very capable tow car. Don’t forget, if you want some more inspiration, be sure to take a look at our guide to the best caravan towing vehicles too, where we share our top picks on the market.
How much will the Volvo V60 Recharge T6 AWD Inscription cost on finance?
We tracked down a personal contract hire deal from Stoneacre Volvo. The cost of hire would be £493.04 per month over a period of three years. An initial payment equivalent to six months’ rental would are required. The contract allows for up to 10,000 miles each year, after which penalty charges would apply. Maintenance is not included in the package.
Or you could try…
BMW 330E Touring • Price New from £44,045
Drives beautifully, but it’s not as practical as the Volvo and it has a lower 1500kg towing limit.
VW Passat Estate GTE • Price New from £40,155
More affordable than the Volvo although not as quick, the Passat GTE is an accomplished tow car.
Volvo V60 D6 Geartronic AWD • Price Used £13,950 seen on 63-plate, 64,000 miles
The previous V60 plug-in towed superbly, but has a small boot for an estate. A bargain used tow car.
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV • Price Used £24,995 seen on 68-plate, 30,000 miles
If you want a plug-in hybrid SUV there are plenty of Outlanders. It’s not the most stable tow car, though.
With 85% of the Volvo’s kerb weight at 1764kg, you can safely tow an Elddis Avanté 860.
If you’d like more help with selecting your towing vehicle, be sure to check out our guide to choosing the perfect tow car, where we offer tips to help you get the car that is right for you.
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With petrol and electric power working in tandem, the Volvo wasted no time in pulling the caravan up to 60mph
|Engine Size||1969 cc|
|85% KW||1764 kg|
|Towball Limit||100 kg|
|Maximum Towing Limit||2000 kg|
|Torque||258 lb ft|
|Offical MPG||141.1 mpg|
|Towing MPG||27 mpg|