2015 Volvo V60 T5 Drive-E Long-Term Update 2
The Quest for Rain
It might be strange that my wife and I planned a recent road trip specifically to spend a bit of time in the rain. We usually take at least one weeklong road trip per year; last year it was to the sun-baked red rocks of Sedona in our long-term BMW 650i Gran Coupe. This year, we wanted something different. Something cloudy – even damp.
See, the permanent summer that has taken hold of much of California, especially the southern end where we live, has had as much of an effect on our moods as it's had on the state's water reserves. It's hit me particularly hard, being a transplant from California's northern climes. I need to see seasons change, even if just a little bit. Winters will always be mild in Los Angeles, but having gone months without seeing a drop of rain was making me crankier than usual.
And so it was that we packed up the long-term Volvo V60 with a week's worth of clothing, snacks, and water for a meandering trip north to Portland, Oregon, and back. I had last visited Oregon as a child, and my wife had never crossed the state's border. Without folding the rear seat down, the Volvo easily swallowed two medium duffle bags, a case of drinking water, a pile of jackets and sweaters, and a couple grocery bags full of trail mix, animal crackers, apples, and bananas. We were off.
We left the City of Angels in morning rush hour traffic, a stop-and-go slog that took us the better part of two hours to get on the I-5 freeway, which buzzes up through the Central California's agricultural homeland. Miles and miles of straight freeway and not a lot else, save for crops and livestock about as far as the eye can see. The I-5 is also a major trucking route, and with just two lanes each direction, there's plenty of overtaking groups of semis making their way north. No car can make I-5 enjoyable, but the Volvo did what it could to ease the pain. We had more than 100 channels of satellite radio to keep us entertained, two of the most comfortable front seats in the industry, and 240 hp from the V60's turbocharged inline-four, which made passing slow traffic nearly effortless.
After an overnight stop in the state capital, Sacramento, we continued north as the temperature outside began to drop from the 90-degree norm down into the 70s. After nearly 1000 miles on I-5, we turned left for the coast, where we were greeted by overcast skies and a light drizzle. Out of the oven at last! The road turned winding as we snaked through pine forests and small rural towns. The V60 was surefooted all the way, even in the damp conditions, and actually quite a lot of fun to drive in the twisty bits.
The next day, we made our way along the coast with a mandatory stop at the Tillamook Cheese factory (free cheese curd samples and amazing ice cream) then on through Astoria (brief stop to see the house from "The Goonies") and ultimately along the Columbia River, into Portland. After a couple days spent exploring the cool, youthful city, we turned the Volvo's steering wheel south again and made our way along the so-called Redwood Highway towards the California state line. Our days walking Portland's downtown area were dry (thankfully) but we finally got the rain we were after, as a more-or-less steady downpour followed us down to Eureka. We raised the sunroof just enough to let in the smell of fresh rain on damp redwood forest while keeping the water out. The colors of nature around us were especially vibrant with a layer of rain over everything, and as we approached the ocean, the smell of sea air filled the cabin. That day spent driving in the rain with zero urgency was one of the best I've had this year.
We continued south, passing through the small but active sea town of Bodega Bay, where we had clam chowder and fish 'n' chips for lunch before stopping at Potter Schoolhouse (circa 1873), prominently featured in the Alfred Hitchcock movie "The Birds." The late-19th-century building was restored some time ago and converted into a private home.
A stop to see our good friends Casey and his lovely wife, Laura, in Santa Cruz led to a conversation about the Volvo. Turns out that with a newborn baby and a thriving business, Casey is looking for something a little more "grown up" than his '04 Subaru WRX STI. We chatted about C-Classes and 3 Series for a bit, and then I took him outside to look at the V60. I showed him the sharp interior -- a classic Scandinavian design -- and how much gear he could load into the back of the wagon. I also told him how quiet and comfortable it had been over the past six days of driving -- just the opposite of his modified STI. Plus it had all the modern touches he was lusting after: nav, Bluetooth, safety tech. I could see the gears turning in his head. A dealership visit might be in order soon.
The next day, we completed our weeklong road trip, winding up back in the warm, dried-out city that is Los Angeles. We'd put more than 2400 miles on the Volvo and averaged nearly 30 mpg. The Volvo's range is excellent -- it routinely covered more than 400 miles between fill-ups, meaning we stopped at gas stations just five times on our trip. Plus, all the extra cabin space meant we were able to bring home plenty of souvenirs.
We might need to plan an extra road trip this year. I know just the car for it.
More on our long-term 2015 Volvo V60 T5 E-Drive here: