If you sometimes get tired of seeing automobiles just like yours in and around Los Altos and pride yourself on your innate sense of style, consider whispering in the ear of the local Volvo dealer to request the 2018 Volvo V90 T6 Inscription.
This stylish new vehicle has been built with European customers in mind, who need the cargo room of an SUV but would have trouble maneuvering the bulk of an American SUV on their country lanes and narrow small-town streets.
You can be sure that no one in town will have one like it (Lamborghini sells more units in North America than Volvo sells of the V90), and yet they will look at it with admiring glances when you park downtown.
What we drove: This all-new station wagon is based on the also-new Volvo XC90 Cross-Country crossover SUV. With a 2-liter turbocharged and supercharged 4-cylinder engine producing 316 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque putting power to all four wheels through an 8-speed automatic transmission, the car is rated at 25 mpg in combined driving (22 mpg city, 31 mpg highway). A plug-in hybrid version is available.
What it cost: MSRP of the basic model is $58,945, which includes a full range of safety systems, leather interior, heated seats and hands-free tailgate. The optional heads-up display, premium rear air suspension, 20-inch alloy wheels, Bowers & Wilkins stereo and metallic paint brings the delivered price to $69,340.
What we liked: The station-wagon styling is better than many trendy sedans. We also admired the clean Scandinavian interior design, practical cargo capability of 25.5 cubic feet behind rear seats with 53.9 cubic feet with rear seats folded, handling and responsiveness more like a sports sedan than an SUV and special-order exclusivity.
What we would have changed: The 4-cylinder engine needs all the turbocharging and supercharging help it can get; a simpler V-6 might have been smoother and less stressed. Bumpy ride quality over uneven pavement and low clearance makes parking stanchions a threat.
Bottom line: Despite its exceptional attractiveness, driving pleasure and practicality, we suspect that we won’t be seeing one of these Euro-styled wagons on our streets among our high-riding SUVs and prestige sedans.
Los Altos residents Gary and Genie Anderson are co-owners of Enthusiast Publications LLC, which edits car club magazines and contributes articles and columns to automotive magazines and online services.