Our first stop was my hometown of Morgan Hill, located just south of San Jose. If you've ever done this drive you know you have two main options on getting there, either the straight and quick I-5, or the 101. The 101 is definitely going to take you more time than the I-5, but at least you have something to look at. Driving on the 101 is much prettier and Highway 1 is right there with some of the best roads and scenery this planet has to offer. Well before we embarked on our journey, I knew we were going to be taking I-5 up to the Bay Area. I had spent my college years in Santa Barbara and was forced by location to take the 101 up whenever I wanted a little taste of home, and as I had done the 101 drive so many times, we were set on getting there quick.
The first leg of our trip went well, considering we thought we might run into a bit of holiday traffic on the two lane I-5. We arrived at my folks' place almost 7 hours after leaving Los Angeles. This stretch of the trip is where the Volvo’s cruise control comes in handy. On the I-5, the speed limit is posted at 70 mph for a good chunk of the way, and with the digital cruise control, you can set it exactly at 70 mph. Along with that comes an added peace of mind as you pass hidden California Highway Patrol cars along the way. The only feature I miss was the assisted braking that I've been spoiled with in other vehicles. This definitely would have come in handy on some of the mountain roads through Oregon, as the Volvo would tend to “run away” a little bit on steeper grades, forcing me to apply the brake and cancel the cruise control.
The next leg of the journey would take us from Morgan Hill, CA to Vancouver, WA that sits just across the Columbia River from Portland, OR. All 700 miles of it! This portion of the trip presented us with the opportunity to put the Volvo in some different driving situations. The first leg was flat, dry, straight, and would prove to be just the opposite of the mountainous, wet, and curvy roads to come. I had a couple things come to my attention during this portion. The first being that the rear seat is not meant for longer drives. Having our Bulldog Rusty along with us, he preferred either the backseat or the driver’s lap. So one of us had to sit in the back with him in order to control him from jumping up into the driver’s lap mid-drive. We didn't think that would work very well. These seats were designed for going to dinner, going to the beach, or a quick drive to a party with friends. Kids shouldn't have a problem with a longer drive, but an adult might find themselves shifting a lot for a comfortable position.
The other thing I noticed was the driver’s seat. I do have to admit that I am 6’5 and don’t fall into the average height of your everyday driver. When driving the S60, I rested my right knee on part of the dash that has a somewhat sharp protruding edge in its design that gets really uncomfortable after a while. It was uncomfortable enough that after a couple hours, I was looking for a small rag or some piece of cloth to wedge between my knee and that edge to give me some relief.
Other than those slight issues, the drive as a whole went great. We arrived at our intended destination without any hang-ups or problems and went straight to bed, exhausted from the 12 hour drive. A drive that length would be tiring in any car, no matter how comfortable. The next day I reflected on our drive and how I felt about the car after spending a good length of time in different situations. I have to say my liking is stronger. I couldn't say love, as there are still aspects like the layout of the center stack and some of the materials used on the interior that keep me from crossing that line. All in all the S60 is a great car! I wouldn't hesitate in taking it on that drive again.