Shoppers in the compact luxury sedan class have plenty of excellent choices, and the Volvo S60 is a worthy rival. In addition to understated elegance and Volvo’s reputation for safety, the S60 is available with a wide selection of engines and equipment, aiming to attract a broad segment of the market.
Volvo added some new features at mid-season, for its 2015.5 models, including Sensus Connect and Volvo On-Call. Premium, Platinum, and all T6 models added Sensus Navigation with Map Care. A new Harman Kardon Premium sound system went into Platinum trim levels.
What's New for 2016
A new Inscription series, with a three-inch longer wheelbase, joins the lineup, replacing the previous S60 T5 Platinum as the top trim level. Built in China, Inscription models include power steering personalization (front-drive) or speed-sensitive steering (AWD), as well as 18-inch wheels, rear Park Assist camera, contour seating, power rear sunblind, and rear side-window sunblinds. Platinum T6 and R-Design models no longer include a digital compass.
Choosing Your Volvo S60
Picking an engine is the first, and foremost, step in choosing an S60:
Drive-E front-drive models use a 2-liter four-cylinder, making either 240 horsepower in the T5, or 302 horsepower in the turbo/supercharged T6.
All-wheel-drive T5 models get a 2.5-liter five-cylinder, at 250 horsepower (but more torque than the Drive-E engine).
In the T6 R-Design, a 3-liter V6 produces 325 horsepower.
Drive-E models mate with an eight-speed automatic transmission, while AWD versions get a six-speed automatic that incorporates a manual-shift mode,
Fuel economy estimates range from as much as 26 mpg city/38 mpg highway with a four-cylinder engine, to a significantly less frugal 18/27 mpg with the V6.
Four models are offered, differentiated by engine; each come sin two or four trim levels:
Volvo offers several option packages:
Sport Package (for T5 Drive-E) includes paddle shifters, sport chassis, and 19-inch alloy wheels.
Technology Package includes adaptive cruise control, collision warning with full auto brake and pedestrian/cyclist detection, Distance Alert, Driver Alert, Road Sign Information, Lane Keeping Aid (on Drive-E), and Lane Departure Warning (T5 AWD and R-Design).
Convenience Package includes keyless drive, rear park assist camera, HomeLink and power retractable mirrors.
Climate Package has heated front/rear seats and steering wheel, heated windshield washer nozzles, and Interior Air Quality System.
Technology and Convenience packages are included with Platinum trim.
With so many choices of engine and trim level, the S60 covers a broad spectrum of potential buyers; but picking one isn’t that easy. Toward the lower end, we lean toward the thrifty T5 Drive-E. If you need extra space, though, that new extended-length Inscription might be worth a look. Remember that total price rises rapidly if you add option packages.
Volvo has long been one of the safest brands on the road, but in recent years, it has turned some of its attention to more refined styling and better performance. The S60 is a prime example of what happens when Volvo executes its plans to perfection.
Pricing and Equipment
As a luxury midsize sedan, the S60 is certainly no cheap ride. Its base T5 Drive-E trim level begins from $33,950. At this price point, the S60 comes pretty well equipped with:
LED signals and taillights
Power exterior mirrors with heat
Dual-zone climate control
An eight-speaker audio system
To feel even more coddled, opt for one of the the more premium models like the Premier, Inscription, Inscription Premier, or Inscription Platinum. For an added dose of performance, go for the R-Design.
Many years ago, Volvo was not known for its performance, but in recent years, the brand has developed some of the more potent powertrains in the luxury segment. Particularly impressive is the T6 powertrain, which is a 2-liter supercharged and turbocharged four-cylinder that produces more than 300 horsepower.
Plenty of engines to choose from, all of which are very potent
Optional all-wheel drive makes this an all-weather rig.
R-Spec trim's sport-tuned suspension scratched our sport sedan itch.
While the front-wheel drive S60s utilize advanced four-cylinder engines, the all-wheel-drive models still use the old 2.5-liter T5 and 3-liter T6 powertrains. While both of these engines are very strong at 250 and 325 horsepower, respectively, we find them heavy and dated.
Heavier powertrains with all-wheel drive affect performance
We feel the R-Spec model can be a tad too rough at times.
The Volvo S60 has plenty of standard features to make us happy, and plenty of options to make it unique. The driver-oriented cabin gives it the feeling of a sports sedan.
Massive legroom in long-wheelbase models.
There are features galore and the ability to customize with options.
You'll find loads of storage space.
It's one of the world's safest cabins.
It is hard for us to pick out any issues with the S60’s cabin, but if we have to be picky, we can say the it is a little small feeling for a midsize sedan. It isn’t claustrophobic by any means, but it feels more cramped than others.
Rear legroom is tight in short-wheelbase models.
The R-Spec allows a lot of road noise into the cabin.
The Most Pleasant Surprise
While the S60 does look lively on paper, we didn't expect it to perform so well. We were wrong. We're impressed by the S60's all-around performance, and particularly by the R-Spec.
The Least Pleasant Surprise
While the cabin is well-equipped, the rear seat is surprisingly cramped for a midsize car. Pop for the long-wheelbase S60 if you often have passengers in the back.
The Bottom Line
For buyers who want something other than the typical German luxury sedan, we recommend taking a look at the Volvo S60. It delivers all the luxury of a BMW or Mercedes-Benz with a smaller price tag, outrageous safety ratings, and a unique design language.