Like a grape that's been on the vine for too long, the 2018 S60 looked old and withered when compared to its recently-redesigned showroom siblings. The all-new 2019 Volvo S60, however, rectifies all that. With sharp new duds, a wholly modern interior, and the potential with real performance in the high-output T8 trim, the new S60 finally catches up to its brethren in both style and substance. Whether or not it can displace the reigning German champs in the compact luxury segment remains to be seen, but this handsome Swede sure isn't going down without a fight. It must be noted that we have not yet driven the new S60.

Best Value

Like other Volvos, the S60 is offered in three trim levels – Momentum, R-Design, and Inscription – with three powertrains, dubbed T5, T6, and T8. For those trying to build a budget sports sedan, don't get too excited. The base Momentum trim can't be paired with the top-shelf, 400-horsepower T8 hybrid powertrain. You can, however, get a competent and sprightly sedan for not a lot of cash in the form of the T6-powered Momentum. It comes with all the toys and gadgets that should keep you comfortable and cozy, and the turbo- and supercharged T6 four-cylinder engine delivers better performance than the turbo-only T5. Here's our S60 as it'd be shipped out of Volvo's South Carolina assembly line:

  • Model: 2019 Volvo S60 Momentum T6
  • Engine: Supercharged and turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder
  • Output: 316 hp / 295 lb-ft
  • Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
  • Drivetrain: All-wheel drive
  • Fuel Economy: 21 City / 32 Hwy
  • Options: Premium Package ($2,100, auto-dimming mirrors, HomeLink, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, keyless entry, hands-free tailgate, front and rear park assist, rearview mirror with compass, 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster display), Advanced Package ($2,500, head-up display, LED fog and cornering lights, a surround-view camera, a semi-autonomous drive system with adaptive cruise control, active-bending lights, headlight washer system)
  • Base Price: $41,295 (including a $995 destination fee)
  • Best Value Price: $45,895

Performance

Volvo probably isn't the brand that first comes to mind when the word 'performance' is uttered, unless you're talking about their performance in the realm of automotive safety. But with the new S60, there's whiffs of something sporty in the air that have been notoriously absent from the safety-first Swedish brand.

Credit the R-Design trim for this. Unlike the Momentum and Inscription models, the R-Design uses exclusive suspension tuning as well as paddle shifters to change the dynamic of the S60 from that of a cossetting, luxurious sedan to one of more sporting and eager pretensions. Get it in T6 or T8 trims and the included all-wheel drive helps better balance the car while also mitigating any nose-heavy sensations that can be common to front-drive cars. If cornering shenanigans aren't to your taste, try the more comfort-oriented suspension found in non-R-Design cars, which offer a softer and suppler ride.

All available engines are 2.0-liter four-cylinders matched with an eight-speed automatic transmission, but the forms of forced induction differ for each choice. Starting things off is what Volvo calls the T5, a turbocharged mill that makes 250 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Though it's the least powerful, the EPA estimates it returns a thrifty 24 miles per gallon city, 36 mpg highway, and 28 combined, making it one of the more fuel-efficient luxury compacts out there.

Up next is the T6, which is both turbocharged and supercharged. Utilizing both forms of forced induction should deliver more power in a smoother manner than the turbo-only T5, and indeed, this motor in action in the XC90 or S90 has proven exactly that. In the S60, this motor puts out 316 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque, and fuel economy checks in at 21/32/25 mpg (city/highway/combined).

Highest in prestige and power is the T8, which takes the T6 configuration and adds two electric motors. This plug-in hybrid system uses the electric juice to crank out an impressive 400 hp and a whopping 472 lb-ft of torque. The T8 setup isn't available until after its siblings launch, and the EPA hasn't tested its fuel economy.

Once we drive the new S60, we'll be back to report on it's driving dynamics and real-world performance.

Style

The old S60 was visibly archaic. The 2019 model finally introduces a new look for the old name, and just a passing glance over its taut and attractive silhouette makes us think it was worth the wait. Along the sides, the body tapers in just slightly, and it lets the the fenders subtly bulge outward like a gym rat's muscles after banging out a few sets. Up front, the very horizontally-oriented design makes the car feel low and wide, like larger luxury cars; the sculpted hood also heightens the sense of power and prestige. Out back, there's the telltale bracket-style taillights that clearly denote the lineage to the S90 and, to a lesser extent, the brand's crossovers. Overall, it's a limber and lean look that can clearly hold its own against the establishment. Don't be surprised if you start to see S60s peppering the lots of fine country clubs and other highbrow venues.

Inside, the makeover may be even more apparent. Gone is the 2000s-era dashboard and center-stack; it's been replaced by a sleek and chic cabin that's replete with fine materials, tasteful trimmings, and modern technology. The crown jewel of this new space is the big, vertically-mounted nine-inch touchscreen, whose capacitive screen houses the controls for most functions. We've found other Volvos to have an intuitive system with a mostly painless learning curve, so we have high hopes the S60 doesn't break tradition in that sense.

All S60s are well equipped, but check off the right boxes and you'll get a truly sumptuous automobile. There's available features like a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster with driver display, a Bowens and Wilkens 1,100-watt, 15-speaker sound system, a semi-autonomous driving system, and massaging front seats.

The Best and Worst Things

The new style and handsome interior are sure winners, and should have no trouble wooing over buyers that are straying from the German luxo-car fold.

The pricing, however, does get steep very quickly – a loaded T8-powered S60 is breathing down the neck of $60,000. At that price, you could be driving many other larger, performance-oriented or prestigious automobiles.

Right For? Wrong For?

Someone who likes to buck convention but appreciates fine things would find themselves enjoying the tasteful, unique, and well-appointed S60.

If you're trying to get the flashiest, most prestigious, or the most performance-oriented luxury car, the Volvo will disappoint.

The Bottom Line

Volvo has come a long way since even just 10 years ago, when they were still floundering under Ford's indifferent leadership. From struggling to remain relevant to now building some of the industry's most attractive metal, Volvo is poised to finally play with the big boys in the luxury arena. The new 2019 Volvo S60 is the best definition yet of the Swedish brand's new direction, and is an excellent choice in the ultra-competitive segment of compact luxury cars.