Sleek design. The 2020 Volvo S60 is longer and lower following last year's redesign, shedding the previous version's frumpy threads. Its Scandinavian-inspired ensemble eschews the muscular styling cues and overwrought grilles of rivals for an elegant look that’s both toned and fit.
The restrained look continues inside and, even on the base Momentum trim, offers such niceties as aluminum tread plates, wood and aluminum trim, synthetic leather, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, dual-zone climate control with B-pillar rear vents, and panoramic moonroof. Technology is enhanced by a 12.3-inch driver information display and a 9-inch portrait touchscreen with navigation, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto.
At the same time, the infotainment software is sub-menu dense, while rear seat occupants should be limited to two. The flat center seat is too firm for all-day comfort.
Wide-ranging safety. Volvo built its reputation on occupant safety – a tradition, we’re pleased to report, that continues on the S60. All trims levels come with post-collision automatic braking, blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning, lane-keeping assist, run-off road protection and mitigation, driver attention alert, LED headlights, and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian, cyclist, and large animal detection.
Available safety systems include blind-spot alert with steering assist, front and rear park assist, rear cross-traffic alert with rear automatic braking, and Volvo’s semi-autonomous Pilot Assist with adaptive cruise control.
Engine choices. Offering something for just about everyone, the S60 is available with four powertrains.
T5 trims are equipped with a 250-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder that drives the front wheels through an eight-speed automatic. T6 models receive a turbo and supercharged version of the same engine with 316 hp. Power is channeled to all four wheels.
The T8 plug-in hybrid takes the T6 and adds a 10.4-kWh battery and rear-mounted electric motor with 400 system hp. Topping the list is the Polestar Engineered T8 plug-in hybrid, with 415 hp and 22 miles of all-electric range, according to the EPA.
Aside from the T5’s 23 miles per gallon city, 34 mpg highway, and 27 combined, fuel economy for the rest of the lineup is mediocre. And while handling balance is the S60’s forte, it lacks the precision and overall performance of German rivals.
Solid performer. Volvo’s luxury compact is all about balance. All four powertrains offer an overall performance experience that’s equal to all but the most extreme German models.
On models so equipped, the supercharger negates any turbo lag, while the eight-speed automatic delivers seamless gear changes. The steering is communicative with just the right weight, body lean is minimal, and the suspension keeps the S60 planted and centered while offering enough comfort for long-distance road trips.
Final thoughts. Volvo’s midsize offering lacks the flamboyance, prestige, and ultimate performance of rivals. Still, the 2020 Volvo S60 is an excellent choice in the compact luxury class thanks to its understated design, impeccable road manners, and standard safety features.
In terms of the competition, the Audi A4 beats it in the tech department, the BMW 3-Series is a better performer, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class offers a more refined interior, and the Genesis G70 is a better overall value.