New & Used Volvo S60: In Depth
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The Volvo S60 is a compact sporty luxury sedan that competes with a trio of German luxury sedans—the Audi A4, BMW 3-Series, and Mercedes-Benz C Class—and arguably with the Cadillac ATS, although we're not sure how many buyers actually cross-shop the brash American luxury brand and the sensible Swedish one. You could also call the Buick Regal, the Saab 9-3, and the Acura TL, TSX, or TLX potential market alternatives in recent years.
The S60 was redesigned in 2011 and the latest generation is significantly more attractive and stylish than the once boxy, square and indestructible Volvos of former years. It’s a luxurious mid-size sedan that’s the brand’s most affordable model in the current lineup.
For a more detailed look at the S60, including options, prices, and complete specifications, see our full review of the 2015 Volvo S60.Like its competitors, the S60 is packed with features, though on the Volvo, they're skewed more toward safety than opulence. The host of advanced safety technology features includes active suspension dampers, a special cornering-traction control system, its CitySafe obstacle detection and automatic braking system, and a new pedestrian-detection function as well.
The S60's more aggressive, fashion-forward design still manages to keep the visual identity of a Volvo. Inside, the new S60 is lavish in terms of its driver-oriented details--especially the ultra-cool floating center stack. Four adults can sit comfortably, with a fifth passenger in the back if everyone's friendly. The rear seat splits 40/60 and the trunk opening is much larger than that of the first-generation S60. A new infotainment system, with information from the audio unit, navigation system, mobile phone and other functions presented on a five- or seven-inch color screen at the top of the center console, keeps driver informed and passengers entertained.
After receiving a number of minor styling, cabin, and technology improvements, as part of a light refresh it received for the 2014 model year, front-wheel-drive versions of the S60 received new Drive-E powertrains for 2015, with a new 240-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine powering the T5 and T6 models getting a 302-hp version that's turbocharged and supercharged. A completely new version of Volvo's Sensus infotainment system (with new premium audio) followed, as part of a '2015.5' model year.
In 2013 Volvo added an all-wheel-drive option to the T5 model, while boosting its engine performance. The company also rearranged S60 trim levels somewhat, into Premier, Premier Plus, and Platinum guises, and added more technology features like rain-sensing wipers as standard equipment. The 2014 model adds a slightly redesigned front end and various minor updates to the instruments, dashboard, and interior.
For 2012, the S60 lineup was bolstered with the introduction of both an entry-level T5 model, with a 250-hp, 2.5-liter turbocharged in-line five-cylinder engine, and a higher-performance T6 R-Design model that makes 325 hp--25 more than the T6. Front-wheel drive was standard on the T5, with all-wheel drive fitted to the R-Design.The current S60 arrived in the U.S. in 2011 initially only in its high-performance T6 model, featuring a 3.0-liter turbocharged straight-six engine, a six-speed automatic transmission, and standard all-wheel drive. It offered a thrilling rush of acceleration to drivers, though handling may not have been as sharp as the best of the German sport sedans.
The first-generation S60 was launched as a 2001 model, providing a smaller companion to the larger S80 luxury sedan. Front-wheel drive was standard, though sportier variants with all-wheel drive were added as well. In the end, though, it proved nowhere near as durable a design as the large XC90 crossover--which has lasted more than a decade and remains a top seller for Volvo--and its 10-year model life ran too long for the public to retain interest.
Despite starting prices of $30,000 or more, S60 sales were strong following its release, and remained they high until the 2005 model year, when consumer interest started to wane. But even the introduction of the 300-hp S60 R in 2004, an extensive facelift program in 2005, and updates in 2006 couldn't keep the car from fading away into obscurity. By the time the new S60 was shown at auto shows during 2010, it was long overdue.