The seats in the S60 are excellent, and with exposed stitching and supple leather, they're arguably a class above what you'll find in the $40k range. We also love the low dash layout, which affords a good view outward ahead and to the side (rearward vision isn't quite so good). There's a full array of power-seat adjustments not just for the driver, but for the front passenger, too—a rarity in this class—and the cushions for the front seats include just the right amount of lateral and thigh support to keep taller drivers like this one comfortable while adjusting up and forward for shorter drivers who need it.
Controls, displays could use some help
One thing we might have liked to see change is the way that the S60's center-stack controls are laid out. The cluster of buttons, with four equal-size knobs, and a virtual racetrack of buttons, isn't the sort of layout that you can intuit quickly, at first glance down from the road. While the climate controls in the middle seems smart, the rest is an odd choice from a company that's been focused and fixated on ergonomics for decades.
2015 Volvo S60 T6 Drive-E - Driven, April 2014Enlarge Photo
On the other hand, one addition for 2015 is absolutely on the right track. The 2015 S60 gets a new configurable gauge cluster that offers three different display modes—Performance, Eco, and Elegance—each giving you a screen of different 'gauges,' in a different layout and a different color. We spent most of the week with Elegance, which was easy on the eyes at night, and in Performance, which has a red theme with a sweeping tachometer.
Our car added up to $47,925. Ours included the Platinum Package, (navigation with real-time traffic, premium audio, accent lighting, an integrated garage-door opener, power retractable mirrors, a rear park assist camera, and grocery-bag holder); the Technology Package (Adaptive Cruise Control, Collision Warning with Full Auto Stop, Pedestrian/Cyclist Detection, Lane Departure Warning, Active High Beam, Road Sign Information, and other high-tech driver aids); the Blind Spot Information Package (park assist, Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Change Merge Aid); as well as heated seats, active xenon headlamps with washers, and 19-inch diamond-cut wheels.
Despite the flaws, feels like a good value
The context for our drive of the 2015 Volvo S60 T6 was interesting. We had just returned from getting our first drive of the 2015 Audi A3 when we had this week with the S60. With the loaded A3 we'd driven adding up to around $44,000, the S60 T6 felt like a strong value, even at that. And we dare say we'd rather have the S60's far better seats and more mature, refined ride over the A3's big advantage, its leading-edge infotainment system.
Overall, the new engine and the other changes for this year sum to the impression that there's value added, with nothing taken away. By the way, all-wheel-drive versions of the S60 remain in lots with the outgoing engines; but if mileage and all-wheel drive matter and you like the S60 a lot, you might want to hold off a model year.
With new engines and a willingness to refresh the product and the presentation, Volvo's proving that it's still a strong alternatives to the top premium models in this class from Japan and Germany—and perhaps that it's a little more spry, post-Ford. This is what Acura needs to face off with as it readies its upcoming 2015 TLX sedan, and we're looking forward to that comparison later in the year.