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by Dan Carney
When they introduced the mid-size S60 sedan, Volvo said they intended to attack all aspects of the sporty European sedan segment. Asked if that meant an all-wheel-drive variant, the company candidly admitted from the beginning that it would.
Fans of proper sport sedans should rejoice, because the resulting S60 AWD is not a dressed-up, macho SUV wannabe. It is, instead, every bit the refined near-luxury sedan the S60 is, but it is one that is even more surefooted than the conventional front-drive version.Sure-footed luxury
The all-wheel-drive system adds a little weight (140 pounds) and cost to the S60, and surely siphons off a bit of performance in terms of straight-line acceleration. But only the added cost could be detected by a customer under normal circumstances because the all-wheel drive system is completely unobtrusive.
2002 Volvo S60 AWDEnlarge Photo
That’s because the system sends 95 percent of the engine’s power through the front wheels under typical dry, straight-line acceleration. If wheels start to slip, as when we floored it from a stop on a gravel road, power is rerouted as needed. Between the AWD system and the traction control, we weren’t able to induce any wheelspin on the gravel road, which bodes well for traction in rain and snow.
As always, the S60 is a supremely comfortable sedan, capable on twisty roads, where it feels agile, as well as in the school parking lot, where its spacious back seat carries three in comfort. Naturally, the car is loaded with safety features, such as just about every imaginable airbag and advanced seatbelts.