- Smooth, sweet powertrain
- Adjustable steering feel
- Nicely damped ride
- World-first pedestrian detection
- Stylish interior doesn't look like every other sport sedan
- Lacks the sharp response of class-leading sport sedans
- No paddle-shifters or true manual control
- Seats aren't as dreamy as in other Volvos
Volvo is no longer just for those who want to play it safe; the new S60 is a stylish and well-designed sport sedan that's very enjoyable to drive - even if it trades off a bit of edginess for comfort and refinement.
There's a lot more to Volvo than there used to be, and the S60 showcases that more flamboyantly than any of the brand's other current models. This time, Volvo is looking beyond just those who want style and safety and truly setting its sights on driving enthusiasts and models like the Audi A4—perhaps even the benchmark BMW 3-Series.
The 2011 S60 looks like a Volvo, yet its more rakish and aggressive than anything that's ever before been in this Swedish brand's stable. The S60 is handsome, expressive, and organic all at once from the outside, with smooth contours and swooping lines matched up with a low, wedgy front and pert tail, and framed with large flashy alloy wheels. Inside the S60 has has an ultra-cool floating center stack of controls that pushes the Swedish design ethos into a hipper direction. Textures and design themes inside are far from the ordinary for luxury sedans.
All 2011 Volvo S60 models come in top-of-the-line T6 form—with a 300-hp, 3.0-liter turbocharged in-line six-cylinder engine, all-wheel drive, and a six-speed automatic transmission. While the automatic transmission doesn't always respond as quickly as we'd hope, the engine is smooth, sweet, and strong, with an uninterrupted rush of power when you need it. The first impression of the S60, from behind the wheel, is that it's relatively benign yet more charismatic than Volvos of the past. Unlike sharp enthusiast sedans like the Mitsubishi Evolution, Subaru WRX STI, or even to a degree the Nissan G37 or BMW 3-Series, the S60 doesn't reveal its sporting intent at every moment. Ride quality is firm but very absorbent, the cabin is tight and quiet, and it feels all the part of a luxury car.
In all, the whole package feels perky, responsive, and of course uber-stylish, and far warmer and inviting inside than you'd probably ever expect if you've taken a look at Volvo in the past. The interior is sleek and curvy yet functional, and a host of tech and entertainment options can be had. On the safety front, Volvo's Pedestrian Detection safety system can automatically stop the car if it detects a pedestrian and the driver fails to react.
The base Volvo S60, at about $38,000, might seem like a deal compared to the BMW 335i or Audi S4, but add any number of of tech or entertainment options to the S60 and you can easily push the bottom-line price past the $45,000 mark.