- Stylish interior
- Responsive, smooth turbo engines
- Adjustable steering feel (T6)
- Pedestrian-detection system
- Seats aren't as comfortable as some other models
- Transmission lacks full manual control
- Top R-Design is priced in another league
- Road noise (R-Design)
The 2014 Volvo S60 offers safe, well-crafted design, and runs the gamut from comfortable and quiet to flamboyant and edgy.
The Volvo S60 has sharp handling, a sleek design, and advanced features. That may or may not line up with your image of the brand, but Volvo says it's more than enough to put this mid-size premium sedan on the same level as Acura and Infiniti. In other words, get used to it: the S60 is the snappy, safety-minded harbinger of Swedish things to come.With large wheels and a wedge-shaped nose-to-tail design with swooping lines in the middle, the S60 is more noticeable on the road than any Volvo to come before it. Inside, there's a blend of flamboyance and Scandinavian simplicity that's both smart and stylish. High-quality materials, pleasing textures and that 'floating' center stack give the car a decidedly hip vibe over some of its more traditional competitors. The exterior of the car has been updated for 2014 to include a slightly revised front bumper, hood, and grille; new headlight design; and LED daytime running lights.
The S60 is just a bit smaller than most U.S.-market mid-size sedans, yet it's a five-seater with true space for four adults. Front seats aren't quite the Volvo perches we like from other larger models; they're a little bit shorter in the lower cushions. But back-seat accommodations are surprisingly good for adults, thanks to some smart contouring. Factor in the quiet cabin and good ride quality and you have a true luxury-car feel--in all but the R-Design, which picks up more road harshness. The 4C dynamic chassis system in the T6 makes it the pick of the bunch for combining performance and comfort; T6 models get driver-selectable steering feel, too. The T6 R-Design throws that out in favor of a dedicated Sport suspension that's lowered and noticeably stiffer.
In addition to all the expected safety features--such as front, side, and side-curtain airbags; anti-lock brakes; and stability and traction control--what sets the S60 apart is its safety technology. And there's a lot of it. Corner Traction Control directs torque across the car to enhance grip in aggressive maneuvers; a radar-based Pedestrian Detection with Full Auto Brake can identify and brake for pedestrians or other objects–like cyclists–in the road if the driver doesn't give the system indication they're trying to avoid it. The Blind Spot Information System has been updated for 2014 to also include cross-traffic alerts.
Performance-wise, the S60 has its sights set somewhere between the likes of the Buick Regal GS, the Audi A4, and the BMW 3-Series. Now in the S60's third year, Volvo is rolling out yet more members of the S60 lineup; this time, all-wheel drive is offered in the base T5, making it available with any of the engines.
Volvo rolled out an S60 R-Design in 2012 model aimed at those who might just take their Volvo on the track once in a while. It offered a long list of performance upgrades, most importantly 'chipping' the T6 models' 300-hp, 3.0-liter turbocharged in-line six-cylinder engine up to 325 hp. In both the S60 T6 and R-Design models, the engine is smooth, strong, and sweet-sounding, with an uninterrupted rush of power when you need it. The only disappointment here is the six-speed automatic transmission, which doesn't always respond as quickly as you might hope for a sport sedan. It's also worth pointing out that while the S60 is a blast to drive in T6 or even R-Design forms, it just doesn't feel quite as sharp as focused enthusiast sedans like the Cadillac ATS or BMW 3-Series.
From a base front-wheel-drive T5 model at less than $33,000, to a loaded S60 R-Design Platinum, which when loaded can approach $55k, the S60 spans a wide range, appealing as a safe, comfortable, tech-oriented sedan to some shoppers or a powerful sport sedan with some of the latest infotainment, convenience, and active-safety features to others. Volvo has changed the way it equips S60 models: they still come in T5, T6, and R-Design models, but Premier, Premier Plus, and Platinum guises determine the level of extras. Don't worry; there are still a few standalone options as well.