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PERFORMANCE | 7 out of 10
“Brakes feel strong”
“unique five-cylinder howl”
The Auto Channel
“steering lacks feedback”
“For 2009, the S60 loses some of its sporty cachet”
According to reviews from around the Web, the 2009 Volvo S60 falls short in smooth, rapid performance, though it does offer all-wheel drive. Car and Driver says the Haldex all-wheel-drive system on the 2.5T AWD is a boon to those driving in inclement climes—“formidable in the snow” or “snow-covered gravel and ice surfaces,” declares the reviewer.
The 2009 Volvo S60 2.5T and 2.5T AWD come standard with a light-pressure, turbocharged inline five-cylinder engine producing 208 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque. Standard on the T5 and optional on the two others is the high-pressure inline-five with 257 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque.
According to Car and Driver, the torque curve for both the base and higher-output varieties are pretty flat, and the horsepower figures are impressive, so acceleration remains class competitive, with a T5 yielding 0-60 times of 6.5 seconds. “But the delivery isn't as linear as it is in a naturally aspirated Audi or BMW six,” they continue, hurting the S60 in the luxury class in which it plays. Others aren’t quite as critical. “The 2.5T engine provides good acceleration and plenty of passing power,” finds Kelley Blue Book, who also feels that it works “well with the Geartronic automatic transmission,” the only transmission offered, having lost its manual option for the ’08 model year. Says Car and Driver, “refined isn't its middle name,” reminding us “this 2.5 is a transversely mounted in-line five, an inherently uncivilized layout.” The Auto Channel comments on the engine’s “unique five-cylinder howl” above 5,000 rpm.
Reviewers are unanimous about the inability of the S60’s front-wheel drive to elicit the kind of response and fun that a rear-wheel-drive chassis does. Kelley Blue Book points out one of the biggest issues associated with front-wheel drive, griping that “the high-powered T5's noticeable torque steer can, at times, become annoying.” They also malign its steering, saying it “does not feel as connected and precise as those of the BMW 3 Series or Infiniti G35.” Edmunds also feels that the “Swedish sedan's handling dynamics are a bit dull compared to newer rivals.” Of the steering, Automobile snipes that it “offers about as much feel as you'd get driving with woolly mittens.” ConsumerGuide praises the “satisfyingly solid structure,” but considers, as do others, that the ride is a bit harsh, allowing “minor road imperfections to be felt more than in most class rivals.”
ConsumerGuide says the “brakes feel strong,” and Edmunds agrees, stating they “indeed exhibit impressive stopping ability.”
If you are one of the BMW faithful, the 2009 Volvo S60’s peaky turbo power, lack of manual transmissions, and front-wheel-drive architecture isn’t going to sway you.