2015 Volvo V60 Wagon To Debut Engine Tech Headed For S60, XC60

September 18, 2013
When the 2015 Volvo V60 sport wagon arrives in January 2014, it will be the first model from Volvo to arrive with the automaker's new Drive-E powertrains, which will transition the automaker away from in-line five- and six-cylinder engines and toward an all-four-cylinder lineup that could be up to 30 percent more fuel-efficient—all while providing performance that's the same or better than the engines they replace.

For the U.S., two different 2.0-liter direct-injection engines will power the majority of the Volvo lineup: a 240-horsepower turbocharged four (for T5 models), and a 302-hp, 2.0-liter four that's both turbocharged and supercharged (for sportier T6 models such as the one we just drove).

A new eight-speed automatic transmission will arrive with the new engines, offering a wider set of ratios, while engine stop-start will be included as part of the new powertrain, which is set up for future electrification efforts—leading to a full hybrid system in the case of the upcoming, fully redesigned 2015 Volvo XC90.

In with the new...if it's not AWD

But at the dealership it could get a little confusing for 2015. That's because while all front-wheel drive V60 models will have the new powertrain, Volvo will be phasing it in for the S60 as soon as it's available—so some 2014 models might even have it, perhaps beginning around the same time as the V60 (the model-year timing is yet to be determined). Furthermore, for the first model year, front-wheel drive S60s (and XC60 models) will have the Drive-E engines but all-wheel-drive Volvos will retain the old five- and six-cylinder engines--and their much lower EPA ratings.

That said, whether you get a 2014 or a 2015 model, you'll be able to take advantage of the significant refresh that Volvo has recently given its S60 family.

Paddle-shifters are now available; better sport seats have been introduced; and there's a new reconfigurable instrument panel—among many other feature changes.

The hood on the 2014 Volvo S60 is more curvaceous, the grille has more of a horizontal orientation, and headlights look a little more upright and detailed. New daytime running lamps, an accented lower airdam, and in back, an integrated exhaust outlet, add to a look that's altogether a little more crisp and focused on the outside. And separately, Volvo has also tucked the windshield washer nozzles under the cowl.

Inside, the S60 is mostly carried over, although B-pillars are now cloth-covered, there's a new quartz headliner, buttons get a new white illumination (in place of green), and there are new door-sill plates.

The S60 T6 (and the T5, with the Sport Package) gets new sport seats that are a little bit better bolstered than the sport seats of last year's model. They still felt as supportive and all-day-comfortable as ever.

Choose your own gauges

Also new—and included on all but the base S60 T5—is a TFT gauge cluster that has three user-configurable 'themes,' with Elegance, Eco, and Performance themes. The Eco setting has a green background and efficiency gauge, while the Performance one is red and has a central 'analog' tachometer sweeping around a digital speedometer readout.

One surprise is that these themes are exactly that—just display themes. To change steering effort you can still go in through the 'MyCar' menu when stopped, while sliding the shift knob over to the Sport (S) side, where you get sharpened throttle response.

Among all the feature improvements in the 2014 model, a heated windshield and heated steering wheel are newly included with the Climate Package—which still includes heated front and rear seats. Also, the S60's Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) has been bolstered to include Cross Traffic Alert and a Lane Change Merge Aid, and there's now a cyclist-detection algorithm with Full Auto Brake.

Competent, charismatic, more fuel-efficient

We've just returned from Southern France, where we drove prototype versions of the Drive-E powertrain fitted to showroom-correct (albeit Euro-spec) versions of the 2014 Volvo S60. To revive a turn of phrase that we used when the current S60 was first launched three years ago, we ended up finding this refreshed S60 to be relatively benign, yet definitely more charismatic than Volvos of the past.

Be sure to read those impressions for more detail, and if you're in the market for an S60 be aware that there will be many different powertrain combinations out at the Volvo dealership—and pricing remains up in the air at the moment. Volvo is already conservatively anticipating an EPA Combined figure of 29 mpg for the lower-output version of the new engine, so if mileage matters, you may want to hold out for these new Drive-E Volvos.


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