2019 Volvo S60

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2020
The Car Connection
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2020
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Andrew Ganz Andrew Ganz Senior Editor
May 1, 2019

Buying tip

The S60 we’d drive has the T6 drivetrain, Pilot Assist driver assistance, and the Bowers & Wilkins sound system—and it’s $55,095.

features & specs

T5 FWD Inscription
T5 FWD Momentum
T5 FWD R-Design
MPG
24 city / 36 hwy
MPG
24 city / 36 hwy
MPG
24 city / 36 hwy
MSRP
$42,900
MSRP
$35,800
MSRP
$41,900

The 2019 Volvo S60 hits a sport-sedan sweet spot, somewhere between nurturing and overbearing.

The 2019 Volvo S60 puts great faith in the idea that many luxury-car drivers still want four doors without tall wagon bodies. Volvo builds some of the best crossovers we’ve driven, but now it also builds one of the luxury sport sedans we’d rate among the finest.

We give it a 7.3 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The 2019 S60 comes in three trims—Momentum, Inscription, and R-Design—that start around $37,000 and top out at a hefty $63,000. Its drivetrains are laddered as T5 for front-drive, T6 for all-wheel drive, and T8 for the exceedingly rare plug-in hybrid. We cover the wagon variant of the S60, the Volvo V60, separately.

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Up front, the S60 strongly resembles the bigger S90 sedan. From the side, the shorter S60’s more sinuous, and it’s more scalloped at the sides for a more CrossFit look, if we can go there. C-shaped taillights cap a more stubby rear end. The S60’s stylebook has more snap and verve than the bigger S90 from the outside, but inside, they’re both low-key lavish. With a tablet-style touchscreen in the middle, the S60 never gets overwhelmed by tech, not with delicate interior details such as light driftwood trim and perforated leather upholstery.

A trio of drivetrains lie under the 2019 S60's hood, each with its own name: T5, T6, and T8. In the T5, a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 cranks out 250 horsepower, which is sent via an 8-speed automatic transmission to the front wheels. The T6 adds a supercharger for a total of 316 hp delivered to all four corners. Topping the line is the T8 plug-in hybrid that adds an electric motor for a combined output of 400 horsepower. We’ve spent more time in the T6, and its five-second runs to 60 mph are for real, for real. On adaptive dampers and big 19-inch wheels, the T6 S60 has sparkling road manners, with smart electric power steering that stays centered and with a ride that’s almost always even-keeled.

The S60’s best experienced from the front seats, which spoon up against passengers with lots of bolstering in consensually correct places, with heating and cooling too. We’ll pour one out for the passenger that rides in the middle back seat; there’s little foot room and shoulder room isn’t palatial. The S60 really cuts things close in trunk space—it’s barely bigger than a Benz SLC roadster back there—but with the design-iest interior, the S60’s cabin mocks cars that cost thousands more.

All S60 sedans have automatic emergency braking that can detect pedestrians, cyclists, and large animals. Volvo fits the S60 with Pilot Assist, which keeps the car in its lane and allows the driver brief hands-off time at the wheel. So why are blind-spot monitors an option on some versions?

The $36,795 S60 T5 Momentum anchors the lineup, while the sporty-looking T5 R-Design costs about $43,000. A dressy T6 Inscription costs around $44,000. The T6 engine with its standard all-wheel-drive system adds $3,500 to $4,500, depending on the trim level. The plug-in hybrid T8 only was available briefly, and only by subscription.

The 2019 Volvo S60 can be chosen through the Care by Volvo subscription service, which includes insurance and maintenance in a single monthly fee. Just three S60 tiers are available as part of this service, starting at $750 monthly for a T6 Momentum with the optional Premium and Multimedia packages and a choice of eight exterior and two interior hues. For $850, the T6 R-Design adds its sport-oriented suspension, partial nappa leather upholstery, and 19-inch wheels. All S60s have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, and the lucky ones have an outstanding 1,100-watt Bowers & Wilkins sound system.

8

2019 Volvo S60

Styling

Pretty on the outside, the Volvo S60’s beautiful inside.

If only people could be more like the Volvo S60. It’s good-looking from the outside; it’s positively radiant on the inside.

We give it an 8 out of 10 for its suave style. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

It’s borrowed a look from the large S90 sedan, but the S60 is anything but a hand-me-down. Since the bigger car’s stretched its wheelbase, the pert S60 actually wears its proportions better, with less of an awkward stretch at the second set of doors, with all the lovely stance implied by its rear quarters intact.

Record scratch: Let’s go back to the front, where the hammer-styled LED headlights stick pushpins into the S60’s front end, in a friendly way, and tack its grille into place without the gaping-maw grille worn by too many of its sedan rivals. Deep scallops trim in the S60’s waistline and evict any middle-age spread, while its tail rises and ends in a pleasingly blunt trunk and C-shaped taillights as bookends.

It rocks a good body, but the S60’s serene cockpit is the stuff of design magazines and tourism brochures. With digital screens in the gauges and on portrait-style alert on the dash, the S60’s cabin could easily have been overwhelmed by tech overload. It’s not. It looks simpler, cooler, more calming than cars with fewer square inches of responsive displays. It’s iPad meets Ikea inside; how Volvo makes everything but the essential controls recede into the background should be a model for other makes. We’re particularly struck by the driftwood trim and light leather worn by Inscription models; with them Volvo balances what could be stark trim choices in a cabin with few lines, and finds a way to make it feel warm and vibrant.

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8

2019 Volvo S60

Performance

Heroic turbo-4 performance finds a great groove in the 2019 Volvo S60.

Volvo wants its S60 to be held in the same esteem as luxury sedans with fine power and faultless handling. It has our vote. The 2019 S60 puts its foot down when you do, and knows how to keep its grip.

We give it an 8 out of 10 for performance. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Drivers can configure the S60 one of three ways. The T5 S60 sports a 250-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter turbo-4 that channels power to the front wheels through an 8-speed automatic. We have yet to drive this version, but 0-60 mph times in the six-second range compete well with its German rivals.

Most of our time’s been spent in the T6 S60, which takes the same engine and bolts on a supercharger alongside the turbocharger. Power wicks up to 316 hp and 295 pound-feet of torque, and 0-60 mph times dip to the low-five-second range. It’s the sweet spot in the powertrain lineup, as its supercharger and turbocharger leave zero chance for lumpy, laggy power delivery, and don’t thrash and whine when they’re pressed hard. The T6 drivetrain mandates all-wheel drive—fine with us—and also uses the sweet-shifting 8-speed automatic, with paddle shift controls and smooth, quick responses.

The S60 also is offered as a plug-in hybrid T8 (and as a 415-hp Polestar-engineered T8, though Volvo only offered 20 copies of that in the U.S.). Each T8 is fitted with a 10.4-kwh battery and a rear-mounted electric motor for 21 miles of electric-only driving range and total output of 400 hp and 427 lb-ft of torque. Plug-ins pass the 4,000-pound mark, but more basic S60s weigh in closer to 3,700 pounds.

Volvo S60 ride and handling

Without seat time in the front-drive S60, all our driving time has come in all-wheel-drive T6 S60 sedans—without complaint. The S60 has the dialed-in feel we’ve experienced in both the XC60 and XC40 SUVs, with even better steering and none of the demerits that come from a tall crossover body.

Volvo has the tricks of electric-steering tuning up its sleeve. The S60’s stock 18-inch wheels and tires can be swapped up for 19-inchers with more sporty treads, and we’d recommend it. That’s what we drove, and with them, the S60 practically sniffs its way down the center of the lane, light to the touch but with just enough weight to keep the car tracking true with few corrections. Switch its drive-mode toggle into Dynamic, and a useful amount of weight does even more to keep it centered. Its all-wheel-drive system doesn’t induce the usual vague steering patch on center, and it can split half its power to the rear wheels when the fronts begin to slip.

In R-Design trim, with $200 worth of lowered suspension and $2,000 worth of adaptive shocks, the S60 straddled the line between sporty four-door and true sport sedan. It grips well, even if it doesn’t have the telepathic responses to rapid inputs that we’d expect of an M or an RS rival. We can’t think of a way to improve it in agility or power without fundamentally altering the S60’s personality into something more hardcore, more fringe. Its well-controlled ride removes all the road welts without wallowing. Even on those 19-inch alloys and their typewriter-ribbon sidewalls, the S60 cruises with composure.

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7

2019 Volvo S60

Comfort & Quality

A tiny trunk and a slim fifth seat offset the S60’s marvelous front buckets.

Volvo fits the 2019 S60 with exceptionally comfortable chairs for front passengers. In back, passengers have less spread-out room, and trunk space comes at a premium in this premium sedan, in any version.

We give it a 7 out of 10, though Inscription cars might earn an additional point for their lush cabins. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

By the numbers, the S60 measures 187.4 inches long, and it rides on a 113.1-inch wheelbase, bigger than the German trio of sport sedans by about a couple of inches. Swell-shaped power front seats get upgraded to highly bolstered and more adjustable chairs in more expensive trim levels, with heating and cooling and massaging all available. Those more expensive seats are worth it: They cinch at the driver’s waist, tilt at the knee, spoon up against passengers with hours-long support, easily prepped for hours of traffic or long-distance cruising.

The second-row seats are less satisfying for three passengers, ample for two. Volvo carves out 35.2 inches of rear-seat leg room, and finds plenty of space for feet under the front seats and good head room, too. However, the S60’s wide driveline cuts into space for the third, middle passenger and though it’s wide enough, the S60’s back seat isn’t shaped for hours of three-person comfort.

Inside the cabin, small-item storage is ample, but the S60’s trunk has only a meager 11.6 cubic feet for luggage. Fold down the rear seat and there’s plenty of storage for two passengers, but ultimately the skimpy trunk’s the reason we gravitate toward the S60’s kin, the V60 wagon and XC60 crossover.

Volvo stitches, folds, snaps, and sews the S60’s interior with great attention to detail. Synthetic leather and cloth seats make a fine substitute for the no-cost leather upholstery option, and the stock gray plastic trim’s nicely finished. Volvo’s vertically grained wood is handsome, but the S60 cabin dazzles when it’s paneled with driftwood trim and finished with a black cloth headliner.

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8

2019 Volvo S60

Safety

The 2019 S60 missed an IIHS nod, just barely.

Despite a missed opportunity, the Volvo S60 has earned a strong safety score on our scale, even before the feds have their say.

We give it an 8 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

In its maiden crash tests, the 2019 S60 earns “Good” scores across the board from the IIHS. However, the insurance industry-funded agency calls its headlights “Marginal.” That blocks it from Top Safety Pick award contention.

The NHTSA hasn’t published crash-test scores yet.

Every S60 has automatic emergency braking and active lane control. Blind-spot monitors and adaptive cruise control are options, as is Volvo’s driver-assistance system, which it calls Pilot Assist. It allows the driver to use vehicle systems as a backup for steering and braking, but requires a driver present and at attention at all times.

The S60 is blessed with good outward vision, thanks to large windows and relatively thin roof pillars.

We’ll update this section when we have more information.

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8

2019 Volvo S60

Features

Volvo’s Sensus interface works for us, and so do the 2019 S60’s plentiful features.

With the new S60, Volvo figures that its well-bundled features and generally lower prices will snare attention from BMW and Mercedes shoppers.

It should. We give it an 8 out of 10 for its excellent standard and optional equipment and touchscreen interface. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Volvo sells the 2019 S60 in Momentum, R-Design, and Inscription trims. All come in T5 or T6 powertrain configurations.

The $36,795 S60 Momentum with the T5 drivetrain has standard power features, synthetic leather upholstery, cruise control, USB ports, 220-watt audio with a 9.0-inch touchscreen and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, Bluetooth, satellite radio, 18-inch wheels, a power sunroof, and LED headlights. Its options include the T6 drivetrain; heated front seats; wood trim; a package with a handsfree trunk, blind-spot monitors, and front and rear parking sensors; a bundle with adaptive cruise control, a head-up display, and a surround-view camera system; and one with Harman Kardon audio and navigation. Stand-alone options include adaptive dampers and Polestar-tuned drive modes.

The $43,540 R-Design adds leather upholstery, sport seats, a digital gauge display, Harman Kardon audio, navigation, paddle shifters, gloss-black exterior trim, and blind-spot monitors. Its options range from 19-inch wheels to split end pipes, the bundles offered in the Momentum series, a slightly lower suspension, automatic park assist, and 1,100 watts of Bowers & Wilkins audio.

The $43,895 S60 Inscription gets our nod, mostly for its interior. It adds a panoramic roof, driftwood trim, and a stitched dash. Its options include 19-inch wheels, cooled front seats, massage and side bolster adjustment for the front seats, the adaptive-cruise safety bundle, heated rear seats, adaptive dampers, Bowers & Wilkins sound, automatic park assist, and Polestar drive modes.

Interfaces and subscriptions

Volvo dubs its touchscreen interface Sensus. In all our experiences, it’s been a simple, user-friendly interface. We appreciate the portrait-style screen and its sensitivity to heat—it senses infrared, not touch per se—and its clean screens, but bemoan the fact that some climate and seat adjustments mean a deep dive into submenus.

The S60’s base sound system is fine, and includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, a wi-fi hotspot, and Bluetooth connectivity. A Harmon Kardon system lives on mid-level models, while the extraordinary clean sound of the 1,100-watt Bowers & Wilkins system would get us to spend up.  

Volvo offers the T6 S60 in its Care by Volvo subscription plan. Where available, drivers can pay $750 a month for a Momentum or $850 a month for an R-Design car, then trade it for a new model in a year, while Volvo covers all maintenance and insurance.

All Volvo S60s come with a 3-year, 36,000-mile warranty, and the first three maintenance visits are free. That’s average coverage in a class where Jaguar grants five years of free warranty and service calls.

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5

2019 Volvo S60

Fuel Economy

Rare plug-in hybrid aside, the 2019 Volvo S60 scores good fuel economy.

Volvo decks out the 2019 S60 sedan with all the latest fuel-saving technology, and ekes out good gas mileage as a result.

We give it a 5 out of 10, weighted toward T6 versions. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The EPA rates the front-drive T5 S60 at 24 mpg city, 36 highway, 28 combined. Those figures lag the BMW 3-Series and Audi A4’s base 30-mpg combined rating, but lead the latest Benz C-Class by a bit.

With all-wheel drive, the T6 S60 rates significantly lower, at 21/32/25 mpg.

We’re loath to lead on frugal drivers, but the barely available T8 S60 gets the EPA’s nod here at 22 miles of electric range with its plug-in hybrid pack on a full charge, and 31 mpg combined when it’s run in hybrid mode.

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$35,800
MSRP based on T5 FWD Momentum
 
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7.3
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 8
Performance 8
Comfort & Quality 7
Safety 8
Features 8
Fuel Economy 5
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2019 Volvo S60 Pricing Insights

  • 2020 S60 selection improving; 2019s almost gone
  • Up to $4,500 rebate on 2019s; $1,500 on 2020s
  • Lease a 2019 from $295 for 36 months + no first payment
  • Free first payment with factory financing
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