Recently, a friend inquired about my ride d’jour.
I told her I was driving Volvo’s new S60 midsize luxury sedan.
“I don’t like Volvos,” she said. “Too clunky.”
Next thing she knew, she was on the receiving end of my Volvo mini-lecture.
Volvo isn’t the same company as the one that once produced “clunky” cars, I explained. That company passed away during a succession of ownership changes. Today’s Volvos are lithe, nimble and beautifully designed, inside and out.
They are more engaging than their predecessors — and safer too.
Loaded with safety and cabin tech
The new Volvos are packed with safety and driver-assist features and Volvo’s tablet-style Sensus infotainment and connectivity interface adds a tech vibe to Volvo’s elegant cabins.
All the goodness starts with a sturdy foundation. Volvo’s new Scalable Product Architecture platform employs lightweight, super-strong Boron steel to boost chassis strength and rigidity. Results include a stronger, safer car and precise suspension tuning.
A well-tuned suspension allows engineers to optimize both ride quality and handling.
Indeed, our 2019 S60 tester aced all the conditions we threw at it, from pitted dirt roads to the interstate. Steering was quick and accurate and adaptive dampers silenced unwanted body movements. Driven hard into a corner, the S60 felt balanced, only occasionally slipping into modest understeer.
Yet, in even its most aggressive R-Design trim, which we tested, the S60 delivers a smooth, relaxed ride.
In AWD models, brake-based torque vectoring boosts grip and cornering power.
North America Car of the Year finalist
A finalist for 2019 North America Car of the Year honors, the S60 ($35,800) is a scaled-down version of the brand’s S90 flagship, borrowing its design cues, its minimalist Scandinavian cabin design and most of its standard-features roster.
The S60 the first Volvo car not to be offered with a diesel engine option — a clear sign of the company’s commitment to electrification — and the first to be built in the U.S., with final assembly at the company’s new North Carolina plant.
The S60 is the only car designed and engineered in Sweden, built in the U.S. and underwritten by the Chinese.
Three trims, three powertrains
The S60 is available in three trims: Momentum ($35,800), R-Design ($41,900) and Inscription ($42,900).
Most are available in front or all-wheel-drive configuration. FWD models, designated T5, are powered by a 250-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine.
All-wheel-drive models, designated T6, are powered by the same engine, but the addition of a supercharger boosts output to 316 hp.
T6 models scamper through the 0-60 sprint in 5.3 seconds, and the T5 isn’t far off that pace.
The top-of-the-line T8 ($54,400) is an AWD plug-in hybrid with a total system output of 400 hp and an electric-only range of about 21 miles.
Tricky learning curve
Every S60 is fitted with LED headlights, automatic high beams, a panoramic sunroof, heated automatic wipers, keyless ignition, selectable drive modes, dual-zone automatic climate control, an 8-inch instrument tablet-style display, simulated leather upholstery, heated and power-adjustable driver seats and power-folding rear-seat headrests.
Volvo’s City Safety with Autobrake technology is standard. It’s the only accident-avoidance system to recognize pedestrians, cyclists and large animals.
Tech standouts include the large vertically oriented touchscreen which accesses Volvo's functions-rich Sensus infotainment and connectivity system. Unfortunately, its wide-ranging functionality imposes an intense learning curve.
A full suite of safety and driver-assist features is available. All trims can be optioned with a seemingly endless number of options packages and free-standing options. Even the base Momentum qualifies for high-end comfort, safety and tech features.
We tested a T6 AWD R-Design ($46,400). The R-Design adds LED foglights, a sport steering wheel with shift paddles, premium leather and fabric upholstery and 10-way power front seats.
Our tester was optionally equipped with a sport chassis, a premium audio system, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel and a charcoal headliner, ringing up a $55,854 price tag.
And, trust me, not an ounce of it was clunky.
Volvo is not currently represented by a Spokane-area dealership. The nearest outlet is in Bellevue, though maintenance and warranty service can be handled here.
Questions or comments? Contact Don at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2019 Volvo S60 R-Design AWD
Vehicle base price: $35,800
Trim level base price: $46,400
As tested: $55,854 (includes destination and handling)
Options included Four-C sport chassis; Bowers & Wilkins premium sound; heated rear seats; heated steering wheel; charcoal headliner; 19-inch R-Design Wheels
EPA rating: 25 combined/21 city/32 highway
Premium gasoline required