Volvo S60 looks sharp and offers power, control

Volvo S60 looks sharp and offers power, control

Volvo S60 featured

Volvo has gone all swoopy on us, with sleek new styling that sets its compact S60 apart from most competitors.

I like the look and the attractive, modern and stylish interior the Swedish carmaker has created for the early release 2012 model. I tested the T6 AWD version, which features a turbocharged 3.0-liter I6 engine that generates 300 horsepower. A T5 model with a 2.5-liter I5 motor and 250 horsepower also is available.

[![Volvo S60 snapshot]( "Volvo S60 snapshot")]( to enlarge.
This isn’t what I’d call a sport sedan, but it’s a lot closer to that than previous Volvos. It’s peppy and handles well. The 3.0-liter turbo gives the car quick acceleration with no turbo lag. Weighing just 3,812 pounds, it’ll reach highway speeds halfway down an entry ramp.

The smooth shifting six-speed automatic makes this more of a refined luxury car with attitude.

There is good road feel, but the steering isn’t overly aggressive.

Ride quality helps the Volvo compete with sportier sedans, as many of those firm up their ride too much. The S60 rides on a 109.3-inch wheelbase and its multi-link rear suspension, along with independent front with MacPherson struts, delivers a controlled ride. You still feel in touch with the road, but don’t pay the price with poor ride quality.

Braking is strong with four-wheel discs, ABS, traction and stability control. This sedan comes with all-wheel drive, a major bonus in northern climes.

There are a lot of electronic and safety gadgets, all well intentioned, but some irritating. Volvo is to be lauded for coming up with pedestrian recognition and city safety systems that warn or brake the car if a pedestrian steps in your path, or a vehicle stops or slows suddenly in front of you.

A rearview camera displays on the navigation screen, but the lane departure system is annoying as it blasts out its loud beep if you so much as inch close to the lane markings. Its goal is to alert dozing drivers on highways, and that’s a lofty goal. But in everyday driving, I turned off the noisy thing.

[![Volvo S60 exterior]( "Volvo S60 exterior")]( has gone all swoopy on us, with sleek new styling that sets its compact S60 apart from most competitors.
With Volvo’s bent for safety, and considering this car was loaded with such technology, I was surprised to find no blind-spot warning system. I’ve found that helpful in several other mid-luxury cars.

Folks noticed the S60. The test car was a metallic burnt orange to light copper, certainly easy to find in a parking lot. It was a $550 option.

The interior was attractive, with its saddle brown leather seat inserts to liven up the black cockpit. Design is clean and modern, with the same color leather inserts in the door panels and satin chrome trim on the doors, steering wheel hub, around the center stack and shifter. The stack’s face was a textured gray.

All dash gauges and controls are easy to see and find, but use wasn’t always so easy. The center stack is well laid out and features a moderate number of buttons, but they are extremely small and can become confusing to use while driving. More and more cars assume you’ll make all heat, radio and navigation adjustments before leaving the driveway.

[![Volvo S60 interior]( "Volvo S60 interior")]( rearview camera displays on the navigation screen.
This one featured big knobs for sound and climate controls, but other adjustments were tough. The 650-watt stereo sounded great, but occasionally refused to come back on after I’d turned it off during a drive.

Volvo goes with push-button start, but you must insert the fob into the dash. It also has a manual tilt/telescope steering wheel.

Volvo’s leather seats are quite comfortable. They are well formed and supportive and include three-speed heaters as part of a $4,400 package. While I liked the seat heaters, adjusting them accurately was a bit difficult. You press a button on the dash, but a minuscule display lights up on the navigation/radio screen to tell you the setting. That’s hard to see.

The S60 comes with three memory settings for the driver’s seat, which was a good thing as I had trouble finding a perfect position for the seat relative to the steering wheel angle. Some positions blocked my vision of the speedometer.

Overhead is a power sunroof, but disappointing sun visors that neither slide, nor include extenders. That didn’t fit with the car’s overall luxury bent at all.

Volvo provides inside trunk and fuel door releases, along with a button to automatically lower the rear seat headrests. That helps improve rear visibility when you don’t have rear seat passengers.

The tested T6 AWD model starts at $37,700, a good price for a turbocharged sedan with AWD. But the tester added a lot of pricey options, mostly electronic gadgets, to end up at $46,200. You can save a bit by going with the 250-horsepower T5 model, which starts at $30,975. Both have an $850 delivery fee.

Gas mileage was moderate. I got 19.8 mpg in about a 50-50 mix of city and highway driving. The EPA estimates 18 mpg city and 26 mpg highway. The car did not require premium fuel, at least there was no such label on the gas cap or fuel filler door.

The Volvo is a sharp looking sporty sedan that provides style and an entertaining and comfortable ride and drive. I’d save my money and go light on all the electronic gadgets.

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