2018 Volvo S60 T5 AWD Dynamic

2018 Volvo S60 T5 AWD Dynamic

Volvo is in the final phase of a brand-wide makeover, ushering in a more distinctive design language highlighted by a contemporary version of its more traditionally rectangular grille that’s flanked by signature Thor’s Hammer LED headlights, all resulting in a modernized look that delivers a more premium cachet.

This out with the old, in with the new brand metamorphosis has left few stones unturned, the V60 being the most recently revealed addition to an almost completely transformed lineup. The D-segment sport wagon hit the stage on March 6th at the Geneva motor show wearing stylish new duds, after first debuting on February 21st in is “natural habitat,” a suburban driveway in Stockholm, Sweden. That five-door model is expected at Volvo dealerships later this year, with a toughened up V60 Cross Country crossover version likely to appear simultaneously or soon after, so the similarly sized four-door sedan shouldn’t be too far behind.

In fact, Volvo has already confirmed the 2019 S60 debut this summer at its new $1B USD manufacturing plant in Berkeley County, South Carolina, which will produce the new sedan along with an additional model yet to be named. The S60 is an interesting choice of vehicle for U.S. production, being that SUVs rule American roads, but the car should find a strong base of loyal supporters here just the same.

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Still, Volvo was smart to update its XC90 and XC60 first, as these two SUVs are its strongest sellers, not unlike every other premium brand. Car sales, on the other hand, are generally flat or sliding in the opposite direction. No doubt a redesigned S60 will help to boost the model’s numbers, much like the updated S90 did for yesteryear’s S80, but the hit to Volvo’s bottom line probably won’t be as dramatic. Last year Volvo only sold 11,358 S60 four-door sedans compared to 22,516 XC60 and 30,996 XC90 SUVs, making this point crystal clear. Of course, Volvo is hoping to increase S60 sales numbers considerably after the new model arrives, but until then it needs to highlight the current model’s attributes while knocking a few thousand off its suggested retail price.

To be fair, the 2018 S60 is already a very good value at $34,100 plus freight and fees, especially when factoring in its performance, refinement, and feature set. I think most will agree that it’s still an attractive looking car, its aerodynamically shaped front fascia filled with nice upscale details, its windswept four-door coupe-like side profile providing a sporty yet elegant shape, and its trademark Volvo taillights finishing the rear end design off nicely.

My T5 AWD Dynamic trimmed tester offers a sporty theme featuring a standard R-Design lower front fascia, an eye-grabbing gray and black diffuser-style rear bumper cap with circular exhaust pipes at each corner, and rounding out the look, aggressive looking 18-inch five-spoke diamond-cut alloys with black-painted pockets, plus Volvo fixed a subtle spoiler atop the rear deck lid for an additional $520, while its Polestar Optimization upgrade made all of its outward dynamism inwardly relevant.

By that I’m not talking about the S60’s interior, which doesn’t feature any Polestar branding yet continues into 2018 as one of the more refined cabins in its compact luxury class. If you want your S60 interior modified with blue Polestar highlights along with other stylish upgrades, even including sportier exterior enhancements, a smoking hot 367 horsepower engine and significant suspension mods, you’ll need to pay $60k for an S60 Polestar and call it a day.

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Instead, choosing base Dynamic trim and then bumping it up with AWD for an extra $2,000 means the S60 T5 AWD can be had with Polestar Performance Optimization, this maintaining the S60’s already formidable base engine output yet quickening on and off throttle response plus shift speed, increasing gear hold duration, performance-tuning the electronic stability control and ABS, plus more.

As noted, the S60 T5’s turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine’s output remains unchanged at 240 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, which while not quite as thrilling as the 306 horsepower T6 off the line is nevertheless plenty capable all on its own. With mph arriving in just 6.0 seconds from standstill and its top-speed set to 130 mph, it will easily exceed posted limits at a much faster rate than you might be prepared for, whether zipping around town, stretching its legs on a curving backcountry road, or letting it fly on the highway.

If canyon carving is your thing I’d recommend opting for the $1,000 Sport package that increases alloy wheel size by an inch to 19s, lowers and firms up the suspension, adds paddle shifters behind the steering wheel spokes to extract the most from the S60’s already quick yet smooth shifting eight-speed automatic, and includes steering personalization.

Still, my non-Sport packaged model took to corners with confidence inspiring poise thanks in part to grippy torque vectoring all-wheel drive, albeit modern-day Volvos are never lacking when it comes to handling credentials. Its variable-assist electrical power assisted rack and pinion steering is direct and responsive, front MacPherson strut and rear multilink suspension stable yet reactive, and overall feel ideal for those seeking reassuring feedback without punishing rigidity.

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Yes, the S60 isn’t as tightly sprung as some premium rivals, its ride/handling bias focused more toward the type of cosseting comfort that luxury buyers tend to prefer. This, combined with two of the plushest yet supportive front seats in the class, results in a car I could drive all day long without growing weary, which is saying something considering my all too regular lower back problems.

I previously referred to the S60 as a compact luxury sedan because the D-segment covers a lot of area, but generally it’s larger than the mainstream volume-branded compact class and smaller than a traditional North American-market mid-size four-door, which are sized closer to Euro E-segment cars like Volvo’s S90. While the S90 is considerably larger and more spacious inside, the S60 provides plenty of room for most body types and sizes.

My five-foot-eight medium-build frame certainly had no problem fitting inside with inches to spare in every direction, whether seated up front or in behind where its rear outboard seats provided nearly as much comfort and support as those up front, while rear materials quality and fit/finish is equal to the frontal seating area as well.

Everything above the waistline is made from high-quality soft-touch synthetics and leathers, with the doors even pliable down to their bottom panels. The lower dash and glove box are not, nor are the sides of the center console, but such is the case for many in this class so it’s not an issue. What matters is all of the harder composites are nicely done, especially the floating center console that’s always being one of my favorite Volvo design details. It’s filled with myriad dials and buttons like a high-grade albeit now classic Nakamichi stereo component, while the beautiful metal-edged dials are stunning.

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The S60’s fully configurable digital gauge package continues to show off Volvo’s early leadership in high-tech electronics, although the S60 doesn’t yet offer one of the large tablet-style center touchscreen displays used in its recently redesigned models. Nevertheless its 7.0-inch display is serviceable enough with plenty of high-grade functions included, such audio/media system controls, phone set up, vehicle instructions, and internet access.

Volvo also added a reverse camera that you can choose to use even if the S60 isn’t backing up. The parking monitor even includes rearview zoom if you’d like to see something close up, while the regular camera includes handy dynamic guidelines. It comes as part of a $1,950 Vision package that also includes the aforementioned adaptive digital TFT display, pushbutton ignition, blind-zone alert with rear cross-traffic alert, a garage door opener, and rear parking sensors. Additionally, Volvo included Sensus navigation with detailed mapping as part of a $1,600 Navigation/Audio package that also featured a 12-speaker, 650-watt Harman//Kardon premium sound upgrade.

Of course, dual-zone automatic climate control is standard, made better via Volvo’s Clean Zone air quality system, while over and above everything already mentioned the S60 T5 AWD Dynamic model’s features list is further enhanced with remote engine start, approach/puddle lamps, active bending HID headlights, headlight washers, LED daytime running lights, a laminated windshield, an electromechanical parking brake, a powered driver’s seat with two-way powered lumbar support and three-way memory, leather upholstery, an auto-dimming center mirror, a powered moonroof, voice control, Bluetooth phone with audio streaming, HD and satellite radio, auxiliary and USB ports, Volvo On-Call (including remote start and vehicle tracking), hill start assist, City Safety autonomous emergency braking, all the usual active and passive safety features, power-folding rear headrests, 60/40 split-folding rear seatbacks with a center pass-through, and more.

The S60 also includes standard engine start/stop that shuts the engine off when it would otherwise be idling, this helping to reduce emissions and fuel consumption. Set to its most efficient driving mode the S60 T5 AWD is good for a claimed 22 mpg in the city, 32 on the highway and 26 combined, while it saves even more by only requiring less expensive regular unleaded fuel.

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Extras included a $300 powered front passenger seat; a $750 Heated Seats/Heated Steering Wheel package with (you guessed it) heatable front seats and a heated steering wheel; and a $1,500 Technology package featuring Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Queue Assist and Distance Alert (DA), Driver Alert Control, active high beams, rain-sensing wipers, collision warning with full auto braking plus pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane keeping assist, and road sign information, all of which upped the total asking price to $42,720.

While I’m excited to get into the new 2019 S60 when it finally arrives, I can certainly understand why someone would want to take advantage of the deals to be had on the current model. The 2018 S60 is still an excellent car that’s highly competitive within its compact luxury segment, plus you’ll certainly be able to coax your local dealer into moving its already fair price downward significantly.

*Story credits: Trevor Hofmann, American Auto Press Photo credits: Karen Tuggay, American Auto Press Copyright: American Auto Press *

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