With its fuel-efficient engines and advanced safety technology, the Volvo S60 sedan is an attractive alternative to traditional European luxury brands.
Volvo's S60 is the brand's entry-level luxury sedan. Though never equaling the popularity of other European rivals, the S60 has nonetheless offered an appealing blend of comfort, performance and Swedish style.
There have been two generations of the S60. The second incarnation has a number of meaningful upgrades, including more powerful engines, available all-wheel drive and a sportier driving demeanor. Older S60s are still a viable pick if the price is right, though.
Current Volvo S60
The current Volvo S60 is offered in four trim levels: the regular-wheelbase T5 Dynamic and T6 AWD R-Design, and the extended-wheelbase T5 Inscription and T5 Inscription Platinum. The T5 trim levels get a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine (240 horsepower) while the T6 has a turbocharged and supercharged version of that four-cylinder (302 hp). Both come paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission. On the T5, front-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive is offered as an option. The T6 gets AWD as standard.
The entry-level T5 Dynamic comes decently equipped for a luxury sedan. Highlights include 18-inch wheels, xenon headlights, a sunroof, automatic climate control, leather upholstery, a power driver seat, a 7-inch central display screen, Bluetooth and an eight-speaker audio system. Step up to the extended-wheelbase T5 Inscription and you get additional rear-seat legroom, a power front passenger seat, rear window sunshades, a rearview camera, a navigation system, a configurable instrument display and additional sound insulation.
The T5 Inscription Platinum adds adaptive headlights, different seats, wood interior trim, and a 12-speaker Harman Kardon sound system, plus the contents of the Convenience and Technology option packages (keyless ignition and entry, power-folding mirrors, adaptive cruise control, automatic high-beam control, a more sophisticated forward collision mitigation system, and a lane departure warning and intervention system).
The T6 AWD R-Design starts with all those Platinum features and bundles them with a more powerful engine, all-wheel drive, 19-inch wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, front sport seats, adjustable steering effort, paddle shifters and special trim inside and out.
In reviews of the Volvo S60, we've found both the T5 and T6 enjoyable to drive. The T6 AWD R-Design obviously kicks things up a notch, but most people aren't likely to feel the need for that extra power. Inside, the S60 offers both class and comfort in equal measures. The design is attractive and the materials are high-quality, though rear-seat legroom is a bit tight in the regular-wheelbase S60. Overall, we think the current Volvo S60 is a smart choice for an entry-luxury sedan.
Used Volvo S60 Models
The current Volvo S60 represents the car's second generation, which debuted for 2011. Compared to the first generation, this S60 is roomier and has more advanced safety features.
If you're shopping for one of these S60s, the main thing to be aware of is engine selection. Initially, this S60 was available only in T6 form, which had all-wheel drive and a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6 that produced 300 hp. The following year, Volvo brought out the performance-themed T6 R-Design (325 hp) and front-wheel-drive T5 with its turbocharged inline-5 engine (250 hp). Starting in 2015, Volvo started rolling out the latest "Drive-E" four-cylinder engines, although the older engines were still used in AWD versions. The main reason to get an S60 with one of these newer four-cylinder engines is the improved fuel economy.
The first-generation (2001-'09) Volvo S60 was a replacement for the S70. Initially, it was offered in base 2.4, midlevel 2.4T or range-topping T5 trims. The S60 2.4 came with a 2.4-liter five-cylinder engine that produced 168 hp. The turbo 2.4T had 197 hp. The most powerful engine was the 247-hp 2.3-liter five-cylinder in the T5. An all-wheel-drive model called the 2.4T AWD joined the family in '02, and all models received enhancements to traction control and engine management systems, resulting in improved response.
In 2003, the AWD sedan switched to the 208-hp 2.5-liter engine, prompting Volvo to rename it the 2.5T AWD. In '04, the hot-rod 300-hp R model was added to the mix, sporting 18-inch wheels and performance tires, a sport-tuned adaptive suspension and bi-xenon headlights. All S60 Rs were all-wheel drive, and buyers could choose between a six-speed manual and a six-speed automatic. Also that year, the front-drive S60 2.4T became the 2.5T, as it, too, picked up the 2.5-liter engine.
For '05, the Volvo S60 received an exterior and interior refreshing. The T5 got a bump in hp to 257 and a few other upgrades. In '06, Volvo dropped the base 2.4 model and upgraded the 2.5T AWD model with a new all-wheel-drive system for enhanced traction. The following year, all '07 S60s received revised front fascia styling. For 2008, the high-performance R model was dropped, and no significant changes occurred for '09. There was no S60 for 2010.
In reviews, we found this S60 offered a ride biased more toward comfort than speed. Handling was adequate, but the limits were modest on 2.5T and T5 models. However, shoppers should take note of the many mechanical and equipment changes made through this generation's run, as newer models offered more performance and features. Judged on its own merits, the Volvo S60 should be satisfying to own, but savvy consumers should also check out the S60's many competitors as they may offer more refinement and, for enthusiasts, a more involving drive.