The 2016 Volvo S60 presents an alternative to the European, Asian and North American luxury sedans that serve as gateways to their respective brands. Whereas S60’s competitors place an emphasis on performance, the Volvo way imbues functionality and safety.
The Volvo S60 is a midsize luxury sedan that seats five and comes with standard front-wheel drive or available all-wheel drive. Four-, five- and six-cylinder engine choices are available. The S60 is offered in T5 Drive-E, T5 AWD, T6 Drive-E and T6 R-Design AWD trims. S60 T5 Drive-E Inscription and T5 AWD Inscription models are new for 2016, offering an extended wheelbase with additional legroom.
From bumper to bumper, the 2016 Volvo S60 presents a flowing and sporty silhouette. The front fascia is dominated by a broad upper grille that’s accented with the brand’s signature emblem. The wraparound headlamps and LED lighting accents are set within pockets for a sporty look. The lower air intake is itself hemmed in by LED fog lights.
The S60’s muscular visage includes strong shoulders, upper profile character lines, body sculpting and a rising beltline. The roofline sweeps back to the raised rear deck, which is marked by a slight haunch, oversized combination lights and a pair of embedded exhaust finishers.
The Volvo S60 presents a cabin that’s orderly, functional and comfortable. Driver controls are ergonomically designed and placed, and with the exception of the infotainment system are easy to decipher.
Volvo presents an uncluttered look, with the instrument panel dominated by a center dial with an oversized speedometer. A digitized speed limit sign adjusts to match the local speed limit and begins flashing if you drive above that limit. Other driver features are also digitized.
The center stack has a color display on top, followed by vents and a keypad to operate the infotainment system.
Knobs surrounding the pad provide access to audio and climate control systems. The transmission shifter, cup holders and a covered storage compartment split the front seats.
The front bucket seats are supportive, comfortable and safety-oriented. Each seat comes with an integrated, whiplash protecting headrest. The contoured rear seat holds three. The back compartment has excellent legroom, but shoulder-to-shoulder space is tight for three adults.
The Inscription package, a $3,000 upgrade, brings in an extended wheelbase that offers 3 inches of additional legroom, as well as contoured leather seats and wood door inlays. A power rear window sunshade, manual side window sunshades and chrome surrounds are also present. Additional sound deadening material is also added, however wind noise through the front windows was still noticeable.
All Volvo S60 models are equipped with keyless entry, a tilt and telescopic steering column, steering wheel-mounted driver controls, 8-way power front seats, power accessories and cruise control.
Numerous upgrades build on the standard audio package and may also include rear-seat entertainment, park assist, illuminated sill plates and heated front and rear seats. This model offers 93 cubic feet of passenger volume, a 12 cubic-foot trunk and a 3,500-pound towing capacity.
In the S60, Volvo offers multiple engine choices beginning with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine making 240 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Front-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission are standard. This base powertrain is the most efficient combination for the S60, with an EPA-estimated 25/37 mpg city/highway. It was also the engine powering my test S60 T5 Inscription model.
Other choices include this same 2.0-liter engine outfitted with a supercharger and a turbocharger, which is found in Volvo S60 T6 Drive-E models. This engine delivers 302 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque.
Two other turbocharged engine choices are also available: a 2.5-liter five-cylinder and a 3.0-liter six-cylinder that make 250 and 325 horsepower, respectively. A six-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive are standard with these engine choices.
As tested, the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine provided satisfactory off the mark acceleration and superior turbo boost when called into action. Turbo lag is noticeable, but this sedan sprints with confidence once boost kicks in. Torque steer — the sensation experienced when full power is sent to the front wheels, shifting them to the left and to the right — is partially mitigated by the stability control system. All-wheel drive would further compensate for that sensation.
The Volvo S60 is far from a driver’s car, although the steering is precise and braking is confident.
With so many driver aids present or available it is easy to overlook other technologies included with the Volvo S60. Sensus Connect is Volvo’s infotainment system, which provides a Wi-Fi hot spot, smartphone connectivity and navigation.
Sensus Connect provides a suite of apps for navigation and entertainment. The system works in conjunction with Bluetooth to pair your phone, connect to the Internet, stream music or engage in hands-free dialing. Several of the navigation and infotainment functions are accomplished via voice recognition.
Tabletlike features with a large display allow drivers to work through three screens by swiping, tapping and typing as you go.
The cloud-connected functions are accomplished by the on-board data connection, requiring a subscription service. The system is more advanced than similar infotainment packages other automakers use, but it does require a lot of practice to familiarize yourself with it.
Safety has always been Volvo’s strong suit. The automaker pioneered several features we now take for granted, including the three-point safety belt and laminated windshield glass. All Volvo models have safety cages composed of super-strong boron steel, and lighter steel for optimum energy dispersion in an accident.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has awarded the Volvo S60 with its highest rating — Top Safety Pick+ — recognizing this sedan for its outstanding achievement in all five crash test criteria as well as for its available front crash prevention technology.
All Volvo S60 models are equipped with a suite of air bags and traction and stability control. An available blind spot information system brings in front and rear park assist and cross traffic alert. An available front-view camera expands the driver’s forward facing view field by 45 degrees.
The base $33,950 price for the 2016 Volvo S60 compares favorably with models such as the BMW 3 Series, but this sedan is best compared with models such as the Acura TLX and Buick Regal, both of which are premium sedans with standard front-wheel drive. The Nissan Maxima is another model to consider.
All-wheel drive and the other engine choices bring pricing above $40,000, with a fully loaded S60 T6 R-Design AWD retailing for about $45,000 or several thousand more than a comparably equipped Buick Regal GS.
Volvo offers unparalleled safety in a midsize executive sedan package. Superior fit and finish, as well as advanced technologies that are sometimes difficult to decipher are among its other attributes.
Shoppers looking for a performance-oriented model should consider the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4, Cadillac ATS or Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Everyone else may find an S60 outfitted with the standard engine to their liking. The similar Volvo S60 Cross Country might also be considered, which is an all-wheel drive model based on a raised platform.