Looking for a Safe, Sleek Ride? The Volvo S60 Delivers.
  • Kristin Shaw

Looking for a Safe, Sleek Ride? The Volvo S60 Delivers.

I was not a Volvo fan when I first started driving. The boxy, bulky bodies of the late 80s and early 90s didn’t appeal to me. Then again, in the late 80s and early 90s I was young and not the best judge of character. (Mom, this is not an opening for you to bring up stories about the boys I dated back then.)


Fast-forward to a couple of years ago, and our friend Scotty introduced me to the Volvo team at the LA Auto Show. As soon as I slid behind the wheel of the XC60 for an ice driving simulation, I was impressed. Just this year, I took Volvo’s three-row XC90 off-road at the Texas Truck Rodeo, and found it was both capable and gorgeous inside, including a swanky crystal gearshift.


If it’s crystal you want, then you can have that in the S60, the brand's luxury sport sedan, as well. But only in the T8 (hybrid) Polestar Engineered trim. In fact, that particular level includes 19-inch wheels, Brembo brakes, and the aforementioned crystal shift knob made by Orrefors.


The Volvo I test drove this week was a AWD T6 Inscription, which, alas, does not include those features. But I'm not complaining, because this vehicle is jam-packed with all kinds of other goodies.




Plenty of Flavors for Configuration


The Volvo S60 is available in four trim levels: Momentum, Inscription, R-Design, and Polestar Engineered.


Momentum includes a choice between two engines: the 2.0L turbocharged T5 or the turbocharged and supercharged T6, which includes all-wheel drive. The Inscription is available in the T5, T6, or the hybrid T8. The sporty R-Design can be configured with a T5 or T6. And the T8 Polestar Engineered includes a higher-output version of the plug-in hybrid.


Add the Premium package for more; in my opinion, the blind-spot and rear cross-traffic warning systems alone are enough to get the upgrade. During the holiday season, I really put these to the test, and they delivered. Includes:


  • Hands-free trunk

  • Front and rear parking sensors

  • Auto-dimming mirrors

  • Keyless entry

  • Blind-spot and rear cross-traffic warning system with automatic braking and steering assist

  • Automated perpendicular and parallel parking system


High-Fidelity Audio


Volvo shares an audio system vendor with McLaren, BMW, and Maserati. That should give you an idea of the level of quality that Bowers & Wilkins represents. Aesthetically, the first thing you'll notice will be the classy-looking speaker on the dash, looking all the world like an old-fashioned throwback at the drive-in theater. In fact, this is what Bowers & Wilkins calls "Tweeter-on-Top" technology, which they say minimizes acoustic reflection from the windshield, among other things to enhance the sound quality.


I don't know how to measure it, but I can tell you that when my 10-year-old son started singing a song called "I'm a Banana" I could easily block him out with loud, clear audio.

For a little more intel on the Bowers & Wilkins that might impress you, its portfolio of products include the Zeppelin Air sound dock, P5 headphones and the flagship 800 Series hi fi speaker, which is used by none other than Skywalker Sound and Abbey Road. B & W partners with Harman Kardon to get the sound just right.


Standard Safety Features


Volvo, as most people know, prides itself on its safety ratings. Their stated aim is that no one should be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo, and they take it seriously. The list of standard safety features is impressive; one of my favorites is the "home safe" lighting option, which allows you to set all of the exterior lights to stay on for a set amount of time as you walk into your front door.


  • Blind spot information system & cross traffic alert

  • City safety collision avoidance technology

  • Rear collision mitigation support

  • Lane keeping aid

  • Oncoming lane mitigation

  • Road sign information

  • Run-off road mitigation

  • Side impact protection system

  • Whiplash protection system

  • Welcome and home safe light



Future Focused


This is what Volvo has on its site, and they're walking the talk.

We’re committed to a healthy environment, the protection of our planet, and the safety of everyone who lives on it. It’s why Volvo Cars supports year over year increases in fuel economy standards and reduction in carbon emissions. It’s why we’ve pledged that every Volvo car launched from 2019 onward will be electrified. It’s why we’ve made the all-new 400-horsepower Volvo S60 sedan a twin-engine, plug-in hybrid. And it’s why we’ve eliminated diesel engines from the all-new S60 line altogether.


Five Things to Love About the Volvo S60


  • Massaging, heated seats

  • A steering wheel that heats up quickly

  • Driver assist technologies were clearly prioritized in this model

  • Feels both safe and sumptuous

  • Incredibly quiet ride


Four Opportunities for Improvement


  • The controls on the infotainment system less than intuitive

  • USB ports hidden away and not easy to access; no USB ports for the back seat

  • Steering wheel heated up so much that it was hot to the touch

  • Drive mode wheel pretty but odd


Overall Impression


Very good. If you’re looking for a vehicle that has a ton of comfort features and is a pleasure to drive, this is a great choice. Starts at $36,050.


This post originally appeared here: Drive Mode Show.

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