The Volvo S60 compact sedan is an aging design, the current generation introduced as a 2011 model, but it’s still a significant part of the Swedish automaker’s lineup. S60 is Volvo’s smallest sedan.
The 2017 offers a choice of powertrains, front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, and a Cross Country model with added ground clearance.
Excelling in safety and front-seat comfort, it serves as a sound alternative to German-made models. The S60 is less flashy than the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedans, but it’s priced much more reasonably and comes standard with leather trim.
The 2017 Volvo S60 now offers only four-cylinder engines. All-wheel drive is now available on the 2017 Volvo S60 T5. Otherwise, little is changed from 2016.
In addition to relatively sporty Dynamic and sportier-yet R-Design trim levels, a more luxurious long-wheelbase Inscription version is available. The Inscription sedan adds 3 inches of legroom for rear passengers, without detracting from S60 appearance. A limited-edition, high-performance Polestar sedan is offered.
The S60 Cross Country model adds 2.5 inches of ground clearance, to allow mild off-pavement treks.
S60 T5 models are equipped with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, which produces 240 horsepower, and 8-speed automatic transmission. The S60 T6 R-Design gets a turbocharged and supercharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder. Developing 302 horsepower, the higher-power engine gives the S60 more spirit. The limited-edition Polestar hikes the price considerably, but brings a 362-horsepower engine.
All-wheel drive improves performance and handling is slippery conditions, but its added weight reduces performance on dry pavement. Front-wheel drive allows more lively performance when the weather is nice.
Front seats are some of the best anywhere. Back seats are spacious, too.
Despite its age, the S60 has fared well in crash-testing. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the S60 five stars for every test, including rollover. Volvo’s sedan earned Good marks in each crash undertaken by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, including the tricky small-overlap test. Those scores earned the IIHS’s Top Safety Pick+ award.
Volvo offers some of the most advanced safety features available on any car, though most aren’t standard. Base-model S60s come with fewer active safety features than pricier XC60 crossovers, but the list includes low-speed crash mitigation. An optional Technology group adds adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane-keep assist, and automatic high beams. Rather than being standard, a rearview camera is part of a Vision Package that also adds blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert.
The 2017 Volvo S60 T5 Dynamic ($33,950) has front-wheel drive and the 240-hp 2.0-liter engine, as well as leather seat upholstery, leather-wrapped steering wheel, 7-inch infotainment screen, Bluetooth, moonroof, xenon headlights, aluminum inlays, and 18-inch black wheels. All-wheel drive is available for all T5 models ($2,000). Technology ($1500), Sport, Vision ($1950), and navigation packages are optional. (Prices are MSRP and do not include $995 destination charge.)
S60 T5 Inscription ($36,800) is equipped like the T5 Dynamic, but has the longer wheelbase for added rear-seat legroom. S60 T5 Inscription Platinum ($40,800) adds walnut wood inlays and other luxuries.
S60 T6 AWD R-Design ($47,400) gets the turbocharged/supercharged engine and all-wheel drive, as well as many T5 options as standard. Included are perforated leather seats, steering-wheel inlays, Harman Kardon premium audio, and 19-inch alloy wheels.
S60 Polestar AWD ($60,000) tops the lineup in price by far, including the 362-horsepower engine, all-wheel drive, sport seats and steering wheel, and 20-inch wheels.
S60 Cross Country ($44,400) has 7.9-inch ground clearance and the base engine, but is equipped much like the T6 R-Design, except for 18-inch wheels.
Sweeping curves blend with organic details and a wedge-like profile, resulting in a clean and classy appearance, devoid of clutter. Less flashy than some rivals, the S60 is plain and conservative.
Unquestionably, the S60 is a Swedish Volvo, even though the company is now Chinese-owned. Inscription models, with their longer wheelbase, approach elegant status. The taller S60 Cross Country sedan conveys a moderately rugged appearance, though it may not be as pleasing to the eye as a standard S60.
Comfortable cruising is a high point. The S60 comes with some of the best front seats you’re likely to find in any automobile, though abundant bolstering could make it snug for larger folks. For a compact sedan, the cabin is spacious, and affords excellent visibility.
Back-seat passengers aren’t quite as fortunate unless they’re in an Inscription model, which provides extra legroom. Still, even standard-length models won’t cramp six-footers.
Compared to more contemporary luxury sedans, the S60’s interior seems plain, far from fancy, though the black dashboard has a textured look. Angling in the driver’s direction, however, that dashboard has a businesslike aura, while the all-digital gauge cluster suggests greater modernity. Instruments are bright and easy to read.
Trunk space ranks as voluminous, evident from the sedan’s tall tail. Rear 60/40-split seatbacks fold forward and incorporate a pass-through for longer items.
Each S60 version steers adeptly and handles well. Lighter weight of the four-cylinder Drive-E engine helps front-drive T5 models behave nimbly. Ride comfort ranks as competent, but not exceptional.
Three powertrain modes can be set: Drive, Sport, and Eco+. The S60 driver can also tune the suspension while underway. Suspension firmness may be set to Dynamic or Touring, while Comfort, Sport, and Advanced modes affect driver control.
The S60 T6 R-Design has sportier suspension tuning, yielding crisper handling.
The additional ride height of the S60 Cross Country is noticeable in corners, but the body doesn’t lean much and handling is comparable to other S60 models.
Volvo’s directâ€“injected base engine, in the T5, is somewhat noisy and coarse, lacking in refinement. Stop/start, that annoying feature that shuts off the engine at intersections adds to the roughness. All of this is particularly noticeable in stop-and-go traffic.
Upper trim levels with the turbo/supercharged engine perform better, but it’s limited by all-wheel drive that adds 250 pounds.
The 8-speed automatic transmission in all S60s is a sore point, too eager to shift up in an attempt to limit fuel usage. Noise from wind, tires, and road surfaces are satisfactorily suppressed.
Thriftiest S60 is the front-drive T5, EPA-rated at 25/36 mpg City/Highway, or 29 mpg Combined. All-wheel drive drops fuel economy to 23/31 mpg City/Highway, or 26 mpg Combined. The T6 R-Design, with its stronger engine, isn’t much different, at 22/32 mpg City/Highway.
The 2017 Volvo S60 is a dated product, but it’s much less expensive than competing sedans from German. All-wheel drive is a wise choice for the Snow Belt, while those in sunnier climes will enjoy more spirited response from comparable front-wheel-drive versions. Inscription models are assembled in China, but fit-and-finish appears to match the rest of the S60s, which are manufactured in Europe.
Driving impressions by Aaron Cole, The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.