With barely 600 miles on the clock, I couldn't wait to take my 2012 Volvo S60 long-termer on a good old-fashioned road trip. After all, what better way to become acquainted with my new orange sedan than settling in for some serious seat time?
I review motorcycles in addition to cars, so heading out to Las Vegas for a bike's press launch required packing some seriously bulky gear-full leathers for the track, two separate helmets, and a pair of ginormous racing boots ? in addition to more mundane items like a stroller, child seat, and personal luggage. Filling the Volvo's trunk required a bit of virtual Tetris; its 12 cubic feet of cargo space may not seem cavernous, but the aperture (ie, the opening offered by the trunk lid) is wide enough to facilitate large objects, the proportions are fairly well balanced, and the split rear seats can fold down for bulkier objects, though I prefer to keep them upright whenever possible.
And so on a breezy December afternoon, we packed our bags, finagled our newborn into his car seat, and crammed our stuff in the trunk the trunk, which offered a tight but manageable squeeze. Seems we didn't need a small SUV after all, though I imagine that having two kids would necessitate a bigger vehicle.
Crawling out of Los Angeles just in time for rush hour traffic, the S60 drove peacefully amidst the swarm of commuters, though the occasional lane-splitting motorcyclist made me wonder if I should have left the family at home and ridden instead. But once night fell, I was glad I didn't; humming along Interstate 15 at high speeds through the cold desert night, severe crosswinds kicked up and sprayed the Volvo with dust and debris. The S60 felt nudged but largely unaffected by the gusts, requiring small steering corrections to counteract what we later learned were conditions strong enough to fell trees back in LA and force a state of emergency in several suburbs. Despite the maelstrom outside, the Volvo's cabin remained well insulated from wind and road noise.
One thing about seats: as much as they may seem accommodating during around-town driving, there's nothing like a solid block of time to evaluate how comfortable they truly are. After the four and a half hour drive to Vegas, I can honestly say the Volvo's perches are among the most comfortable I've experienced; they manage to balance cushiness and supportiveness in a way that makes hours at the wheel feel painless.
Of course, the occasional fuel stop is a good idea for a stretch and a walkaround, though this particular jaunt marred my fuel economy with the slow traffic creep out of LA followed by a high-speed, pedal-as-fast-as-you-can blast through the desert. Combined fuel economy for city and highway driving was 20.7 mpg. However, a mellower pace on the drive back home revealed an indicated 27.9 mpg, which could have been further improved with a more patient right foot. Check back later for a full report on what kinds of mpgs the Volvo can achieve when hypermiled.
Was the S60 a worthy steed for my 550-mile roundtrip jaunt? Though a tad more trunk space would have made for a less stressful packing experience and the GPS was a bit overeager to re-route me when the going got slow, the Volvo offered a relaxing, comfortable drive. The GPS display is clear and easy on the eyes; the 8-speaker stereo system fills the cabin with well-balanced, full-sounding audio; the seats are welcoming and the ride is smooth, while the engine never feels taxed at high speeds.
Stay tuned for a report on how the S60 is performing back home-though I can safely say this is a car I look forward to road-tripping again as soon as the opportunity allows.
Want to learn more? Follow our long-term test of the Volvo S60.