Style plays a huge role in determining a new car's success, but let's face it: as much as we love great looking sheetmetal, we're destined to spend the vast majority of our time inside the cabin.
When we compared our long term Volvo S60's to its fiercest competitor, the BMW 3 Series, we saw a mixed bag of contrasts: though the Volvo's interior didn't feel quite as crisp or modern, it offered a slightly more familiar and satisfying choice of materials compared to the Bimmer's avant garde design.
That said, how has the S60's interior held up after three months of driving? Quite well, considering heavy usage, which has already put over 5,000 miles on the odometer. Though a couple of pesky fit and finish details have emerged-a trim piece surrounding the sunroof has come loose, and a small strip of hardened glue is visible on the edge of the cupholders-the S60's interior is otherwise nicely put together, with an understated and functional style that's proven durable over time.
We'll get that errant trim pieces addressed when it goes in for service, but in the meantime the Volvo's seats have proven exceptionally comfortable on long hauls, though one niggling area that has me wishing for a slightly different proportion: my thighs aren't particularly plump, but the driver seat's padding still tends to wear against the edges of my hamstrings on long drives.
Speaking of road trips, the cabin's sound insulation makes for a quiet, relatively unfatigued ride, though heavily trafficked freeways makes us wish we had opted for the optional adaptive suspension; as it stood, our $37,725 grand total was approaching the $40,000 mark, and we didn't want to exceed that figure. At least the $2,700 Multimedia Package's nav system, premium audio, and backup camera add a layer of comfort to the driving experience, though the S60's multimedia system feels long in the tooth compared to other manufacturer's offerings: switching between audio and navigation settings triggers an awkward pop up menu, and the system's center stack-mounted buttons aren't as slick as some of the competition's touchscreen, dial, or joystick-based setups. The phone keypad on the center stack, though it's a somewhat dated design element, comes in handy for quick dialing.
Despite a less-than-cutting-edge electronics interface, the S60 has several thoughtful features that come in handy during everyday driving. Switching out car seats occurs efficiently thanks to an easy-to-reach LATCH system, and the dash even features a one-touch button that drops the rear headrests for maximum visibility. Just don't hit the button when you've got a passenger back there unless they deserve punishment; I gave my wife a solid whack on the back of the head when testing the system. Similarly handy is the trunk-mounted seat release latch, which allows the 60/40 seats to drop forward without fuss.
Design-wise, the cabin's blend of soft leather, dark surfaces, and real aluminum trim makes for an agreeable living area, with just enough space to feel neither cavernous, nor cramped; this interior fits just right. However, certain details don't achieve their intended awesomeness: for instance, Volvo's famous floating center stack is great in concept, but it's positioned a bit too far forward for practical use-I'd put my cell phone there, but it's more easily placed in the cupholder, not its intended location.
We chose the orange-on-orange color scheme with a certain sense of humor, making one of those commitments that are easier done when you're not stuck with a car indefinitely. We weren't sure if the look would wear thin after several months, but the distinctive color scheme hasn't gotten old yet-in fact, the Jack-o-Lantern hues have inspired the nickname "Ginger" for the S60, and I can safely say that if I were stuck with this Volvo for longer than our loan period, I'd still take delight in the upbeat color scheme which makes it easy to spot in a crowded parking lot.
With more miles to go before the S60 turns into a proverbial pumpkin (pun intended), we look forward to throwing more challenges its way and seeing how our Volvo copes with the rigors of road trips, casual drives, and daily life.
Want to learn more? Follow our long-term test of the Volvo S60.