Judging by what you read in car magazines, the 2014 Volvo S60 may as well not exist. The Euro sport sedans that get all the press are the big three from Germany (A4, 3 Series, C-Class), leaving the lone Swede to toil in obscurity. But when you look at what the S60 has to offer, it's hard to fathom why it doesn't receive more attention. To wit, Volvo's entry-level sedan offers spirited turbocharged power, a luxurious interior and a slew of upgrades for 2014 that only enhance its appeal.
Chief among those upgrades is a restyled exterior with new headlights. We were never sold on the S60's original bulbous headlights with their separate inset running lights, and apparently we weren't alone, as the 2014 S60 features sleek 1-piece headlights that just look classy. We also like the revamped instrument cluster with its available driver-configurable TFT gauges. The S60 didn't need much changing, but its cause has certainly been helped by this year's thoughtful nips and tucks.
Otherwise, the 2014 S60 remains more or less the same, and that's fine with us. It's fast, has an upscale vibe, some of the most comfortable front seats in the business and available all-wheel drive. If you're open to a sport sedan that flies under the radar, the sleek S60 just might win you over.
What's New for 2014?
The S60 gets a refreshed exterior with new headlights, a TFT gauge cluster with driver-configurable display modes (base T5 excepted) and additional equipment.
What We Like
Responsive turbocharged engines; well-appointed and stylish interior; great front seats; 5-year/50,000-mile warranty with no-cost maintenance and wear-and-tear coverage
What We Don't
Tight back seat; modest trunk
The S60 T5 is powered by a turbocharged 2.5-liter 5-cylinder engine that makes 250 horsepower and 266 lb-ft of torque. Like every S60, it employs a 6-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard, with all-wheel drive offered as an option. Fuel economy is rated at 21 miles per gallon city/30 mpg hwy with front-wheel drive and 20 mpg city/29 mpg hwy with all-wheel drive.
The S60 T6 steps up to a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline 6-cylinder engine rated at 300 hp and 325 lb-ft. All-wheel drive is standard, and fuel economy predictably takes a hit, checking in at 18 mpg city/25 mpg hwy.
The all-wheel-drive T6 R-Design gets a boosted version of the 3.0-liter inline 6-cylinder good for 325 hp and 354 lb-ft. Fuel economy is unchanged.
Standard Features & Options
The 2014 Volvo S60 is offered in T5, T6 and T6 R-Design trim levels with a few optional packages.
The T5 ($33,315) comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, the 5-cylinder engine, exterior LED accent lamps, dual-zone climate control, a leather-trimmed steering wheel and shifter, a tilt/telescopic steering wheel, cruise control, a power driver's seat with memory and lumbar control, an 8-speaker HD audio system with a 7-in display and Sirius satellite radio, Bluetooth phone and audio, and a split-folding rear seat.
The T5 Premier Package ($35,815) adds different 17-in alloys, keyless entry with push-button start, leather upholstery, a sunroof, a power passenger seat, a TFT gauge cluster with driver-selectable themes and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.
The T5 Premier Plus Package ($36,465) contributes a rearview camera, a HomeLink garage door opener and a compass.
The T5 Platinum Package ($39,165) tacks on auto-dimming exterior mirrors, ambient interior lighting, a navigation system with voice control and a 12-speaker surround-sound audio system.
All-wheel drive adds $2,000 to any T5's bottom line.
The T6 ($40,165) boasts standard all-wheel drive, 18-in wheels, sport leather upholstery and roughly the contents of the T5's Premier Package.
The T6 Premier Plus Package ($40,815) and T6 Platinum ($43,515) are equipped similarly to their T5 counterparts.
The T6 R-Design ($43,615) features more power, a sport-tuned suspension, larger front brakes, active xenon headlamps, R-Design exterior styling cues and sport seats.
Finally, the T6 R-Design Platinum Package ($46,615) adds roughly the contents of the T5's Platinum Package.
Many of the fancier models' standard features are available on others as options. Other options include the Technology Package (providing adaptive cruise control, a collision-mitigation system with automatic braking and various other safety systems), the Climate Package (heated front seats, heated windshield washer nozzles and an interior air quality system) and a dual-screen rear entertainment system.
The S60's 12 cu-ft trunk is among the smallest in the midsize luxury segment.
In addition to a full complement of airbags, side-impact protection and whiplash-protection systems, standard fare for S60 models includes City Safety, technology that will minimize or prevent collisions at 31 miles per hour or below by automatically priming or applying the brakes if closing velocity is excessive.
The S60 earned perfect 5-star ratings in all National Highway Traffic Safety Administration test categories. It's also an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Top Safety Pick.
The optional Technology Package adds a pedestrian detection system (also with automatic braking), driver drowsiness alert, lane-departure warning and adaptive cruise control. Also available are a blind spot monitoring system and a rear cross-traffic alert system.
Behind the Wheel
Volvo interiors have long been among the nicest, and the 2013 Volvo S60 is no exception, with comfy, supportive front bucket seats that your orthopedic doctor would love. Overall, the S60 cabin is on the snug side, offering decent but not great room for four passengers, with limited rear legroom if the front occupants are tall. The coupelike roofline adds sportiness but doesn't help rearward visibility.
Still, we find the interior to be well-appointed, with lots of soft-touch materials and tasteful metallic accents. A unique floating center stack houses Volvo's stylish climate control panel and Sensus infotainment switchgear. Buyers can add warmth to the interior by selecting optional Urbane Wood inlays made from managed forests of nonthreatened tree species.
Under the hood, you can't go wrong with any of the S60's offerings. The unconventional 5-cylinder base engine has more than enough punch for most tastes, while the T6's inline 6-cylinder is seriously quick, particularly in R-Design tune. The 6-speed automatic could be a little quicker on the uptake, but it's generally smooth and refined, as we expect in this segment.
On the road, the beauty of the S60 lies in its holistic approach to ride comfort and handling precision. Even over the roughest stretches of pavement, the body structure is solid and the ride composed. The speed-sensitive steering has driver-selectable modes in S60 T6 models, but even the base gear in the T5 model has variable assist and good precision. The base suspension's shock absorbers are well-tuned to absorb small road undulations while providing excellent body control over larger events. As for the available sport-tuned suspension, it's never harsh, and its enhanced responsiveness is well worth the slightly firmer feel on pockmarked pavement.
Acura TL -- This entry from Honda's luxury division packs a lot of standard equipment for the money, but its beaky styling may repel some, and the TL can't match the S60's long list of safety technology.
Audi A4 -- Like the S60, the A4 offers sharp styling, a sumptuous cabin and a choice of front- or all-wheel drive. The Volvo is much more powerful, however.
BMW 3 Series -- The 3 Series strikes a great balance between comfort and athleticism, with more sport than the Volvo, and it has an excellent lineup of turbocharged engines.
Skip the sparsely equipped base model, but give strong consideration to the T5 with the Premier Package. It's attractively priced and comes with a number of desirable luxuries.