You don't hear much about the Volvo S60, at least not from the flurry of automotive reviewers who seem to think that the only luxury sedans worth reviewing come from BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi. However, the Swedish contribution to the luxury sedan market is noteworthy both for its safety and clean, simple styling. The 2015 Volvo S60 is a prime example of a car every bit as enjoyable as an Audi A4, Lexus IS or Cadillac ATS, but far less common.
Following up on last year's major front-end and interior makeover, the 2015 Volvo S60 gets down to business, with two new engine options and a revised equipment list. Dubbed Drive-E by Volvo engineers, these 2.0-liter engines produce the same or better power than the old 2.5- and 3.0-liter units but with vastly better fuel economy and efficiency. Available only on the front-drive models, the T5 is fitted with a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine and 8-speed transmission, while the T6 trims use the same engine outfitted with both a turbocharger and a supercharger. To complicate matters, the old 2.5- and 3.0-liter engines remain on the all-wheel-drive models but retain the same T5 and T6 trim names.
What's New for 2015?
Two new 4-cylinder engines, dubbed Drive-E, are added to the front-drive S60, along with a new 8-speed automatic transmission and stop/start engine cutoff technology. Also new are Lane Keeping Aid and Park Assist Pilot, though these features are only available with the Drive-E engines.
What We Like
Responsive new engines; excellent fuel economy; 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; lack of differentiation for buttons controlling ventilation and audio controls; most fuel-efficient engines not available on AWD models
The S60 T5 FWD trim is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that makes 240 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. A new 8-speed automatic transmission is standard, as is stop/start technology. Fuel economy ratings for this engine are 25 miles per gallon city/37 mpg highway. The T5 AWD uses a 2.5-liter turbocharged engine rated at 250 hp and 266 lb-ft of torque coupled to a 6-speed automatic. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fuel economy ratings for this drivetrain are 20 mpg city/29 mpg hwy.
The S60 T6 brings a turbocharged and supercharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine rated at 302 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. EPA estimates for this engine are 24 mpg city/35 mpg hwy. The T6 R-Design uses a 3.0-liter inline 6-cylinder engine rated at 325 hp and 345 lb-ft. All-wheel drive is standard, and fuel economy predictably takes a hit, checking in at 18 mpg city/25 mpg hwy.
Standard Features & Options
The 2015 Volvo S60 is offered in T5 Drive-E FWD, T5 AWD, T6 Drive-E FWD and T6 R-Design AWD trim levels with a few optional packages.
The S60 T5 FWD ($34,225) comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, 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 support, 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 ($36,725) 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 ($37,475) contributes a rearview camera, a HomeLink garage door opener, power retractable side mirrors and a compass.
The T5 Platinum Package ($40,075) 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 $1,500 to any T5's bottom line.
The T6 ($30,075) boasts a more powerful engine, 18-in wheels, sport leather upholstery, a power sunroof and roughly the contents of the T5's Premier Package.
The T6 Premier Plus ($39,825) adds the same equipment as the T5 Premier Plus.
The T6 Platinum Package ($42,425) adds the same equipment as the T5 Platinum.
The T6 R-Design ($43,625) adds AWD, sport suspension, active HID headlights, a unique Blue Adaptive Digital TFT instrument cluster and R-Design seats, trim and exterior ground effects.
Finally, the T6 R-Design Platinum Package ($46,625) adds roughly the contents of the T5's Platinum Package.
Many of the fancier models' standard features are available on other models as options. Other features 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-designated Top Safety Pick.
The optional Technology Package adds a pedestrian detection system (also with automatic braking), driver drowsiness alert, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist and adaptive cruise control. Also available are a blind spot monitoring system, parallel park assist and a rear cross-traffic alert system.
Behind the Wheel
Volvo interiors have long been among the nicest, and the 2015 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 new Drive-E 4-cylinder engines are smooth and quiet, with the base T5 turbocharged engine offering acceptable acceleration and excellent fuel economy. We much prefer the turbocharged and supercharged T6 FWD, which offers impressive power, good fuel economy and, thanks to the supercharger, a good deal more low-end torque than the T5 engine.
Moving to AWD brings an unconventional 5-cylinder base engine, which has more than enough punch for most tastes, while the T6 R-Design's inline 6-cylinder is seriously quick. 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 steering 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.
Other Cars to Consider
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.