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2013 Volvo S60: New Car Review

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author photo by Lee Ronson September 2012

Pros: The 2013 Volvo S60 T5 and T6 offer recognized safety leadership, responsive turbocharged engines, a well-appointed and comfortable interior, 5-year/50,000-mile warranty with no-cost maintenance and wear-and-tear coverage.

Cons: Limited storage in front seat area; trunk space a bit small; no manual gearbox for the sporty R-Spec model.

What's New: For 2013, the base S60 T5 5-cylinder is available with optional all-wheel drive; previously, buyers had to opt for the 6-cylinder S60 T6 model if they wanted AWD. Increased compression and turbo boost for the T5 5-cylinder and faster automatic shifts improve 0 to 60 mph performance by 0.4 seconds. Newly standard on the T5 are polished dual exhaust outlets, headlamp washers, rain-sensor windshield wipers and an illuminated gearshift. Heated rear seats are a new option on all trims. Platinum is the new top trim level.


The midsize S60 sedan has been Volvo's best-selling model. It combines a coupe-like shape and Scandinavian design with an unsurpassed safety reputation and engaging driving dynamics. Within that shapely coupe-like body, the 2013 Volvo S60 offers a just-right blend of comfort and luxury features that make the cabin a pleasant place for short jogs or extended journeys. Not any smaller or larger than it has to be, the S60 is a nimble performer with a choice of front- or all-wheel drive and three torque-rich turbocharged engines. The S60 has quick-ratio steering and technology such as torque vectoring, which gives added traction while cornering. It's capable of making fast work of your favorite stretch of road but will do so without jostling passengers, who are in the hands of a product manufactured with some of the most advanced safety technology money can buy.

Comfort & Utility:

For 2013, Volvo's S60 is offered in base S60 T5, S60 T6 AWD and S60 T6 R-Design AWD models. Standard-fare T5 features include a 250-horsepower inline-5 turbo engine; dual-zone climate control; leather-trimmed steering wheel and shifter; 17-inch alloy wheels; tilt/telescope steering wheel; cruise control; power driver's seat with memory and lumbar control; exterior LED accent lamps; 8-speaker HD audio system with 7-in display; Bluetooth phone interface with audio streaming; power door locks, mirrors and one-touch up/down windows; a split-folding rear seat; and SIRIUS satellite radio.

The T6 AWD adds standard all-wheel drive; a 300-hp inline-6 turbo engine; leather seats; a power passenger seat with lumbar control; power moonroof; keyless drive; 18-in alloy wheels; speed-sensitive steering; and a self-dimming rearview mirror.

The T6 R-Design AWD model is equipped with the Sport Chassis, larger 13.2-in front disc brakes, higher-output 325-hp inline-6 turbo engine, active dual-Xenon headlamps, large-diameter exhaust, R-Design grille, front spoiler, rear diffuser, sport seats and more.

Available on T5 only, the Premier Package adds popular features such as leather seating, a glass moonroof, power passenger seats, keyless drive and an auto-dimming mirror.

T5 and T6 AWD models include Premier Plus trim, which builds on the Premier Package and adds Xenon headlamps, park assist, Homelink garage door opener and a compass.

All S60s are available with the Platinum Package. It consists of a navigation system with voice control, back-up camera and a 12-speaker premium audio system with surround sound. A Climate Package option consisting of heated front seats, heated windshield washer nozzles and an interior air quality system is available as well.

Volvo interiors have long been some of the nicest in the industry, and the 2013 Volvo S60 is no exception with comfy, supportive front bucket seats your orthopedic doctor would recommend. The seats will cradle your shoulders, lower back, hips and thighs. A 2-in wheelbase stretch added crucial rear-seat legroom. Overall, the S60 cabin is on the tidy side, offering decent but not great room for four passengers, five in a pinch. We found the interior to be well appointed with lots of soft-touch materials and tasteful metallic accents. A unique floating center stack houses an anthropomorphic 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. The coupe-like roofline adds sportiness but doesn't help rearward visibility. S60's 12 cu-ft trunk is among the smallest in the midsize luxury segment.


The S60 model's standard Sensus system manages the sound system, Bluetooth phone connectivity, audio streaming and optional navigation system through a high-definition dash-mounted 7-in color screen and steering-wheel thumb-scrolls. The standard audio system includes HD radio; AUX and USB inputs; a CD player; and MP3 capability. SIRIUS satellite radio is standard and includes a 6-month complimentary subscription. Optional is a stand-alone dual-screen rear seat entertainment system for the peanut gallery.

Performance & Fuel Economy:

The 2013 Volvo S60 has an all-turbo engine lineup. That means good low- and mid-range responsiveness regardless of road speed, altitude or terrain. The good news is that unlike other European luxury cars that require premium, all of the S60's available engines run on less-expensive regular unleaded fuel. Whether you opt for the T5's 250-hp 2.5-liter inline-5 (with 266 lb-ft of torque at 1,800-4,200 rpm), the T6 AWD's 300-hp 3.0-liter inline-6 (with 325 lb-ft of torque at 2,100-4,200 rpm) or the R-Design's 325-hp version of the 3.0-liter six (with 354 lb-ft of torque at 3,000-3,600 rpm), the transmission is a 6-speed Geartronic automatic with sport mode. The automatic delivers quick, seamless shifts and can be manually controlled in sport mode. There is no manual transmission option. The best blend of performance (0 to 60 mph in 6.4 seconds) and fuel economy (21 mpg city/30 mpg highway with front-wheel drive or 20 mpg city/30 mpg highway with AWD) is the T5 5-cylinder. EPA-estimated mileage drops to 18-mpg city/26 mpg highway with the slightly more powerful T6 AWD 6-cylinder.


Volvo's been a leader in safety technology for more than a half century. The S60 is the only European luxury car with 5-star ratings in all National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) test categories. It's also an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Top Safety Pick. 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 mph or below by automatically priming or applying the brakes if closing velocity is excessive.

An optional technology package that previously consisted of a large laundry list of safety systems--such as collision warning and pedestrian protection with full automatic braking, distance alert, driver alert control, lane departure warning and adaptive cruise control with queue assist--now includes active high-beam control and road sign information. Also available is an optional blind spot detection system.

Driving Impressions:

The beauty of Volvo's S60 is its holistic combination of ride comfort and handling precision. Even over the roughest stretches of pavement, the body structure is solid, with no shaking felt in the steering column, floor or seats. 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. Volvo's brakes have long been some of the best, and the S60's 4-wheel anti-lock discs deliver stopping with no drama. The base suspension's shock absorbers are well tuned to absorb small road undulations while providing excellent body control over larger events. Optional on the T6 AWD only is the Four-C continuously controlled chassis concept, which adapts shock damping in real time according to vehicle speed and road conditions.

The Haldex all-wheel-drive system on T5 AWD and T6 AWD models electronically varies torque distribution to the front and rear wheels based on available traction.

Other Cars to Consider:

Acura TL: This entry from Honda's luxury division packs a lot of standard equipment for the money, but beaky styling might 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 well-equipped and sumptuously appointed cabin, turbocharged engines and a choice of front- or all-wheel drive.

Cadillac CTS: This midsize luxury car has a more aggressive personality, from its edgier looks to its harder-riding sport suspension. Interior materials and comfort don't reach Volvo levels.

Auto Trader Recommends:

The 2013 Volvo S60 sedan offers a lot of technology for the dollar. But a $40K luxury car without navigation doesn't feel right. Opt for the Platinum package, which adds high-resolution navigation plus a power passenger seat with lumbar adjustment to keep passengers on the right side of the car happy. The 2013 Volvo S60 T5 5-cylinder turbo has plenty of power for climbing hills and merging onto freeways, and its 30-mpg highway fuel economy rating from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) won't break the bank when it's time to fill up at the pump. Volvo's AWD system is seamless. It's a good choice for buyers living in places where unexpected weather changes are a concern.

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Used 2013 Volvo S60 T5 Premier
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Used 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD
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2013 Volvo S60: New Car Review - Autotrader