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2016 Volvo S60: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader June 2016

The 2016 Volvo S60 is Sweden's contribution to the midsize luxury sedan scene. Noted for its clean, simple styling and comprehensive safety features, this is a prime example of a car that's as enjoyable as an Audi A4 or Lexus IS but far less common.

This year sees a novel idea for the class, a longer-wheelbase Inscription version. It was originally built for the Chinese market, but Volvo has decided to see how it might fare in the U.S. And there's also a Polestar version. Polestar used to be an independent tuning house in Sweden that prepared Volvo cars for racing, but it's since come under the corporate wing.

What's New for 2016?

The S60 Inscription joins the ranks, with a 3-inch extension to its wheelbase for more rear legroom than the regular car. The high-performance Polestar version is available on special order. Changes have been made to standard equipment and optional extras throughout the range. The fold-flat front passenger seat is discontinued. And the 6-cylinder engine in the T6 R-Design all-wheel-drive (AWD) model is being replaced by a 4-cylinder T6 Drive-E version.

What We Like

Responsive engines; excellent fuel economy; well-appointed and stylish interior; great front seats; 5-year/50,000-mile warranty with no-cost maintenance plus wear-and-tear coverage

What We Don't

Tight back seat in the regular version; modest trunk space; lack of differentiation between ventilation and audio control; the most fuel-efficient engines cannot be linked to AWD

How Much?

$35,090 to $60,240

Fuel Economy

The S60 T5 Drive-E front-wheel-drive model has a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine making 240 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. An 8-speed automatic transmission is standard, along with a stop/start feature. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates fuel economy at 26 miles per gallon in the city and 38 mpg on the highway. The Inscription version returns 25 mpg city/37 mpg hwy.

The T5 AWD uses a 2.5-liter turbocharged inline 5-cylinder engine developing 250 hp and 266 lb-ft of torque. This is coupled to a 6-speed automatic transmission. EPA figures are 20 mpg city/29 mpg hwy for both the regular and Inscription models.

The T6 Drive-E has a turbocharged and supercharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that generates 302 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. An 8-speed automatic transmission sends power to the front wheels. EPA estimates are 23 mpg city/33 mpg hwy.

T6 R-Design AWD models built early in the 2016 cycle have a 3.0-liter inline 6-cylinder engine turbocharged to produce 325 hp and 345 lb-ft of torque -- there might still be few of these on sale. The transmission is a 6-speed automatic. Fuel consumption is 18 mpg city/27 mpg hwy.

Later 2016 T6 R-Design AWD models have the same turbo and supercharged engine and 8-speed automatic as the front-wheel-drive version. Fuel figures are naturally a tad different at 22 mpg city/31 mpg hwy.

The high-performance Polestar variant brings the 325-hp 3.0-liter inline 6-cylinder back into play. The 6-speed automatic transmission in this car has steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters; fuel consumption remains at 18 mpg city/27 mpg hwy.

Standard Features & Options

The 2016 Volvo S60 comes in T5 Drive-E, T5 AWD, T6 Drive-E, T6 R-Design AWD and T6 R-Design Polestar trim levels, plus a few optional packages. Inscription models come in T5 form only (Premier and Platinum), with the option of all-wheel drive.

The T5 Drive-E ($35,090) comes standard with 17-in alloy wheels, LED running lamps, automatic headlights, rain-sensing wipers, heated mirrors, dual-zone climate control, a leather-trimmed tilt-telescopic steering wheel and shifter, cruise control, an 8-way power driver's seat with lumbar support and memory settings, power-folding rear headrests, an 8-speaker audio system with a 7-in display, HD Radio, satellite radio, smartphone integration, Wi-Fi, a USB port, an auxiliary audio input, Bluetooth phone and audio and split folding rear seats.

The T5 AWD ($36,590) naturally adds all-wheel drive to the mix, plus that different engine.

A Premier package, available on either of the above models, adds chromed trim framing the side windows, leather upholstery, a sunroof, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, navigation and driver-configurable gauges.

The S60 T5 Drive-E Inscription Premier ($39,840) starts out with most of the above as standard and adds 18-in alloy wheels, higher-quality front seats, rear parking sensors, rear sunshades, ambient interior lighting, extra sound insulation and a cabin air-filtration system.

The S60 T5 Drive Inscription Platinum ($42,840) adds adaptive xenon headlights, keyless entry/ignition, a rearview camera, power-folding side mirrors, a 12-speaker Harman Kardon surround-sound system and more sophisticated electronic safety features (listed in the Technology package below). A self-parking system is included for front-wheel-drive versions. There is no Platinum version of the regular S60.

The T6 Drive-E ($40,390) has a more powerful engine, 18-in wheels, a sportier suspension tune, sport seats and pretty much everything in the T5's Premier package. A Platinum package is available for T6 models.

The T6 R-Design AWD ($45,140) adds all-wheel drive, 19-in alloy wheels and R-Design seats, trim and aero kit.

The T6 R-Design AWD Polestar ($60,240) comes with all the Platinum equipment, its own aero kit and interior treatment, stronger front brakes and 20-in alloy wheels.

Many of the higher-spec models' standard features are available as options further down the pecking order. Other add-ons include the Technology Package (adaptive cruise control, collision mitigation with automatic braking and various other safety systems), the Climate Package (heated seats, a heated steering wheel, heated windshield washer nozzles and an interior air quality system) and a dual-screen rear entertainment system.

The S60's trunk space of 12 cu ft. is among the smallest in the midsize luxury segment.

Safety

In addition to a full complement of airbags, side-impact protection and whiplash protection systems, there's Volvo's City Safety technology, which can minimize or prevent collisions at 31 or fewer miles per hour by automatically priming or applying the brakes if necessary.

The S60 earned perfect 5-star ratings in all federal crash-test categories. It's also been named a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

The optional Technology Package adds a pedestrian-detection system (also with automatic braking), driver drowsiness alert, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist and adaptive cruise control. Also available are a blind spot monitoring system, parallel-park assist and rear cross-traffic alert.

Behind the Wheel

The S60 has a typical Volvo interior -- well appointed, with lots of soft-touch materials, tasteful metallic accents and comfortable, supportive front bucket seats. The sloping roof line adds sportiness but doesn't help rear visibility.

A floating center stack houses a stylish climate control panel and infotainment controls. Buyers can warm things up by selecting Urbane Wood inlays made of wood sourced from managed forests and non-threatened species of trees.

The Drive-E 4-cylinder engines are smooth and quiet, the T5 offering acceptable acceleration and excellent fuel economy. The turbocharged and supercharged T6 makes impressive power, with more low-end torque than the T5 thanks to the supercharger, and gets good fuel economy.

The 6-speed automatic could be a little quicker to respond, but it's refined enough for this segment.

The beauty of the S60 lies in its comfort and precision. Even over the roughest stretches of pavement, the ride is composed. The speed-sensitive steering in T6 models has driver-selectable modes, but even the T5 models' variable-assist steering works well. The basic suspension is tuned to absorb small undulations while providing excellent body control over larger lumps. The optional sport-tuned suspension is never harsh, and its responsiveness is worth the slightly firmer feel.

Other Cars to Consider

2017 Audi A4 -- A new generation is arriving with the 2017 model, which comes out in 2016. It's already making waves.

2016 BMW 3 Series -- The 3 Series strikes a fine balance between comfort and athleticism and has an excellent range of turbocharged engines.

2016 Cadillac ATS -- The ATS is polished, capable and loaded with presence.

2017 Jaguar XE -- An intriguing alternative to Germany's finest, the XE is supple and speedy.

2016 Mercedes-Benz C-Class -- A fresh generation came along in 2015. It's now more luxurious, refined, capable and better equipped than it's ever been.

2016 Lexus IS -- Someone would have to make an extreme effort to find a bad choice in this class. New turbo engines join the IS range, build quality is wonderful, and the dealership experience is one of the best out there.

Used Audi A6 -- The A6 is incredibly well-rounded and accomplished, with superb equipment offerings and even more space. A certified pre-owned version also comes with a great warranty.

Autotrader's Advice

The T5 with the Premier package seems like a decent choice. Volvo's attempts at sportiness are not so convincing as, say, BMW's. But if comfort and class are your main priorities, the S60 is well worth checking out.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2016 Volvo S60: New Car Review - Autotrader