The 2018 Volvo S60 is something of an elder statesman in the premium compact sedan class, having debuted for the 2011 model year. Luckily, Volvo has kept it relevant not only with elegant styling, but by adding advanced safety features and modern engines. The range includes a stretched Inscription version and a high-performance Polestar model, so there’s plenty of choice.
There’s also the S60 Cross Country, an all-wheel-drive version with a raised suspension, which is reviewed separately.
What’s New for 2018?
Nothing major. See the 2018 Volvo S60 models for sale near you
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 controls and audio controls
For the front-wheel-drive model, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates fuel economy at 25 miles per gallon city, 36 mpg highway and 29 mpg combined. These figures also apply to the front-drive Inscription version. When this engine is linked to the optional all-wheel drive system, fuel consumption is estimated at 22 mpg city/33 mpg hwy/26 mpg combined.
The 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine in the T6 is turbocharged and supercharged to generate 302 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. An 8-speed automatic transmission sends this energy to all four wheels. The EPA numbers run to 22 mpg city/32 mpg hwy/26 mpg combined.
The high-performance Polestar variant has the same turbo/supercharged engine, but it’s boosted here to 362 hp and 347 lb-ft, and has all-wheel drive as standard. The 8-speed automatic transmission in this car has steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. Fuel consumption is 20 mpg city/27 mpg hwy/22 mpg combined.
Standard Features & Options
The 2018 Volvo S60 comes in T5 Dynamic, T6 AWD R-Design and Polestar versions, along with a few option packages. Longer-wheelbase Inscription models come in T5 form only ("base" and Platinum). All-wheel drive is available in any T5 model.
The T5 Dynamic ($35,095) has 18-inch alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights, automatic xenon headlights, remote start, rain-sensing wipers, heated mirrors, dual-zone climate control, powered sunroof, leather seating surfaces, leather-wrapped steering wheel (tilt-telescopic) and shifter, cruise control, 8-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with lumbar support and memory settings, self-dimming rearview mirror, ambient cabin lighting, power-folding rear headrests, 8-speaker audio system with 7-in display, HD/satellite radio, smartphone integration, Wi-Fi, USB, auxiliary audio input, Bluetooth phone and audio and split-folding rear seats.
The T5 Inscription ($37,945) has most of the above as standard, along with navigation, driver-configurable gauges, rearview camera, rear sunshades, extra sound insulation and a cabin air filtering system.
The T5 Inscription Platinum ($42,145) adds adaptive xenon headlights, keyless entry/ignition, rearview camera, power-folding side mirrors, higher-quality front seats, 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-drive versions. There is no Platinum version of the regular S60.
The T6 AWD R-Design ($48,945) builds on things with the gutsier engine, 19-in wheels, sportier suspension tune, all-wheel drive, special R-Design sport seats/trim/aero kit and pretty much everything in the Platinum package.
The Polestar ($60,995) comes with virtually all equipment mentioned so far, plus its own aero kit and interior treatment, bespoke engine tune, stronger front brakes and 20-in alloy wheels.
Many standard features in higher-spec models are available as options further down the pecking order. Other features include the Technology Package (adaptive cruise control, collision mitigation with automatic braking and various other safety systems), Climate Package (heated seats, heated steering wheel, heated windshield washer nozzles and an interior air quality system), plus a dual-screen rear entertainment system.
Trunk space of 12 cu ft. is among the smallest in this segment.
In addition to a full complement of airbags, side impact protection and whiplash protection systems, there’s City Safety — technology that can minimize or prevent collisions at 31 miles per hour or below 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 (IIHS).
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. A blind spot monitoring system, parallel park assist and a rear cross-traffic alert system are also available.
Behind the Wheel
The S60 has a typical Volvo interior — well appointed, with lots of soft-touch materials and tasteful metallic accents, plus comfortable, supportive front bucket seats. The sloping roofline adds sportiness, but doesn’t help rearward vision. Inscription models have an extra 3.4 inches of rear legroom.
A "floating" center stack houses a stylish climate control panel and infotainment controls. Buyers can warm things up by selecting Urbane Wood inlays from managed forests of non-threatened species.
The engines are smooth and quiet, the T5 offering acceptable acceleration and excellent fuel economy. The turbocharged and supercharged T6 makes impressive power (more low-end torque than the T5, thanks to the supercharger) and good fuel economy.
The beauty of the S60 lies in its comfort and precision. Over the roughest stretches of pavement, the ride remains 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
2018 Audi A4 — One of the top choices in the class, with plenty of technology available.
2018 BMW 3 Series — The 3 Series strikes a fine balance between comfort and athleticism, and has an excellent range of turbocharged engines. A new generation is due for 2019.
2018 Cadillac ATS — Polished, capable and loaded with presence.
2018 Jaguar XE — Supple and speedy. An intriguing alternative to Germany’s finest.
2018 Mercedes-Benz C-Class — Luxurious, refined, capable and offered with a lot of available tech.
2018 Lexus IS — Someone would have to make an extreme effort to find a bad choice in this class. Build quality is wonderful and the dealership experience is one of the best out there.
Used Audi A6 — Incredibly well-rounded and accomplished. Superb equipment levels and even more space. A certified pre-owned (CPO) version also comes with a great warranty.
Since the only real gripe with the regular S60 is the shortage of rear passenger space, an Inscription version fixes that straight away. Add the Technology package for the most safety features and whatever else the budget can handle. There’s a new generation on the horizon, however, anticipated for 2019 or 2020.