by Tony West and Bill P.
Volvo’s 2015 S60 aims to prove that a sedan can be efficient, super safe, and a little macho. The new S60, with its six efficient engine options and a plethora of safety features is a great buy for $33k. Add the tech functional sophisticated interior, and the S60 can compete well with the Chevy Malibu, Ford Fusion, and Toyota Avalon. The S60 has hybrid-level fuel efficiency in all its chassis and engine options. We reviewed the S60 with the 2 liter T6 Drive E engine with 302 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. That’s a lot of power for a mid-sized sedan with a 28 mpg combined EPA (35 mpg highway, 24 mpg city).[divider]
Loyal Exterior Design
The exterior of the Volvo S60 is business as usual, but now with a wider grille and LED daytime running lights. The mid-sized sedan has a stout yet boxy shape I thought indicated a spacious interior. The S60 offers extended wheel options with personalization available. The S60 comes with 18 inch alloy wheels and all season tires.
The Volvo S60 R design has a more sporty appearance with a frameless tech matte black tech grille with high gloss black stripes and the “R” emblem. The lower R exterior has aero fins, special R tailpipes and 19 inch wheels.
The 2015 S60 also has four chassis options; Dynamic, Touring, Continuously Controlled Chassis Concept or Four-C, and the R sport chassis. The fully-loaded Volvo S60 we tested had the sport chassis with 19 inch BOR diamond cut wheels. The S60 utilizes a unibody high strength steel cage-super safe, but unforgiving with the already rigid sport chassis. Even when touring, I felt like I was bouncing around in a steel cage, with no resistance, and no cushion from bumps and potholes.[divider]
Efficient Powertrain not without Drawbacks
The Volvo S60 T6’s most unexpected advantage was its super efficient powertrain. The gas and diesel engine options are very efficient to have so much horsepower. The Volvo S60 we tested has a powerful 2.0 liter T6 Drive E engine with 302 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. The S60 could also be fitted with a six cylinder T6 engine with all-wheel drive. Also available is a T5 four cylinder Drive E engine, a five cylinder D5 turbo diesel engine, a D4 turbo diesel engine, and a 1.6 liter D2 diesel engine.
The turbocharged 2.0 liter T6 engine has direct injection and Start/Stop technology. Start/Stop technology is what gives the S60 a combined EPA of 28 mpg’s, and makes the S60 an Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle (ULEV). While Start/Stop technology isn’t new, I’ve never seen it work like it does in the Volvo S60. Start/ Stop technology allows the vehicle to partially shut off an idle engine and reduce electrical features like the A/C or audio. Start/ Stop technology in the S60 shuts down the engine and locks the wheel almost immediately after I remove my foot from the accelerator. Instead of being seamless, I only had a few seconds to either accelerate or brake to engage the vehicle. So when I was waiting in that left turn line in the middle of the intersection, my engine shut off; as it did sometimes when parking. Start/ Stop technology in the S60, albeit efficient, should be refined to activate with an engine idle for more than three minutes. The function cannot be adjusted, but it can be easily disabled with a button in the center stack. With a few adjustments, Start/ Stop technology could be just as effective as hybrid tech in the Ford Fusion or Skyactiv tech in the Mazda 6.
The 2 liter T6 engine is mated to an 8 speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters for manual mode. Aside from the aggressive Start/ Stop function, the S60 is a smooth quiet ride. The whip accelerates great. Braking is excellent. With Start/Stop disabled, the S60 is a tranquil ride, just with less pickup.
Dynamic driving technology makes the S60 safe and ride smooth. Dynamic Stability Traction Control, Corner Traction Control, and Traction Stability Assist help control the vehicle in adverse road conditions, preventing wheel spin and adding stability with towing. If the S60 were to slide while cornering, Active Yaw Control can brake individual wheels. When accelerating, Spin Control helps prevent wheels from spinning out. The Volvo S60 also has electronic power steering, electronic brakeforce distribution, and front Macpherson strut and rear multilink suspension.[divider]
Interior Functional and Sophisticated
The interior of the Volvo S60 has the Scandinavian simplistic tech-advanced design. Fully loaded, the leather trimmed interior has aluminum accents, two-tone heated leather sports seats, a heated steering wheel, and moonroof. The boxy frame doesn’t allow for a lot of interior legroom. The driver and front passenger sport seats are narrow, so it’s difficult for the driver to bend down while sitting.
Driving long distances wasn’t as comfortable as I expected. A 6-foot person would be uncomfortable in the backseat behind a tall driver or front passenger.
Drivers use an Adaptive Digital TFT Display with three themes. Each theme; Performance, Elegance, and Eco have their own distinctive color and layout. But each displays the same information, fuel gauge, ecometer, speedometer, power meter, and tachometer. It would’ve been nice if each theme displayed additional information
like oil life, tire pressure, or coolant temp.
The S60 also has power folding headrests, 60/40 folding rear seats and a power folding rear view mirror. Other cool features include rain sensing wipers, grocery bag holder, and the rear camera with two angles. The center stack has a sophisticated simplistic design with very few buttons. Yet it’s highly functional and cool looking.
A 7 inch LCD monitor in the center stack utilizes Sensus Connect cloud based services for point of interest searches, parking, and music streaming, and even reading aloud text messages. Connected Services Booking, a new Volvo app can suggest dealer maintenance. Also included with Sensus technology is a 12 speaker Harman Kardon sound system. Navigation features real time traffic.[divider]
Award-Winning Safety Tech
The 2015 Volvo S60 T6 features safety technology that makes it one of the safest sedans on the road and winner of the HIS Top Safety Pick. Safety features include front and rear Park Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control, ABS, Hill Start Assist, Driver Alert, and Que Assist. Safety features to the exterior lighting include Active Dual Xenon headlights (with washers) and Active High Beams that can shade part of the light if a car is approaching.
The Blind Spot Information Package includes the Blind Spot Information System, Lane Change Merge Aid, and Cross Traffic Alert. Lane Keeping Aid can apply steering torque if the S60 is drifting from its lane. City Safety, an upgraded Volvo feature auto brakes the S60 if the vehicle is too quickly approaching another vehicle. Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection activates a warning and emergency braking when sensors detect a cyclist or pedestrian swerve quickly in front of the car.
The S60 T6 Drive E sedan is a worthwhile buy for $38k; especially considering the fuel savings and safety features. Fully loaded, the S60 has a $48k sticker price – a little cringe-worthy. Up against efficient luxury sedans like the Toyota Avalon, Hyundai Genesis Hybrid, even the Honda Accord, the Volvo S60 has a tough battle. But if designers can correct the unforgiving body/frame and fine tune the Start/Stop technology, the S60 will be a force to be reckoned with in the near future.