First Drive – 2017 Volvo S60 T5 AWD Dynamic

by Tony West and Bill P. 

The refreshed 2017 Volvo S60 attempts to stomp with the big dogs in the luxury sedan segment by offering more powertrain and infotainment technology and less lux. While the whip isn’t much to marvel at unless fully loaded, with the $1,500 Technology Package, the $1,000 Sport Package, the $1,950 Vision Package, and the $2,300 Navigation Package the AWD Volvo S60 is a great luxury vehicle – for $44k.

The preppy 5-seater seems to have shrunk a little, now with a stout sportier design. Some of the great safety innovations like City Safety Low Speed Collision Avoidance, Smart Stop, AWD and Corner Traction Control with Torque Vectoring sometimes work against the whips potentially athletic drivetrain and actually make cornering and braking more cumbersome during city driving at higher speeds.

2017 Volvo S60 Polestar
2017 Volvo S60 Polestar

What Volvo gets right with the new S60 is the stylish sportier design with LED lights, optional 19 inch Portia Diamond cut alloy wheels and a new bigger grille. The powertrain is very efficient too with an impressive 258 lb-ft of torque and a combined EPA of 26 mpg.

The S60 is a worthwhile competitor to the Lexus ES350h and the BMW 5 Series, but those vehicles have interiors with elevated luxury and tech features. Much of the stylish S60 features are add-ons.

We reviewed the 2017 Volvo S60 T5 AWD Dynmaic fully-loaded. I’m seeing a lot more Volvo’s on the road in Chicago these days. City drivers love the classy look and smooth efficient ride. Volvo just needs to add a bit more spunk to the interior like they did with their award-winning XC90.

Peep the highlights!

 

 

Youthful Design Means More Boldness

The refreshed 2017 Volvo S60 we reviewed has a vibrant Passion Red paint job with LED daytime running lights and standard 18-inch alloy wheels. The 2017 model is slightly more sloped and longer in the front which helps the whip zip down the highway and save more fuel.

2017 Volvo S60
2017 Volvo S60

Volvo reinvigorated their SUV family beautifully with opulent new designs. I’m hoping Volvo has a redesign for the S60 in the works that combines exclusive luxury with sportier performance. If the 2018 S60 is a high-performance sport sedan it should be more sloped or more like a fastback with additional chrome and functional intakes for added flair.

 

Efficient Performance Great for City Driving

The best part about the 2017 Volvo S60 is its super-efficient performance. That’s a major selling point for big cities like Chicago, LA and New York. It could even make a great ride sharing vehicle with its 31 mpg highway EPA (26 mpg combine/ 23 mpg city). Remote start is standard.

2017 Volvo S60
2017 Volvo S60

The whip boasts a 2.0 liter T5 engine with direct injection, and the Drive-E technology of low emissions and high performance. The peppy engine with start-stop technology boasts 240 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque at 1,500 rpm.

The S60 feels more efficient than sporty. Start-Stop saves a ton of fuel, great for dense city living. But with it on, jetting off from a standing stop will take longer, and left turns are cumbersome if you have to pause in the intersection. I actually rolled back once. With start-stop deactivated, the whip isn’t much more athletic. I hoped I could bob and weave in this smaller sedan, but instead it felt boxy.

The V6 is matched to an 8 speed geartronic automatic transmission with advanced quickshift. All-wheel drive with instant traction works well with Macpherson strut front suspension and multilink rear suspension to create a well-cushioned smooth easy ride in any road condition. Plus the whip is unibody-framed with high-strength steel.

The S60 also has dynamic driving technology like advanced electronic stability control, Corner Traction Control with Torque Vectoring and Ready Alert brake technology with ABS.

The S60 could use a drive mode selector to adjust steering, torque distribution, braking and suspension. This way I wouldn’t feel like the driving technology was muting my exploits. The S60 could benefit from some more unadulterated fun via an open throttle setting. Adjustable steering force auto increases with speed, but I wish I could throw this puppy into sport mode.

The powertrain seems to want to stunt, but shy of manual mode, most of the settings keep the whip tamed. The braking system felt mushy with a gentle tap, and when I hit hard, felt like a brick.

Safety features are next-level with standard City Safety with Low Speed Collision Avoidance, Park Assist, Park Assist Pilot, Trailer Stability Assist, emergency brake assist and a tire pressure monitoring system.

2017 Volvo S60 Polestar
2017 Volvo S60 Polestar

Tunnel Detection is also cool. When driving in a tunnel low, beams are auto activated. and deactivated 20 seconds after leaving. Active bending lights adjust to curve with the movements of the steering wheel. Road Sign Information will display the speed limit in the driver’s digital instrument cluster and alert when above the limit in a speed zone.

The Technology Package includes Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake, Distance Alert, Driver Alert Control, Lane Keeping Aid, Road Sign Information, Active High Beam, Rain Sensing Wipers and Adaptive Cruise Control. That’s a lot for just over a thousand dollars.

The Sport Package offers paddle shifters, a sport chassis, electric power steering personalization and 19-inch Portia Diamond Cut alloy wheels.

Adding the Vision Package will fit the S60 with a much needed blind spot information system, rear park assist sensors, keyless entry system, Homelink and a digital instrument cluster.

The most expensive add-on is the Navigation Package that includes Sensus Navigation and a premium Harmon Kardon sound system.

With nearly $5k in add-ons the S60 becomes a sporty luxury sedan. If the drivetrain was more robust the S60 could be a thrilling whip without the accessories. Instead it feels stifled by the features that can’t be adjusted.

 

Toned Down Interior with Unchanged Tech

The interior of the 2017 Volvo S60 looks very similar to the 2016 model. But there seems to be less legroom in the rear. Leather is standard but lacks flair. I wish there were some perforations or contrast stitching. Drivers have an 8-way power seat while front passengers have a manual seat. A leather-wrapped steering wheel is cool as is the milled aluminum inlay housing MyCar functions. The clean convex layout uses four knobs to control infotainment, telephone, and climate, and clusters buttons for navigation, the camera, media, safety technology, and the a/c in a center touchpad.

2017 Volvo S60 center stack
2017 Volvo S60 center stack

There is no need for numerical buttons in a 2017 vehicle. That space in the keypad could house more useful buttons. Drivers can use Bluetooth with less distraction so the number keypad is obsolete. Buttons for camera, heated seats, start-stop, forward collision alert and Wi-Fi are very useful, but they should be arranged more intuitively.

The rear has 60/40 split folding seats. And a moonroof is now standard as is the 2-zone climate control. The front seats can be heated for an extra $500.

Drivers have the same cool instrument cluster from previous models with three theme options for the digital display – Elegance, Eco, and Performance. The instrument cluster  in the 2017 S60 can display driving stats like average speed, range, trip, and digital compass and speed. The steering wheels has controls for the digital dash settings, audio and cruise control.

While front and rear legroom is scarce, storage is abundant in the S60 with compartments on the side of the center stack, front and rear center consoles and the doors. There’s also a 12 volt outlet in the trunk.

Volvo Seusus is standard technology that includes a Wi-Fi hotspot, a 7-inch LCD monitor for infotainment and a 3 gigs of data storage. The Sensus system offers streaming music via TuneIn and Baidu and geo-location services like Yelp and Wikilocations. Volvo On Call allows users to utilize remote start and adjust climate, locking and unlocking, navigation and vehicle services from a smartphone. Volvo On Call is now compatible with Apple Watch and Android wear and compatible with Windows 10.

The 2017 Volvo S60 also includes an 8 speaker 160-watt high performance audio system for HD radio, Bluetooth and Sirius XM Satellite radio. The premium Harmon Kardon system doesn’t bang enough to justify the extra costs.

The city-ready 2017 Volvo S60 offers more than meets the eye in terms of safety technology and infotainment. Those features can only get better with future models. For 2018-2019, designers need to decide if the S60 should be a sporty sedan with a modest interior and loads of performance and safety tech, or a luxury vehicle with a modest performance and tricked out cabin. Right now it straddles the fence of both.

Check out more photos of the 2017 Volvo S60 T5 AWD Dynamic on our Facebook Page!