A midsize Volvo headed for the bargain bin — and worth a look | Scott Sturgis
The 2018 Volvo S60 has been around for a lot of years, but it still holds its own for acceleration, comfort, and especially for its sound system. And since dealers might be trying to unload them, here's a chance for price-conscious status seekers.
2018 Volvo S60 T5 AWD Inscription: The last hurrah before the big redesign.
Price: $47,715 as tested. The vehicle began at $38,950, but Climate Package (heated seats, steering wheel, windshield washer nozzles) added $1,300; metallic paint, $985; and 19-inch wheels, $750. One other exceedingly critical package is mentioned in "Play some tunes," below.
Marketer's pitch: "Special savings this month."
Conventional wisdom: Car and Driver likes the "cosseting ride, safety cred, fuel-efficient power trains," but not the "dated infotainment tech, lackluster performance from non-Polestar models, aging interior design," and adds, "This Swedish meatball isn't quite past its expiration date."
Reality: A chance at big savings? I like to save money as much as the next Mr. Driver's Seat.
What's new: We're always asking this question, but of all the cars I've purchased over the years, only two have been brand-new. Though the smell is awesome, the depreciation starts quickly. Sometimes the savings from buying a leftover smells even sweeter.
The Volvo S60 in this form has been around quite since 2011. A new S60 has been added for the 2019 model year, but the 2018 is still on sale, so let's see how we might like it.
Up to speed: The 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine creates an admirable 240 horsepower. The S60 rockets its way around on-ramps, highways, and country roads with great aplomb — 0-60 in 6.2 seconds, according to a Motor Trend review of a 2013 (yes, it's been that long). The Polestar engine Car and Driver raved about does it in 5.3. That second must really be important.
On the road: And the S60 T5 feels just fun enough while doing it. It doesn't produce butterflies, but it still holds the curves just right. The suspension offers a mostly smooth ride, although tall highway seams did break the sedan's composure a bit on high-speed curves.
And then there's Sport mode. The S60 turns into a lot more fun than a Volvo would be expected to be when switched into Sport mode.
Shifty: Running the car's 8-speed automatic transmission in manual mode can be almost more trouble than it's worth. Shifting really takes a lot of oomph, or at least did in the test vehicle.
Driver's Seat: The leather seat coverings feel just right, and the seat seemed to be custom built around Mr. Driver's Seat's seat.
The cockpit offers a pleasing experience, with attractive black and silver covering the dashboard with walnut trim. The speedometer — bright digits inside the tachometer — is easy to read, and trip information right there.
Play some tunes: My ears can't even begin to express my gratitude to Volvo for the week they were bathed in some of the best sound anywhere ever from the Harman Kardon premium stereo (part of the $4,200 Platinum Package, which also added Xenon headlights, adaptive cruise control, active high beam, and more). If that's the only way to get it, pay the price.
Volvo chose not to upgrade the S60's stereo system to the iPaddy interface used in the S90 and XC90, but fret not. Though quirky, the old-style system functions admirably. Handsome dials control volume and tuning, although a little too much button pressing must commence before things happen. And the old phone pad is just cute, like your grandparents who still snuggle on the couch.
Friends and stuff: Rear legroom is quite spacious, even for tall passengers.
The truncated trunk not only gives the S60 a Honda Civic appearance, but the trunk opening shrinks to a porthole. Someday, you'll wish Americans didn't hate hatchbacks so much; trust me.
Cargo space is 12 cubic feet.
Night shift: One small disappointment in that Platinum Package would be the Xenon headlights. The turning feature is delightful, and the lights are bright, but they cut off lower than I'd like. I even tried lowering the seat to get myself more in their umbra, but to no avail. Maybe that Platinum Package leaves a little to be desired.
Fuel economy: I averaged about 26 mpg in the usual Mr. Driver's Seat coverage area of highways and suburbs.
Where it's built: Chengdu, China.
How it's built: Consumer Reports gives the S60 a 3 out of 5 for predicted reliability.
In the end: The S60 may be long in the tooth and getting an update, but the previous generation is a worthy competitor in its category, especially for audiophiles. Might be worth trying to score a good deal on something sitting on the dealer's lot.