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The Volvo S60 is an established yet unconventional member of the entry-level luxury sedan segment. It competes in a class dominated by cars with normally aspirated six-cylinder engines and bucks the trend by offering a choice of two turbocharged engines, an inline-5 and an inline-6.
Styling is another area in which the Volvo S60 is unique, as this midsize sedan's body lines show off a modern and pleasing Scandinavian design aesthetic. Inside, the S60 strikes one as more functional than luxurious in its ambience, but it's hard to find fault with its carefully considered ergonomics and orthopedically designed seats.
There have been two generations of the S60. Those considering the first generation as a used car should find it easy to like, though in its later years it became increasingly outclassed in terms of performance, features and interior room. The newer S60 is fully competitive, however, thanks to a sportier, more engaging drive and an improved interior.
Current Volvo S60
The 2012 Volvo S60 is a midsize luxury sedan available in three trim levels -- T5, T6 and T6 R-Design. Each successive trim brings a more powerful engine and sportier suspension tuning and styling accents.
Standard feature highlights of the T5 include 17-inch wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, an eight-way power driver seat, power-folding rear headrests, Bluetooth and a full-featured eight-speaker sound system. The T6 adds a more powerful engine, 18-inch wheels and leather upholstery. The T6 R-Design adds more power, a firmer suspension, special styling tweaks, adaptive bi-xenon headlights, a sunroof and sport seats. Optional highlights include keyless ignition/entry, a navigation system, a 12-speaker premium audio system, adaptive cruise control and a dual-screen rear seat entertainment system.
Power for the front-wheel-drive T5 is ably provided by a turbocharged inline-5 engine with 250 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque. The all-wheel-drive T6 comes with a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6 that produces 300 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque. Stepping up to the T6 R-Design again means all-wheel drive, along with a more powerful version of the same engine good for 325 hp and 354 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed automatic is standard across the board.
In reviews, we've found the latest S60 to be a comfortable, sophisticated and well-behaved luxury sedan with plenty of power regardless of trim level. The option of an all-wheel-drive version is nice for those who live in inclement areas of the country. The S60's only major drawback is a slightly cramped backseat compared to roomier rivals.
Used Volvo S60 Models
After a one-year hiatus, the S60 returned, redesigned for 2011. Initially, this current-generation S60 was available only in T6 form. The following year brought the entry-level T5 and high performance-themed T6 R-Design trim levels.
The first-generation Volvo S60 was produced from 2001-'09, and was a replacement for the S70. Initially, it was offered in base 2.4, midlevel 2.4T or range-topping T5 trims. The S60 2.4 came with a 2.4-liter five-cylinder engine that produced 168 hp. The turbo 2.4T had 197 hp. The most powerful engine was the 247-hp 2.3-liter five-cylinder in the T5. An all-wheel-drive model called the 2.4T AWD joined the family in '02, and all models received enhancements to traction control and engine management systems, resulting in improved response.
In 2003, the AWD sedan switched to the 208-hp 2.5-liter engine, prompting Volvo to rename it the 2.5T AWD. In '04, the hot-rod 300-hp R was added to the mix, sporting a sport-tuned adaptive suspension, 18-inch wheels, performance tires and bi-xenon headlights. All S60 Rs were all-wheel drive, and buyers could choose between a six-speed manual and a six-speed automatic. Also that year, the front-drive S60 2.4T became the 2.5T, as it, too, picked up the 2.5-liter engine.
For '05, the Volvo S60 received an exterior and interior refreshing. The T5 got a bump in hp to 257 and a few other upgrades. In '06, Volvo dropped the base 2.4 model and upgraded the 2.5T AWD model with a new all-wheel-drive system for enhanced traction. The following year, all '07 S60s received revised front fascia styling. For 2008, the high-performance R model was dropped, and no significant changes occurred for '09. There was no S60 for 2010.
In reviews, we found this S60 offered a ride biased more toward comfort than speed. Handling was adequate, but the limits were modest on 2.5T and T5 models. However, shoppers should take note of the many mechanical and equipment changes made through this generation's run, as newer models offered more performance and features. Judged on its own merits, the Volvo S60 should be satisfying to own, but savvy consumers should also check out the S60's many competitors as they may offer more refinement and, for enthusiasts, a more involving drive.
Read the most recent 2013 Volvo S60 review.
If you are looking for older years, visit our used Volvo S60 page.