Full 2009 Volvo S60 Review
What's New for 2009
The 2009 Volvo S60 returns with many of last year's options included among the standard features and manual shift control added to the automatic transmissions.
Among entry-level midsize luxury sedans, the 2009 Volvo S60 is getting up there in years. After nine years without a full redesign, this is likely the last or penultimate year of the current generation -- relegating the 2009 S60 to lame duck status within its segment.
That's not to say the S60 is a bad car, per se. This four-door Volvo still has a few things going for it, including comfortable front seats, a supple ride quality and the company's reputation for excellent passenger safety. However, when compared to more recently refreshed vehicles from Japanese and German manufacturers, this Swedish sedan is simply dated.
The Volvo's turbocharged inline-5, for instance, is simply no match for the competition's larger-displacement six-cylinder engines. Likewise, the soft and comfortable ride quality makes long distance drives effortless, but other sedans are just as comfortable yet much more enjoyable to drive from a handling and steering standpoint. The interior, while functional, is also a bit outdated -- even by Volvo standards -- as it lacks the visually stunning "waterfall" center console found in the S60's stablemates.
For these reasons, we suggest taking a look at other sedans like the Acura TL, Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, Hyundai Genesis, Infiniti G37 and Lexus ES and IS. Unless time is at a premium, even holding out for the next-generation S60 may make more sense.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2009 Volvo S60 is a midsize entry-level luxury sedan with seating for five. It is offered in three trim levels -- the base 2.5T, the 2.5T AWD and the more powerful T5.
The 2.5T comes with 16-inch alloy wheels, a sunroof, leather upholstery, power front seats with memory for the driver, dual-zone automatic climate control, a tilt and telescoping steering wheel, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and a six-speaker, satellite radio-ready audio system with a CD/MP3 player and an auxiliary audio jack. As its name implies, the 2.5T AWD adds all-wheel drive but is otherwise identical to the 2.5T with the exception of a different wheel design. Stepping up to the S60 T5 provides a sport-tuned suspension, 17-inch alloy wheels, a rear spoiler, adaptive xenon headlights, a 13-speaker premium surround sound system with a six-CD changer, rear parking assist, aluminum interior trim and revised instrumentation.
Many of the T5's features are available for the 2.5 and 2.5T models as packaged options. Additional options for all models include Bluetooth, a navigation system, rain-sensing wipers and heated front seats. Options for the T5 include 18-inch wheels and a two-tone interior.
Powertrains and Performance
The S60 2.5T has a turbocharged, 2.5-liter inline-5 rated for 208 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed automatic transmission with manual shift control (Geartronic) is standard with all engines, and it routes power either to the front wheels or all four on the all-wheel-drive (2.5T AWD) model. The front-wheel-drive-only S60 T5 has a slightly smaller 2.4-liter inline-5 but uses a higher-boost turbocharger, helping it produce 257 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque.
Volvo claims 0-60-mph acceleration times of 6.9 and 7.2 seconds for the 2.5T and 2.5T AWD, respectively, and 6.6 seconds for the T5. Fuel economy comes in at an EPA estimated 19 mpg city/28 mpg highway and 23 mpg in combined driving for the front-wheel-drive 2.5T. The 2.5 AWD and the T5 rate just a few miles per gallon less.
In keeping with Volvo's reputation for passenger protection, the 2009 S60 comes with a wide array of standard safety equipment that includes antilock disc brakes with brake assist, stability control, front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, whiplash-reducing front head restraints and Volvo's OnCall telematics. Rear parking assist is optional.
In government crash testing, the S60 earned four out of five stars for frontal impact protection and a perfect five-star rating for side impact protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the S60 its best rating of "Good" for frontal offset impacts, while side impact tests resulted in a second-best rating of "Acceptable."
Interior Design and Special Features
The 2009 Volvo S60's interior is functional and slightly upscale, thanks to the now standard leather upholstery and added rear-shelf speakers. Controls have a positive feel, but Volvo's use of icons and symbols rather than spelling out button functions tends to be a bit cryptic at first. Front occupants will find the orthopedically designed seats comfortable even for long periods, but rear passengers may find legroom lacking. Trunk space measures 13.9 cubic feet, and the 60/40-split rear seats fold down when additional cargo space is needed.
Most drivers will find the 2009 Volvo S60 2.5T delivers sufficient power for everyday driving, but pilots with a penchant for more performance will find it on the weak side. Opting for the T5 model will provide added might, but it also comes with a pronounced turbo lag that tends to bog down initial acceleration. Handling suffers the same fate, with mediocre cornering abilities compared to sportier rivals. Despite having a softer suspension than competing models, the S60 isn't nearly as well-planted when encountering road bumps and imperfections. Braking, however, is impressive.