2012 Volvo S60 T5: Liking It More, Not Less
January 12, 2012
I drove our long-term 2012 Volvo S60 T5 last weekend and then took off for the Detroit Auto Show and didn't bother to blog on it. Well, here's my attempt to make up for that.
I've been lukewarm on this car in spite of its interesting shape and bronzy cantelope paint, but my expectations were out of sync with reality: At least in T5 form, the S60 is one of those cars that's more about the total experience than any one (exciting) aspect.
Photo by Scott Jacobs
Even with 250 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque, the turbo inline-5 feels lazy and sounds like a diesel (but doesn't deliver diesel-like mpg). There's a noticeable delay when you punch the throttle off the line or when cruising in traffic, and it feels like it's a combination of turbo lag and the six-speed automatic transmission's software. Would a manual transmission (not available in the U.S.) make it better? I can't stop imagining that it would.
But, but, I said I'd started liking the car more, didn't I? And, well, there is plenty of torque to work with once the turbocharger is making full boost, and while the S60 T5 is far from the quickest car in its class, acceleration is respectable, as our track test attests, and typical passing and merging maneuvers are easy.
Also, the S60 T5's ride quality is spot-on for Southern California freeways. It's compliant enough to be comfortable over broken pavement, yet it's still very controlled. I like the steering, too. The effort level is always appropriate, and there's good feel on-center and when turning into cloverleaf freeway interchanges.
Finally, the seats in this car are excellent, and I'm not just parroting some old Volvo cliche. Nope, they're well-shaped and supportive, and I've never once felt discomfort while sitting in this car.
Add all this together, and I think you (and I) have to say that this is a pleasurable commuter car... even if it isn't exactly the car I want it to be. Any cars that you've driven or owned that took you a while to warm up to -- that were ultimately more than the sum of their parts?
Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 11,250 miles