2012 Volvo S60 Long-Term Road Test

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2012 Volvo S60 T5: Welcome to the Future

June 07, 2012

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Over this past memorial day weekend my wife and I logged almost 900 miles in the S60.While en route to Mammoth Lakes with three other cars full of friends, I finally accepted technology and shoved myself into 2012.

Let me explain. I don't drive long term cars much, and my personal vehicles include two thirty year old cars and a motorcycle. Things like nav, bluetooth, heated seats, and dual-zone-dvd-lane-departure-assist are not the norm. Take cruise control for example. When I'm taking a long trip in a modern car, I rarely set the cruise - I just forget. Now enter the the S60 and an adaptive cruise control system. To my stuck-in-the-80s mentality I might as well have been in a Mr. Fusion-powered DeLorean. Mile after mile ticked by, with us locked onto the rear of the caravan. Accel, decel, lasers, computing, data. How does this happen? The true test came when entering town. The tangerine swede slowed...slowed...slowed...and stopped behind a 4runner at a light. Now would it accelerate and resume the trip? It did.

Now that my mind is blown - how long do you think we're from driver input being a program or function without any pedal or wheel manipulation?

John Adolph, Senior Multimedia Editor @ 19,169 miles

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2012 Volvo S60 T5: Cozy

June 04, 2012

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While driving our orange Volvo S60 this weekend, my husband was surprised at how snug the interior is. The S60 doesn't feel large inside, which I kind of like. The kids in the back seat didn't feel like they were miles away from us, but we didn't feel cramped, either. It was cozy. Coupled with the car's warm golden-orange paint, the feeling conjured the image of a ginger tabby curled up, all snug and safe.
Bryn MacKinnon, Senior Editor, Edmunds.com @ 19,300 miles

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2012 Volvo S60 T5: Backseat Action

May 23, 2012

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Our 2012 Volvo S60 T5 saw a lot of backseat action during the road trip this weekend. My dog Mya occupied it for the 800-mile round trip on the highway while my dad and brother sat back there for the around-town excursions.

Since it was about 100 degrees or so up in Sacramento, getting cool air to the backseat occupants asap was critical, especially after the car had been sitting out in the afternoon sun for hours. Thankfully there are air vents on the B-pillars and I could point the large center air vent on the dash toward the rear for even more effective cooling.

First, the dog report...

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2012 Volvo S60 T5: The Tractor People

May 08, 2012

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Driving north through the low, rolling land north of Merced, open range at first and then the cut-up country where the Merced River slows down after it comes out of Yosemite and then along the river under the oaks toward Snelling, I figured out that it was all very much not like Los Angeles.

Maybe this is why the 2012 Volvo S60 was so good to drive.

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2012 Volvo S60 T5: Driver Detail

April 23, 2012

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Overall, the S60's total package doesn't feel quite as reactive as a 3 Series. The Volvo's five-cylinder sounds just slightly coarse and it doesn't change direction as fast as the class benchmark. But the S60 probably also doesn't get its due credit for being a real driver's car.

The steering wheel's scalloped, nearly-flat sides, for example, infuse the S60 with a measure of sport that complements that rest of its driver-centric controls and comforts. It's a small detail and, one could argue, slightly poseur-ish. But it's a small detail enhanced by the fun that the S60 can unleash when you roll on its throttle with some conviction.

Many buyers in this segment would probably opt for the 3 Series out of familiarity, perceived status, or genuine appreciation for the badge, the S60 presents a nice alternative: a small sacrifice in overall dynamic ability for traditional Volvo goodness like innovative standard safety features, quality cabin and the fact that you won't find yourself lined up against four identical models in the evening rush hour.

Dan Frio, Automotive Editor

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2012 Volvo S60 T5: Noisy Air Conditioning

February 14, 2012

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Parking our longterm 2012 Volvo S60 in Edmunds Intergalactic Headquarters parking garage yesterday, I noticed a distinct groany noise that was vaguely reminiscent of the power steering in my first car.

That car, an '82 Olds Cutlass Supreme, had a perpetual power steering leak (among others) that at the time I was too poor to fix. Even finding gas money was like an easter egg hunt at each fuel stop. I'd search for loose change under the seats, carpet, in the trunk, jammed in the dash, etc. Back to the leak. Over time the power steering pump would develop a groan when you turned the wheel. That was how I gauged the fluid level, actually.

Anyway, memories. Our Volvo elicts them. I switched its a/c off and on to try to pinpoint the noise it made, and, sure enough, doing so made the groan come and go. It's not really the worrying kind of noise, but it is peculiar given how quiet modern cars usually are.

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor

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2012 Volvo S60 T5: Seat Comfort

January 24, 2012

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I used to own a 2002 Volvo S60. I didn't choose it, I got it by marriage, and besides the fact that it was the base 168-horsepower 2.4-liter inline-5 (ugh, compared to the available turbos), I really disliked the car for one specific reason: seat comfort.

And I mean seats all around. The rear seats had zero legroom, but that was primarily my daughter's problem.

The front seats were roomier, but I never had any luck maneuvering them into a comfortable position. Not the driver's seat with its power controls, or the nightmarish passenger side's manual controls.

That S60 hung around my house for seven long years, and we never got over our differences.

Which probably makes me appreciate the driving comfort of our long-term 2012 S60 even more.

Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 12,115 miles

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2012 Volvo S60 T5: Loud AC

January 16, 2012

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"What was that?" Riswick says as this raspy metal-on-metal grinding noise starts up right when I tip into the throttle.

We're carpooling and inching along in the usual nightmarish traffic on the 10 freeway (caused by the even more nightmarish traffic on the 405) and then all of a sudden the noise happens. It sounds like the noise they use to let the audience know that a movie serial killer is about to strike. It sounds like knives sharpening. James didn't notice that between the first few starts and this one I'd turned on the AC.

The noise happens for just under a second right as you transition from idle to on-throttle. Smash the go pedal and there's no such noise. Ease into it to avoid hitting the car in front of you and there it is again. It's a noise I've heard on some newer AC systems, ones with fancy clutches to try and be as un-parasitic as possible, but this one happens slightly more often and slightly louder. It's noticeable with talk radio on, but inaudible with music.

I don't think it's broken, just annoying in a car with so few actual faults.

Mike Magrath, Features Editor

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2012 Volvo S60 T5: Liking It More, Not Less

January 12, 2012

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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

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2012 Volvo S60 T5: Put Away Childish Things

November 02, 2011

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Last night was my first time driving our 2012 Volvo S60 T5, and I instantly liked it. It's hard for me to isolate any one thing that makes me feel that this is a car I'd buy. It's a combination of driveability, ergonomics and intuitive controls (although I'm a little worried by Brent's observation that the more you use the interface, the more annoying it is). Our review says the car has "cosseting" front seats, and that's no lie.

Overall, this seems like a car for a grown up: It doesn't need to shout or use gimmickry to win your admiration. Its understated elegance and performance do the job.

What are the cars that you love now, but would never have appealed to you when you were a driving newbie?

Carroll Lachnit, Features Editor @7,179 miles

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2012 Volvo S60 T5: Form and Function

October 25, 2011

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Stylish design is one thing. Stylish design that still manages to remain functional is much better. As you can see here, the S60's door panel looks like someone took some time to make it look like more than just your average armrest/window switch/handle. Nice, that's the way it should be on a car in this class.

Thankfully, they didn't go overboard though. The handle is still in the right place, the window switch is right where it should be and there's even a padded armrest. I've driven a few luxury cars lately that seemed to forget that you need to close the door once you open it with door handles moved too far forward to get any leverage. Weird window switches, rock hard armrests and tiny release latches are other common casualties when the designers get too cute. This is a good compromise between the two.

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Edmunds.com

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2012 Volvo S60: Seat Heater Season Is Back!

October 24, 2011

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When the weather gets crisp, you know what that means: It's time for seat heaters. Yay!

I know what you're thinking. "You use them all year long, Donna." And you'd be right. But for those of you who can't stand the thought of a toasty butt in summer, it's time now to start warming those buns.

Our Volvo S60 has three levels of seat heat, all of which, unfortunately, are too subtle for my tastes. On the highest setting they get only lukewarm. And I would prefer if they radiated further up my back. It's not the seat cushions that I enjoy hot as much as the back rest. They are so comforting early in the morning. And they also help you relax on the way home after a long day of desk jockeying.

OK, obligatory seat heater post ends here.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor @ 6,898 miles

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2012 Volvo S60 T5: I Want to Drive It

October 03, 2011

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This photo is misleading. It looks like our long-term 2011 Volvo S60 T5 has a mechanical problem. A serious mechanical problem.

But it doesn't. In fact, our S60 has been dead reliable. It hasn't even used a drop of oil yet. I know. I've checked its old school dipstick myself, right before I took the aformentioned misleading image.

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2012 Volvo S60 T5: The Uncommon Choice

September 09, 2011

volvo_s60_dealer.jpg I like driving our Volvo S60. I like the interior design, the supportive seats and the power from turbocharged inline-5. Plus, it's not a 3 Series/A4/C-Class/IS which, in Southern California at least, is a nice bonus. It seems like even Starbucks baristas drive BMWs these days. Cars off the beaten path deserve a little extra love as long as they're competitive.

I was driving around yesterday and even had a friend of mine wave to me as he was driving the other way. I guess I was pretty easy to spot seeing as how a pumpkin orange 2012 Volvo S60 with Jersey plates is a rare bird out here.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

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2012 Volvo S60 T5: Road Trip Report

September 06, 2011

volvo_s60_trip1.JPG Last week I wrote how I'd be using our Volvo S60 for a family road trip over the holiday weekend. Volvo + family + road trip; it's a combination that can result in nothing other than awesome...right?

At first, my wife was excited about the S60. I think she had envisioned tweed jackets, an old boxy 850 wagon with New Hampshire plates and maybe even two golden retrievers jumping in and out of the back. But that was before I had packed the S60 to the brim, and there was still gear left over that we couldn't bring. In fact, the combination of a smallish entry-luxury sedan and our growing family (4-year-old daughter, 4-month-old son and all of the crap you need to bring along for a 4-month-old) was not a particularly good one.

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2012 Volvo S60 T5: Lumbar Support

August 30, 2011

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The S60's seats are among the most comfortable I've experienced, perfectly supportive even over longer stretches of travel.

As shown above, many of the seat controls are power-adjustable, located on the base of the seat by the door. Not so with the lumbar support, though...

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2012 Volvo S60 T5: The Drive Home

August 11, 2011

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I drove our long-term 2012 Volvo S60 T5 to Yountville and back (some 862 miles) for a First Drive of the forthcoming 2012 Volvo S60 R-Design I showed you here. For a few more snap-shots (that are meant to be saturated and artsy, thank you) plus the final fuel tally, click past the jump.


I left Yountville with a full tank of premium,

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2012 Volvo S60 T5: Kudos to Tall Swedes!

August 03, 2011

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After yesterday's tale of the Fiat 500 and its headroom-robbing sunroof comes a car perfectly suited for tall folks like me. The Volvo S60 ticks all the boxes for me. Tons of seat bottom tilt for added thigh support and extra room? Check. Huge amount of wheel telescoping allowing for comfortable arm bend? Check. Can I still reach the center stack controls? Check. Sunroof chewing into headroom? Nope.

Frankly, it shouldn't be surprising that the S60 and Volvos in general are ideal for tall people when they hail from a country filled with lanky dudes like this. Sure, everyone's not exactly an Alexander Skarsgård, but the average Swedish male is still a half inch shy of 6 feet tall. For comparison, both the United States and Italy are 5 foot 9 1/2; Germany is 5 foot 10; South Korea is 5 foot 8 1/2; Japan is 5 foot 7 1/2.

I don't think it's surprising, then, that I don't comfortably fit in the Nissan Leaf and other cars designed and sold in Japan (American models like the Accord and Altima are different). I'd say average heighted people are lucky, but then I can reach that can from the top shelf.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 2,803 miles

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2012 Volvo S60 T5: I Like This Car

July 11, 2011

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I've always had a soft spot for Volvos. The old boxy ones were just so very honest about what they were, which made the turbocharged models from the late 1990s just a fun juxtaposition -- "I'm sensible and practical, but I go like stink!" Of my father's many cars over the years, his S70 T5 remains my favorite.

Frankly, I never thought it was a such a bad thing that the S70 "looked like the box the Audi came in" as I remember reading in whatever car magazine was comparing them at the time. Apparently I'm in the minority, because the current version of that car, our long-term Volvo S60 T5, is just about as far away from boxy as you can get. It's sleek and almost sexy. I liked the boxes, but I like this too.

Actually I like this whole car tremendously. The characterful growl of the eager T5 engine, which consistently made me wonder why anyone would ever bother with the T6. The hydraulic (!) power steering that allows you choose between three different settings, then sticks with that setting after you shut off the car (I'm talking to you BMW). The firm, yet well-damped ride. The stylish interior -- I'm not sure what the center console trim is supposed to be, but it looks great. The spot-on driving position for tall dudes of Northern European descent. The new infotainment interface, which isn't the greatest thing around, but isn't a total flippin' disaster like the one in the XC60.

Going with the assumption that the next-generation 3 Series will be just as aggravating as the new 5, there's a good chance that my favorite car in this class could soon be the S60. Maybe it's just my soft spot talking, but this car seems like a winner and I look forward to driving it a lot in the next year.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 2,203 miles

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2012 Volvo S60 T5: Freeway Series

July 05, 2011

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I spent most of the holiday weekend driving our long-term 2012 Volvo S60 T5 with four adults (including myself) on-board. We didn't go on any exotic roads, just freeways and surface streets with my boyfriend and his parents, and then on to the actual Freeway Series (game 3 of the Dodgers/Angels series in Anaheim) with a couple of friends.

Legroom was fully adequate with just the family in the S60. The tallest person in the car was just 6 feet, and everyone fit comfortably.

However, it was decidedly squinchier on the ride to Angel Stadium, as one of the friends was 6-feet-4 (plus). He reclined the passenger seat, but still had to sit in an awkward splayed position in order to give his wife (seated behind him) some legroom. Still, he deemed the situation "not bad" and took a turn in the backseat (albeit with the front-passenger seat scooted way up) after the game.

As everyone stood around in the hot sun while I was taking this photo, Friend #2 (as mentioned, Friend #1's wife) observed that the S60 "looks like a combination of a sport sedan and something my grandfather would drive." Heh.

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2012 Volvo S60 T5: Choose Your Effort

June 30, 2011

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Steering effort is one of those subjective aspects of the driving experience that nobody can seem to agree upon. Some like it light, others want an upper body workout.

Imagine my joy when I saw that our new long-term Volvo allows us to choose between low, medium and high effort. Even better, there's a significant difference between low and high. As for steering feel, well, there's not much -- at least for my tastes. Still, it's a cool feature and I hope to see it in other cars.

Mark Takahashi, Associate Editor

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2012 Volvo S60 T5: More Luxury Than Sport

June 29, 2011

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I just got into the S60 after spending time in the frisky little Kia Forte Koup SX. The difference in handling between these two cars (and yes, I know that they'd never be cross-shopped) served to underline that though Volvo likes to market the S60 as a sport sedan, it really is more accurately defined as a luxury model.

And there's no shame in that, for as luxury models go, the S60 is a pretty good one. Though its reflexes aren't as sharp as those of more athletic rivals like the 3 Series, the S60 has a capable engine and well-weighted steering in its corner. I'd place it in Audi A4/Mercedes-Benz C-Class territory, and it holds up pretty well as a solid alternative for shoppers considering these two models.

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor @ 1,640 miles

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2012 Volvo S60 T5: Heater Gag

June 29, 2011

volvo_heat.jpg I was recently driving our Volvo S60 and noticed I was getting a serious case of swass. It wasn't hot out, the sun wasn't shining on me and yes, I had the AC on. For the longest time I couldn't tell if this car had seat heaters until there it was: the very subtle button integrated into the drivers side temp dial.

A seat heater to me is used every so often, not just every minute in the car. The switch and the display that shows it's on are separated by a good enough distance so it's easy to miss that it's on until you get your butt roasted. I guess I'd prefer a switch with a light or some kind of dial to have a tactile affirmation or its function.

I know this is a very minor complaint overall. I'd prefer to have something simple over slick.But this feature does open the doors to playing the ol' seat heater gag on every subsequent driver of the Volvo. I'll have to pay attention to this.

Scott Jacobs, Sr. Mgr, Photography

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2012 Volvo S60: You Call That An Air Conditioner?

June 27, 2011

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Summer has finally arrived in the South Bay. Normally this time of year, we get beset with June Gloom. It's cloudy and chilly in the morning and sometimes it takes well into the afternoon before it burns off and you see the sun.

Well this weekend was different. I was running errands as early at 9:00 a.m. Saturday morning and it was already sunny and warm. By noon it was downright hot. A beautiful Southern California day.

I had two more stops to make between noon and 1:00 p.m. and was forced to park in the sun at both locations. The Volvo with its lovely black interior gets hot very quickly.

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Edmunds Insurance Estimator

The Edmunds TCO® estimated monthly insurance payment for a 2012 Volvo S60 in WA is:

$155 per month*
* Explanation
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