We're ten minutes into our long-term test of the 2012 Volvo S60 T5 when a fact breaks like a wave over our staff. One by one most of us realize that it's been years since we've driven a Volvo sedan. The last S60 debuted way back in 2000 while the newest S80 arrived way back in 2006. That's probably why we think of wagons and SUVs these days when the name Volvo is mentioned.
This new S60 is more than just a sedan, it's a self-described sport sedan, hence the new "naughty" tag line. The turbocharged S60 is poised to take on the best and brightest in the class with a sport-tuned chassis, wide array of luxury and high-tech features and dramatic Swedish styling.
But in a category dominated by BMW, Mercedes, Audi, Cadillac and Infiniti, is there room for Volvo, too?
What We Got
Our 2012 Volvo S60 T5 came from the factory with a 250-horsepower, 2.5-liter turbocharged I5 and a six-speed automatic transmission with sport mode and adaptive shift. It's a combination that's good for 20 mpg city and 30 mpg highway on the EPA cycle.
Like any respectable European sport sedan, the S60 comes packed with a long list of standard features that include an 8-way power driver sport seat, dual-zone climate control, Bluetooth, push button start, HD radio with USB and aux input and, thankfully, Volvo Sensus infotainment system with 7" high-resolution color LCD monitor.
Volvo Sensus is the replacement for the outdated system Volvo had been using. Sensus allows access to the stability control, city safety, driver alert, collision warning, lane departure, adaptive cruise, central locking, audio and navigation systems all in one place -- assuming you've purchased the proper packages. Our Volvo has the packages.
The Multimedia package ($2,700) includes nav, premium sound, rear park assist camera and voice control. We've also got the Technology and Climate packages that offer adaptive cruise with queue assist (we'll figure out what this is during the year), collision warning, pedestrian detection, distance alert, lane departure warning, heated front seats, interior air quality system and all for an easy $2,900.
Next, is the Leather Seating package that adds a power passenger seat and a glass moonroof for $1,900 and the Dynamic package for $900 that adds 18-inch wheels and speed-sensitive steering with driver controls. There's also metallic paint ($550) and a personal car communicator ($550) plus an $875 destination fee.
And then there are the standard safety features -- let's not forget that it is a Volvo -- dynamic stability and traction control with sport mode, side curtain head protection airbags, side airbags, driver and front passenger dual-stage airbags, whiplash protection system, adaptive steering wheel column, LATCH, safe approach perimeter lighting system, intelligent driver information system, security system and child safety locks.
Out-the-door price for our loaded 2012 Volvo S60 T5 is $41,350. We didn't fork that over, however, as Volvo provided this car to us for a year.
Why We Got It
With the exception of a misguided wheel turn by a sincere idiot, our long-term test of the 2010 Volvo XC60 went off without a hitch. Well, if you exclude the awkward and impossible-to-use navigation system and paranoid safety equipment.
The mid-size SUV impressed us with its handling and ride quality, and generally wowed us with interior features and build quality -- except for that NAV. In short, what's often seen as a vehicle for people who are concerned only with safety turned out to be a fairly terrific all-arounder that many of us preferred to its German and Japanese counterparts.
Sedans, however, swim in a deeper pool than luxury crossovers with long-standing frontrunners which have been tuned and tweaked over decades. The S60 T5 has the Infiniti G, Cadillac CTS, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and BMW 3 Series to contend with this time around. Winning over the hearts and minds of entry-level luxury shoppers won't be easy.
And it won't be easy winning us over, either. We've got 12 months and 20,000 miles to see if the naughty label fits and if the Volvo S60 T5 belongs in the elite ranks of premium sport sedans, or if this outlier really is a safety car first and a European sedan second.
Current Odometer: 1,220
Best Fuel Economy: 21.9
Worst Fuel Economy: 20.3
Average Fuel Economy (over the life of the vehicle): 21.1
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.