2012 Volvo S60 Long-Term Road Test - Performance

2012 Volvo S60 Long-Term Road Test

  • Full Review
  • Pricing & Specs
  • Road Tests (2)
  • Comparison
  • Long-Term

2012 Volvo S60 T5: The Tractor People

May 08, 2012


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: Reader Mail Responses

April 27, 2012

volvo_s60_bluedoor.JPG In an earlier post I asked for your questions about our longterm 2012 Volvo S60 T5. Across the jump are my responses.

How is it that what appears to be an ideal sedan for commuting and long trips will not hit 20,000 miles in 12 months? Is it being passed over, or just getting short commuting trips?

It's being used routinely but not on the long, mile-racking road trips.

How's the sunroof?

No wetness observed after a car wash, so it appears to be working as expected.

Does your transmission give rough downshifts when the vehicle is cold and for the first 15 to 20 minutes of driving?

Haven't observed this, but I'll try to pay particular attention the next time I drive the S60. How rough is rough, and what does your dealer say about it?

How's the dealer treating you on those software updates?

We've not received any, so if there are updates we're missing then the answer is: pretty negligent.

Does Sensus (infotainment system) play Japanese, Chinese, and/or Korean music that is stored on your USB?

Now that's a strange one. Maybe Magrath has some music from those regions. He's out of town right now.

what is the point in having blue-ish LED accent lights and then ugly traditional yellow halogen lights next to it? It looks bad to me. Do you guys ever notice that as "owners"?


Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor

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2012 Volvo S60 T5: My PrefeRence is R

March 30, 2012

Volvo S60 R-design.jpg

Several staff members here have discussed the merits of the Volvo S60 T6 over our long-term 2012 Volvo S60 T5. My preference, not surprisingly, is the S60 R-Design.

Like the T6, it has the inline turbo 6 and AWD, but the R-Design is rated at 325 hp vs. 300 for the T6. This kills the T5 with its 250 hp and FWD. Of course, the R-Design's base price is just more than 10K over the $31,300 base price of our T5. But the R includes a few standard features including Xenon headlamps. Regardless, you did buy your Mega Millions tickets, right?

The real reason I prefer the R-Design is for the styling, of course. While our long-term T5 is nice, the styling is pretty plain. The S60 R-Design is great looking, sexy even. You can't say that about too many Volvos.

Hit the jump to see the video of the S60 and V60 R-Design in action.

Albert Austria, Senior VE Engineer @ ~14,500 miles

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2012 Volvo S60: Video Review

February 20, 2012


Senior Editor Erin Riches brings you a video review of the Volvo S60 model range. The action footage features our S60 T5 long-termer.

See the video after the jump...

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2012 Volvo S60: Hard To Choose Between T5 or T6

February 01, 2012


James Riswick says to get the S60 T5, the model (like ours) with the turbocharged 2.5-liter inline-5 good for 250 hp. Mike Monticello, on the other hand, would prefer the T6 with its 300-hp, turbo inline-6. It's not an easy decision.

I relate to both statements. James is right; the T5 should be great for most people. But Mike's got a point about it being a bit unrefined. Plus, who wouldn't want 325 hp and 354 lb-ft from the R-Design (or T6 Polestar upgrade)?

One other aspect to consider: the T6 comes with all-wheel drive. There have been a few times recently when I've been accelerating out of a corner in our S60, and its front-drive layout is all too obvious and cheapens the overall experience of the car.

The T6 would solve that. Then again, if I really want a sport sedan, am I going to buy an S60? At that point a BMW 3 Series or Infiniti G would make more sense.

Our S60 T5 charms because it's sporty enough, but also comfortable. Sigh. It's tough. But put me down for the T5.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

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2012 Volvo S60 T5: Five vs. Six

January 20, 2012

Volvo S60 T5 engine blog.jpg

I agree with Riswick's comments regarding the Volvo from a few days ago: No one really needs more power or acceleration than what's provided by the S60 T5's turbocharged five-cylinder. The 250 hp and 266 lb.-ft. of torque get this car on down the road just fine. With verve even, at times.

Yet despite this engine's good throttle response, minimal turbo lag and general workhorse nature, I just don't like it that much.

The problem is that it sounds and feels overly coarse to me, nowhere near as smooth as Volvo's excellent turbocharged inline-six. I mean, you can actually feel the coarseness through the accelerator pedal of the T5. It's not horrible, but it's there.

And because of that, I sometimes find myself thinking, "I kinda wish this was the six." Not because of the T6's extra 50 horsepower, but because it simply feels like a more polished, sophisticated piece.

For some, this bit of coarseness won't matter at all. And good for you. But for me, even as nice as the S60 T5 is as an overall car, I'm pretty sure I would try to opt up for the T6 to get the smoother engine sound and feel that I crave.

Mike Monticello, Road Test Editor @ 11,878 miles.

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2012 Volvo S60 T5: Just Get This Engine

January 17, 2012


If you need more power than this in a Volvo, there's something wrong with you. The S60's T5 engine has a wonderful low-end punch and gets up to speed just quick enough that it makes you ponder, "Why would someone need more than this?"

From zero to 60 mph, the difference between T5 and T6 is certainly not insignificant -- 7.3 seconds versus 5.9. The T6 R-Design would be quicker still. And true, if you want all-wheel-drive, then you'll have to step up to the quicker T6.

While there's nothing wrong with wanting more power than T5 provides, I just don't get why you'd need it in this car. If you want guts, buy something sportier like the 335i, C350 Sport or G37. Having a 300- or 325-horsepower Volvo S60 just seems sort of pointless. That's not slagging the S60 in any way (it's a wonderful car), but most people don't need that much power. I'm just saying that "most people" should feel good about their choice to stick with the T5.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor

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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

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2012 Volvo S60 T5: Why Did They Do That?

November 18, 2011


This is the shifter arrangement on our S60 as viewed from the driver's seat. Not a big deal, but...

Wouldn't it make more sense if it looked like this:

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2012 Volvo S60 T5: On the Verge of Sporty

November 15, 2011

I tend to forget that Volvo has positioned the latest S60 as more of a sport sedan than ever before. Instead, I keep thinking it's just a midsize luxury sedan that's surprisingly fast.

With that in mind, I hustled our S60 around a little faster than normal when I could this weekend to see if it really was an legit alternative to a base A4 or 3 Series. Turns out, it's pretty damn close.

As smooth as the ride is during normal driving, the S60 doesn't just flop over when you toss it into a turn. There's plenty of grip, the steering is reasonably precise and it doesn't constantly want to push its way off the road. So in other words, it can hold its own when asked. Ultimately I would probably rather have something with rear wheel drive for myself, but I couldn't blame anyone for compromising a little steering feel to get the S60's level of performance and comfort.

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Edmunds.com

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2012 Volvo S60 T5: Manual Mode Not The Best

November 09, 2011


What's with the manual mode on the transmission of our longterm 2012 Volvo S60 T5? It doesn't shift quickly, and it makes no attempt whatsoever to match revs, that's what.

Don't fire up your Amiga to tell me that doesn't matter, that nobody uses manual mode. I do. It matters to me. Even in non-performance-oriented cars, manual modes are a boon. In slow and go driving, downshifting is preferable to braking. So there.

Anyway, I'm encouraged that Volvo took the step to include a manual mode in the S60 T5 autobox, but the execution could be better.

--Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor

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2012 Volvo S60 T5: I Want to Drive It

October 03, 2011


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: It Grows On You

September 15, 2011

volvo s60 bh.jpg
The more time I spend with the S60, the more I like it. Here's why...

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IL Track Tested: 2012 Volvo S60 T5 vs. 2010 BMW 328i

August 13, 2011


The 2012 Volvo S60 is supposed to be the Scandinavian answer to the generic German sport sedan. It's got the looks, for sure, but does it have the sauce?

Powered by a 2.5-liter I5, the S60 makes a solid 250 horsepower at 5,500 rpm. That would be 20 more than the last BMW 328i we tested (a 2010 MY) -- the car it's most desperately chasing. Unfortunately, it's also got some 200 pounds on the Bimmer and is saddled with an automatic transmission instead of the BMW's slick six-speed manual.

So as soon as we track tested our new Volvo, we had to see how the numbers stacked up against the base BMW. Follow the jump for the full specs of each to see if, on the track, our Volvo S60 T5 is a true competitor in the sport-sedan market.

2012 Volvo S60 T5 BMW 328i Sedan
0-30 (sec): 2.7 2.3
0-45 (sec): 4.7 4.2
0-60 (sec): 7.2 6.4
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 6.9 6.0
0-75 (sec): 10.5 9.5
1/4-mile (sec @ mph): 15.3 @ 92.5 14.7 @ 94.8

30-0 (ft): 32 30
60-0 (ft): 128 126
Skid pad lateral accel (g): 0.85 0.84
Slalom 63.6 65.0

Vehicle: 2012 Volvo S60 T5
Odometer: 1,540
Date: 6-28-2011
Driver: Chris Walton

Base Price: $31,150
Price as tested: $41,350

Drive Type: Front-wheel drive
Transmission Type: Six-speed automatic
Engine Type: Longitudinal, turbocharged inline-5
Redline (rpm): 6,600
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 250 @ 5,500
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 266 @ 1,800-4,800
Brake Type (front): 11.8-inch vented discs with single-piston sliding calipers
Brake Type (rear): 11.9-inch discs with single-piston sliding calipers
Suspension Type (front): MacPherson strut, coil springs, hydraulic shock absorbers, stabilizer bar
Suspension Type (rear): Independent, multilink, coil spring, hydraulic shock absorber, stabilizer bar
Tire Size (front): 235/40R18 (95V)
Tire Size (rear): 235/40R18 (95V)
Tire Brand: Continental
Tire Model: ContiProContact
Tire Type: All-season
As tested Curb Weight (lb): 3,584

Test Results:

0-30 (sec): 2.7 (3.0 w/TC on)
0-45 (sec): 4.7 (5.0 w/TC on)
0-60 (sec): 7.2 (7.5 w/TC on)
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 6.9 (7.1 w/TC on)
0-75 (sec): 10.5 (10.8 w/TC on)
1/4-Mile (sec @ mph): 15.3 @ 92.5 (15.5 @ 92.1)

30-0 (ft): 32
60-0 (ft): 128

Slalom (mph): 63.6 -- ESC Dynamic ( 62.5 w/TC on)
Skid Pad Lateral acceleration (g): 0.85 --Dymanic ( 0.78 w/TC on )

Db @ Idle: 44.1
Db @ Full Throttle: 72.3
Db @ 70 mph Cruise: 64.5

Acceleration: No matter whether Trac is on or off, because wheelspin is oddly elusive, There was a slight advantage to pedal overlap, but it won't allow it for more than a fraction of a second. Zero torque steer, smooth, droning acceleration with somewhat lazy upshifts -- even in Sport. Also, does auto upshift in Manual gate and does not rev-match manual downshifts.

Braking: Pretty dramatic dive, but no rear-end wander. Quick-cycling ABS provides shudder-free and quiet stops. Minimal fade after first (best) stop. Medium-firm pedal from first to fourth stop.


Skid pad: With ESC in Sport, it remains on but with a threshold that won't intrude on the skid pad -- hence steady, easily managed understeer at a fairly high limit. With ESC on, it drops the throttle well below the limit of the tires' grip. Steering weight is adjustable. I used medium and thought it was the most friction-free, somewhat informative setting.

Slalom: First impression = wahoo, lots of body roll! Once I realized this I found it frustrating to want to lift for rotation, only to be checked with ESC -- even in Sport (dynamic) mode. Either way, smoothness is key.

Vehicle: 2010 BMW 328i
Odometer: 996
Date: 5/25/2010
Driver: Chris Walton
Price: $35,575


Drive Type: Rear-wheel drive
Transmission Type: Six-speed manual
Engine Type: Inline-6
Displacement (cc/cu-in): 2,996/183
Redline (rpm): 7,000
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 230 @ 6,500
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 200 @ 2,750
Brake Type (front): Ventilated disc
Brake Type (rear): Ventilated disc
Steering System: Speed-proportional power steering
Suspension Type (front): MacPherson strut
Suspension Type (rear): Multilink
Tire Size (front): 225/45R17
Tire Size (rear): 225/45R17
Tire Brand: Continental
Tire Model: ContiProContact SSR RSC
Tire Type: All-season
Wheel Size: 17-by-7 inches front and rear
Wheel Material (front/rear): Alloy
As Tested Curb Weight (lb): 3,314

Test Results:
0 - 30 (sec): 2.3
0 - 45 (sec): 4.2
0 - 60 (sec): 6.4
0 - 75 (sec): 9.5
1/4 Mile (sec @ mph): 14.7 @ 94.8
0 - 60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 6.0
30 - 0 (ft): 30
60 - 0 (ft): 126
Braking Rating: Average
Slalom (mph): 65.0
Skid Pad Lateral Acceleration (g): 0.84
Handling Rating: Good
Db @ Idle: 43.8
Db @ Full Throttle: 70.2
Db @ 70 mph Cruise: 64.5

Acceleration Comments: About a half second was gained with a wheel-spinning launch. The shifter is happy to be slammed and there is some sort of spark/retard or electronic shift smoothing that utterly eliminates shift shock at redline (or even below). Seems to make most of its power up high in the rev range.

Braking Comments: Consistently average distances with virtually zero fade or loss of pedal feel. Very little dive under hard braking.

Handling Comments: Slalom: With ESP off, this is a perfect teaching instrument for rear-wheel-drive dynamics -- every driver input has an immediate, predictable and appropriate outcome. Not the fastest sedan ever through the cones, but one of the best in terms of feel and setup. Skid pad: Moderate understeer and good response to the throttle means the steering wheel doesn't move one bit all the way around the circle. While the ultimate figure is not world-class, everything about the way the steering felt during the test was exceptional.

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2012 Volvo S60 T5: Trifecta Transmission

August 09, 2011

volvo s60 shifter.jpg

Our Volvo S60 T5 has what I call a "Tri-mode" transmission. This means that in addition to the more common "just pop it in 'D'" automatic and "shift for yourself" manual modes, it has a "Sport" automatic mode. The latter (engaged by sliding the lever over to the manual gate but not moving it thereafter) holds lower gears longer and downshifts more quickly, keeping the car up on its toes and ready to quickly accelerate without hesitation. This is great for quickly dispatching lane-weaving laggards on the freeway or when sprinting off corner exits while enjoying a familiar curvy road. When in Sport mode, the difference in the car's throttle response (and I'm also talking normal, not spirited driving here) is like night and day.

If I owned the S60 T5, I'd probably use the more fuel-efficient (and acceptable but less fun) "D" mode sometimes to ease my fuel usage conscious. But given that I only had the car for the weekend and well, the world's supposed to end next year anyway, I figured what the heck and enjoyed it. For the record I averaged 18.3 mpg against our long-term average of 19.2.

John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 2,950 miles

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2012 Volvo S60 T5: A Frugal Five Cylinder

July 28, 2011


I was a little surprised to learn that the 2.5-liter, in-line five-cylinder in our Volvo S60 is rated at 30 mpg on the highway. It certainly doesn't feel like such a frugal car from behind the wheel.

Yeah, it's a little wheezy sounding like most five-cylinders, but between the turbocharger and the six-speed transmission, the S60 moves out quite nicely. And as unappealing as this engine sounds, it seems like a perfect trade off between power and efficiency, especially when you consider the $6K jump to the larger 3.0-liter six.

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Edmunds.com

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2012 Volvo S60 T5: I Like This Car

July 11, 2011


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: Crash Test Dummies Like It

July 07, 2011

The 2011-2012 Volvo S60s have gotten IIHS's 2011 top pick for safety thanks to "good performance in front, side, rollover, and rear tests and standard electronic stability control." The car -- IIHS tested a 2012 Volvo S60 T5 4-door 2wd -- scored "Good" across the board putting it right up there with 2012 midsize luxury/near luxury cars like the Audi A4, Lincoln MKZ, Mercedes C-Class and VW CC.

Hit the jump to see how the S60 did in a side-impact crash test. Owie!

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2012 Volvo S60 T5: Freeway Series

July 05, 2011


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: Getting Reacquainted with the T5

July 01, 2011


Photo credit: Scott Jacobs

Last time I drove a Volvo S60 was a year ago, when the redesigned sedan first launched. But that was the T6 model, the one with a 300-horsepower, turbocharged inline-6 and the six-speed automatic driving all four wheels through a Haldex all-wheel-drive system. That car felt quick, sharp through corners, almost like a sport sedan.

When I got into our newest long-termer last night, it was immediately apparent this S60 has the same chassis underneath -- it has the adroit responses and direct steering that distinguish this generation of the S60 from previous Volvo sedans. But it also has the engine that time forgot -- the T5, the company's turbocharged, 2.5-liter inline-5. And this time the automatic is driving only the front wheels.

Twist the key Insert the key into the slot, press Trident-gum-shaped button, and the engine awakens like a large man roused mid-snore who then proceeds to grumble his way to the bathroom. That really sounds unflattering, but the sounds are familiar and endearing, and so far the torque has been adequate for all the passing and merging I've done.

Moreover, our 2012 Volvo S60 T5 has a 20 mpg city, 30 mpg highway EPA rating, so it will be interesting to see how it does in the mpg race versus our similarly rated Acura TSX wagon and Buick Regal CXL 2.0T.

I have the S60 for the long weekend, and while no road trips are planned, we'll be going to at least two baseball games. Anybody planning a road trip for the 4th? If so, make sure you do a fuel economy run and share the results here. Ha.... actually, if anybody is that motivated, snap a photo of your car and send the relevant year/make/model info, plus your blog handle, odo, trip, gallons to eriches (@) edmunds.com and I will post them on the blog in Tuesday's S60 entry.

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2012 Volvo S60 T5: Choose Your Effort

June 30, 2011


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

volvo s60 wf1.jpg
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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