2012 Volvo S60 Long-Term Road Test - Wrap-Up

2012 Volvo S60 Long-Term Road Test

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Read the introduction of the 2012 Volvo S60 T5 to our long-term fleet.

What We Got
One year ago Volvo Cars of North America offered us the keys to a 2012 Volvo S60 T5. It was the latest offering from a previously stagnant model line. The last major update to the S60 was almost 12 years ago. It was time to revisit the Volvo sedan.

The S60 was all new. A turbocharged, 250-horsepower, 2.5-liter inline-5 powered our T5. Its six-speed automatic transmission offered Sport mode and adaptive shift capabilities. And a sport-tuned chassis supported the powertrain. Volvo designed this front-wheel-drive S60 to compete in a segment dominated by rear-wheel-drive competitors from BMW, Cadillac, Infiniti and Mercedes-Benz -- not to mention Audi's all-wheel-drive A4. It was going to be a tough sell.

Our 2012 Volvo S60 wore almost every option available. The Multimedia package covered our sound system, navigation and rearview camera needs. The Technology and Climate packages offered a multitude of safety features, such as adaptive cruise control, collision warning, pedestrian detection, lane departure warning and the comfort of heated seats and upgraded air-quality management. The Leather Seating package added passenger power seat controls and a moonroof. And finally, the Dynamic package included 18-inch wheels and manually adjustable, speed-sensitive steering. Volvo Sensus managed the infotainment system, which allowed us to operate the contents of these packages in one convenient location. Our S60 was loaded and its $41,350 MSRP reflected as much.

The stage was set for 12 months or 20,000 miles with the new Swedish sedan.

Our Impressions

  • "It has the adroit responses and direct steering that distinguishes this generation of the S60 from previous Volvo sedans. But it also has the engine that time forgot -- the T5.... Insert the key 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." -- Erin Riches

  • "I was a little surprised to learn that the 2.5-liter, inline 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 six-speed transmission, the S60 moves out quite nicely." -- Ed Hellwig

  • "Volvo got all the compromises right on this one. It's powerful, comfortable, well made and I like the way it rides. It isn't exactly naughty as they say on the TV commercials, but it is fun. I could even live with the color." -- Scott Oldham

  • "I like this whole car tremendously. The characteristic growl of the eager T5 engine, which consistently made me wonder why anyone would ever bother with the T6. The hydraulic power steering.... 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." -- James Riswick

  • "Imagine my joy when I saw that our new long-term Volvo allows us to choose between low, medium and high (steering) 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

  • "It was pretty obvious that sedans like this might not work too well for family road trips. I've done it before when we just had one child, and that's been fine. But two small children made it much trickier. A Volvo XC60 would have been a more proper choice, and my wife would have been a lot happier, too." -- Brent Romans

  • "The grooved, rutted freeways in L.A. really aren't anything like the perfectly maintained highways in Sweden, and with its 235/40R18 Continental ContiProContact tires, our S60 picks up a lot of those small surface irregularities and transmits them to the cabin. The ride usually isn't harsh, but it is busy, and a couple of my passengers commented on that." -- Erin Riches

  • "The seats in the S60 are superb for road trips, the adaptive cruise control is an absolute stress-reducer and I'd recommend this car to anybody who is considering either a BMW 3 Series or a Mercedes-Benz C-Class because it a) rides much more smoothly than the BMW, and b) offers altitude-resistant power from its turbocharged engine that the C-Class does not." -- Chris Walton

  • "I like the quality feel of the S60's controls. There's a fluidity of operation about them which makes you appreciate Volvo's attention to detail. The turn stalk's detents are near-perfect.... Same goes for the dual-zone climate control temperature knobs.... Even the power window controls on the door have a nice texture to them and don't feel hard and cheap." -- Mike Monticello

  • "Our long-term S60 has some seriously powerful windshield and headlight washers. These sprayers manhandle the intended targets, sure, but they also take care of the side windows and the backlight in a way I don't recall seeing on another car recently. And I don't mean a little mist or a few droplets on these secondary surfaces -- in this Volvo, the sides and rear get drizzled with surprisingly even coverage." -- Jason Kavanagh

  • "Our S60 is covered with five years of free factory-scheduled maintenance and five years of free wear-and-tear replacements. Although, having read the fine print, I realized the scheduled maintenance is for the first six appointments only (up to 45,000 miles) and wear-and-tear is pretty much just brakes and wiper blades. Even so, the S60 should have a pretty inexpensive stay with us." -- Brent Romans

  • "The air-conditioner is weak. It only cools the car when you have the fan cranked up to a ridiculously loud level. And it doesn't have enough vents for the driver.... It was quite miserable driving around in the sun. Give me an American car's A/C any day." -- Donna DeRosa

  • "Left front tire is down to 20 psi. I might have had something to do with it, so I can help with whatever is needed to fix it." -- James Riswick

Maintenance & Repairs

Regular Maintenance: Routine maintenance occurs at 7,500-mile intervals on the 2012 Volvo S60. Thanks to the Volvo Safe + Secure program, all visits were free for the first five years or 45,000 miles. We paid nothing for factory scheduled maintenance at 15,000 miles. Unfortunately, those weren't our only reasons to see the dealer.

Service Campaigns: Not a week into our test, two S60 recall notices were issued. One was for a fuel-pump software problem, which was remedied with a reflash. Another was for a potential fuel leak. The fuel leak recall range did not include our car. A third recall was announced for a different fuel leak concern which also did not pertain to our S60.

We only had to spend our own money once during this test. Physics and a curb bested the driver-side front tire sidewall, requiring replacement of the 18-inch Continental ContiProContact. This set us back $231.

Fuel Economy and Resale Value

Observed Fuel Economy: The EPA prepared us for 20 city and 30 highway mpg. After 19,000 miles on the road we averaged 23 mpg, slightly less than the EPA combined rating of 25 mpg. Our best single tank was below 29 mpg, suggesting the highway figure was slightly exaggerated. Still, it was no deal-breaker. And if we worked for it, a single-tank range of 500 miles was possible.

Resale and Depreciation: According to Edmunds TMV® calculations at the time of this article, our 2012 Volvo S60 T5 depreciated 26 percent from its original MSRP of $41,350. This figure is based on a private-party sale.

Summing Up

Pros: Competitive sport sedan capability with a reasonably smooth ride. In some ways the power and fuel economy of the T5 make the T6 moot. Free factory scheduled maintenance.

Cons: Our fully loaded 2012 Volvo S60 T5 cost more than $41,000. Three fuel system-related recalls in the first year. The lack of a spare tire was off-putting.

Bottom Line: A good balance of sport and comfort, power and fuel economy, the S60 does well with compromise. Its recall history in the first year was shaky. But five years and 45,000 miles of free scheduled maintenance helped ease the mind.

Total Body Repair Costs: None
Total Routine Maintenance Costs: None (over 12 months)
Additional Maintenance Costs: $231
Warranty Repairs: Fuel pump ECU update
Non-Warranty Repairs: Replace one tire
Scheduled Dealer Visits: 2
Unscheduled Dealer Visits: 1
Days Out of Service: 1
Breakdowns Stranding Driver: None
Best Fuel Economy: 28.9 mpg
Worst Fuel Economy: 15.9 mpg
Average Fuel Economy: 22.8 mpg
True Market Value at service end: $32,878 (private-party sale)
Depreciation: $8,472 (or 26% of original MSRP)
Final Odometer Reading: 19,169 miles

The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.

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Past Long-Term Road Tests