2015 Volvo S60: Mixed Feelings on Driver Assist Features
June 10, 2015
There's the argument that if you position your vehicle's mirrors properly, you don't need a blind-spot monitoring system. But a lot of drivers don't set their mirrors to provide the right fields of view, which is why these systems can be useful. And as blind-spot monitoring systems go, I happen to like the one on our 2015 Volvo S60.
The main reason is that the indicator lights are mounted inside the car and are easy to see with peripheral vision. The more common setup for automakers is to mount the indicator lights in the mirror itself, and those lights are harder to see. With Volvo's system (called BLIS), it's easier to keep your eyes on the road ahead.
It also comes bundled with rear cross-traffic alert, which is the system that helps detect oncoming cars when you're backing up out of a parking space. When you're boxed in by big SUVs and can't see much as you're backing up — even with the rear-view camera — cross-traffic alert can really help you out. It's one of my favorite convenience/safety features.
Both blind-spot monitoring and cross-traffic alert are optional for the S60.
Also optional on our T6 Drive-E car is lane departure warning and intervention ("Lane Keeping Aid"). Here, the system uses cameras to monitor the positioning of the car within the roadway lane markings. If the S60 drifts out of its lane, the system either alerts the driver by vibrating the steering wheel or adds steering input itself to keep the car between the lines.
Within the S60's settings, you can choose if you just want the alert or if you want the intervention system active as well. For a distracted or drowsy driver, it's potentially a great feature.
I've tried to see how the lane departure system works by purposely letting our S60 drift a little on empty roads. It's a pretty subtle system. The steering wheel's vibration alert is gentle, as are the potential automatic steering nudges to keep you within your lane. It works, but because it's gentle, it's not going to save you from impending doom.
The departure intervention does very little if you're dedicated to drifting out of your lane and, depending on the lane markings, weather and the vehicle's speed, it can't work in every situation. Volvo is clear about this in the owner's manual, however, and clearly states that it's just an assistance system.
I'd definitely opt for BLIS if I were buying an S60, largely because it includes rear cross-traffic alert. I'd be less inclined to get lane departure warning/intervention since I don't see as much value in it. But as it's bundled within the Technology package, you might end up with it anyway. I suppose it's nice knowing it's there.
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 5,802 miles