2015 Volvo S60: Taming the Hills of San Francisco
May 8, 2015
In Los Angeles, we don't really get to try out features like hill-start assist. But when I drove our long-term 2015 Volvo S60 around San Francisco recently, I tested that feature like crazy. It was a godsend there, especially considering that my best friend who I visited lives on that insanely steep hill in the photo.
If you're unaccustomed to driving in hilly cities then you know that moment of panic when the car rolls back as soon as you take your foot off the brake while on a hill. It feels like a split-second of freefall before the car catches itself. I'd arrived in the city in the S60 and completely forgot that's a thing that older and newer cars without hill-start assist do.
The S60 made starting from a stop on one of those infamous hills a non-event. But when I jumped in an Uber, a nondescript sedan from the early 2000s, and the car rolled back what felt like two feet, I instinctively gripped the O-S handle and held on. Naturally, the San Franciscan Uber driver mocked me for that.
For those not familiar with the function, hill-start assist applies pressure to the pedal for a few seconds while the driver moves their foot from the brake pedal to the accelerator. This braking effect then releases after several seconds or as soon as the driver accelerates. I had experienced this feature in manual transmission cars, but never an automatic.
It's not something we use much in the flat sprawl of Los Angeles, but if you live somewhere hilly it's a feature you won't take for granted.
Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor