Those Little Things That It Do - And Don't - 2015 Volvo S60 Long-Term Road Test

2015 Volvo S60 Long-Term Road Test

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2015 Volvo S60: Those Little Things That It Do - And Don't

by John O'Dell, Senior Editor on September 25, 2015

2015 Volvo S60

Volvo makes pretty good cars. So it's the little things that start to matter. I collected a few on a recent trip to Las Vegas in our 2015 Volvo S60 to cover the unveiling of the 2016 Toyota Prius.

1: The A/C works really well. That may not sound like much, as most modern cars have air conditioners that function well. But when it's 108 outside, the system's ability to maintain a nice, even 69 degrees inside is something you notice

2: The Volvo S60 is a lot prettier than the new Prius, IMO.

3: The S60, outfitted as ours is (fully loaded, of course), is a wonderful car for a long-distance drive. We've got a number of long-term posts attesting to this, so I won't go on except to say, again, that this is a great road car. The sport seats are also superb.

4: The lane keeping assist system is helpful, but can toss you an unwelcome surprise now and then.

One of those "now and then" surprises occurred as I was humming along an unusually traffic-free patch of the interstate and decided to test the system by intentionally drifting (the slow, inattentive driver kind of drift, not the tire-smoking, donut-making kind).

The Volvo's sensors picked up the white lane marker separating my lane from the adjacent one almost every time, and took corrective action after flashing me a warning.

But when I positioned the car in the fast lane of the divided road (a wide strip of dirt separates the east- and westbound lanes most of the way to Vegas) and drifted to the left, the sensors mostly ignored the yellow paint that marks the dividing line between asphalt and dirt.

Sometimes the left lane icon on the driver info screen would turn red, and on a very few occasions the system twitched the steering to push me back into my lane. But mainly it just ignored the lane limit line.

As Brent Romans pointed out in his S60 driver assist piece, the system doesn't work all of the time and Volvo is clear about this in the owner manual. But you'd think that a system that can tell you when it's time to pull over and maybe drink a cup of coffee (one of the warning messages that displays if you repeatedly drift into other lanes) could also tell you with some degree of consistency that you're about to drift off the road and into the dirt.

Another surprise happened when I started to correct a lane drift while heading around a gentle outside curve. The combination of the Volvo's automated steering input and my own last-minute adjustment of the wheel apparently generated enough extra input that the car snapped back toward the center of its lane rather fiercely.

I wasn't in danger of losing control and it wasn't that sharp of a movement, but it definitely caught me off guard after my multiple experiences with the S60's otherwise gentle steering corrections.

5: The S60's door handles do pinch if you are not careful. Mike Monticello warned about this, but his caution was penned six months ago and slipped my mind. I caught my index finger in the handle several times (yes, I'm a slow learner).

2015 Volvo S60

6: The auto stop-start feature, which saves fuel and cuts emissions by shutting down the engine at complete stops and instantaneously restarting it when you lift off the brake, is one of the roughest I've experienced. The engine shuts down with a noticeable "clunk" about half the time and restarts with an annoyingly loud and lengthy shudder.

7: The hinky speed limit display seems to take forever to find the correct speeds to display when you get on the freeway. It is annoying to be driving in what you know is a 70 mph zone and notice that the speed sign reader hasn't updated yet and still shows a 30 mph limit. Perhaps worse is when the system does finally read and display the correct speed limit info and you have a constant reminder in front of you that you just might be speeding.

2015 Volvo S60

8: I don't know how the EPA came up with a 35 mpg highway rating for the twin-charged S60. None of the previous road trips delivered anything near that and mine was no different: I averaged 30 mpg on the first 113 miles of the trip and 28.5 mpg on the last 410 miles, which included about five miles of city driving.

9: The S60's windows reflect the sun almost as nicely as do the collection tower mirrors at the Stateline Solar Farm near the California-Arizona border.

2015 Volvo S60

John O'Dell, Senior Editor

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