Used 2015 Volvo S60 T6 R-Design Review

The 2015 Volvo S60 is a well-balanced and stylish luxury sedan. As such, it makes for a very tempting alternative to the ubiquitous German luxury sedans.




what's new

The 2015 Volvo S60 gets several changes, including a couple of new four-cylinder engines (one that is both turbo- and supercharged) and an eight-speed automatic transmission. New features debut for 2015 as well, such as fuel-saving automatic engine stop-start technology and available lane-keeping assist. Finally, midway through the year, "2015.5" models (those built after June 2014) see a few changes to standard and optional equipment including updates to Volvo's standard telematics system.

vehicle overview

The entry-level luxury sport sedan segment is something of an automotive Olympics. Here, athletic entries from Germany, Japan, America and Sweden vie not for medals, but for prestige and popularity. And from the country that gave us Abba and Ikea comes the 2015 Volvo S60. Already a player that could hold its own in this tough game, the S60 comes into this year sporting greater performance and efficiency thanks to a couple of new powertrains.

This year the Volvo S60 adopts turbocharged four-cylinder power like most of its rivals already have. The Volvo's base 2.0-liter turbo makes 240 horsepower and promises solid performance along with strong fuel economy. Indeed, with an EPA rating of 29 mpg in combined city/highway driving, this Volvo is a front-runner in that respect. There is also a 2.0-liter four that is both supercharged and turbocharged, allowing this little 302-hp dynamo to provide both immediate response and admirable fuel efficiency. Although it rates just 1 mpg shy of the base engine's lofty combined estimate, according to Volvo, it is still capable of dispatching the 0-60-mph sprint in a speedy 5.6 seconds.

Other changes this year include a new eight-speed automatic transmission for those engines along with the adoption of fuel-saving automatic engine stop-start technology and a shuffling of features and trim levels. Unfortunately, these new engines and transmission only apply to front-wheel-drive S60s. If you desire the traction-enhancing benefits of all-wheel drive, the S60's less-efficient five- and six-cylinder turbocharged engines soldier on for another year.

Elsewhere, the Volvo S60 has the expected qualities of this segment: handsome styling, responsive handling, a comfortable cabin and plenty of luxury features. The company's endearing hallmarks, namely impressive safety technologies, extremely comfortable front seats and feisty engines, also come along for the ride.

As you might've guessed, we like the 2015 Volvo S60. While its backseat is a bit tight and its sporting credentials aren't quite on the same level as the BMW 3 Series, the Volvo S60 fits right in against more comfort-tuned entry-level luxury sedans like the Acura TLX, Audi A4 and Lexus ES 350. It's also priced attractively, often thousands less than the competition. If you're shopping for a premium-brand sedan, this quietly competent Volvo is worth a test-drive.




trim levels & features

The 2015 Volvo S60 is a midsize luxury sedan available in four trim levels: T5 Drive-E, T5 AWD, T6 Drive-E and T6 R-Design. Depending on when your S60 was built, it might have a "2015.5" designation (models built after June 2014). As such, the information contained in this review refers to the 2015.5 S60. See the end of this section for the notable differences on the earlier models.

Apart from its powertrain, the T5 Drive-E and T5 AWD are similar in terms of available equipment. They come standard with 17-inch wheels, automatic headlights, LED running lights, headlight washers, heated mirrors, automatic wipers, cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, an eight-way power driver seat (with adjustable lumbar), driver memory settings, power-folding rear headrests, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, T-Tec cloth upholstery, a 60/40 split-folding rear seat with pass-through, a 7-inch display screen, "Sensus" smartphone app integration, WiFi capability,  Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and an eight-speaker sound system with a CD player, HD radio, satellite radio, an auxiliary audio jack and an iPod/USB audio interface.

For T5 Drive-E and T5 AWD models, the Premier package add keyless ignition and entry, bright window trim, a sunroof, leather upholstery, a power passenger seat, a navigation system, a configurable instrument display and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.

The T6 Drive-E essentially starts with the T5 Drive-E Premier's equipment but adds a more powerful engine, 18-inch wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, adjustable steering effort, a power sunroof and sport seats.

The T6 R-Design has the T6 Drive-E's features along with a more powerful engine, all-wheel drive, special exterior styling details, unique 18-inch wheels, upgraded brakes, specifically tuned sport suspension, special interior trim, a sport steering wheel and a rearview camera.

Available on all S60s, the Convenience package adds power-folding mirrors, keyless ignition and entry, a rearview camera, a remote garage opener and a grocery bag holder. The Technology package features adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, collision warning with auto braking, pedestrian and cyclist detection with auto braking and driver-attention warning. A lane-departure warning system is included with this package in all-wheel-drive models, while the Drive-E models get a more sophisticated lane-keeping assist system that will steer the car in the event of driver inaction.

The Platinum package available on all T5 and T6 models includes the Convenience and Technology packages along with xenon headlights, auto-dimming outside mirrors, cabin accent lighting and a 12-speaker Harman Kardon premium sound system.

The Climate package includes a heated windshield, heated windshield washers, heated front and rear seats, a heated steering wheel and an active cabin filter. The Sport package (T5 only) includes 19-inch alloy wheels, a sport-tuned suspension and paddle shifters. Also available is the Blind Spot Information System package, which features side blind spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert and front and rear park sensors. A quick-fold passenger seat, the keyless ignition and entry system, heated front seats, a front-side parking camera, and a rear-seat entertainment system with dual displays are notable stand-alone options.

Before the mid-year update (labeled "2015.5" by Volvo) the Convenience package was referred to as the Premier Plus package but it came with essentially the same equipment. Earlier 2015 models (built before June 2014) also lacked the updated Sensus Connect and On Call telematics system. It's worth checking the exact year of your S60 if you're interested in getting the updated infotainment graphics, a built-in WiFi hot spot, in-car apps like Pandora and Yelp, improved voice commands and safety items like roadside assistance.



performance & mpg

The 2015 Volvo S60 T5 Drive-E has a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 engine with 240 hp and 258 pound-feet of torque. It sends its power to the front wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission. Volvo estimates a 0-60-mph time of 6 seconds, while EPA fuel economy estimates stand at an impressive 29 mpg combined (25 city/37 highway).

The T5 AWD features all-wheel-drive, a six-speed automatic and a 2.5-liter turbocharged inline-5 good for 250 hp and 266 lb-ft. Volvo puts its 0-60 time at 6.6 seconds with fuel economy estimates at 23 mpg combined (20 city/29 highway).

The T6 Drive-E is front-wheel drive and packs a turbocharged and supercharged 2.0-liter inline-4 that cranks out 302 hp and 295 lb-ft. It uses the eight-speed automatic, and 0-60 mph is estimated at 5.6 seconds, while fuel economy numbers are 28 mpg combined (24 city/35 highway).

At the top of the performance ladder is the T6 R-Design, which features the so-called "Polestar" upgrade: a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 producing 325 hp and 354 lb-ft. Its 0-60 time is given as 5.4 seconds and fuel economy estimates are 21 mpg combined (18 city/26 highway).

safety

Upholding Volvo's sterling reputation for passenger protection, the S60 comes loaded with standard safety features that include antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and whiplash-reducing front head restraints. Also standard is "City Safety," which can help the driver avoid a collision with other vehicles or a stationary object at speeds of up to 19 mph by automatically applying the brakes if he doesn't react in time.

Included in the optional Technology package is Volvo's pedestrian and cyclist detection feature, which can apply full braking force (reducing speed by as much as 22 mph) to help you avoid hitting pedestrians and cyclists who are at least 31 inches in height. This package also includes electronic warnings for driver inattention, lane departure and impending collision, the last of which includes automatic braking. Lane-keeping assist is further included for the Drive-E trims.

As previously mentioned, models built after June of 2014 will receive the 2015.5 designation and they'll also get Volvo's On Call system as standard. On Call includes emergency roadside assistance, automatic crash notification and stolen vehicle assistance.

Other safety options for all S60s include front and rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, a front-side parking camera, a blind-spot warning system and rear cross-traffic alerts.

In government crash tests the Volvo S60 earned a perfect rating of five stars for overall crash protection, with five stars each for total frontal and side crash protection. In testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the S60 received the best possible rating of "Good" in the moderate-overlap frontal-offset, small-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof strength tests as well as the head restraint design for whiplash protection in rear impacts. The IIHS also rated the S60's optional frontal collision warning and mitigation system as "Superior."

Driving

The 2015 Volvo S60 is a comfortable, sophisticated and well-behaved luxury sedan with ample power whether you go with four, five or six turbocharged cylinders. It's a sure-footed handler with nicely weighted steering that feels substantial without being heavy.

Regardless of output, the engines are smooth and powerful, and the all-wheel-drive system apportions power to individual wheels to maximize traction and grip through turns or on slippery roads. The base front-wheel-drive T5 model, meanwhile, lines up favorably with other rear-drive entry-level luxury cars like the BMW 328i and Mercedes C300 that feature turbocharged four-cylinders. Most buyers would likely find the acceleration, response and fuel economy of any S60 to be compelling, but the Volvo's comfortable ride is its strong suit.

Interior

Interior materials in the 2015 Volvo S60 are on par with the rest of the entry-level luxury sedan class. The heavier graining on the dash and doors won't suit everyone, but there's no denying that the interior leather, vinyl and plastic are quality materials. Volvo's unique Scandinavian take on wood and metal accents also gives the S60's cabin a unique personality among its rivals.

The straightforward dual-temperature adjustment dials and "mode man" pictogram make climate control adjustments simple and intuitive. For more complicated tasks like selecting a media player playlist, programming the optional navigation system or controlling more complicated vehicle functions, the S60 relies on the standard Sensus system. It, too, is fairly easy to use and similar to competitor systems, though the multipurpose knob's location on the dash (rather than the center console) is not ideal.

As you would expect in a Volvo, both the standard front seats and the optional sport seats offer excellent long-trip comfort and proper support. Unfortunately, the backseat isn't quite as accommodating. The seats themselves are supportive, but legroom and foot room are tight for adults taller than 5-feet, 8 inches. Competitors like the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes C-Class are more welcoming for taller passengers.

The trunk's 12-cubic-foot capacity is a bit small for the class as well, but a low liftover height makes it easy to access the space. Both the rear seats fold down, and there's a separate ski pass-through. An available fold-flat front passenger seat further increases cargo carrying capability.

edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.