Used 2016 Volvo S60 T6 Polestar Review
The 2016 Volvo S60 won't bowl you over with excitement, but with its diverse selection of engines and impressive safety, it's an appealing pick for an entry-level luxury sedan.
Long noted for safety and more recently for styling as well, Volvo has been a solid contender in the entry-level luxury sedan market with its S60 lineup for several years now. The automaker bolstered its position in 2015 when it rolled out its new family of strong and fuel-efficient turbocharged engines. For 2016, Volvo is better able to challenge leading German rivals in this class with the debut of the roomier S60 Inscription models.
The 2016 Volvo S60 is a surprisingly vice-free choice for a small luxury sedan.
A new body style within the 2016 Volvo S60 family, the Inscription has a 3-inch-longer wheelbase and an accompanying 3 inches of extra rear-seat legroom. Developed in part for the Chinese market, where many business professionals prefer to be driven and demand a roomy, well-appointed backseat area, the S60 Inscription gives U.S. shoppers a new reason to consider the S60: It has plenty of rear-seat room for adult-size friends and family.
Throughout the line, the Volvo S60 has the expected qualities of this segment: handsome styling, responsive handling, a comfortable cabin and plenty of luxury features. The endearing Volvo hallmarks of impressive safety technologies, extremely comfortable front seats and feisty engines also come along for the ride.
We like the 2016 Volvo S60. Although the backseat in the standard-wheelbase models is a bit tight and its sporting credentials aren't quite on the same level as the BMW 3 Series, the Volvo S60 compares well against more comfort-tuned entry-level luxury sedans such as the Acura TLX, Hyundai Genesis 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 2016 Volvo S60 is a midsize luxury sedan available in standard and extended-wheelbase (Inscription) versions. On the standard wheelbase, the trim levels are T5 Drive-E, T5 AWD, T6 Drive-E, T6 Drive-E Platinum, T6 R-Design AWD and T6 R-Design AWD Platinum. Trims for the extended-wheelbase Inscription models are the T5 Inscription, T5 Inscription Platinum, T5 AWD Inscription and T5 AWD Inscription Platinum.
Apart from their powertrains, the standard-wheelbase T5 Drive-E and T5 AWD have the same 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 and a 60/40 split-folding rear seat with pass-through. Standard technology features include a low-speed forward collision warning and mitigation system, 7-inch display screen, Volvo's "Sensus" smartphone app integration, WiFi capability, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, voice commands and an eight-speaker sound system with a CD player, HD radio, satellite radio, an auxiliary audio jack and a USB audio interface. The T5 Drive-E also gets an engine stop-start system.
For T5 Drive-E and T5 AWD models, the Premier package adds bright window trim, a sunroof, leather upholstery, a navigation system, a configurable instrument display and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.
The extended-wheelbase T5 Inscription and Inscription AWD models start with T5 Premier equipment and add 18-inch alloy wheels, rear parking sensors, upgraded front seats with additional bolstering, a multi-filter interior air filtering system, interior accent lighting, increased sound-deadening material, manual rear door sunshades and a power rear window sunshade.
The Platinum trim adds a 12-speaker Harman Kardon sound system, adaptive xenon headlights and Volvo's Convenience and Technology packages (explained below). Front-wheel-drive Platinum trims also get an automated parallel parking system.
The T6 Drive-E gets the same standard equipment as the T5 Drive-E with Premier, along with a more powerful engine, 18-inch alloy wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, adjustable steering effort, paddle shifters, sport seats with power lumbar support, and keyless ignition and entry.
The T6 R-Design AWD has the T6 Drive-E's features along with an even more powerful engine (depending on production date), all-wheel drive, special exterior styling details, 19-inch wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, special interior trim, a sport steering wheel and a special R-Design sport seat.
The special-order T6 R-Design AWD Polestar adds to the Platinum trim with 20-inch alloy wheels, a special aerodynamics kit, beefier front brakes, unique interior trim, an exclusive exterior color and a more powerful version of the six-cylinder engine.
Available on all S60s and standard on Platinum models, the Convenience package adds power-folding mirrors, keyless ignition and entry, a rearview camera and a grocery bag holder. The Technology package features adaptive cruise control, automatic high beam headlight control, a more advanced forward collision warning and mitigation system, and driver-attention warning. A lane-departure warning system is included with this package in all-wheel-drive models, while the Drive-E models also get a more sophisticated lane-keeping assist system that will steer the car in the event of driver inaction.
Volvo's optional Climate package includes a heated windshield (except the T5 Inscription models), 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. On T6 R-Design models, this package can be ordered with an automated parallel parking feature.
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.
performance & mpg
The 2016 Volvo S60 T5 Drive-E and T5 Inscription are equipped with 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder engines with 240 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission. EPA fuel economy estimates stand at an impressive 30 mpg combined (26 city/38 highway) for the base T5 Drive-E and 29 mpg combined (25 city/37 highway) for the Inscription.
The T5 AWD and T5 AWD Inscription feature all-wheel-drive, a six-speed automatic and a 2.5-liter turbocharged inline five-cylinder engine good for 250 hp and 266 lb-ft of torque. EPA fuel economy estimates for both models stand 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 four-cylinder engine that cranks out 302 hp and 295 lb-ft. It uses the eight-speed automatic. In Edmunds testing, a T6 Drive-E accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds, which is quick but essentially an average time for an entry-level luxury sedan with an upgraded engine. EPA fuel economy numbers are 27 mpg combined (23 city/33 highway). We found it difficult to match these numbers in our long-term testing of a T6 Drive-E.
Midway through the model year, Volvo gave all S60 T6 models the supercharged and turbocharged 2.0-liter engine.
Next up the performance ladder is the T6 R-Design AWD. Early 2016 models feature a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder producing 325 hp and 354 lb-ft. Power is sent to all wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission. Its 0-60 time is given as 5.4 seconds, and the EPA fuel economy estimate is 21 mpg combined (18 city/27 highway). For models produced after November 2015, Volvo replaced this engine with the same 302-hp four-cylinder engine and eight-speed automatic transmission that it fits to the T6 Drive-E. EPA-estimated fuel economy stands at 25 mpg combined (22/31). The Polestar edition uses the turbocharged six-cylinder engine, retuned to produce 345 hp. Its six-speed transmission gets paddle shifters, and the EPA fuel efficiency estimates remains unchanged at 21 mpg combined.
The S60 comes loaded with standard safety features that include antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front-seat side airbags, side curtain airbags and whiplash-reducing front head restraints. Low-speed frontal collision warning and collision mitigation with automatic braking ("City Safety") systems are standard and 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 reaction from the driver isn't quick enough. Also standard is Volvo's On Call system that includes emergency assistance, automatic crash notification and stolen vehicle assistance.
Included in the optional Technology package (standard on the Platinum trim) is an upgraded version of the forward collision mitigation system that adds pedestrian and cyclist detection. This package also includes electronic warnings for driver inattention, lane departure warning and lane departure intervention (Drive-E trims).
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 Edmunds brake testing, an XC60 T6 Drive-E stopped from 60 mph in 120 feet, which is average for this class of car.
In government crash testing, the S60 earned a perfect five-star rating 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 all tests, including the moderate-overlap frontal-offset, small-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact, roof-strength and head restraint/seat design (whiplash protection). The IIHS also rated the S60's optional forward collision warning and mitigation system as "Superior."
The 2016 Volvo S60 is a comfortable and well-behaved luxury sedan whether you go with four, five or six cylinders under the hood. The T6 Drive-E's engine is impressively smooth, and you'd never know that it's packing both a supercharger and a turbocharger. The older inline-5 and inline-6 engines aren't as fuel-efficient, but they're still plenty powerful, and the all-wheel-drive system apportions power to individual wheels to maximize traction and grip around turns or on slippery roads.
One thing the S60 is not is a true sport sedan. Even with AWD, it lacks the handling precision and driver engagement offered by a few other rivals. Instead, it takes a balanced approach to sport and comfort. It's sporty enough not to be a complete wet blanket on a winding mountain road, yet it's also smooth and quiet enough for easy everyday commuting.
Interior materials in the 2016 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.
Dual temperature adjustment dials and "mode man" pictograms make climate control adjustments simple and intuitive. For more complicated tasks such as 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's fairly easy to use, though the multipurpose knob's location on the dash (rather than the center console) is not ideal and lacks a touchpad input like some rival controller systems.
It may take some time to get used to the S60's knob-based infotainment interface and mishmash of function buttons on the center console.
As you would expect in a Volvo, the front seats (standard, Contour or Sport) offer excellent long-trip comfort and proper support. Bigger adults may find themselves a little squished between the ample bolsters, however. In back, the S60 isn't quite as accommodating. The seats themselves are supportive, but legroom and foot room are tight for folks taller than 5 feet, 10 inches. Competitors like the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes C-Class are more welcoming for taller passengers. If you'll regularly be taking along rear passengers, the new 2016 T5 Inscription with its extra 3 inches of legroom is the way to go. It's also easier to get in and out of, and that extra room can be helpful for installing rear-facing child safety seats.
The trunk's 12-cubic-foot capacity is a bit small for the class (it's the same for either wheelbase), 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.
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.