2017 Volvo S60 Review
Edmunds expert review
Now in its fourth model year since its last major update, the 2017 Volvo S60 receives only minor changes. Despite its age, the S60 continues to be a relevant player in the small luxury sedan segment. Its gutsy powertrains have made a strong impression, and last year's introduction of the long-wheelbase Inscription version gave the S60 lineup's viability a shot in the arm.
What's more, the S60 has good looks and a long list of features including several safety items. It's tuned for comfort rather than sport, a choice that will suit many consumers just fine. The base Dynamic trim level even looks the part more than ever. The S60 turns and steers competently, though, and its comfortable seats are well-suited for long drives. The 3-inch-longer wheelbase of the Inscription model means your backseat passengers will enjoy the trip, too, whereas the base S60's backseat is on the tight side.
Overall, the 2017 Volvo S60 has an easygoing appeal that makes it worth your attention. The BMW 3 Series remains the standard-bearer especially at the enthusiast-oriented end of the spectrum, and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class is a strong all-arounder. Among other comfort-slanted sedans such as the Acura TLX, Hyundai Genesis and Lexus ES 350, the S60 stacks up quite well and is priced attractively to boot.
The S60 comes with a raft of 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 run-in with 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.
Other available safety features include front and rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.
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 front and side crash protection. In testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the 2016 S60 (we expect similar results from the essentially identical 2017 model) received the best possible rating of Good in all tests, including the moderate-overlap front-impact, small-overlap front-impact, 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.
What's new for 2017
Trim levels & features
A midsize entry-level luxury sedan, the 2017 Volvo S60 is available in standard and extended (Inscription) wheelbase lengths. Trim levels have been simplified for 2017, shrinking to only four this year. The two standard-wheelbase offerings are T5 Dynamic and T6 AWD R-Design, and the long-wheelbase trim levels are T5 Inscription and T5 Inscription Platinum. All wheel-drive is an option on all trim levels, except on the T6 AWD R-Design, where it is compulsory.
The base T5 Dynamic comes standard with 18-inch wheels, a sunroof, xenon headlights, LED running lights, headlight washers, heated mirrors, automatic climate control, leather seats, an eight-way power driver seat (with adjustable lumbar), driver memory settings, power-folding rear headrests, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and a 60/40-split folding rear seat. Standard technology features include a low-speed forward collision warning and mitigation system, a 7-inch display screen, Volvo's Sensus smartphone app integration, Wi-Fi capability, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, voice commands and an eight-speaker sound system, satellite radio, an auxiliary audio jack, a USB audio interface and an engine stop-start system.
The T5 Inscription adds side rear window sunshades, a power rear window sunshade, a backup camera, rear parking sensors, a power front passenger seat, navigation, a configurable instrument display and an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a multi-filter cabin air filtration system and additional sound-deadening material.
The Inscription Platinum adds a 12-speaker Harman Kardon sound system, adaptive xenon headlights, revised seats, wood interior trim, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and Volvo's Convenience and Technology packages (explained below). As noted previously, the Inscription is the only S60 with the long wheelbase and extra rear legroom.
The T6 AWD R-Design has the Platinum features and adds a more powerful engine, all-wheel drive, 19-inch wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, special exterior and interior trim, sport seats, adjustable steering effort and paddle shifters.
Available on all S60s and standard on Platinum models, the Convenience package adds power-folding mirrors, keyless ignition and entry, 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 a lane departure warning and intervention system.
Volvo's optional Climate package, available on all S60s except the Dynamic trim level, 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 Dynamic only) includes 19-inch alloy wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, adjustable steering effort and paddle shifters. Also available is the Vision package, which features blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, front and rear park sensors, and keyless entry and ignition.
Other notable options an automatic parking assistance system and a rear-seat entertainment system with dual displays.
The 2017 Volvo S60 T5 Dynamic and T5 Inscription are equipped with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine 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 29 mpg combined (25 city/36 highway) for the base T5 Dynamic and T5 Inscription, while AWD variants drop to 26 mpg combined (23 city/31 highway).
The T6 AWD R-Design is all-wheel-drive and packs a turbocharged and supercharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that cranks out 302 hp and 295 lb-ft. It, too, uses the eight-speed automatic. In prior Edmunds testing, a front-wheel-drive Volvo S60 with this engine accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds, which is a slower than average time for a small luxury sedan with an upgraded engine. EPA fuel economy numbers are 26 mpg combined (22 city/32 highway). We found it difficult to match these numbers in our long-term testing of a T6 Drive-E, which is fundamentally similar to the T6 AWD R-Design save for our car's front-wheel-drive layout.
The 2017 Volvo S60 is a comfortable and cooperative luxury sedan with ample oomph under the hood, especially in T6 AWD R-Design guise. Despite packing both a supercharger and a turbocharger, it's always well-mannered. The all-wheel-drive system effectively apportions power to individual wheels to maximize traction 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.
Volvo's Scandinavian take on design gives the 2017 Volvo S60's cabin a unique personality among its rivals, even if it is starting to look its age. 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.
Dual temperature adjustment knobs and "mode man" pictograms make climate control adjustments simple and intuitive. Unlike touch-sensitive interfaces, the Volvo's controls can be operated without looking. 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 odd, and it lacks a touchpad input like some rival controller systems.
As is typical among Volvos, the front seats (Comfort, Contour or Sport) offer proper support and outstanding comfort on long trips. Full-size adults, however, might find that the ample bolsters are on the narrow side. In the backseat, the S60 isn't quite as accommodating. The seats themselves are supportive, but space is at a premium — legroom and footroom are tight for folks taller than 5 feet, 10 inches. Competitors such as the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes C-Class are more welcoming for taller passengers. If you'll regularly be taking along rear passengers, the 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 cargo space 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 pass-through for skis.
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.