Finally, after years of neglect, Volvo is on a road to recovery and reconsideration by luxury vehicle buyers seeking to drive something different. The 2015 Volvo S60 is the automaker’s best-selling model, and for the second model year in a row it gets significant upgrades in the form of new powerful and fuel-efficient Drive-E engines, added equipment, new technology, and more. Prices range from $34,225 for a basic S60 T5 Drive-E model to more than $55,000 for the S60 T6 R-Design with all the extras.
Last year, Volvo reworked the S60’s styling, and the result is a more upscale look, especially when the car is fitted with larger 18-inch or 19-inch aluminum wheels. My preference is the latter, seen here on an S60 T6 Drive-E also equipped with a sport suspension, but the low-profile performance tires a stiffer underpinnings definitely degrade ride quality.
Volvo says the S60’s cabin adheres to Scandinavian design tenets that dictate a simple, clean, and understated layout. When you examine the details, though, it is easy to spot discordance and clutter.
My 2015 Volvo S60 T6 test car’s optional sport seats were supremely comfortable, lacking only seat ventilation to achieve perfection. The driver faces a thick-rimmed steering wheel and is provided with soft places to rest an arm or elbow, including the upper portions of the door panels.
Unlike in boxy Volvos of yore, the current S60’s rear seat is cramped for adults. The seat is mounted too low in the vehicle in order to create as much headroom as possible, and the front seatbacks are softly padded for greater comfort, but there’s no denying that this represents compromise.
The 2015 Volvo S60’s trunk is small, measuring just 12 cu.-ft. The space is well shaped, though, and provides enough room for a short family road trip. Many S60 model’s are equipped with a handy flip-up grocery bag holder.
The all-wheel-drive versions of the S60 continue with the same turbocharged inline 5-cylinder and 6-cylinder engines as last year. Front-drive models get a new turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine. Dubbed Drive-E, the new engine makes 240 horsepower in the S60 T5 and 302 horsepower in the S60 T6. A new 8-speed automatic transmission is standard with the Drive-E engine, along with automatic stop/start technology, an Eco+ driving mode, and electric steering.
The Volvo S60’s track record demonstrates average quality, reliability, and dependability according to Consumer Reports and J.D. Power. Maintenance is free for the first 30,000 miles, and the car’s warranty lasts for four years or 50,000 miles, whichever comes first.
Based on crash tests performed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the Volvo S60 is one of the safest cars you can buy. It gets 5-star ratings in every NHTSA test, including for rollover resistance, and an IIHS “Top Safety Pick+” rating in basic format, before adding any options.
While Volvo does provide a City Safety autonomous braking system as standard equipment for the 2015 S60, a reversing camera is optional. An affordable Technology Package adds numerous safety-related systems, and the S60 can be upgraded with a Blind Spot Information System, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, front and rear parking sensors, active headlights, and more.
In addition to the long menu of safety-related upgrades, the S60 E-Drive can be optioned with a new Park Assist Pilot system that steers the car into a parking space while the driver operates the transmission and pedals. A rear-seat entertainment system is also available for the S60.
This is the 2015 Volvo S60 model’s floating center control panel. Note how the display screen is located a good distance from the corresponding buttons and knobs. Further note how the buttons are grouped closely together in the middle of panel, in accordance with a Scandinavian design ethos. Those buttons and knobs control the stereo, the climate system, the navigation system, the Bluetooth and media connectivity systems, the detailed vehicle settings and trip computer systems, and the safety systems. To say that they require a distracting level of the driver’s attention to operate is an understatement.
The optional navigation system features a 3-D map view and decent resolution. The screen, though, is rather small. Programming a destination is easy, and the methodology recalls that of an Audi except that the controls are on the dashboard instead of the center console.
In the 2015 Volvo S60 T6 E-Drive, the new turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine makes 302 horsepower at 5,700 rpm and 295 lb.-ft. of torque from 2,100 rpm to 4,500 rpm. This model weighs 3,472 pounds; that’s just 124 pounds more than a 184-horsepower Dodge Dart GT. Is this Volvo fast? Umm, yeah, it’s fast.
Obviously, the Volvo S60 doesn’t compete with a Dodge Dart. Instead, the S60 goes up against the Acura TLX, Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, Cadillac ATS, Infiniti Q50, Lexus IS, and Mercedes-Benz C-Class.
Safe, speedy, and undeniably Swedish, the 2015 Volvo S60 demonstrates that this car company is ready to get back into the game. The styling, packaging, and ergonomics might not be quite right, a situation almost certain to be resolved by Volvo’s talented new designer, Thomas Ingenlath, but the rest of the S60 is ready to take on the established players in the entry-luxury segment of the car market.
Volvo provided the 2015 S60 for this photo gallery
2015 Volvo S60 T6 Drive-E photos by Christian Wardlaw