cars

2013 Volvo S60: Good, Better, Baddest

In all three flavors, Volvo's S60 has style, safety, and sportiness.

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First Impressions

Despite the fact its lineup has lacked distinctly right angles for more than a decade now, those who aren't in the know still tag Volvo as an uncool, stodgy carmaker. We think the new S60 lineup will change all that.

With a new design that bowed in 2012, the S60 got a refreshing dose of Scandinavian style. Safety tech—including adaptive cruise control and collision warning with automatic braking—is superb. Our only complaint is a lackluster infotainment system, but that's changing very soon.

We had the chance to drive three different S60s: a base T5, a mid-range T6 AWD, and a sporty T6 AWD R-design. Each one had its own personality, and each impressed in its own way.

T5

If you thought engines only came with an even number of cylinders, think again. This S60 has Volvo's turbocharged five-cylinder mill under the hood, and it puts out 250 hp. It's front-wheel drive, but the all-wheel drive is a $2,000 option.

Our favorite standard feature, which exists across the S60 range, is City Safety. At speeds between 2 and 30 mph, City Safety will automatically brake the vehicle if a collision is imminent, but only as late as possible to stop the crash. If the driver is actively steering the vehicle or applying the brakes, the system won't engage, because Volvo has made the philosophical choice to give the driver final control of the vehicle. It's only meant as a last resort, a system you hopefully will never have to use.

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Also available is one of the best adaptive cruise control systems we've used, which can automatically follow the car ahead, making a drive in stop-and-go traffic far less aggravating. Our only complaint: It can't sense cars that are about to cut you off, so make sure your foot doesn't stray too far from the brake pedal.

T6 AWD

Let's call this one the Goldilocks option. The T6 has a 300 hp six-cylinder engine with more power than the T5, but the total package is less brutal than the R-Design. All-wheel drive makes it a good match for areas where winters are harsh.

Aside from the more powerful engine and standard all-wheel drive, however, the T6 AWD differs marginally from the T5. Leather seats, better wheels, and keyless ignition are standard on the T6 AWD, optional on the T5. For that matter, so is all-wheel drive.

The only major option that you can't get on any other S60 is the Four-C active chassis. As the regrettable pun in its name would suggest, it uses sensors and powerful processors to "foresee" braking and acceleration, and adjust the suspension accordingly. For instance, the second your foot hits the brake, the front shocks will adjust to keep the front of the car from diving downward and potentially upsetting the car's balance. It's a $750 option and only available on the T6 AWD.

Rrrrr, Design!

The range-topper is the R-Design, a low-slung beauty. If you're thinking about buying one for its looks alone, however, think again. The 325 hp, twin-scroll turbo makes screaming around town in a sedan a ridiculously fun task, but it's hard to dial that power back for everyday use. You'll have to get used to a touchy throttle.

Even with all-wheel drive, however, there's still a bit of torque steer. That's when the front wheels decide which way the steering wheel should go–rather than vice-versa–when the pedal is to the floor. It's a problem with extremely powerful front-wheel drive cars, since so much of the weight of the car is over those front drive wheels. The Volvo may send some power to the rear wheels to aid traction, but this is still a front-wheel drive car.

If you've already committed yourself to a pre-2014 S60 of any trim level, we recommend you upgrade to the very impressive Sensus Connected Touch infotainment system, which runs on Android and is far more intuitive and expandable than the prior version of Sensus.

Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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