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2011 Volvo S60 Review


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2011 Volvo S60

See Also: Volvo Buyers Guide
See Also: E-Carmony: Is The 2011 Volvo S60 Your Perfect Match?

Volvo S60 Innovations more than Cosmetic

By Marlon Hanson
The Auto Channel

I’ve yet to be disappointed by a Volvo and the first drive of the all new S60 once more drives home my impression of the brand – premium performance at family level pricing. In other words, Volvo provides a great deal of value for the dollar.

Leaving the parking lot in our Newberg, Oregon launch headquarters, the torque of the new S60 was immediately evident. Turning onto the highway and pressing the accelerator produced dynamic results as I shot forward, then quickly glanced ahead and to the sides for traffic enforcement vehicles. The 3.0-liter, turbocharged inline six instantly showed that modern six-bangers are far more peppy than vintage eights. This engine hid 300 horses and a galloping 325 lb.-ft. of torque under the hood.

I was hoping for some winding mountain roads with a trip through the Cascades so I could test the road hugging prowess of this new Volvo and was rewarded with a mixture of highway straitaways as well as more than a few fantastic hairpin turns throughout the adventure.

Passing, even up significant grades, was effortless with the ability to rocket from 50 to 90 mph close to instantaneous. Heading around hairpins billed as 20 mph max was a joy as this Volvo’s improved steering ratio, stiffened suspension, and traction control made the road grip certain at more than double the recommended speeds.

I did note a real “oneness” with the road where the surface differed from ironed glass. Any variation in roadway composition provided a subtle rumble that one does not expect in a luxury vehicle. The good news is that anyone wishing to avoid the sound and the “feel of the road” can easily avoid it by selecting the “comfort” setting rather than the sport or advanced mode made possible when they are driving a the model with the Four-C active chassis system.

Volvo compensates for different buyers with three completely different chassis choices. Consumers would be wise to test drive all three variations to insure their temperament is matched. A Touring, a Dynamic and a Four-C are all available on North American models. Both the Dynamic and the Touring are no cost options while the Four-C is an addition to the base model. For those unsure of which choice to make due to limited testing roadways, the Touring model is the one that is tuned to provide the smoothest ride on poor road surfaces.

While the styling is unmistakably Volvo, I was surprised at the large changes in this new generation versus the previous one. To me, the most striking difference is across the front of the vehicle, which seems to be smiling at oncoming traffic. The eyebrow-style headlights wrap upward blending into the front sides of the vehicle from the front. The grill seems more than double the size of that on the previous model and the iron mark logo in the center remains unmistakably Volvo.

Technological advances and safety pre-eminence have always been synonymous with the brand and the newest S60 continues in that vein. No Volvo launch would be complete without journalists trying to mow down a pedestrian (a model rather than a real person) and a test of the newest pedestrian detection and auto braking system. Although accidents involving pedestrians are not everyday news, about 4,700 walking Americans are killed each year by motor vehicles.

The S60 is equipped with a radar and camera based pedestrian detection system. If anyone walks into the vehicle’s path and the driver doesn’t react, the vehicle reacts for them, activating the car’s full braking power. The system is foolproof at speeds up to 22 mph and lessens impact at speeds above that.

Other features such as BLIS, the blind spot information system which notifies the driver when another vehicle is in their blind spot, is continued on vehicles manufactured by the company that pioneered it. Adaptive Cruise Control, a Driver Alertness control, and Lane Departure Warning signals further enhance safety in the new S60.

Other features that enhance safety when driving include Bluetooth so one can operate their phone hands free, a voice activated navigation system, and an intuitive entertainment system that can be accessed with thumb movements on the steering wheel.

The interior is comfortable and has even been increased slightly in size due to a 2.4 inch increased wheelbase. While back seat riders will not be having card games, they will find reasonable length journeys much more enjoyable than in many competitive vehicles.

The S60 is competitively priced within its class at $37,700 and provides reasonable fuel economy in this new energy conscious world with 18 mpg anticipated in city driving and 26 mpg projected for the highway.

All in all, I’d have to say Volvo has continued its streak of providing exceptional vehicles for those who want value as well as a status symbol to park in their driveway. This new S60 continues to follow the Volvo tenet of safety first, family first sensibleness while also providing the driving excitement a driving enthusiast demands.