The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD Review By Carey Russ

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2013 Volvo S60 T5


2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD

Volvo had an interesting launch strategy for the second generation of its S60 sedan -- first came the high-performance version, the six-cylinder, 300-horsepower T6, for 2011. The entry-level T5 showed up later, for model year 2012, but even then was eclipsed by that year's 325-horsepower R-Design upgrade to the T6. And then there's the 508-hp Polestar Concept recently unveiled. That's not a production model, but you never know‚€¶

But, even in performance, there's plenty to like about the T5. It's a bit less flashy outside than its higher-performance siblings, a plus for some people. While it's not as quick, it's hardly slow, as engine and transmission improvements have reduced 0-60 times with no gain in appetite and the turbocharged inline five-cylinder engine develops its maximum torque right off idle, for good, immediate acceleration when needed or desired. And to better get that torque to the ground, in all weather conditions, Volvo's "Electronically-Controlled All-Wheel Drive With Instant Traction" AWD system is now offered for the T5, as a standalone option.

As is common in the business, trim levels and standard and optional equipment have been realigned. Rain sensor windshield wipers, headlight washers, and a Tunnel Detection System that automatically turns headlights on (if they were off) when entering a tunnel, and then off if they were off outside are standard in all models. Trim levels group previously optional equipment together in more popular ways for buyer convenience.

All of the basic safety and convenience features, including City Safety and Dynamic Stability and Traction Control (DSTC), puddle lights in the outside mirrors, a tilt- and telescope-adjustable steering wheel, trip computer, and the Volvo Sensus color display are standard on the base T5. From there, amenities increase through Premier, Premier Plus, and Platinum levels. And there are still enough standalone and packaged options for any desired level of luxury and infotainment and safety technology.

My test car for the past week was what is likely to be one of the more common specifications of S60, a T5 Premium with AWD. That means leather seating, a moonroof, power front passenger seat, auto-dimming mirrors, and the Keyless Drive with Personal Car Communicator push-button start/stop system. It had all of the comfort and safety expected in a Volvo, a fine suspension calibration for everyday use on any sort of road surface, and plenty of power for all real-world tasks. With fuel use around 20 mpg in town and 25 or better on the open road, no complaints about fuel economy. Add distinctive styling and exemplary seat comfort, and the Volvo S60 is a fine alternative to the more common entry-luxury choices.

APPEARANCE: Volvo has a Good Thing in their current styling, especially as applied to the S60. It's graceful and coupe-like, diametrically opposed to the boxiness of the 70s through mid-90s. With strong shoulders, flowing lines, and a gently-rounded nose, it has presence. Discreet amounts of chrome trim give the understated look of European luxury. Use of LEDs in the distinctive taillights distinguishes it at night.

COMFORT: With the Keyless Drive fob, doors automatically unlock as you step near the car, convenient when carrying something bulky. The fob may be kept in your pocket, just press the start/stop button. Inside, there are no major changes in design, and none were needed. It's elegant Swedish Modern with first-class materials and textured aluminum trim. The leather-rimmed steering wheel is manually-adjustable for tilt and reach, and has cruise and auxiliary audio controls. At Premium level, seats are leather and both fronts are power-adjustable. Seat heating, including outboard rears, is optional, but a 60/40 rear seat split with a center armrest/ski-passthrough is standard. Seat comfort is as expected in a Volvo -- top of the class in front and very good in the contoured rear outboard positions. Volvo's free-standing center stack gives a little extra open storage space behind, and further storage is found in the locking glove box and pockets in all four doors. The simple, iconic climate system controls are a design standout. The S60's interior is a wonderful place to spend the day in comfort.

SAFETY: It's a Volvo so of course the S60 has all of the required and expected safety equipment and construction for both passive and active safety. Its unibody structure was designed and built to protect occupants, and a full complement of airbags, the Whiplash Protection Seating System (WHIPS) for the front seats, and the City Safety System, which automatically applies brakes if sensors determine that a collision is imminent at speeds up to 19 mph (30 kph) and more handle passive safety. Good handling and maneuverability and strong antilock four-wheel disc brakes with a variety of assistance systems take care of active safety. Electronic systems such as blind-spot warning, Adaptive Cruise Control, Collision Warning With Full Auto Brake, Driver Alert Control, Lane Departure Warning and more are optionally available. The accident you don't have it always the best one‚€¶

RIDE AND HANDLING: Not only are good handling and maneuverability important safety features, they also provide pleasure when driving. A car, especially a sports-luxury car, is more than merely a transportation appliance. But a pure sports suspension, as in the S60 T6 R-Design is likely too stiff for many people's idea of luxury comfort. In the T5, the springs, shocks, stabilizer bars, and bushings are more moderate, but correctly matched for a fine blend of passenger comfort and driving enjoyment.

PERFORMANCE: Volvo has a long history with turbocharging, dating to the mid-1980s. The T5 is an excellent example of turbo engine for real-world use -- power, torque really, is instantly available at just about any throttle angle above idle. No lag, and no waiting until the top of the rev range for anything to happen. The namesake 2.5-liter dual overhead cam inline five-cylinder gets a boost in compression ratio, from 9.0 to 9.5:1, and internal friction reduction for increased efficiency. The six-speed automatic transmission shifts more quickly in Sport mode. Power is the same 250 hp (at 5400 rpm), with torque 266 lb-ft from 1800 through 4200 rpm. That torque plateau is all you need to know -- instant urge whenever needed, no light switch. According to Volvo, 0-60 acceleration has increased from the previous 6.8 seconds to 6.4 with front-wheel drive, or 6.6 with AWD, which does add a hundred pounds or so of weight. But it puts traction where needed, when needed, always good, even in warm, clear weather. And even more so in rain or snow.

CONCLUSIONS: The lowest-priced version of Volvo's S60, the T5, is far from mere "entry-level" in appointment, manners, and ability.

2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD

Base Price			$ 31,750
Price As Tested			$ 38,170
Engine Type			DOHC 20-valve inline 5-cylinder
Engine Size			2.5 liters / 152 cu. in.
Horsepower			250 @ 5400 rpm
Torque (lb-ft)			266 @ 1800-4200 rpm
Transmission			6-speed automatic with manual mode
Wheelbase / Length		109.3 in. / 182.2 in.
Curb Weight			est 3600 lbs.
Pounds Per Horsepower		14.5
Fuel Capacity			17.8 gal.
Fuel Requirement		87 octane unleaded regular gasoline
Tires				P235/45 R17 97V Conti Pro Contact
Brakes, front/rear		vented disc / solid disc, ABS, HBA, OHB, RAB, FBS standard
Suspension, front/rear		independent MacPherson strut/
				  independent multi
Drivetrain			transverse front engine, all-wheel drive

EPA Fuel Economy - miles per gallon
    city / highway / observed		20 / 29 / 23
0 to 60 mph				6.6  sec

S60 Premier Package - includes:
  power glass moonroof, leather seating surfaces,
  auto-dimming rearview mirror, accessory prep
  cable, power front passenger seat, Keyless Drive
  with Personal Car Communicator			$ 2,200
Climate Package -- includes:
  heated front seats, interior air quality system,
  heated windshield washer nozzles			$   700
Electronically-Controlled All-Wheel Drive With
  Instant Traction					$ 2,000
Trunk Spoiler						$   375
17" NJORD alloy wheels					$   250
Destination Charge					$   895