2014 Volvo S60 T5 Review By Carey Russ
DRIVING DOWN THE ROAD WITH CAREY RUSS
Reviewed 2014 Volvo S60 T5
There have been major changes at Volvo in recent years, and for the better. After a decade of ownership by Ford, the Swedish automaker was sold to Chinese company Geely in 2010. Was this the end of Volvo? Would Volvos now be made in China instead of Sweden?
Volvo is still headquartered in Gothenburg, Sweden. Most Volvos are built there, with some assembled in Ghent, Belgium -- as has been the case since the mid-1960s. There are assembly facilities in China, for the Chinese market. No surprise, and hardly the only European (or American) manufacturer to do that. The best news for Volvo is that Geely has been much better with financing of product development than the previous owners. The most apparent recipient of this has been the S60 sedan.
If it's not "all-new", the 2014 S60 has gotten a major styling overhaul. Suddenly the original 2000 S60 looks like the box it came in -- and back at that time, it was anything but that, leveraging stylistic cues from the larger S80 into a more coupe-like body design. Compared to its immediate predecessor, all sheetmetal and plastic from the windshield pillars forward is new. The grille and headlights have been revised, and it all makes for a sleeker and more cohesive look. Offered with turbocharged inline five- and six-cylinder engines, as the T5 and T6, respectively, the Volvo S60 is every bit as much a sports sedan as any German competitor.
That statement comes after a week with a T5 Premier Plus model with the Sport Package. Trim levels with the 2.5-liter, 250-horsepower five-cylinder engine are T5, T5 Premier, T5 Premier Plus, and T5 Platinum. Front-wheel drive is standard, with all-wheel drive optional. AWD is standard with the 300-hp, 3.0-liter T6, in T6, T6 Premier Plus, T6 Platinum and 325-hp R-Design and R-Design Platinum.
So the T5 is hardly the "high-performance" version, but add the Sport Package of upgraded wheels and tires and chassis components (and lovely sports seats), and it does the job admirably well. It's more "sport-touring" than "pure sports", and that's all the better for life in the real world. Volvo has been making turbocharged engines since the early 1980s, and the T5 shows all that is right about turbocharging. With maximum torque from 1800 through 4200 rpm, power is right now, anytime. Gear selection optional, so it works well with the automatic. Fuel economy didn't used to be a Volvo virtue, but with low- to mid-20s around town and on backroads and low 30s on the highway in this one, no complaints. Add smooth torque when needed, a well-tuned suspension, and lovely looks, and the Volvo S60 is a fine alternative to the common German (or Japanese, or American) sports sedan.
APPEARANCE: The evolution of revolution! The difference between the previous and current S60 is merely in detail, but attention to detail makes a difference. The front of the car is slimmer and a bit longer, less than half an inch. The grille is a bit larger, ever so slightly reshaped, and just a little higher. Add the reshaped headlights with LED running lights and a performance-looking lower bumper fascia -- which still has good clearance for obstacles like parking stops -- and the result is a lighter, leaner look. At the rear, twin exhaust finishers set into the lower bumper fascia give a sporty look and arching LED taillights stand out at night.
COMFORT: Interior changes are less than exterior, but notable. There is a new instrument cluster, metal trim has been added around the HVAC vents in the dash, and there are other minor differences. Details: the basic Swedish Modern look is still there, with simple shapes and good use of color. It's just a little fancier. The new TFT instrument display is bright and easy to see in all light. There is no tachometer, but with a low-revving engine, automatic transmission, and electronic rev-limiter, it's not likely to be missed. The "flying buttress" center stack is a Volvo specialty, as are its iconic climate controls and self-explanatory system controls. The screen at the top of the stack displays system information, and navigation maps and info if that system is installed. None here. There is ample storage space in the cabin, with a large, locking, glove box, good console box, storage in all doors, and of course behind the center stack. The (optional) power sports seats were very comfortable, with proper but unobtrusive bolstering. (And driver comfort contributes to safety!) The rear contoured bench features floor heat and B-pillar climate vents. A moderate central tunnel means some center usefulness, for small people and short times -- like nearly every other sedan made today. The seatback folds 60/40 for occasional cargo duty. The trunk is moderately-sized but does have a small opening -- again, like most sedans. Need more cargo and want something similar? V60 Wagon!
SAFETY: Volvo? Doesn't that mean "safety" in Swedish? 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. The accident you don't have it always the best oneâ€¦ 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.
RIDE AND HANDLING: The Sport Package means an appropriately firmer suspension calibration, but it's not at all harsh. And is much less thumpy over small irregularities than older Volvo sport suspensions. Good, predictable response to driver inputs not only gives pleasure to the driver, it also enhances active safety. This is a very pleasant car to drive, and should acquit itself well in any performance driving situations. A Volvo for a track day? I've done it (thank you, Volvo) and an S60 is as capable as any car in its class -- and better than many.
PERFORMANCE: Turbocharging is nothing new at Volvo. The T5 engine is a fine example, and is unchanged. No change necessary -- torque is available instantly at pretty much any engine speed you'll use. Horsepower is what you brag about -- and 250 (at 5400 rpm) is plenty good there -- but torque is what you feel. And with 266 lb-ft available from 1800 through 4200 rpm, response is quick and certain. I like to shift for myself, but the six-speed automatic works just fine here. D for everyday errands and highway droning, S for play. Manual shifting, by means of paddles behind the steering wheel with the Sport Package, is necessary only when playing hard, and not necessarily even then. The engine is the opposite of "peaky", and the transmission shifts smoothly and quickly. Yes, sometimes there is some torque steer. There's also some torque. Fuel economy, with a 24-mpg average for the week, was no cause for complaint. More highway, better mileage, more play with the turbo, feed more often.
CONCLUSIONS: A coupe-like shape, lovely lines, great power, and good fuel economy -- and it's a Volvo? Absolutely! Meet the newest S60 T5.
2014 Volvo S60 T5
Base Price $ 32,400 Price As Tested $ 38,715 Engine Type turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 20-valve inline 5-cylinder engine Engine Size 2.5 liters / 152 cu. in. Horsepower 250 @ 5400 rpm Torque (lb-ft) 266 @ 1800-4200 rpm Transmission 6-speed automatic with adaptive logic and manual mode Wheelbase / Length 109.3 in. / 182.5 in. Curb Weight 3528 lbs. /3800 Pounds Per Horsepower 14.1 Fuel Capacity 17.8 gal. Fuel Requirement 87 octane unleaded regular gasoline Tires 235/40R18 95H Conti ProContact m+s Brakes, front/rear vented disc / solid disc, ABS, HBA, OHB, RAB, FBS standard Suspension, front/rear independent MacPherson strut / independent multilink Drivetrain transverse front engine, front-wheel drive PERFORMANCE EPA Fuel Economy - miles per gallon city / highway / observed 21 / 30 / 24 0 to 60 mph 6.2 sec Towing Capacity 3300 lbs. OPTIONS AND CHARGES Premier Plus Package -- includes: power glass moonroof, leather seating surfaces, Keyless Drive with Personal Car Communicator, power passenger seat, auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass, side window brightwork, adaptive digital display, HomeLink integrated garage door opener, rear park assist, grocery bag holder $ 3,150 Sport Package -- includes: sport seats, paddle shifters, 18" TITANIA alloy wheels, dynamic chassis $ 1,200 Metallic Paint $ 550 Heated Front Seats $ 500 Destination Charge $ 915