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2016 Volvo S60 T5 Inscription Chicagoland Review By Larry Nutson

2016 Volvo S60 T5 Inscription  (select to view enlarged photo)
2016 Volvo S60 T5 Inscription

2016 Volvo S60 T5 Inscription

By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel

Sweden’s Volvo Car Company has been around since 1927. In recent times it has gone from being owned by Ford from 2000 to 2010 to now being owned by Geely Automobile of China.

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Noteworthy is that Volvo continues to be highly regarded as the bench-mark brand for overall traffic safety for its vehicle driver and passengers. Its European roots remain very strong. Sporty and sophisticated is how I view Volvo cars.

In the U.S., Volvo offers a selection of luxury sedan, wagon and crossover SUV models. The S60 sedan occupies the entry into the Volvo model range priced at $34,150 for a front-wheel drive version.

For 2016, Volvo has expanded the S60 model range with the introduction of the all-new premium Inscription models. For the first time customers have a choice of the popular standard length S60 lineup or new Inscription with its three-inch stretch in wheelbase that delivers a class-leading (so says Volvo) 36.5 inches of legroom for rear seat passengers. That’s three inches greater than the standard wheelbase models.

The S60 Inscription comes in front-wheel or all-wheel drive and in Premier or Platinum trims. Prices start at $38,900 for FWD and $40,400 for AWD.

I recently had some Chicagoland drive time in the FWD Inscription equipped with the Platinum trim that added $3,000 to the price. This S60 Inscription also had the Climate Package ($1,300), Park Assist Pilot with BLIS Package ($1,425), and Metallic Paint ($560). Add in the $940 Destination charge and the whole deal rang up at $45,925.

No doubt you have heard all the conversation about autonomous or self-driving cars. We’re probably about ten years away from a car that drives itself down the road. But right now today we have many available features that do things for the driver and help to make driving safer.

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On the S60 Inscription the Technology Package features many semi-autonomous features. Among them is Cyclist Detection with Pedestrian Detection with Full Auto Brake. This system will brake for you if you don’t. Active High Beam automatically switches the headlights to low beam when opposite traffic is detected. Road Sign Information displays traffic speed signs for the driver on the instrument cluster based on the Forward Looking Camera. The package also offers Adaptive Cruise Control with Queue Assist, Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake, Distance Alert, Driver Alert Control, Lane Departure Warning with T5 AWD and T6 R-Design, and Lane Keeping Aid with Drive-E models.

I used the adaptive cruise control with lane keeping on a 100 mile highway jaunt. The cruise control operated very smoothly, and not at all aggressively, to maintain a safe distance from a vehicle ahead. Slowing of the S60 and re-accelerating is very smooth. I was surprised at the lane keeping aid not only for how well it kept me in lane, even on a curve, but for how long it let the car drive without my hands on the steering wheel. Impressive.

Park Assist Pilot, a semi-automatic parallel parking aid is optional for Drive-E models and requires the available Blind Spot Information Package Package. Utilizing front and rear park-assist sensors and operational at speeds up to 18 mph, the system will identify an appropriate sized parking space and guide the driver through step-by-step instructions. The car will automatically control the steering function while the driver controls the brakes and transmission.

I used this on the Volvo and it worked as I expected. I’ve experienced it on other make cars and it certainly is a god-send for anyone who lives in or visits a crowded city and is not adept at parallel parking.

The optional Climate Package provides heated front and rear seats as well as the steering wheel. You can set up the system to turn them on automatically when outside temps are low. Indeed very nice to have on a cold Midwest winter day.

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One of my favorite big-city features is a power-fold function to the outside mirrors. The Volvo had these which helps to save those mirrors from being hit by a passing large truck when parked on a narrow city street.

Powering the S60 Inscription is a 240HP 2.0-L turbo four-cylinder engine mated to an eight-speed automatic on FWD models. AWD models have a 250HP 2.5-L turbo five-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed automatic.

The S60 I drove delivered very quick acceleration, as well as very good highway merging and passing-power. Volvo say acceleration from stop to 60 mph is in 6.0 seconds (6.6 seconds on AWD models).

Low fuel consumption is still important, even with the low gasoline prices we enjoy today. EPA test fuel economy rating for the S60 FWD is 29mpg combined or 3.4 gallons per 100 miles, with 25 city mpg and 37 highway mpg. On my 100 mile each-way interstate road trip I got 32 mpg, moving along in my spirited driving style on a very low-traffic highway.

EPA ratings for the AWD S60 Inscription are lower at 23 mpg combined, with 20 city mpg and 29 highway mpg. Fuel consumption often takes a big hit with AWD, so carefully weigh if you really need it. Often, FWD plus the added use of winter tires all around will do very well, and then you don’t suffer the gas mileage loss in the warmer months.  

By the way, the S60 engine is ULEV II-certified, that is, a Ultra Low Emission Vehicle. Along with being green, driving an S60 might get you a better parking spot if you work in a LEED certified building that provides designated closer-in parking for employees who drive low emission vehicles.

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There’s a stop/start system that shuts the engine off at routine traffic stops. It worked fine in my view, but if it’s not to your liking you can turn the feature off. Generally, no matter what the make of car, when creeping along in stop and go highway traffic it can be a bit annoying.

I was pleasantly surprised to see in the specs that the S60 is rated to tow up to 3500 pounds. The trunk has 12 cuft of space; not bad. I liked the trunk-mounted pop-up grocery bag holder. The release to fold the rear seats is very conveniently located top-mounted right inside the trunk lid.

More Volvo S60 information and specifications can be found at Look here at the Volvo Buyers Guide for comparative information S60 Vs. other luxury sedans.

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For me the best part of this Volvo S60 is the interior. There is lots of comfort along with high quality in materials, fit and finish. The layout and accessibility of controls, switches and buttons is easy to see and use. Seats are supportive and offer a good range of adjustment and the long wheelbase provides for good legroom. It’s like your home, you should like it from the outside but most important is the inside where you spend all your time.

Lastly, I’ll mention that the S60 Inscription is built in China. Based on the car I drove it’s very much a Volvo. I don’t see this as an issue. We have cars on the U.S. market that are assembled in many different countries. Carmakers today know that no matter where a car is produced it must live up to the promise of the brand.

© 2016 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy

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