2020 Volvo S60 T8 E-AWD Hybrid “Inscription Trim” - Rocky Mountain Review
By Dan Poler
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
Rocky Mountain Bureau
The Auto Channel
These are the words that came to mind as I first sat in the pilot’s seat in Volvo’s 2020 S60.
Volvo did a beautiful job of reinventing the S60 for 2019, and the midsize sedan comes into 2020 with just very minor changes.
Inside, an interior where it seems Volvo thought of everything. Quality materials and stitching abound; the driftwood inlays are particularly attractive, with subtle color and texture. Supportive, comfortable seats with adjustable side bolstering and massage. Controls in easy reach. A crystal (crystal!) shift knob by the Swedish glassworks firm Orrefors.
I found the large Sensus display a surprising pleasure, easy to use - and it permits the use of Apple CarPlay and other car functions simultaneously, something of a rarity. Volvo’s attention to detail carries through even to consistency of the typeface used - on buttons, in the 12.3” screen comprising the instrument panel, in the heads-up display, everywhere.
All S60’s come well equipped; this one carried the Inscription package, contributing features such as that wood trim, LED fog lights, 10-way power-adjustable front seats with four-way lumbar adjustment, and passenger-seat memory functions. This was even further enhanced by upgraded front seats and by the Bowers and Wilkins Premium Sound package - the latter Volvo describes as “created to deliver the most realistic and immersive sound experience possible, bringing exceptional clarity and realism to your music.” This is certainly true - it sounds fantastic, although this option does check in with the fairly eye-popping price of $3,200.
On the outside, relative to its predecessor from 2018 and before, the S60 looks evolutionary, not revolutionary - unmistakably Volvo. I was in traffic next to an earlier S60, and noticed how the lines and curves have been nicely carried through, but in this generation, the car has picked up a subtly more aggressive look, easily on par with offerings from our friends in Germany. Although not overly obvious, the exterior bristles with sensors - a camera here, a sonar emitter there. A nice touch are park sensors to the side, warning you of parking too closely to that SUV next to you in the parking lot; front sonar is able to detect the curb in front, alerting you to a possible scrape before it happens.
Let’s talk about the powertrain. In it’s T8 E-AWD form, the S60 comes with a 2.0L engine. Seems small for a vehicle with a curb weight north of two tons, doesn’t it? Well, it’s not.
That 2.0L is really, really good. It’s supercharged, good for 313 hp on its own; the electric motor contributes an additional 87 hp, bringing the car to 400 total system hp, and a whopping 472 lb-ft of torque. With both gas and electric in play, the S60 is quick off the line. Really quick. Leave-everyone-behind-at-the-line quick. Power is plentiful and acceleration is simply effortless. Even with the battery discharged, the gas engine keeps the S60 moving quickly, albeit with a hint of turbo lag. I really appreciated Volvo’s dynamic display on the instrument panel that helps the driver understand when each of electric and gas are in play, and how far you can push the pedal on electric-only before the gas comes online. We managed a respectable 38mpg overall in our time with the S60.
There are, however, some nits to pick: Rear seats don’t fold down, and there’s no spare - just a patch kit and pump. Interior storage is extremely limited; there are door pockets, about one inch depth’s worth of space in the center armrest and…That’s essentially it for cubbies.
Then there’s the brakes and the steering. The brakes feel unrefined, requiring a good deal of pressure to stop at anything more than a leisurely pace; steering effort is so light that feedback is limited, making the turn of the wheel feel somewhat listless and uncertain. The two combine to hamper what is an otherwise excellent driving experience: The S60 is Volvo’s sport sedan, and it’s just not as fun as I’d have hoped to fling the car through twisty Rocky Mountain roads.
Volvo’s long history of safety innovation and engineering continues here; the S60 is an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ when equipped with Active Bending lights. As one would expect, a long list of safety features come in the S60, including low and high speed collision mitigation technologies, blind spot monitoring, lane keeping assistance, and run-off-road mitigation.
In sum, Volvo’s S60 is a solid contender in the luxury midsize sedan space. Despite my reservations about brakes and steering, it’s certainly worthy of a look.
2020 Volvo S60 T8 E-AWD Inscription
Engine Type: 4-cylinder, direct-Injected turbocharged & supercharged + electric motors
Engine Size: 2.0L (gas)
Horsepower: 313 (gas) + 87 (electric) = 400 total system
Torque (lb-ft): 472
Transmission: 8-speed Geartronic
Wheelbase / Length (in): 113.1 / 187.4
Curb Weight: Not provided
Pounds per HP: N/A
Fuel Capacity (gal): 15.9
Fuel Requirement: Premium Unleaded
Tires: Pirelli P Zero; 235/40R19 96V
Brakes, front / rear: Ventilated disc / Ventilated disc
Suspension, front / rear: Four-wheel Independent
Ground clearance (in): Not provided
Drivetrain: All-wheel drive
EPA Fuel Economy: 69 MPGe Electric + Gasoline; 30 MPG gas-only; 38 MPG observed
Base Price: $36,050
Base Trim Price: $55,400
Options and Charges
Option: Luxury Seating Package (Nappa leather upholstery, ventilated front seats with cushion extensions, power adjustable side support, backrest massage front seats): $2,200
Option: Heated rear seats & heated steering wheel: $750
Option: Metallic paint: $645
Option: Bowers and Wilkins premium sound: $3,200
Option: Park Assist Pilot: $200
Option: 19” Inscription alloy wheels: $800
Destination charge: $995
Price as tested: $64,190