2019 Volvo S60 Review

2019 Volvo S60 - All-new for 2019, the S60 offers a modern take on a compact luxury sedan.

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Riding an all-new platform, Volvo's oldest remaining model is completely refreshed for 2019. Though nearly 5 inches longer than before, the new Volvo S60 remains a compact 4-door sedan with front- or all-wheel drive. It, along with the larger S90 are the only sedans in Volvo's lineup. Volvo also offers the V60, which is a 4-door wagon version of the S60. Competitors include the Acura TLX, Alfa Romeo Giulia, Audi A4, BMW 3-Series, Infiniti Q50, Lexus IS and Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

In addition to being larger than the car it replaces, the S60 sports fresh interior and exterior styling, additional safety features and a new vertical touchscreen infotainment system. Three trim levels are offered: Momentum, R-Design and Inscription. Prices start as low as $35,800.

The base engine on all models is called T5. It is a turbocharged 250-hosrepower 2.0-liter 4-cylinder. One step up is the T6, which adds a supercharger to the mix and makes 295 horsepower. Also offered is the T8 plug-in hybrid that produces a total of 400 horsepower and has an all-electric range of approximately 21 miles. While the T5 and T6 are offered across the board, the T8 is only offered on the R-Design and Inscription. The T5 is offered with front-wheel drive. The T6 and T8 get all-wheel drive. All get an 8-speed automatic transmission.

Volvo also offers a subscription service on the Momentum and R-Design. Called Care by Volvo, the no-haggle price includes insurance, maintenance, road-hazard protection and normal wear-and-tear into a monthly payment.

With multiple engine choices across all three trim levels, owners can tailor the S60 to their exact tastes -- and, in this case, that's a very good thing. For most, the base T5 engine is the best fit. With a 0-60 MPH time of about 7 seconds, it offers a good blend of performance, economy and affordability. Stepping up to the T6 brings significantly more power but at the cost of economy and usability. Though it utilizes both a turbo and supercharger, output is peaky, leading to an all-or-nothing feeling that's downright frustrating in daily use. That said, stomp on the gas in the T6 and the S60 scoots away quite nicely.

The T5 is rated at 24 MPG city and 36 MPG highway. The T6 gets 21 and 32 MPG ratings. All engines require premium-grade fuel. The T5 numbers are about class average, the T6 lags when compared to similarly powered competitors. In routine driving with the T6 expect to average close to 25 MPG overall. If you throw in some gentle highway cruising, you might average as high as 30 MPG overall.

The all-new chassis and revised suspension of the S60 works well to provide a comfortable ride and a reasonable amount of athleticism -- when equipped with the standard 18-inch wheels. Stepping up to the available 19s, or worse yet, opting for the sport suspension in the R-Design, brings a hard edge to ride with little benefit in real-world road holding. It's a trade off that most in foul-weather states might not want to make. There are other vehicles in the class, namely the BMW and Alfa Romeo that provide a better balance of comfort and handling prowess with less impact on overall ride quality.

Thankfully, Volvo engineers nailed the details. The steering has a near perfect balance of assist and road feel. Brakes have ample stopping power and an easy-to-modulate pedal. There's little body loan in quick changes of direction and the S60 is easily one of the quietest cars in the class. The all-wheel-drive system does not have a low range and is intended for on-road use only.

Volvo's Pilot Assist semi-autonomous driving system works as advertised to de-stress highway driving. It can steer around gentle corners and modulate speed to keep a safe following distance. While it requires the driver to stay engaged at all times, it can reduce long-trip fatigue. Volvo's self-parking system works as advertised and make it easy to get into tight spaces.

Save the giant touch-screen display, the S60's cabin will feel very familiar to previous owners. Materials appear to be a cut above the class norm and the design is Scandinavian sleek.  The overall feel is upscale and modern.

Drivers face a twin dial setup with a programmable center screen. A head-up display is available as well. While traditional in look and feel, the instruments work well to inform the driver with minimal distraction -- something that cannot be said for all of the vehicles in this class. The center stack is dominated by a vertically mounted touch screen that controls everything save the radio volume knob and a few ancillary climate controls. There are also multi-function buttons on the busy steering wheel to help facilitate switching between radio stations, etc. Android Auto and Apple Car Play are nicely integrated.

In essence, Volvo has created an interior that's about as free from clutter as can be had in today's automobile. For the most part, the design works. Once familiar with the screen setup, navigating between menus becomes second nature. It's unfortunate that things like adjusting the audio output and turning on heated seats take a couple of taps, but that's a price of the simple design.

In the Momentum and Inscription, the front seats are very comfortable. The R-Design offers sport seats that are deeply contoured and might not be to everyone's liking. Regardless, leg room is generous. Headroom is tight and the smallish door openings make it challenging to get in and out. Outward visibility is fair, with somewhat thick roof pillars and a high trunk being the biggest trouble spots. The rear seats are nicely padded and offer decent room for adults -- provided the front seats aren't moved all the way back.

The trunk offers a useful 15 cubic feet of cargo space. In addition, there is a covered bin under the floor and the rear seats fold flat. Interior storage is good with a couple of center console bins and a large glove box.

Bottom Line -
Though Volvo's all-new S60 feels very familiar, it's certainly better than the outgoing model in both form and function. The wide range of engines and features makes it one of the most customizable compact luxury sedans you can buy. On the plus side, the interior is positively posh and the sheer number of safety features impressive. Negatives include the peaky T6 engine, rough ride on the R-Design and compromised front head room. Overall, the pricing structure is very competitive with others in the class. Though sedans may not be in fashion, the new S60 is one that's certainly worth checking out.



Mark Bilek

Mark Bilek is the Director of Communications and Technology for the Chicago Auto Trade Association and the General Manager for DriveChicago.com. He is also responsible for developing and maintaining the Chicago Auto Show Web site.

Mark has been reviewing vehicles for two decades. Previously, he was associate publisher at Consumer Guide, where he oversaw publication of Consumer Guide Car & Truck Test, Consumer Guide's Used Car Book, and ConsumerGuide.com. He was also responsible for publication of "Collectible Automobile" and hardcover automotive titles.

In 2001 and 2002 he served as president of a Midwest Automotive Media Association. Mark has appeared on ABC TV, Fox News, and Speed Channel as an automotive consultant. Previously, he was a regular on WGN Radio's Steve & Johnnie show and now fills in for Paul Brian on the Drive Chicago radio show on WLS. Mark lives in the northwest suburbs with his wife and three sons.

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