Volvo as a luxury brand is far too often considered as an afterthought by new BMW, Mercedes, Acura or Lexus buyers these days with even one time luxury brand losers Cadillac and Audi now showing off their mettle as the fastest growing luxury brands in the United States. But the question remains, now that Volvo is under Chinese ownership, can it claw back a foothold in the United States market where it was once so successful?
Well, if Volvo has any hope of regaining lost market share among luxury brands then its 2013 S60 lineup of safe yet sporty sedans had better offer buyers an experience unavailable to those shopping for the usual 3-Series, C-Class or Acura TL. Thankfully, not only is the S60 sedan one of the downright sexiest looking luxury four doors in its price class but it also manages to be fast, fun to drive and unique down to the its core. And, yes, as it's a Volvo it is still extremely safe for you, your loved ones and even the passengers walking past you on the street. Maybe that's part of the reason why Volvo has seen an unexpected upswing in sales of this sedan as of late. Now, would we buy one over one of the usual luxury sport sedan suspects?
The most basic S60 model that you can buy is the T5 front wheel drive model which comes standard with a very uniquely laid out 2.5 liter 5-cylinder turbocharged motor good for a healthy 250 horsepower/266 lb. feet of torque which is quite frankly plenty of power for most people's needs. That model starts out at just $31,600 whereas an all-wheel drive system can be added for just $2,000 but only on the higher spec, more expensive T5 trim levels.
Then there is, of course, the all-wheel drive only T6 model which features a turbocharged 6-cylinder 300 horsepower/325 lb. feet of torque motor that transforms the car into a rarified luxury sport sedan when it comes to its capabilities. The standard T6 AWD model starts just over $40,000 while there is also a very limited edition variant of this vehicle known as the R-Design which starts at $44,600. The R-Design features bespoke and sportier front seats, a unique steering wheel, R-Design blue colored tachometer/speedometer, special dark gray 18-inch alloy wheels, a rear spoiler with rear diffuser and additional exterior enhancements along with the ability to order the R-Spec exclusive Rebel Blue paint job which is, to say the least, very eye catching. It's sort of a Smurf blue. Yes, on a Volvo.
Truly a high point when it comes to the overall S60 package, the exterior look of this Volvo is nothing if not sexy yet still oozing with the simple elegance that Swedish designs are known for around the world. And no, for those of you living in a cave the 2013 Volvo S60 is impossible to describe as "boxy" since that design element went out with the Bush administration. And by that we mean George Bush Sr. Volvo's have become, dare we say it, a bit sexy. And the S60 is easily the sexiest model in their lineup.
S60 R-Design models differentiate themselves somewhat from lesser trims thanks to chrome covered side view mirror caps, some extra sporty body add-ons as well as the option of a very unique racing blue exterior color that bears a striking resemblance to a Smurf's skin tone. That color choice is not for shrinking violets. Otherwise, the S60 looks terrific in any color even the rather sedate white of our most recent S60 T5 AWD test model. Even with such a non-confrontational color choice the car's lines still managed to impress each time we walked out to get in. However if it were our choice we would choose red. Yes, a red Volvo.
If you are looking for a luxury car interior like no other that is not in any way derivative of any other current carmakers design ethos then the S60 is the car for you. Everywhere you look there are stand out elements that create a feel that is both simple and ergonomic yet utterly unlike anything you have seen before. It is also home to two of the most comfortable and elegant looking front seats we have ever had the pleasure to test.
The first thing you will no doubt notice is the floating center dashboard console that houses the center screen and audio/climate controls which is incredibly thin and has a storage cubby hidden behind it. Then, of course, there is the see through transmission shift lever that looks like it is hewn from a solid piece of crystal yet really isn't as that might pose a shattering hazard if you dropped something on it. Those practical yet stylish Swedes.
One thing that might infuriate those used to how the controls of their Acura, Audi, BMW, Lexus or Mercedes models work is the fact that every knob and switch in the Volvo is designed for some reason to operate in the opposite fashion as opposed to the aforementioned competition. For instance, to scroll forward through i-Pod song titles on the center screen you turn a silver chromed knob the as if you were going backwards in, perhaps, an Audi A4. Why does Volvo do this, you ask? We don't really care actually because we appreciate this car's uniqueness in a sea of bland homogeneity. And besides, if you own an S60 you will get used to how the controls operate in a week anyway.
Interior space is sufficient for four full size adults but five will no doubt feel a bit cramped as the back seat is not the roomiest in this class of luxury car. Blame the handsome coupe-like silhouette and rear legroom that is a bit below average for that. Trunk space is 12 cubic feet which is below the norm for mainstream family sedans but just average for luxury rivals like the Acura TSX and other models from BMW and Mercedes. No matter, the trunk is nicely shaped and perfectly capable of handling a trip to the airport to pick up the in-laws.
Now, we all know Volvo's are safe but this has to be the point where we mention that they are terribly boring to drive, right? Well on that count you would most definitely be wrong no matter if you are behind the wheel of the S60 T5 with its burbling 250 horsepower/266 lb. feet of torque 5-cylinder turbo motor or the T6 with its impossibly powerful 300 horsepower/325 lb. feet of torque turbocharged 6-cylinder. Both engines put their power to the ground frightfully well with turbocharged power spooling up nice and low in the rev ranges for both the 5 and 6 cylinder.
Truthfully the S60 T5 has plenty of get up and go for most any driver with the T6 proving to be more than necessary at most times given how glacial most urban and suburban traffic situations are for most modern people. But for those odd moments when you need turbine smooth power yesterday and you aren't in the mood for a characterfully offbeat "fah-rump" of five cylinders firing away then by all means move your Type-A personality past a BMW dealer and buy a 2013 Volvo S60 T6.
This Volvo S60 model is the one that accelerates in the most devastatingly Germanic fashion and you will always know everyone on board will be secure with Volvo's amazing safety tech and the promise of full-time all-wheel drive for this version. According to the IIHS the 2013 Volvo S60 is an ultra-high rated "Top Safety Pick +" meaning it gets top scores in deadly offset pole front impact safety crash tests which represent collisions with poles, trees and pedestrians—the most deadly types of crashes as far as survivability goes.
Now, we are very happy that the 2013 Volvo S60 corners with such precision and steers so sharply but we also love its optional roster of safety features. Now, with its City Safe system the S60 monitors the road ahead of the driver for any road hazards, pedestrians or cyclists with cameras mounted behind the center rear view mirror. If any impact is detected to be imminent by your Volvo not only will it warn you, it will hit the brakes for you to ensure you hit nothing and no one. Yes, essentially the 2013 Volvo S0 with City Safe and all of its advanced safety features won't let you make a mistake and have a car accident. Do you trust your Volvo enough to believe that's true? Well, after experiencing this technology firsthand, we definitely do.
We wish the Swedish company had kept offering its one time BMW beating Safe + Sound Warranty coverage plan which it quietly put an end to at the end of 2012. This no doubt very expensive warranty coverage from Volvo ensured buyers wouldn't have to spend anything on maintaining their new car for 5 years/60,000 miles which even included new brakes and tires for a full year longer than BMW offers a free service plan to its customers. Currently Volvo just services your new 2013 S60 at 10,000, 20,000 and 30,000 miles which makes it shorter than the free maintenance offer from VW that lasts 3 years/36,000 miles. And a Jetta is a whole lot cheaper to buy than an S60.
As for specific competition, we see the Audi A4 Quattro Acura TL SH-AWD as the most tempting alternatives to the S60 T5 AWD or the T6 models which always feature all-wheel drive for those who live in snowy climates. If the weather isn't as much of a concern to you and rear wheel drive is an option then most will turn to the rock solid BMW 3-Series, new Lexus IS sedan and Cadillac ATS with either the 2.0 liter turbo or 3.6 liter V6 engine options. Really, none of the options mentioned are bad choices and the tremendous excellence available to buyers is why the S60 is definitely not the obvious choice. But in that perhaps lies its greatest appeal.
What We Love
What We Would Change
We tested both a 2013 Volvo S60 T5 with the optional all-wheel drive as well as a very well equipped T6 model that was not, however, part of the special R-Design trim package. Both testers were mechanically flawless and displayed no design or build flaws during their time with us.
|Sedan - AWD|
|T5||4dr Sedan T5 AWD||5 Cylinder||AWD||31900|
|T5 Premier||4dr Sedan T5 Premier AWD||5 Cylinder||AWD||34100|
|T5 Premier Plus||4dr Sedan T5 Premier Plus AWD||5 Cylinder||AWD||35250|
|T5 Platinum||4dr Sedan T5 Platinum AWD||5 Cylinder||AWD||37950|
|T6||4dr Sedan T6 AWD||6 Cylinder||AWD||40650|
|T6 Premier Plus||4dr Sedan T6 Premier Plus AWD||6 Cylinder||AWD||41800|
|T6 Platinum||4dr Sedan T6 Platinum AWD||6 Cylinder||AWD||44500|
|T6 R-Design||4dr Sedan T6 R-Design AWD||6 Cylinder||AWD||44100|
|T6 R-Design Platinum||4dr Sedan T6 R-Design Platinum AWD||6 Cylinder||AWD||46800|
|Sedan - FWD|
|T5||4dr Sedan T5 FWD||5 Cylinder||FWD||31900|
|T5 Premier||4dr Sedan T5 Premier FWD||5 Cylinder||FWD||34100|
|T5 Premier Plus||4dr Sedan T5 Premier Plus FWD||5 Cylinder||FWD||35250|
|T5 Platinum||4dr Sedan T5 Platinum FWD||5 Cylinder||FWD||37950|
|2013 Volvo S60||MSRP||Invoice|
|2013 Volvo S60||$31,900||$29,986|
|Similar Cars to Consider||MSRP||Invoice||Compare|
|2013 BMW 3 Series||$32,550||$29,945||Volvo S60 VS BMW 3 Series|
|2013 Nissan Maxima||$31,000||$28,396||Volvo S60 VS Nissan Maxima|
|2013 Audi A4||$32,500||$30,227||Volvo S60 VS Audi A4|
|2013 Toyota Avalon||$30,990||$27,892||Volvo S60 VS Toyota Avalon|
|2013 Cadillac Ats||$33,095||$31,275||Volvo S60 VS Cadillac Ats|
Interested to see how the 2013 Volvo S60 ranks against similar cars in terms of key attributes? Here are the 2013 Volvo S60 rankings for MPG, horsepower, torque, leg room, head room, shoulder room, hip room and so forth.
|1||2013 Audi A4||27|
|2||2013 Toyota Avalon||26|
|3||2013 Volvo S60||24|
|4||2013 Nissan Maxima||22|
|5||2013 Cadillac Ats||22|
|6||2013 BMW 3 Series||21|
|1||2013 Cadillac Ats||321|
|2||2013 Nissan Maxima||290|
|3||2013 Toyota Avalon||268|
|4||2013 Volvo S60||250|
|5||2013 BMW 3 Series||230|
|6||2013 Audi A4||211|
|1||2013 Cadillac Ats||275|
|2||2013 Volvo S60||266|
|3||2013 Nissan Maxima||261|
|4||2013 Audi A4||258|
|5||2013 Toyota Avalon||248|
|6||2013 BMW 3 Series||200|
|1||2013 Nissan Maxima||38.8|
|2||2013 Audi A4||38.6|
|3||2013 Cadillac Ats||38.6|
|4||2013 Toyota Avalon||38.5|
|5||2013 Volvo S60||38.3|
|6||2013 BMW 3 Series||38.0|
|1||2013 Nissan Maxima||43.8|
|2||2013 Cadillac Ats||42.5|
|3||2013 Toyota Avalon||42.1|
|4||2013 BMW 3 Series||42.0|
|5||2013 Volvo S60||41.9|
|6||2013 Audi A4||41.3|
|1||2013 Toyota Avalon||58.2|
|2||2013 Volvo S60||57.0|
|3||2013 Nissan Maxima||56.3|
|4||2013 Audi A4||55.5|
|5||2013 BMW 3 Series||55.3|
|6||2013 Cadillac Ats||55.2|
|1||2013 Toyota Avalon||55.1|
|2||2013 Volvo S60||54.9|
|3||2013 Nissan Maxima||53.4|
|4||2013 Cadillac Ats||53.0|