By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.2
In summing up the 2011 Volvo S60 it is tempting to play the safety card early. After all, the Volvo brand has become synonymous with safety, and the S60 offers one of the most innovative safety systems ever introduced. Pedestrian Detection with Full Auto Brake won't win many "catchiest name" contests, but it will save lives. Simply to dwell on the car's considerable safety initiatives, though, wouldn't do it justice. "Dynamic' and "emotional" are the key words Volvo engineers and designers use to describe their newest creation, and after driving it we can certainly understand why. Not only is the S60 the most attractive Volvo sedan ever, it is also much more fun to drive that the brand's safety reputation might suggest.
If you're not a slave to vehicle stereotypes we think you'll like the Volvo S60 for its combination of unprecedented safety, substantial fun-to-drive and crisp interior and exterior design.
If all you have on your mind is performance from your expensive European-built sedan, then you will find other choices that better fill your bill of fare.
Volvo would like its S60 to become its bestselling nameplate, and to aid that effort the company has filled it with innovative safety features and dressed it in un-Volvo-like styling.
Driving Impressions Seeking to increase the S60's visceral appeal, Volvo engineers created a chassis, suspension and steering system designed to give cars like the 3 Series and Audi A4 some competition. The...front suspension is McPherson strut and the rear a multi-link, but it is the tuning that sets the S60 apart from other Volvo sedans in the handling department. The front struts have thicker piston rods than the larger S80 sedan, the bushings are stiffer and the springs are both shorter and stiffer, resulting in more ability to handle lateral loads. These efforts are most notable in the standard version of the three chassis setups available, which Volvo calls "Dynamic." Those seeking a gentler, boulevard ride might well opt for the no-extra-cost "Touring" suspension, while those seeking leading-edge tech might prefer the three-setting-adjustable FOUR-C. (There has been no explanation on why a three-way suspension is called FOUR-C.) All S60 models available in the United States for 2011 offer Haldex all-wheel-drive. The result of the engineering efforts is a level of fun-to-drive that exceeds any Volvo sedan we've driven. We had the opportunity to drive it on dry pavement, wet pavement, rain-slick gravel roads and even a racetrack, and in all situations the S60 was predictable, stable and unflappable. Braking is sure, traction is never an issue, and the steering is precise.
Pedestrian Detection with Full Auto Brake
Collisions with pedestrians often result in a fatality, so we cheer this innovative system. The radar's job is to detect objects in front of the car; the camera's job is to determine if the object is human. Once the object is determined to be human, the S60 gives a warning and then stops the car if the warning isn't heeded.
Front Camera System
The front-grille-mounted camera that offers a 180-degree field of view is especially effective in helping prevent accidents when emerging from limited-vision areas like a parking garage.
As has been our habit with recent Volvo models, we are impressed with the interior's clean, contemporary design. Volvo stresses the Scandinavian ideal of simplicity, and that is expressed well throughout the cabin. The instrumentation is straightforward and legible, and the "waterfall" center dash area provides an array of controls for navigation, climate control and entertainment. In the all-new infotainment unit, navigation and other functions are presented on a seven-inch color monitor in the upper part of the center dashboard. Volvo has eschewed touchscreen operation, choosing instead to provide a fully functional set of steering wheel-mounted controls plus redundant controls under the display. All five passengers will find comfortable seating, and the rear seat offers substantial bolsters for side support. Due to the 2.4-inch increase in wheelbase versus the previous generation, leg- and knee-room in the rear seat area are both much improved.
Volvo exterior designer Orjan Sterner told us his task was to design the sportiest and most dynamic Volvo ever, a tall order since Volvo has a convertible coupe in its arsenal. To accomplish his task he and his team conceived "a coupe with four doors." While previous Volvos have had strong vertical lines, the overall look of the S60 is close to the pavement with the wheels moved to the corners and a double beltline that gives the impression that the car is even lower than it is. At the rear Sterner's team moved away from the giant vertical taillights that typified recent Volvos toward a more refined – if not more anonymous – design. But the overall look is anything but anonymous, because it is one good-looking Volvo.
All 2011 model S60s feature City Safety, which helps prevent low-speed rear-end collisions, and an anti-lock braking system (ABS) with Hydraulic Brake Assist (HBA), Optimized Hydraulic Brakes (OHB), Ready Alert Brakes (RAB) and Fading Brake Support (FBS.) Of course, as a luxury vehicle the S60 is fitted with a wide variety of comfort and convenience features.
The headline-grabber in the S60 is "Pedestrian Detection with Full Auto Brake." The camera- and radar-enabled system goes beyond Volvo's City Safety system that was introduced on the XC60 crossover to identify pedestrians in front of the car and, if necessary, apply the car's full braking power to avoid a potentially fatal collision. Pedestrian Detection isn't the only high-tech safety feature the new S60 offers either. Driver Alert Control helps determine if the driver is too tired or too distracted to control the car properly, and Blind Spot Information System helps you avoid colliding with vehicles that are beside you but in your blind spots. The S60 also offers niceties like adaptive cruise control, parking sensors and a rear park-assist camera. The top-of-the-line 12-speaker audio system features a digital 5x130-watt amplifier with circuits from Sweden's Anaview, Dolby Digital in combination with Dolby Pro Logic II Surround and MultEQ from Audyssey Laboratories. Integrated features such as Bluetooth, USB port and auxiliary input are also included.
The 2011 Volvo S60 handles so well, we can't help wishing it offered more horsepower. But the S60 walks on the tightrope between green responsibility and pure driving hedonism. The in-line six-cylinder engine offers less than 3,000 cc of displacement, but with turbocharging, it whirs out 300 horsepower at a relatively steep 5,600 rpm. Happily, the 325 pound-feet of peak torque are available from 2,100 rpm all the way to 4,200 rpm. That means the S60 has sufficient low-end torque to accelerate briskly. A bonus is that the engine requires only "regular" grade gasoline, and the fuel economy (18 mpg city/26 mpg highway) is laudable in the luxury class.
3.0-liter in-line 6
300 horsepower @ 5600 rpm
325 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2100-4200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/26
By Tom on Sunday, December 14, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 5,600overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive & great styling"
Cons: "small trunk & no spare"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"Only complaint is small trunk, no spare tire & depreciation. Drives great & very comfortable for driver & front passenger."
By John on Friday, September 26, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 54,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Excellent power and comfort balance"
Cons: "Average cornering, front wheel spin on take off"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Really a great car. Wish the AWD system was weighted more to the rear than the front in normal driving. I have Polestar tuning as well, great add on. Interior is great. Back seat is not as cramped as described in some reviews and I am 6'2"."
20 people out of 41 found this review helpful
By P Canuck on Friday, September 19, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 98,900overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Acceleration, safety features, ride comfort"
Cons: "Bluetooth/iPod software conflicts with Volvo OS."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Love my S60! This is the second one that I've owned, and with the amount of driving that I do (>25k/year), I spend a lot of time in the car. The reliability has been great and the sluggish ride that Volvo's were known for were are a thing of the past. This car is fast! Haven't had any significant problems after 98k miles. Swedish design is simple without sacrificing features, and the safety features were (as usual) years ahead of the rest of the industry."
15 people out of 26 found this review helpful
By Miker on Wednesday, August 06, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 74,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Absolute hoot to drive. I scare the heck out wife!"
Cons: "No spare, Transmission shifts a bit too slow"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"We picked this car (his name is "Borke", by the way) in Gothenberg in November 2012. It is the best car I have ever owned and love every minute of driving it. I has great pickup, great cornering, great brakes, wonderful comfort, and it's a car that you can drive like a manic and still know that all of those airbags are going to protect you like a guardian angel. The AWD is worth every penny just for the piece of mind, even here in no-snow Texas. In two years we have had NO mechanical issues what so ever. A few notes. First, I carry a spare in the trunk. Understand that a car with a stiff suspension and low profile tires will be prone to tread wear and side wall issues. In the case of a sidewall blowout, the air inflation device included as a substitute for spare will do you NO good. Second, the tranny is a bit slow on the shifting, which has been fixed in the later version. Bravo, Volvo. Third, I still find it a bit under-powered. I wanted and still want a 400+ HP just to show the BMW folks who's boss, and while I suspect there is more HP waiting for someone to change the chip timing and fill it with premium, Volvo has protected the CPU from hacking so it is impossible to play with the engine variables that could boost up the HP or remove the 155 MPH limit which I am SURE it will do! Finally, I do intend to buy a 2016 or 17 R-Design, and pick it up from Sweden, unless Momma will let me buy an F Type Jag Coupe... Seriously, if you are intending to buy a Volvo and don't do a European Delivery option, you should have your head examined."
7 people out of 10 found this review helpful
By Adam fromVA on Monday, July 14, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 800overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "See Below"
Cons: "See Below"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Pros: I own the T6 version of this car. Used to drive a 2005 Nissan Maxima. Supercharged/Turbocharged 4 cylinder beast. Love this engine. It's quick, 8 speed auto is awesome, it feels like a sport car. Love the interior leather (brown) and the wood trim. Very good quality. if you are interested in this vehicle wait till the 2015.5 version hit the dealers. More standard options. I have driven the car for about 800 miles (combined city 50 MPH average speed and highway) so far and I am getting 24.5 MPG. Room in the back seat is comfortable for a 6 foot 210 lbs guy. Seats are comfortable. T6 only comes with sport bucket seats so if you are not a fan get the T5 although you will sacrifice some power. Cons: Nothing so far. One minor thing is that there is no sunglasses holder that comes standard. You can buy an accessory but felt this was something that needs to be standard with aluxury car like Volvo. Overall review: If you want power, comfortable ride along with a very good MPG test drive this vehicle and buy it. You will not be dissapointed"
7 people out of 13 found this review helpful
By SweedSpeeder on Sunday, July 06, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 41,500overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun, fast, reliable, solid built quality"
Cons: "None to date"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This is probably on of the best values out there. Had the car over 41000 miles and it has been flawless. Regularly get combined 28mpg and drive like maniac - high of 35 hwy. and 23 around town. Seats are best in business providing great support on longer trips. Handling is well balanced. Acceleration is about mid six seconds to 60 - no waiting on merging. Car is most at ease doing 80 so look out for the CHP. Interior is high quality, very ergonomic and most of all is a nice change from the German and fluffy American cluttered arrangement. Safety features are second to none. Car came with maint for 5 yr. cost of ownership has been low. I get compliments on the looks and interior. This is a quality built car that is not plagued with recalls as with many other brands."
7 people out of 12 found this review helpful