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 TiggerEsq on Tuesday, February 24, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 7,800overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "Beautiful car, comfortable."
Cons: "Horrible controls for phone, radio, trip control"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 4
"I have owned this car for 7 months, it has about 7800 miles on it. The car is gorgeous, I have Caspian Blue with the light tan interior. It is also very comfortable. I was also seriously considering an Audi A4 and BMW 328i. I've owned a few Audi's. The handling of the Volvo S60 is not nearly as good as an A4 or 3Series BMW. Comfort was more important so I bought the Volvo. However because of the "info-tainment" limitations I am re-thinking my choice. This car takes 3 steps where another car would take one to say change the radio station. I just assumed I could press a button and be connected to my phone. Nope. I can't even hang up the phone from the steering wheel. I have seen Chevy's and Hyundai's with more intuitive and useful controls. I have also been without my car for a total of 8 days because of faulty parts."
10 people out of 18 found this review helpful
By DD on Tuesday, February 03, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 27,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "Exterior looks, comfy seats, pickup"
Cons: "Ancient technology, stability, lack of convenience"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2
"I love the way my S60 looks. It's a sexy, yet elegant car. The seats are very comfy and no big mechanical problems in the first three years. I owned a BMW x3 (in the shop too many times) before this and they are miles apart on handling. The bmw held the road, but the Volvo feels like it could spin out. No fun. It feels like a lightweight compared to other cars I have owned. It does have very good pickup. It lags tremendously in the technology front. I've had numerous issues (too many too mention)with the Bluetooth that the service guys say is the limits of the car. My daughters Passat has a better system. Lots of issues with the heat and keyless entry too. I've owned a P1800 and a Volvo wagon. I wanted to love this car. She's a pretty girl, goes fast, but there's not much under the hood and she's just not modern. Also, if you have an issue with the dealership, Volvo will not help you at all."
32 people out of 61 found this review helpful
By volvoagain on Monday, February 02, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Engine, gas mileage, safety, fit and finish"
Cons: "Nav and radio controls to die for"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Forget the pointed stars and the over-hyped Japanese imports, bask in the knowledge that you have the best value on the road with one of the finest four cylinder engines in production. One that sips gas and pulls off the line like a 6. The seats are among the most comfortable in the category and unless you plan on driving like Mario, forget the sports bucket option. The display is cool and the electronics work. Downside is the positively clunky UI on the nav and radio controls...but heck, if I wanted to change the channel that often I'd stay home in the den! Think no more, friends, let your neighbors show off their Teutonic crests while you take comfort in the fact you saved thousands...in gas alone! Make sure this car is on your consideration list and test drive one. What's the worst that can happen...you'll fall in love with a beautiful Swede :)"
10 people out of 16 found this review helpful
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."
25 people out of 54 found this review helpful
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"."
38 people out of 74 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."
19 people out of 31 found this review helpful