Home Luxury Car 2020 Volvo S60 T6 R-Design Ownership Review

2020 Volvo S60 T6 R-Design Ownership Review

We’re spending 12 months with this Volvo S60, reviewing the full ownership experience with ongoing updates.

 

Auto Hold Release

by Micah Muzio on January 6, 2020 

Price$49,665 | Price yours 
Current Odometer: 6,320
Latest MPG: 26.31
Lifetime MPG: 22.82
Maintenance/Service Costs: $0
Time out of Service: 0 days

Let’s get nitpicky. Kelley Blue Book’s long-term Volvo S60 T6 R-Design includes an auto-hold feature that automatically applies the brakes when the vehicle is stationary, freeing the driver to relax their leg. It’s a nice feature but I have a quibble.

When releasing its grip on the brakes, auto-hold lets go abruptly, resulting in jerky departures from stoplights. It’s no major sin but, as a driver who relishes imperceptible transitions from braking to motionless, a bit more finesse when leaving from a stop would be lovely.


 

Fuel Economy

by Micah Muzio on January 3, 2020 

Price$49,665 | Price yours 
Current Odometer: 5,959
Latest MPG: 27.53
Lifetime MPG: 22.62
Maintenance/Service Costs: $0
Time out of Service: 0 days

High-5s all around, y’all! I just achieved the second-best fuel economy result yet in our long-term 2020 Volvo S60.

My most recent tank of fuel delivered a strong 27.53 MPG. No, that figure does not top our car’s EPA highway rating of 32 MPG. Then again, the pace we maintained hurtling down Interstate 5 from Oregon to California was far more “spirited” than any testing conducted by the EPA.

At more measured speeds, KBB editor Jason Allan managed a stellar 31.7 MPG. We applaud his patience behind the wheel. It’s good to know our 2020 S60 T6 can return that kind of efficiency…even if I will never personally experience it.


 

All-Wheel Drive Versus Snow

by Micah Muzio on January 1, 2019 

Price$49,665 | Price yours 
Current Odometer: 5,053
Latest MPG: 20.93
Lifetime MPG: 22.14
Maintenance/Service Costs: $0
Time out of Service: 0 days

I originally had a Jeep Wrangler scheduled for my family’s Christmastime trek from Los Angeles to Portland, Oregon for a week of snowy, wintry fun. The fates conspired to dash our original plan. Thankfully our backup ride, Kelley Blue Book’s all-wheel drive, long-term Volvo S60 was up to the task.

On New Year’s Day my wife, daughter, and I ventured to Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood for a day of skiing. If you’ve ever seen the movie The Shining, you’ve seen the exterior of Timberline Lodge. After we’d had our fill of the mountain, we returned to our S60, now covered in a fresh and quickly accumulating layer of snow. For added effect, the parking lot and road leading to Timberline Lodge were marked by numerous cars spinning their tires and struggling to move.

After climbing aboard, shedding our snow gear, and letting the S60 warm up, we cautiously pulled forward, listening for tell-tale signs of tire slippage. There were none. The S60’s full-time all-wheel-drive system simply distributed power to each of our car’s four tires. Doing their part, those 235/45R18 Continental ProContact TX all-season touring tires delivered stellar grip on the snowy, icy road leading down the mountain.

Fun story. When I was a 9-year-old Oregonian my family took a drive to Mount Hood. On the descent from Timberline Lodge, my dad spun our 1987 Toyota 4Runner, fortuitously sliding rearward into the snow-covered mountain rather than off the cliff that loomed on the other side of the road. As an adult, it was a joy to pass that memorable site with grip and stability that eluded my father 32 years prior.


 

Parkability

by Micah Muzio on December 29, 2019 

Price$49,665 | Price yours 
Current Odometer: 4,833
Latest MPG: 20.65
Lifetime MPG: 22.09
Maintenance/Service Costs: $0
Time out of Service: 0 days

Parking in Portland, Oregon can be tricky. Spots in the city’s hipper areas are hard to come by. Surveying the openings available frequently provoked the following question. Will my Volvo S60 R-Design fit there without scuffing its sweet Birch Light Metallic paint?

To help answer that question, our long-term 2020 Volvo S60 utilizes an array of cameras. Those camera images stitch together to form a high-resolution, quasi bird’s eye view above the vehicle, presented on the 9-inch infotainment screen. It’s a helpful asset when squeezing into cozy nooks but the implementation could be better. Here’s how.

1: The system automatically activates only the rear camera when backing up. I’d love an option to activate the 360 angle by default when reverse is selected.

2: At the very least the camera system should automatically activate the front camera when drive is selected at low speed. Yes, the front view is a screen tap away but when cars are piling up behind you, every second spent parking feels like an eternity.

With 2 small tweaks, Volvo could transform a good camera system into a great system.


 

Pro Pilot – Part 2

by Micah Muzio on December 28, 2019 

Price$49,665 | Price yours 
Current Odometer: 4,494
Latest MPG: 24.07
Lifetime MPG: 21.77
Maintenance/Service Costs: $0
Time out of Service: 0 days

In our previous update, I registered appreciation for Pilot Assist, a feature included on our long-term Volvo S60 that can manage the steering, brakes, and accelerator on the driver’s behalf. With a few hundred miles more under my belt, I have a few supplemental observations.

Pilot Assist does a fine job keeping our S60 in its lane…most of the time. I say “most of the time” because during an intense Oregon rainstorm our car’s lane-keeping accuracy diminished slightly. That diminishment expressed itself through an increased wandering tendency and delayed reactions to the road’s curves. Our car’s decayed faculties weren’t worrisome, but they were noticeable.

I’ve also noticed some oddness during lane changes. Pilot Assist does not actively steer the S60 from one lane to the next. Using the turn signal temporarily deactivates the system so the driver can steer into the next lane.

However, on several occasions Pilot Assist attempted to, mid lane change, authoritatively steer itself into the new lane; almost as-if the system suddenly realized the vehicle was outside of an approved lane, necessitating an excessive jerk to fix the oversight.

On the whole, Pilot Assist works well but our travels have revealed room for improvement.


 

Pro Pilot – Part 1

by Micah Muzio on December 27, 2019 

Price$49,665 | Price yours 
Current Odometer: 4,255
Latest MPG: 26.37
Lifetime MPG: 21.58
Maintenance/Service Costs: $0
Time out of Service: 0 days

Thanks to modern technology many new cars can manage steering, braking, and acceleration duties by themselves under certain driving scenarios. If that sounds like commuting bliss, please, pump your metaphorical brakes.

None of the systems I’ve sampled are advanced enough to let the driver’s mind wander. Tesla’s Autopilot, Honda Sensing, and Nissan’s ProPILOT Assist all require constant monitoring. Consequently, I’ve found that babysitting a “semi-autonomous” car is actually more stressful than simply driving for myself.

And so, it was with skepticism that I activated Pilot Assist in Kelley Blue Book’s long-term Volvo S60 R-Design during a long drive northbound. Our family road trip from California to Oregon included countless hours of brisk cruising along long, mostly straight stretches of Interstate 5.

In that environment, the Pilot Assist feature worked brilliantly. The S60 smartly kept itself in the middle of its lane, adjusting speed to maintain an appropriate distance from vehicles ahead. All the while, I observed our progress, relaxed, with one hand on the wheel; enjoying the music and insights of Dolly Parton’s America (a fun podcast if you’ve got a spare eight hours or so).

Monitoring Pilot Assist in stop-and-go commutes, when the potential for a crash is high, is worry-filled drudgery. Like watching a toddler walk. Conversely, having Pilot Assist oversee the driving details during boring, low-consequence freeway jaunts was a joy. For me, the experience was a revelation. I’m fine dealing with stress, it’s boredom that’s a struggle.

For mind-numbing miles on the interstate, please, take the wheel Pilot Assist!


 

Cargo Space

by Micah Muzio on December 22, 2019 

Price$49,665 | Price yours 
Current Odometer: 3,655
Latest MPG: 18.95
Lifetime MPG: 21.26
Maintenance/Service Costs: $0
Time out of Service: 0 days

On paper, 13.8 cubic feet is not huge. In practice, it’s more than adequate trunk space for a family of three.

Over the holidays my wife, our 4-year-old daughter, and I road-tripped from Los Angeles to Portland, Oregon. When hauling kid-related paraphernalia trunk space is always a question. To our delight, Kelley Blue Book’s long-term Volvo S60 answered that question with a kind “no problemo!”

Here’s the gear we carried.

-3 standard rolling bags.
-2 backpacks.
-A low-rent plastic sack filled with winter clothing.
-1 duffel bag filled with marginal quality video gear.

To my surprise, all that cargo filled the trunk without issue. Rotating two of the bags onto their sides helped maximize space but overall the 2020 S60 swallowed our gear like a python. You know, to properly verify the S60’s cargo accommodating excellence, another joy-filled road trip might be in order.


 

Apple CarPlay Connection Issues

by Micah Muzio on December 11, 2019 

Price$49,665 | Price yours 
Current Odometer: 3,407
Latest MPG: 21.75
Lifetime MPG: 21.51
Maintenance/Service Costs: $0
Time out of Service: 0 days

I’ve grown to depend on Apple CarPlay. Whatever press car I pilot Apple’s smartphone integration interface remains a familiar constant. Given that dependence it’s dismaying to note CarPlay-related issues in our long-term 2020 Volvo S60.

With my iPhone X connected via the USB port, our S60’s Sensus infotainment system frequently fails to recognize my device. Disconnecting then reconnecting often fixes the problem but not always. I’ve tried using my wife’s iPhone X along with different cables. The problem remains.

Hopefully Volvo can help with this perplexing issue with a software update during our first service visit. Fingers crossed…because using earbuds while driving is SO undignified.


 

Windshield Clip?

by Micah Muzio on November 22, 2019 

Price$49,665 | Price yours 
Current Odometer: 2,854
Latest MPG: 20.65
Lifetime MPG: 22.39
Maintenance/Service Costs: $0
Time out of Service: 0 days

Not sure how I missed it but Kelley Blue Book’s long-term Volvo S60 has a little plastic clip positioned on the lower left corner of the windshield. It’s a clear, inconspicuous clip accessible via a long reach by the driver.

At first, I was confused by the clip’s presence but then I remembered that, in some places, drivers are required to display parking passes. One could, if inclined, use the clip to display proof they’d paid for parking.

I’ve always found the dash to be a perfectly reasonable parking pass holder, but those stoic Swedes are bit more enlightened where design and minimalism are concerned. In that spirit, the little clip brings just the slightest bit more order to the S60’s cabin. Good to know that, even in the smallest regards, the 2020 S60 beats with a Swedish heart.


 

Just a reflector

by Micah Muzio on November 16, 2019 

Price$49,665 | Price yours
Current Odometer: 2,563
Latest MPG: 21.11
Lifetime MPG: 22.64
Maintenance/Service Costs: $0
Time out of Service: 0 days

Chrome trim sure is pretty. Dazzling even. In fact, I was literally dazzled (aka temporarily blinded) this morning by light reflected from the chrome trim in Kelley Blue Book’s long-term Volvo S60. Fun!

It turns out that, at certain angles, the chrome trim surrounding our car’s cupholders can focus and reflect the sun’s radiant energy directly into the driver’s eyes. If that strip of chrome were somehow sentient and bent on sabotage, it could not have been more effective in distracting me behind the wheel.

Properly informed of this quirk I am now on guard when driving at low sun angles. My arm blocks the glare worked well enough but if this persists, I might have to take stricter measures. Who knows, maybe some dulling spray would help. I bet a little sandpaper would get the job done. Either way, I take driver focus seriously. You’ve made a powerful enemy, chrome trim. You best watch your shiny little back.

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Braking. That last 1%.

by Micah Muzio on November 8, 2019 

Price$49,665 | Price yours
Current Odometer: 2,239
Latest MPG: 21.11
Lifetime MPG: 22.52
Maintenance/Service Costs: $0
Time out of Service: 0 days

Have you experienced the nerdy joy of slowing your vehicle so smoothly that neither you nor your passengers know exactly when the car stopped moving? I have…but not in Kelley Blue Book’s long-term Volvo S60. In motion the brakes feel fine but for some reason I can’t quite nail that final breath of deceleration. I have a few theories.

Theory 1: The transmission’s torque converter has too much creep dialed in (creep being the slow forward movement that occurs when you release the brake in a car with an automatic transmission). Perhaps the S60 is pulling too aggressively during that final few feet while I’m deftly easing off the brake pedal.

Theory 2: The brake pad formulation has too much bite. Grabby brakes can impart satisfying immediacy when slowing at speed but can also compromise slow-speed smoothness.

Theory 3: The automatic start-stop feature, which shuts down the engine at stop lights to save fuel, sometimes activates too early. Shutting off the engine prior to true motionless means the brakes no longer have to counteract the vehicle’s creep tendency (there’s that creep again) resulting in a jerky stop.

Honestly, the truth likely involves all three theories, but more testing is in order. Good news, we’ve got a year to figure out this braking conundrum.

 


 

LATCH with class

by Micah Muzio on November 4, 2019 

Price$49,665 | Price yours
Current Odometer: 1,985
Latest MPG: 18.76
Lifetime MPG: 22.81
Maintenance/Service Costs: $0
Time out of Service: 0 days

As the father of a 4-year-old I know my way around LATCH. That’s Lower-Anchors & Tethers for CHildren for you freewheeling folks without kids. All new cars have this system that enables easy, secure attachment of child safety seats. After countless installs over the past 4 years I can tell you some implementations are better than others. For example, Kelley Blue Book’s long-term Volvo S60.

In some cars the lower anchors are hidden between fabric or leather, making seat installation a game of chance. Poke. Poke. “Where the heck is that anchor?!?!” In the Volvo S60 the lower anchors are unambiguously identified by obvious plastic covers featuring child seat logos.

Flipping up those unambiguous covers reveals the anchor points, hanging in the breeze for all the world to see. Click the latch connectors to the anchors, tighten the child seat strap, and voila, you’re done! For child seats with an upper tether Volvo employs the same elegant solution; an unmistakable plastic cover that, when removed, reveals an easily accessed upper tether anchor.

As a car reviewer I’m constantly installing and uninstalling my daughter’s seat in new vehicles. Based on that unwanted expertise I can assuredly proclaim the Volvo S60 idiot proof…at least where car seat installations are concerned.

Swipe Right

by Micah Muzio on October 26, 2019 

Price$49,665 | Price yours
Current Odometer: 1,749
Latest MPG: 21.15
Lifetime MPG: 23.79
Maintenance/Service Costs: $0
Time out of Service: 0 days

Windshield wipers are inherently boring. All cars have them. They exist solely to remove water and debris for the windshield. Whatevs. What wipers need is some good PR. Maybe a gimmick. Well, have I got a gimmick for you!

Like nearly every other car on the planet, Kelley Blue Book’s long-term Volvo S60 R-Design has windshield wipers. But those wipers are not aided by traditional washer fluid squirters. No, sir. In the S60, the washer fluid drips gracefully from the tiny holes integrated into the wiper elements themselves. (Mind-blown emoji goes here).

That might not sound like a big deal, and big scheme it’s not, but among the typically blasé world of windshield wipers, integrated washer fluid distribution is a pretty neat trick. Gimmickry aside, this system puts washer fluid exactly where it needs to be, right along the leading edge of the wiper blade. That means no needless overspray, no annoying dry spots due to inaccurate squirters. Just a reliably clean windshield with zero side effects.

Again, this is not a revolutionary, game changing technology. But small delights form the foundation for a long joyful ownership experience. With a crystal-clear view forward, we’re off to a promising start with our long-term S60.


 

Dispatches from Las Vegas

by Micah Muzio on October 18, 2019 

Price$49,665 | Price yours
Current Odometer: 1,492
Latest MPG: 28.31
Lifetime MPG: 28.31
Maintenance/Service Costs: $0
Time out of Service: 0 days

If you live in Los Angeles one great way to test a vehicle’s road worthiness is to drive to Las Vegas. You know, a few hours of high-speed cruising, maybe catch a show, hit the slots; all in the name of research. In fact, nearly every car that’s ever breezed through Kelley Blue Book’s long-term test fleet has been subjected to this test.

To help break in the latest addition to our fleet, our man Jason Allan aimed north to Vegas in our 2020 Volvo S60 R-Design. Here are his thoughts distilled into convenient bullet points. Naturally, the zestier aspects of his trip have been stricken from the record.

-The new Volvo S60 passed its Vegas test with flying colors.

-Pilot Assist did a lot of the driving

-Total trip fuel economy was 31.7 mpg

-The seats were supportive and comfortable throughout the 625-mile trip.

-Apple CarPlay and SiriusXM served all our infotainment needs, including NFL play-by-play balanced by the My Favorite Murder podcast for my true crime-loving wife (a compromise appropriate for an anniversary trip).

-I would’ve appreciated a bit more personal storage space up front, and actively ventilated seats are welcome anytime you’ll be sitting in the same seat for hours at a time, but that’s the entirety of what I missed.

-Trip note: If you haven’t done so, next time you’re in Vegas consider carving out a few hours to visit the Hoover Dam. Just a 35-minute drive from the strip, it’s an awe-inspiring structure and feat.

 

Welcome to the family

by Micah Muzio on September 17, 2019

Price: $49,665 |Price yours
Powertrain: 316-horsepower, 2.0-liter I4 Supercharged and Turbocharged
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/32

What is a Volvo S60 and why did we add it to our long-term test fleet? Well, the S60 is a compact luxury sedan that competes with icons like the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. If the S60 does its job right we should experience a year of luxurious trappings, modern technology, and engaging road manners. Fingers crossed! As for why we added it to our fleet, let’s just say we have a soft spot in our heart for sedans. SUVs have absorbed the spotlight in recent years, but the sleek style, sporting spirit, and elevated efficiency of a sedan still speak to us.

This particular S60 is T6 R-Design. Where the basic $37,000-ish S60 T5 gets by with a 250-horsepower turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and front-wheel drive, the adventurous souls at Kelley Blue Book demand more! Moving up to the T6 adds a supercharger and all-wheel drive to the mix. The result is a substantial bump in power (316-horsepower, 395 lb-ft of torque) and the all-wheel traction to exploit it. As mentioned, we also chose the R-Design package, which elevates the S60’s style cred with sport seats, a sport steering wheel, metal mesh trim, sporty 18-inch wheels, black exterior trim, and a more aggressive looking front grille.

Show me what you’re working with

As you might’ve gathered from the previous paragraph, we have fancy tastes at the Blue Book. In that spirit we opted to add a few options to our car. Its Birch Light Metallic paint cost $645. We spent $750 on a heated steering wheel plus heated rear seats to match the heat fronts. And we sprung for the $2,500 Advanced Package that added indulgences like adaptive cruise control, a 360-degree camera system, adaptive LED headlights, and Volvo’s Pilot Assist feature, which will discuss momentarily. All in, including $6,850 worth of R-Design features plus destination charges, our 2020 Volvo S60 T6 rings in at $52,290. Not cheap but hey, aren’t we worth it?

Pilot Assist

There are plenty of features to analyze with our 2020 Volvo S60 but perhaps the biggest area of interest is Pilot Assist. That’s Volvo’s driver assist feature that can manage the steering, accelerator, and brakes during tedious commutes; under constant adult supervision of course. Whether Pilot Assist actually eases the burden of daily commutes remains to be seen but, LA traffic being what it is, we’ll have plenty of opportunities to put the system through its paces.

When it landed, our 2020 Volvo S60 had 550 miles on the odometer. If we play our cards right, we’ll increase that number to 5 figures over the next 12 months, ideally putting its all-wheel drive abilities to good use. After all, it’s only a 2-hour drive from greater Los Angeles to the nearest ski slopes. We’re also hatching some road trips schemes to break up the monotony of endless commuting. Whatever happens it should be an enlightening year with our sassy little Volvo. We look forward to sharing what we learn.

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