• Review: 2013 Volvo S60 T5 – Rebel among Entry Luxury Sedans

    2013 volvo s60 t5 awd
    2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD

    The 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD is not afraid to stand out from the crowd on the outside and the inside.  It also demands a little extra time to get acquainted.  Is it worth it?  Can it compete against formidable opponents from BMW, Cadillac, Lexus, others? Lets break it down and find out.

    When the S60 was redesigned for the 2011 model year, the boxy style of Volvos of yore transformed into new sleek and flowing design.  Personally, I like the overall exterior look, it conveys sporty and premium character of the car.  However, there is something that doesn’t sit well with me about the front of the S60.  Perhaps, it’s the extra pointy and curved shape of the headlights.  Aha! The S60 is already showing its rebellious side.  I like the headlights on the new 2013 Volvo XC60 better.

    2013 volvo s60 t5 t6 interior
    2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD – Beechwood interior

    The interior is where the Volvo gets really interesting.  It required me a little extra time to get to know the infotainment system; locating the main menu controller and trip computer settings.  At first, I found this a somewhat annoying, but then I suddenly realized the point.  The Volvo purposely refuses to conform to some standard set by some other manufacturer.  Instead, it presents the interior the way it thinks is best.  It’s not timid to place the cruise control buttons on the left of the steering wheel, when most put it on the right.  It’s not afraid to use a digital bar graph to denote the fuel level, when most others use a needle gauge.  And it definitely is proud to display its unique “waterfall” design center section with a cubbyhole hidden behind it.

    volvo s60 t5 t6 awd beechwood interior
    2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD – Beechwood leather interior (Note: the front passenger seat that folds flat)

    My test car had this Beechwood soft leather interior, which I affectionately referred to as “sitting in a baseball glove”.  The seats have great lateral support and are comfortable, although I wished the driver’s seat bottom was a bit longer to support my long legs a little better.  Two other noteworthy rebellious features are: the front passenger seat back that folds completely flat to accommodate those two-by-fours on your next Home Depot trip, and the rear passenger “shut up” button.  What is this button?  It’s on the lower left of the center console, and when pushed it forcefully folds the rear seat headrests down.  Of course, Volvo does this for the sake of safety and better rearward visibility.  However, it can come in handy in case you need to smack your rear passengers on the back of the head and command their undivided attention.

    The interior is a little tight, but it was no problem to get the child seats and the kids in or out (LATCH anchors are not the easiest to reach, but acceptable).  I also was able to carry two other tall and big guys and all of us were comfortable.

    Volvo S60 t5 engine motor bay
    The T5 Turbocharged Volvo motor (Note: two hood latches instead of one)

    This test car was packing a familiar Volvo T5 straight 5-cylinder 2.5 liter engine with a Turbocharger.  This is the entry level mill and it produces a healthy 250 hp and 266 lb-ft of torque.  Maximum torque is always there (1,800-4,800 rpms).  This motor is backed by a 6-speed automatic transmission and Volvo’s “Instant Traction” AWD system, which is a $2,000 option on the T5.  The automatic has a Sport mode and the option to manually shift.  The Sport mode makes the transmission more aggressive and the whole driving experience a lot of fun!  You can also choose to put the stability control system into “Sport”, so that the computer gives you a longer leash and allows to break traction a little more.

    Speaking of computers.  This car also comes with Volvo’s “City Safety” system, which aides the driver at speeds between 2-30 mph to help avoid a frontal collision or lessen the impact.  This must be the least intrusive driver aid in the industry, because I never noticed it nor did I see any auditory or visual hints from it.  Faking a frontal collision is not something to be recommended, but I have driven other cars with similar systems whose function could be easily triggered.  Not so with the Volvo.  Volvo says “City Safety™ is designed to intervene as late as possible to help avoid unnecessary activation.”

    volvo s60 t5 t6 awd rear

    Volvo was able to strike a nice balance between suspension comfort and firmness.  This car evens out any road surface with ease.  My minor complaint is that the car seemed to lean into corners a little more than I wanted.  Perhaps, an optional 18 inch wheel and tire would help cure this.  Or you can always upgrade to the S60 T6 R-design monster.  I have no complaints about the steering feel.  It is direct and provides good feedback.  It may not be the best in the business, but it’s near the top.

    So, does this S60 have what it takes to take on the big boys in the segment?

    Starting Retail Price City/Hwy MPG HP / Lb-Ft Passenger Volume (cu-ft)
    2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD $34,795 20/29 250/266 106.0
    2013 Audi A4 Quattro $34,600 20/30 211/258 103.4
    2013 BMW 328i xDrive $38,500 22/33 240/255
    2013 Cadillac ATS AWD $36,900 20/30 272/260 101.1
    2012* Infiniti G25x $36,100 19/27  218/187  112.5
    2013 Lexus IS 250 AWD $37,525 21/27  204/185 99.0
    2013 Lincoln MKZ AWD $37,815 22/31 240/270  111.9
    2013 MB C300 4Matic $38,950 20/27 228/221 100.6

    * Infiniti is no longer offering the 2013 G25x sedan, you have to get the pricier and more powerful G37x instead.

    I say the S60 competes well.  It’s in the middle of the fight on all counts.  It has one of the lowest starting MSRPs.  It has the horsepower and torque to play with the big hitters – even the newest turbo sedans from BMW, Cadillac, and Lincoln.  It’s on par with fuel economy and it’s mid-pack in interior space.  This is a very competitive segment, and the S60 is right in the meat of it.

    On the TFLcar scale of:

    • Buy it!
    • Lease it!
    • Rent it!
    • … or Forget it!

    I give it a Buy It!  This Volvo is a rebel, but it pays back with a rewarding and enjoyable driving experience.  I averaged a very good 24.5 MPG after a week of mixed (and mostly aggressive) driving.  And my car’s MSRP of $38,170 included the premium package and trunk spoiler.  One thing is for sure.  If you buy this car, you won’t see yourself coming and going at every intersection.

    Please enjoy this fun 3-car TFLcar Mashup with the S60 in the middle.


    Andre Smirnov
    Andre Smirnov


    Andre Smirnov is a life-long automotive enthusiast, writer, and software engineer. On the weekends – you may find him at a car show, an auction, watching a race, or tinkering with a car in the garage. When not working or spending time with the family – he often scours the internet and other media for various automotive, mechanical, and computer related information.

    Andre Smirnov
    Andre Smirnov
    Andre Smirnov is an Automotive Enthusiast, Producer, Reviewer, Videographer, Writer, Software Engineer, Husband, Father, and Friend.

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