2017 Volvo S60 T5 Review: Volvo Keeps Moving Small Engines & Swedish Cars Upscale

People who bought boxy, bland Volvo sedans a few decades ago might not understand the 2017 Volvo S60 T5 AWD Dynamic sedan. It’s just too handsome, fast and upscale.

The new Volvo S60 sedan is part of the automaker’s plan to move upscale. It may seem odd to those with long memories that Volvo would challenge such automakers as Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, but it sold 82,724 vehicles in America last year, compared to 70,047 in 2015.

I tested one of the sportier S60 sedan models, the all-wheel-drive S60 T5 AWD “Dynamic,” as the price sticker put it.

The S60 T5 AWD Dynamic has a smooth turbocharged two-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 240 horsepower and 258 pound/feet of torque at a low 1,500 r.p.m. for good response off the line.

The smooth engine has no turbo lag and works with a responsive eight-speed automatic transmission, which makes the most of the engine’s power and torque and lets it loaf at 65 m.p.h.  This is a good long-distance car, with extremely comfortable, supportive front seats.

The automatic has a responsive manual-shift feature, which I seldom felt I needed to use.

Estimated fuel economy is 23 miles per gallon in the city and 33 on highways.  Helping fuel economy is an engine shut-off feature when the car is standing while the driver is, say, waiting at a long red light or for a train to pass. Lift your foot from the brake and the engine starts immediately.

You can get an S60 with 302 or 362 turbocharged four-cylinder engines, but there doesn’t seem to be a need for the added power unless you carry heavy loads and live in hilly country.

My test car had a list price of $35,950 and possessed many standard upscale features. They included a push-button start, leather upholstery in a high-quality interior with attractive stitching, thick leather-wrapped tilt/telescopic wheel, split folding rear seat, 8-speaker high-performance audio system, 7-inch color LCD monitor and dual-lit sun visor vanity mirrors.

The S60 has good room for five tall occupants in its quiet interior, although a long-legged passenger behind the driver may want more legroom. Also, rear door openings are rather narrow.

There’s a good mixture of easily used large and small controls, although the small tachometer has a vertical, not conventionally round, design. However, the backlit gauges are easy to read in sunlight. There are plenty of cabin storage areas and well-placed console cupholders.

The electric-assist power rack-and-pinion steering is quick, but some drivers may dislike its reassuring (at least to me) but heavy feel. A $1,000 Sport package with “electric power steering personalization” may change steering effort.

Helping keep the car stable are such things as the all-wheel drive system with traction control and electronic stability control. The pedal for the anti-lock brakes with electronic brake distribution has a positive action.

Handling of my test S60 was quite good, if not in the genuine GT class, Standard are 18-inch alloy wheels , although my test car’s Sport package doubtlessly gave it above-average S60 handling. The package contains a sport package and 19-inch custom wheels.

The ride with this package may be too firm for some, but is supple.

Safety features for the S60 include Volvo’s City Safety low-speed collision avoidance system and whiplash protection system for front passengers. The approximately 3,600-pound S60 has a unibody high strength steel safety cage and feels heavier than it is.

Still, I recommend the $1,500 Technology package, especially in urban areas, for those with thicker wallets. That package contains adaptive cruise control, collision warning with full warning brake, pedestrian/cycle detection with automatic braking, distance alert, driver alert control, lane-keeping and road sign information such as speed limit postings.

I also recommend the $1,950 Vision package. It contains a blind-spot information system, rear-park assist sensors, cross-traffic alert and rear-park assist cameras,

I found the $500 heated front seats to be very welcome during Chicago’s cold winter.

Careful, here though. These options and other extras are worthwhile but bumped my test car’s bottom-line price from $35,950 to $44,195, including a $995 destination charge.

The hood raises on twin struts and thus doesn’t need an awkward prop rod. And the decent-size trunk has a conveniently low, wide opening. The seatbacks  sit flat when flipped forward to significantly enlarge the cargo area.

The new Volvo S60 T5 AWD Dynamic doesn’t drive like the old boxy Volvos, but it hasn’t lost Volvo’s protective personality.

Prices: $18,750-$19,490