2013 Volvo S60 Sedan - FROM $31,900
The 2013 Volvo S60 is a well-balanced and stylish luxury sedan. As such, it makes for a tempting alternative to the ubiquitous German luxury sedans.
What's New for 2013
For 2013, Volvo has made tweaks to the engine and transmission of the T5 model. Power output for the 2.5-liter engine remains the same, but Volvo says the T5's 0-60-mph time is nearly half a second quicker this year. All-wheel drive is a new option for the T5 as well. Other changes this year include revised option packages as well as more standard features. The latter include automatic wipers and headlight washers for all trims as well as keyless ignition/entry and a sunroof for the T6.
If it's been a while since you've taken a look at a Volvo, now's a good time to do so. The 2013 Volvo S60 isn't the obvious choice for an entry-level luxury sedan, but this attractive luxury sedan provides the expected qualities of the segment while also maintaining the other endearing characteristics of this Swedish automaker, including cutting-edge safety features, extremely comfortable front seats and feisty turbocharged engines.
As far as safety, the S60 comes with Volvo's City Safe feature, which can automatically stop the S60 if a low-speed collision with another vehicle or fixed object is deemed imminent. A similar system that senses pedestrians (or more aptly, crazy jaywalkers) is optional and comes in a package that does its best to mitigate driver inattention in a world filled with smartphones and misbehaving children.
Yet the 2013 Volvo S60 is not without its exciting side, as all three engines offered in the lineup provide a turbocharged kick. Said kick ranges from 250-325 horses and these turbocharged five- and six-cylinder engines boast not only spirited acceleration but also good fuel economy numbers. For this year, Volvo has revised the T5's 2.5-liter engine, introducing a higher compression ratio and reduced internal friction. Volvo also adjusted the way the T5's transmission shifts in Sport mode. Official rated output still stands at 250 horsepower, but Volvo claims the T5 now has a 0.4-second quicker 0-60-mph time than last year.
Overall we're pretty impressed with the 2013 Volvo S60. In addition to being a well-rounded entry in a tough segment, it's also priced attractively, often thousands less than the competition. And while it isn't a sharp-edged sport sedan like a BMW 3 Series or Cadillac ATS, the Volvo S60 fits right in against more comfort-tuned entry-level luxury sedans like the Acura TL, Audi A4 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. We certainly think it's worth a test-drive.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Volvo S60 is a midsize luxury sedan available in three trim levels -- T5, T6 and T6 R-Design.
The T5 comes standard with 17-inch wheels, automatic headlights, headlight washers, heated mirrors, automatic wipers, cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, an eight-way power driver seat with memory functions and adjustable lumbar, power-folding rear headrests, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, T-Tec cloth upholstery, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and an eight-speaker sound system with a CD player, HD radio, satellite radio, an auxiliary audio jack and an iPod/USB audio interface.
The Premier package includes keyless ignition/entry, a sunroof, leather upholstery, a power passenger seat and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. Premier Plus adds active bi-xenon headlights, front and rear parking sensors and a compass. The Platinum package further adds a 12-speaker premium sound system (with DVD player), a navigation system and a rearview camera. The Climate package includes heated front seats, heated windshield washers and an active cabin filter. Springing for the Technology package gets you adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, driver-attention warning, lane-departure warning and a collision warning system with auto braking and pedestrian detection.
Other options for the T5 include different wheels, a blind-spot warning system, heated rear seats and a rear seat dual DVD entertainment system as well as several available packages.
To the T5's standard features the T6 adds a more powerful engine, all-wheel drive, 18-inch wheels, bigger brakes, sport-tuned suspension and steering and the contents of the Premier package. Available on the T6 is an adaptive suspension called Four-C that includes three driver-selectable settings. Otherwise, options and packages essentially mirror those of the T5.
The T6 R-Design adds to the T6 more power, special styling, unique 18-inch wheels, upgraded brakes, a sport-tuned suspension, a rear spoiler, special interior trim, a sport steering wheel, sport seats and the contents of the Premium package less the front and rear parking sensors, which are optional. Options include the blind-spot warning system, heated rear seats and a rear seat dual DVD entertainment system as well as the Platinum, Climate and Technology packages.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2013 Volvo S60 T5 has a 2.5-liter turbocharged inline-5 engine that produces 250 hp and 266 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic and front-wheel drive are standard. All-wheel drive is optional. Volvo estimates that the T5 accelerates from zero to 60 mph in 6.4 seconds (6.6 with AWD). Estimated fuel economy is 21 mpg city/30 mpg highway and 24 mpg combined (20/29/23 with AWD) -- pretty thrifty given this powertrain's performance.
The S60 T6 AWD, as the name implies, comes with all-wheel drive as well as a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6 that produces 300 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed auto is standard. In Edmunds performance testing, the S60 T6 hit 60 mph in 5.9 seconds -- about the same as other AWD sedans with similar power. Estimated fuel economy stands at 18/25/21.
The T6 R-Design gets a more powerful version of the same engine good for 325 hp and 354 lb-ft of torque. All-wheel drive and the six-speed auto are still standard. Volvo claims the R-Design will hit 60 in 5.5 seconds, while fuel economy is identical to the T6.
Upholding Volvo's sterling reputation for passenger protection, the 2013 S60 comes loaded with standard safety features that include antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, whiplash-reducing front head restraints and City Safety. The latter can help the driver avoid rear-ending other vehicles or a stationary object at speeds of up to 19 mph by automatically applying the brakes if he doesn't react in time.
Included in the optional Technology package is Volvo's pedestrian detection feature, which can apply full braking force (reducing speed by as much as 22 mph) to help you avoid hitting pedestrians who are at least 31 inches in height. This package also includes electronic warnings for driver inattention, lane departure and impending collision, the last of which includes automatic braking. Other safety options include front and rear parking sensors and a side blind-spot warning system.
In Edmunds brake testing, the T5 came to a stop from 60 mph in a below-average 128 feet. With its bigger brakes, the T6 managed to stop in an excellent 114 feet.
The government gave the Volvo S60 a perfect five stars for overall frontal and side crash protection. In testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the S60 received the best possible rating of "Good" in the frontal-offset, side and roof strength tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
Interior materials in the 2013 Volvo S60 are on par with the rest of the entry-level luxury sedan class. The heavier graining on the dash and doors won't suit everyone, but there's no denying that the interior leather, vinyl and plastic are quality materials. Volvo's unique take on wood and metal accents also gives the S60's cabin more personality than most rivals.
The straightforward dual-temperature adjustment dials and "mode man" pictogram make climate control adjustments simple and intuitive. The audio system is fairly easy to use, too, though the array of small audio buttons looks somewhat dated. The interface for the available DVD-based navigation system is far superior than that of past Volvos, but the navigation software still feels a few years behind rivals' systems.
As one expects of a Volvo, the front seats offer excellent long-trip comfort and proper support. Unfortunately, the backseat isn't quite as accommodating. The seats themselves are supportive, but legroom and foot room are tight for adults taller than 5-foot-8. Competitors like the C-Class and 3 Series are similarly sized, but an Acura TL is more welcoming for taller passengers.
The trunk's 12-cubic-foot capacity is a bit small for the class as well, but a low liftover height makes it easy to access the space. Both the rear seats and the front passenger seat fold down, and there's a separate ski pass-through.
Volvo has gone to great lengths to characterize the S60 as "naughty," as if it's a misbehaving sport sedan. In actuality, the 2013 Volvo S60 is a comfortable, sophisticated and well-behaved luxury sedan with ample power whether you go with five or six turbocharged cylinders. It's a sure-footed handler with nicely weighted steering that feels substantial without being heavy.
Regardless of output, the T6 engines are smooth and powerful, and the all-wheel-drive system apportions power to individual wheels to maximize traction and grip through turns or on slippery roads. The base T5 model, meanwhile, lines up favorably with other entry-level luxury cars like the 328i and C250 that feature turbocharged four-cylinders. Most buyers should be more than happy with the acceleration, response and fuel economy the T5 provides.