Despite its tiny share of the U.S. market, Volvo offers an almost giddy array of models, including the 2020 S60, which earns high marks as a competitive sports sedan.
Though it looks and feels like a luxury midsize four-door, it competes as a premium compact against the likes of the BMW 3-Series, Infiniti Q50, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Alfa-Romeo Giulia and Audi A4.
The Swedish manufacturer accounts for less than 1% of the automobile and light truck market in the U.S., yet it offers eight different sedans, crossover sport utility vehicles and station wagons, including a V90 cross-country wagon set up for off-roading.
There also are multiple trim levels. The S60 has four with three different power trains, including the S60 highpoint, the Polestar Engineered plug-in hybrid. Driven for this review was the S60 Inscription model, slotted beneath the Polestar. Others are the base Momentum and the R-Design.
The tester was the T6, which included all-wheel drive. Base price was $41,545 and, with a long list of options, the Inscription checked the bottom-line box at $58,690. Models with the T5 designation have front-wheel drive.
Lurking under the Inscription T6’s hood is a turbocharged and supercharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 316 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, delivered to all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission with a manual-shift mode.
The base Momentum model comes with a 250-hp, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 258 lb-ft of torque, and the Polestar Engineered version makes 415 hp with 494 lb-ft of torque. Independent tests rated the Inscription T6’s acceleration to 60 mph in the five-second range, while the Polestar dipped into four-second territory.
There are three selectable drive modes with descriptive names: Eco, Comfort and Dynamic. City/highway/combined fuel consumption is rated by the EPA at 21/32/25 mpg.
Handling is sharp and responsive in any of the three modes, though Dynamic tightens up the ride and responses, as well as keeping the engine on the boil through the gears. Shifts are slick either in manual or automatic mode. The latter is preferred by this driver except when driving on twisting, up and down roads where the idea is to lock onto a lower, more responsive gear.
The engine emits a throaty growl under hard acceleration, then settles down to an unobtrusive groan for leisurely highway duty. Cruising obviously is less entertaining than hustling on curving roads but Volvo makes it pleasurable with one of the most attractive and comfortable interiors anywhere.
Materials and workmanship are of a high quality, with seats that live up to Volvo’s reputation for long-distance support. Even the outboard back seats are neatly coved with decent bolsters —as they must be because of modest knee room. The center-rear seat, however, is way less comfortable, with foot room severely compromised by a floor hump that measures eight inches square.
Volvo’s designers either overlooked or disdained two obvious interior enhancements. The sun visors do not slide on their support rods to adequately block sunlight from the sides. And the sun shade for the panoramic glass sunroof is made of a flimsy perforated cloth. It may be considered a big plus in Stockholm, which at some times of the year gets only about 5.5 hours of light a day, but in hot U.S. summers it admits too much heat and light.
A minor annoyance until you learn and get used to it is the vertical center screen for the infotainment functions. You have to swipe to get different screens and touching icons can be fussy. Don’t fiddle with them while driving.
Standard and optional equipment on the tested Inscription was expansive. Volvo jealously guards its reputation for pioneering safety construction and equipment, though many manufacturers have caught up.
Nevertheless, the tested Inscription came with a full suite of confidence-inspiring security and safety gear, including: low and high speed collision avoidance and mitigation with pedestrian detection, automatic braking after a collision, rear cross-traffic alert with braking, road run-off mitigation, blind-spot warning with steering assist, automatic braking for oncoming vehicles, adaptive cruise control, an informative head-up display, lane keeping assist, and side collision and whiplash protection.
Luxury and convenience features abound, including a killer $3,200 Bowers and Wilkins premium audio system, quad-zone automatic climate control, driftwood interior trim, Nappa ventilated leather upholstery, and power folding rear headrests.
Some frosting: The S60 is the first Volvo ever built in the United States, in Ridgeville, South Carolina. Skoal and Helan Gar.
- Model: 2020 Volvo S60 T6 AWD Inscription four-door sedan.
- Engine: 2.0-liter four-cylinder, turbocharged and supercharged; 316 hp, 295 lb-ft torque.
- Transmission: Eight-speed automatic with manual-shift mode and all-wheel drive.
- Overall length: 15 feet 7 inches.
- EPA/SAE passenger/trunk volume: 93/12 cubic feet.
- Weight: 3,910 pounds.
- EPA city/highway/combined fuel consumption: 21/32/25 mpg.
- Base price, including destination charge: $41,545.
- Price as tested: $58,690.
Disclaimer: The manufacturer provided the vehicle used to conduct this test drive and review.
Photos (c) Volvo