The Truth About Cars » s60 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 23 Apr 2014 14:09:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » s60 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Chicago 2014: S60 & V60 Polestar Performance Models http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/chicago-2014-s60-v60-polestar-performance-models/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/chicago-2014-s60-v60-polestar-performance-models/#comments Thu, 06 Feb 2014 22:04:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=735441 Volvo-V60-S60-Polestar-Models-01

Two new, performance-oriented Volvo models made their North American debut at the Chicago Auto Show.

Billed as the S60 Polestar and V60 Polestar, the bespoke aerodynamic pieces set them apart from your parents’ V60 or S60. Handling is further improved by a combination of high-performance shock absorbers and stiffer springs. Tucked neatly behind the Polestar exclusive 20-inch wheels are Brembo brakes. Polestar models will only be offered in Sapphire Black or Rebel Blue.

The turbocharged, 3.0-liter inline six boasts 345 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque capable of sub-5 second 0-60 times. These numbers are achieved via a new twin-scroll turbocharger, a larger intercooler, a 2.5-inch exhaust system and special ECU tweaks. The only available transmission is a six-speed automatic wih steering wheel mounted paddle shifters.

With only 120 examples slated for our shores, we expect Volvo will have no problem selling every one before they’re scheduled to hit select dealerships this June. Additional information, including pricing, is to be announced.

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2014 Volvo Facelifts See The Light Of Day http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/01/2014-volvo-facelifts-see-the-light-of-day/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/01/2014-volvo-facelifts-see-the-light-of-day/#comments Thu, 24 Jan 2013 16:30:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=475048

Volvo’s XC90 may be the oldest Volvo on sale but is it the Swede gettin’ some facelift-love? Nej. Swedish spy photographers over at Teknikens Värld have snapped some shots of the mid-sized S60 being refreshed for 2014. Want to know what they said without grabbing a babel fish? Click past the jump and see how much I remember from my high school Swedish lessons.

Although it’s only four years old the S60 is getting its first facelift. The new sedan will carry the new corporate grille that Volvo will be rolling our in late 2013 or early 2014 on the S60, S80 and XC60 in America. The Swedish sources tell us to expect a wider grille (the same one seen in the Chinese spy photos) with revised LED accent lights and a more aggressive bumper cover. If you click over to the link above you’ll see that Volvo hasn’t covered up the rear of the S60 meaning we shouldn’t expect the same BMW/Lexus aping trapezoidal tail pipes the 2014 S80 is supposedly getting.

Inside the changes seem limited to swapping the corporate gauge cluster used since the 2007 S80 for the new LCD heavy unit found in the Euro-only V40 wagon. The new unit looks inspired by Ford with a large central LCD for the speedometer and two smaller LCDs for other gauge functions.

Teknikens Värld says not to expect anything new under the hood, but they do expect to see some infotainment tweaks and some new active headlamp technologies. (Which I’m sure will never make it to America.) Want to know more? Wait for the Geneva Motor Show.

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Track Tested: 2012 Volvo S60 T5 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/track-tested-2012-volvo-s60-t5/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/track-tested-2012-volvo-s60-t5/#comments Wed, 17 Oct 2012 13:00:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=463865

When our own Michael Karesh reviewed Volvo’s entry-level entry-luxury aeroback, he advised TTAC readers that the optional Dynamic Package was “…a must for anyone who cares about driving.” Hey! I care about driving! Trouble is, the rental companies don’t.

As some of you know, I spend a dozen or so weekends every year doing driver coaching with various organizations. My favorite among the miscellany of groups optimistic or stupid enough to let me endanger their students is TrackDAZE. I had agreed to coach at their Summit Point Shenandoah event, but the froglike little Korean coupe I’d hoped to drive at the event fell through. My Boxster was making some groaning noises, so I decided to source an Altima or similar from a rental company for the trip.

Imagine my surprise when I had the chance to bump up to a Volvo for five dollars a day extra! This, incidentally, would be a compelling argument if Volvo made it directly to the American people: “A nice Camry is $28,000. A nice Volvo is $35,000. That’s $140 a month extra in payments, or basically five dollars a day. For five dollars a day extra, wouldn’t you rather have a Volvo?” Sure you would, at least in the short term — and sure I did.

Shenandoah is an 850-mile round trip for me. During that time, the S60 was all of these things:

  • Noisy. As a Town Car driver, I’m a bit spoiled quiet-wise, but a brief spin in an Accord afterward confirmed it: this little fellow is noisy, and it’s mostly wind noise. How ironic, because the car’s regrettably Civic-esque suppository-shape is theoretically a product of aerodynamics. It sure isn’t a product of wanting to look expensive.
  • Economical. I saw 31mpg in mixed freeway/two-lane driving, rarely below 80mph, not consciously conserving fuel in any way. Impressive.
  • Easy to operate Everything from the iPod integration to the seat controls is intelligently done and quite convenient to operate. The climate control area looks a bit dopey but it works.
  • Not super well-equipped. No nav, no heated seats, no boomin’ system, no gimmicks at all, really. Other than leather seats, I didn’t see any equipment that you wouldn’t get in an Accord LX.
  • Nice and quick on the road. It’s about as fast as you could want for merging into traffic, making it to a “hole” in the next lane, and whatnot. I figure it’s about as quick in a straight line as an ’88 Corvette or a new Camry V-6.

I’m not actually sure what the selling point of this car is, now that I’ve mentioned the Camry V-6. It’s not as big or roomy as the transplant mid-sizers. It’s no faster than the up-cannoned versions of said mid-sizers. It looks like a Civic, which is to say cheap and dorky. The only unique technology is something that keeps you from hitting pedestrians at city speeds. I turned that shit off on principle the minute I got in the car. If I wanted to interfere with evolution, I’d go to that super-awesome museum in Kentucky where they have a diorama of a caveman riding a Triceratops.

This video shows Shenandoah pretty well; it’s a 1:51 lap done by a fellow driving an R-package Miata on Hankook R-compounds. Feel free to watch it so you get a sense of what’s where.

Click here to view the embedded video.

As noted in an earlier review, I’m going to try to use the Trackmaster system wherever I can to give you an honest, third-party, warts-and-all perspective on my performance in a particular car. I drove three sessions in the S60. In the first one, the brake pads caught on fire and I had to come in. In the second session, I had two additional passengers in the car. This session was set with a single passenger. Although there was some traffic in every lap, it wasn’t anything too troublesome. Cut and paste the below link to see my whole session. Ignore the fact that the car is listed as “Mazda2″. That’s me being lazy.

http://www.mytrackmaster.com/#SessionEditPlace:ag1teXRyYWNrbWFzdGVychsLEgRVc2VyGPvbewwLEgdTZXNzaW9uGKfuBgw

The fastest lap was the first one — 1:53.996. That’s about two and a half seconds shy of our friend in the Miata. I left the transmission in “S” for the whole lap. You can negotiate the data and see my exact line around each corner for every lap. Note that the G-meter sometimes shows braking when all that it really happening is steady-state cornering.

So. The first thing to note is positive: this is a car that gets 30mpg during a very comfy 400-mile trip and once you get there it performs pretty closely to a lightly-prepared Miata. Did I mention that I was listening to “The Lumineers” during the lap? Now you know. I think the song was “Flowers In Your Hair.” It’s the kind of hat-wearing pseudo-retro hipster crap I associate with young women in Nashville. Anyway.

On the back straight, the Volvo bops the 100-mph mark briefly before requiring some very conservative braking to get turned for the big hairpin, which is Turn 17 on most maps. The tires were no-season nondescript junk and they really howled; one of the TrackDAZE guys said he could hear the Volvo almost all the way around the track. And yes, there is UNDERSTEER AT THE LIMIT. Quite a bit of it. But it isn’t hopeless. Just grind the outside tire a bit, look for your exit, and then appreciate the remarkably decorous and torque-steer-free way the Volvo rockets to the outside curb. The transmission is pretty smart and it rarely dallies too much in the high gears.

On the boost, the S60 will surprise cars like a Honda S2000 or un-tuned WRX briefly because the punch happens from low revs and it’s linear in the way it goes about delivering power. We’re to another hairpin before you know it and this time I’m going to use my left foot to tap the brakes and deliberately slew the Volvo sideways a bit. It’s happy to so and there’s never a suggestion that you might lose control. Props.

In the “Cave” S-curves that follow, the S60 feels a bit out of place. It doesn’t change direction very well and the tires are to blame. Body roll is signifcant but controllable. Our Miata friend doesn’t really brake for the left-hander to the next long straight, but we have to. Then it’s time for the power again, and as I demonstrated again and again to my students, the S60 will eat sixteen-second quarter cars like Miatas very easily here.

Check out my line into Turn Three! I don’t screw around with setup at all here. I brake late and ride the track all the way in as if the turn didn’t exist. That’s a losing strategy in a NASA race but here it’s just fine since we want to maximize the time the Volvo’s engine works. Now to grind the tires through “The Hook”. Guess what? You can hit the curbs so hard the S60 goes briefly sideways with the violence of it — and it’s still totally safe and controllable.

The stability control on the S60 never turns all the way off… until you overheat the brakes. Then it does and there’s a nice little notice to let you know about it. What we gain from that we lose by having the brakes that hot, so although my in-corner speeds were higher once that happened the lap times weren’t as good overall. Through Turn Eight and up the back straight the Volvo can really annoy Subarus with its power and the relaxed way it gets the front wheels off the ground on the Bridge Straight. Time to smoke the sobbing brakes and jump nose-first into the Carousel.

Here the stability control gets very upset if it hasn’t already given up, grabbing the brakes as your nose bobs and the G-forces become positively ridiculous. I gave the S60 full throttle three concrete pads before the end so it would be on boost to jump up the hill. Hit every curb gangster hard to rotate the Volvo. It can take it. But in the Corkscrew, my photographer captured something scary:

Can you see the problem?

Can you see it now? That’s no good. I’d want better tires before I went back with one of these cars. Poke and strech may be popular among the “dubbers” but it has no place on a racetrack. No wonder the car felt so wonky.

A note about the Volvo’s steering: it’s fine, very trustworthy. The power steering never lost assistance and I never got any unusual transition damping or responses from the helm. It has my approval, particularly for a Dynamatted fat-ass of a front-wheel-drive sedan. Even when the inside front tire was spinning — which was, oh, I don’t know, EVERY SINGLE TURN — it was reliable and informative.

Corkscrew was no fun! Time to get back on the power, use the left foot to rotate in Big Bend, and throttle across the line. Everybody liked riding in the Volvo. It was completely confidence-inspiring. I’m not sure you could crash it unless you were a complete fool who has no business whatsoever on a road course. Sometimes I just took my hands off the wheel and let it go its own way like Lindsay Buckingham. It didn’t crash. It’s stable and nice like that. Even over curbs.

After a full day of track abuse, the Volvo drove home just as nicely as it had driven to the track. Still noisy, you know? But pleasant and given that I had to stay awake for 40 hours in a row to make the trip possible without spending any money or time on a hotel I have to say the car felt like my ally, not my enemy, in that effort.

The big question has to be: Would you buy this car over a 328i? Why would you? It looks flimsy and low-status. It isn’t loaded to the gills like an ES350. It might not last very long or be very affordable to repair. Who knows what the Chinese will do with their stewardship of Volvo. An Infiniti G37 would smoke it around the track for the same kind of money, although to be fair, the Volvo was just eight seconds a lap behind a time set by a new Porsche 991S at the same track by another track-rat journo recently. How badly do you want that time?

My money would go somewhere else. This wasn’t a compelling car for me, and in the end it’s a combination of the noise and the bargain-basement styling that does it. Still, it has plenty of virtues, it’s perfectly respectable as a road-trip proposition, and on the track it was solid and trustworthy. Come to think of it, isn’t that what you want from a Volvo?

Disclaimer: Nobody gave me nothing.

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Review: 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/review-2013-volvo-s60-t5-awd/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/review-2013-volvo-s60-t5-awd/#comments Sat, 06 Oct 2012 13:00:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=462338

When Volvo introduced the S60 in 2011, the Swedes advertised their mid-sized sedan as the naughtiest Volvo ever thanks to a 300HP turbocharged engine. While I’m sure former “R owners” would disagree, the S60 has met with sales success with over 18,000 units sold so far this year, a 14% increase over last year. In 2012 Volvo added a less powerful FWD model to the mix to cut the price of entry. For 2013 Volvo has further expanded the S60 line by adding a torque vectoring AWD system to the lightest S60. Volvo also tells us they have completely refreshed their T5 engine for 2013 and tweaked the transmission for the naughty Volvo’s first retouch ahead of the rumored 2014 refresh. Huh? Yep, Volvo’s gettin’ down with the yearly refresh. Does that make the T5 AWD the naughtiest Volvo ever? Let’s find out.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Exterior

From the outside, the S60’s sheet metal is a departure from Volvo’s traditional past, but still retains Volvo’s strong shoulders and something of the iconic Volvo two-box style. If it were not for the over-sized proboscis, the design might rival the original S80’s form for the most elegant Volvo ever penned, but as it is, passengers and observers were mostly undecided whether they liked the schnoz or the short trunk lid. Light pipes in the tail lamp modules, subtle swoops over the wheel arches, and a coupé-like C-pillar conspire to add a touch of modernity to the new S60. Polarizing style has never been a Volvo hallmark however and taken as a whole the new S60 is conservative luxurious rather than daring. As before, Volvo remains the Birkenstock to BMW’s Prada.


Interior

Birkenstocks are comfy. Prada? Hit and miss I’m told. And so it is with Volvo and BMW interiors. The S60 is only 3 years old, so aside from massaging color and trim options, the only substantive change is the new transparent shifter. I’m not quite clear what Volvo was trying to accomplish with the new lighted plastic knob. Whatever it was I’m not sure it worked. Still, the rest of the cabin is pure Scandinavian Chic from the soft dashboard to the floating center console and supremely comfortable seats. Despite lacking the range of motion that the competition affords (seriously, have you see the number of buttons on a BMW sport seat?), Volvo’s thrones continue to be the segment’s ergonomic benchmark. Helping keep the interior trendy interior is a new black/baseball glove color scheme. Volvo has also improved sound deadening materials to reduce both road and wind noise in the cabin.

Once upon a time Volvo’s sedans occupied a half-step between the C and D segment cars from the German competition. Fast forward to today and the 3-Series has caught up with the Swedes and the S60 and 328 are essentially the same size. The BMW’s dimension stretch pays dividends with two more inches of rear seat room, an important number because four six-foot-two adults fill the Swede to capacity.

Like many luxury cars in the industry, Volvo has taken to a coupé-like rear profile that reduces the trunk opening to more of a cargo slot. This problem isn’t unique to Volvo, but the opening is a hair smaller than the new 328i’s recently enlarged cargo hold. As with the S60 models we reviewed earlier, the T5 AWD continues to use trunk hinges that cut into the available trunk space as well as the opening.

Infotainment, Gadgets & Safety

Volvo’s Sensus system has been around for three years and continues to deliver a competitive experience in the segment. The 7-inch LCD is essentially the same size as other entries in this segment aside from BMW’s 3-series which brings an 8.8 inch display to the fight. While Volvo has fixed many of the glitches the original system suffered from, the system still does not allow for voice commanding your USB/iDevices like the latest Acura and Lexus systems. Still, the Germans haven’t figured this out yet either. Overall the system is more intuitive than COMAND and MMI, but not as snazzy as iDrive. While I’m complaining, Sensus lacks internet connectivity and App integration that MMI and iDrive sport. Does that matter? Probably not, but I’m sure someone cares.

On the gadget front, Volvo is touting their new full-range cruise control which will now take the S60 to a complete stop in heavy traffic and keep you stopped until traffic moves again. (You just press the resume button.) The system works extremely well and easily ties with Mercedes’ Distronic Plus as the most natural feeling radar system. Bundled with the optional ($2100) radar system is a collision warning system with tailgating alert, lane departure warning, road sign information and automatic high beams.

Volvo’s City Safety system is standard on all S60 models and uses a camera and laser scanner to watch traffic and pedestrians ahead of you. For 2013, the system is active up to 31MPH (up from 19MPH) to keep you from running down Jimmy on his way to school. While the system isn’t perfect, Volvo claims the Volvo models with the system is responsible for the S60 and XC60 being involved in some 25% fewer at-fault accidents than the competition.

Drivetrain

Volvo may have committed to an all four-banger future, but that hasn’t prevented them from face-lifting the trusty 2.5L 5 cylinder for 2013. Yes, you read that right, this is not the same 2.5L 5-cylinder engine under last year’s hood. To improve efficiency, Volvo increased the compression to 9.5:1, dropped in new pistons, a new crank, and revised the software. The result of the overhaul is a 1MPG bump in fuel economy, but more importantly, a new over-boost feature is along for the ride. While the performance figures (250HP at 5,500RPM and 266lb-ft of twist from 1,800-4,800RPM) are the same as before, overboost cranks the twist up to 295lb-ft for 10 seconds when you bury the throttle. In addition to the extra twist, Volvo tweaked the Aisin transmission’s software for faster and crisper shifts and now offers a $2,000 optional AWD system. The new engine and tweaks drop the FWD T5′s sprint to 60 by 2/10ths and allows the T5 AWD to hit the mark in 5.93, only 0.26 behind the T6 AWD.

Compared to the competition, the 5 cylinder’s 250HP class leading with Audi still using ye olde 211HP 2.0L TFSI and Mercedes’ new 1.8L turbo spooling up 201HP. It even compares well with BMW’s 240HP 2.0L turbo. (However, the 328i’s lighter weight and 8-speed transmission allow it to hit 60 0.17 seconds faster.) Volvo’s 5-cylinder produces a distinctly “dustbusterish” kind of sound that is less entry-level than a four-cylinder engine but not as refined as BMW’s sixes. BMW’s 2.0L may be the pinnacle of four-cylinder refinement but even it is not as smooth as Volvo’s 5-pot. Audi? The 2.0L engine sounds rough around the edges and the A4 transmits far more engine noise into the cabin than the BMW or Volvo.

Drive

We should get one thing straight right up front: no matter how many wheels get the power, little is going to make up for having 3/5ths of your weight on the front axle. While many reviews complain about the fact that the Audi A4′s engine is completely in-front of the front axle, it still has a better (54/46) weight balance than the S60 with the engine completely above the front axle. That being said, the S60′s chassis is well composed on all road surfaces and is perhaps one of the best FWD platforms currently on offer in America. Checking that AWD option box however turns the S60 into a different animal on the road delivering [literally] 96% of the performance of the S60 T6 for $6,700 less. In addition, putting the S60 on an engine diet means the T5 AWD weighs 200lbs less than the T6 AWD.

When the road bends, the S60 T5 surprises with more handling prowess than its front heavy numbers would indicate. The primary reasons are the 235-width tires and Volvo’s ABS system based torque vectoring software. Rather than using a limited slip differential, the Volvo system uses the ABS system to brake the inside wheels in corners to send power to the outside wheel. While the system is not as effective as the more expensive mechanical active diffs, it allows more rear end rotation than you would expect. The result is a car with extremely confident road manners in all driving situations. While the A4 can be more fun as it has a RWD bias, the A4 was less predictable and less composed on the back-country roads I frequent.

With a starting price of $33,750, the S60 T5 AWD is the bargain choice in this segment undercutting the A4 Quattro by $850 and the 328xi by $4,750. Adjusting for feature content, the S60 comes out further ahead at around $1,300 less than the Audi and between $4,200 and $5,800 less than the BMW (depending on content). Despite being the segment’s value choice, I’d call the S60 T5 AWD my second choice in this segment behind the 328i and ahead of the A4 Quattro. The BMW’s larger dimensions, sportier aspirations and impressive list of “techogadgetry” justify the 14% price jump in my mind. Audi’s rough and underpowered engine combined with their complicated MMI infotainment system help push the king of AWD one notch down below the confidant smooth S60. If value factors into your decision-making, then the S60 is about two paddle shifters and a 5% better weight balance away from perfection. Until then the 328i reins supreme in this segment, but the T5 AWD is an excellent option if you’re cheap like me.

 

Volvo provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review

Specifications as tested

0-30: 2.2 Seconds

0-60: 5.93 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 14.5 Seconds @ 95 MPH

Average Fuel Economy: 26.5MPG over 895 miles

2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Exterior, Side, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Exterior, Side, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Exterior, Side, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Exterior, wheels, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Exterior, rear spoiler, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Exterior, front, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Exterior, grille, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Exterior, rear, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Exterior, rear, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Interior, gauges, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Interior, gauges, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Interior, gauges, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Interior, gear shift, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Interior, infotainment/HVAC controls, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Interior, Sensus Infotainment, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Interior, Sensus Infotainment, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Interior, Sensus Infotainment, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Interior, dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Interior, dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Interior, dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Interior, dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Interior, steering wheel, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Engine, 2.5L 250HP I5, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Engine, 2.5L 250HP I5, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Exterior, front, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Exterior, front, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Exterior, front 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Exterior, rear, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Exterior, T5 badge, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Exterior, tail light, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Interior, rear seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Interior, rear seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Interior, front seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Interior, cargo area, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Interior, trunk, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Exterior, Side, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Exterior, 3/4 view, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]>
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Review: 2012 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design Take Two http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/02/review-2012-volvo-s60-t6-awd-r-design-take-two/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/02/review-2012-volvo-s60-t6-awd-r-design-take-two/#comments Sun, 19 Feb 2012 15:00:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=431390
While Volvo has had the occasional flirtation with performance (the 850R and S60R/V70R twins spring immediately to mind) the Swedish brand is most know for a dedication to safety. It was safety that attracted me to buy my first Volvo, a 1998 S70 T5 (5-speed manual of course), but it was performance that resulted in my second Volvo purchase, a 2006 V70R (6-speed manual). Unlike my Swedespeed.com brothers, however I had no delusions about the future of the R brand as Volvo doubled-down on their core. The R-Design models are a concession to speed freaks with a Swedish soft spot. Let’s see if they can fill the void.

Much like Audi, Volvo believes in the “one sausage different lengths” school of design. From the S40 to the S80 and even the XC60, the Volvo “look” of “narrow at the shoulder, broad at the hip” is unmistakable, often imitated and undeniably sexy, in a safe, practical sort of way. While the front overhang on the S60 is long compared to some of the German options, the overall look has grown on me since I drove the non-R-Design S60 last year. While the S80 remains the best proportioned of the bunch, the S60′s greenhouse screams four-door-coupe which is inexplicably all the rage. R-design models get a subtle update to the bumper with stabilizing fins, a tiny spoiler, more aggressive exhaust, a new front bumper that ditches half the chrome in favor of a more aggressive pose and a set of 18 inch 5-spoke wheels.

While the outside of the R-Design was treated to the same level of updating the former R models received, the interior gets less love. That’s not to say the interior of the S60 is uncompetitive – the build and parts quality is only a notch behind Audi and a decent step above the Mercedes C-class, there’s just not much inside to say “I got the sporty one” save a small emblem on the steering wheel. True to Volvo’s minimalist style, the buttons are clear, easy to read and easy to reach. If you’re looking for some funky Swedish character you won’t find any in modern Volvos. They are almost Germanic in their arrangement. Speaking of those controls, the slot for the “key” is located fairly high on the dash, so if you don’t pony up $550 for the keyless-go option, your keys will bang around in a fairly undignified fashion. Volvo should make this feature standard in a market where discount Nissans can be had with it.
All S60 models sold in the USA come with Volvo’s 7-inch LCD infotainment system, with or without navigation. Our R-Design tester was equipped with Volvo’s $2,700 “Multimedia Package” which bundles navigation, the backup camera and their premium audio system together. Should you decide to navigate solo it’ll set you back $1,895. Compared to the big hitters in the market, Volvo slots neatly in the middle behind iDrive and MMI but well ahead of Mercedes’ and Lexus’ aging systems and perhaps a tie with Infiniti. Menus are all logically laid out and easy to navigate, iPod and Bluetooth integration are fairly easy. While I prefer a hybrid controller/touchscreen system like Infiniti, I have to say that the steering wheel controls on the Volvo proved a decent and welcome alternative. A week back to back in a BMW proved that while iDrive is by far the more attractive system and more feature rich, Volvo’s interface is easier to use and less distracting.

Rear seat passengers in any of the European small sedans won’t be as happy as they would be in a Lexus ES350 or an American sedan, but in comparison to the A4 and the C-class, the Volvo delivers essentially the same dimensions in the back. While the previous S60R and V70R came with acres of “pearlescent” leather in wacky shades of orange and blue, the R-Design is available with sensible black leather faced seats. As someone who owned a full-leather upholstery V70R, I find myself torn between the feel of real leather on the doors and dash and the hours I had to spend caring for it all.

Volvo’s funky and polarizing 5 cylinder turbo engine is now an item for the history books. While I loved my 5 cylinder Volvos, I have to agree that they were a little different sounding. The S60R/V70R’s 2.5L engine also suffered from heat soak in hot weather. When the S60R/V70Rs were killed, R-Design became a sport and styling exercise at Volvo, so the S60 R-Design’s power bump came as a welcome surprise to the Volvo faithful. Volvo called in Polestar, their preferred tuning company to tweak the 3.0L twin-scroll turbocharged inline 6 for R-Design duty. The result was a modest bump from 300 HP and 325 lb-ft of torque to 325 HP and 354 lb-ft, but that only tells half the story as the torque and horsepower curves are improved compared to the stock engine. The 2011 S60 T6 AWD we tested last January ran to 60 in 5.67 seconds, which was notably behind the S4 and 335i, while the R-Design sprinted to the same number in 5.05. So marked was the difference that I headed to my local Volvo dealer and performed the test again with a T6 and R-Design fresh off the lot and recorded essentially the same figures. We all know BMW underrates their engines, but Volvo? Who knew. If you have access to an AWD dyno (we couldn’t get in one on short notice) let us know in the comment section below and maybe we can work out a rematch with Volvo.

My grandfather used to always tell me not to bring a knife to a gunfight. Apparently Volvo’s engineers didn’t have granddad like mine. The R-Design may bring cool blue-faced gauges and a willing engine to the fight, but sadly the unloved Aisin 6-speed automatic tagged along. It’s not that the Aisin transmission is a belligerent companion – in fact, the unit has been reprogrammed to be more eager to downshift when prodded. The problem is that in the R-Design it’s no less eager to upshift when you enter a corner, a trait that I find more annoying than a transmission that holds a gear but resists downshifting. Perhaps this is because my heart longs for an AWD Volvo with a manual transmission? While I didn’t find this behavior that distressing in the regular S60, I had hoped for at least some paddle shifters and a manual mode that didn’t shift until I requested. The Volvo rumor mill tells me a 6-speed manual may make a return soon, it can’t come fast enough.

The previous V70R and S60R corner carved with curious aptitude and strangely little road feel. The new S60′s electric power assist steering is actually a considerable improvement on the previous system and while it is not as direct and involving as last generation’s 3-series it has about the same amount of road feel as any other EPAS system on the market. I was told some years ago to be careful not to confuse heavy steering with road feel, but in our EPAS world they tend to be the same. The R-Design suffers from a 3,877lb curb weight (almost 60% of which rests over the front wheels) and 235-width rubber. It’s the weight and its distribution rather than the rubber that dogs the S60R in corners, where it exhibits an unwillingness to change direction much like the similarly overweight S4. The S4 delivers a more refined feel while heading off into the bushes.

For reasons that Volvo could not explain, their adaptive suspension system, a truly innovative feature on the S60R and V70R, is only available on the non-R-Design models. This means that should you want the extra power you’re stuck with the stiffer suspension all the time. I would not call the ride harsh, but it is notably stiffer than the standard suspensions one would find in an A4 or 3-series. Price likely has a role to play, with the R-Design starting at $43,375 – more expensive than my 2006 V70R, but significantly cheaper than an Audi S4. Our tester was equipped with the navigation system, rear view camera, up-level audio system, heated seats and washer nozzles, headlight washers, rain-sensing wipers, power retracting side view mirrors and Volvo’s blind spot monitoring system bringing our total up to $48,025. While that sounds like a large price tag, our own Michael Karesh estimated the R-Design undercuts the S4 by some $7,700.

One cannot review a Volvo without discussing safety. From collapsible steering columns, anti-whiplash seats and “anti-submarining” guards to Volvo’s latest active safety systems that will intervene when you fail to, we can easily say the safety box is well and duly ticked. Volvo’s City Safety with “pedestrian detection and full-auto-brake” is slowly working its way through Volvo’s line up and is standard on all S60 models. Personally I think this system should be standard on all Volvo models, even if it means a higher base price. The previous generation City Safety system saved my bacon in the XC60 I reviewed last year, so I’m confident it will do the same here. The S60 takes this system to the next level by detecting pedestrians as long as they are over 31-inches tall. After a week with BMW’s night vision system, which will warn you about pedestrians (but only at night) yet takes no action, I have to say my risk averse side prefers a system that acts instead. I was unable to find a volunteer to stand in front of the system so we could test it. Understandable, as I am told the system errs on the side of running into the obstacle rather than slamming on the brakes if it is unsure. Still, preliminary insurance data indicates that the system does work. Tell us your thoughts in the comment section below.


With the S60 R-Design, Volvo has made a competent AWD sedan that is finally as fast as the Germans offerings. Whet they haven’t done is resurrect the hopes and dreams of the Volvo R line, nor have they created a compelling reason for S4 or 335i buyers to look elsewhereh for their next car. While the R-Design may be far from a replacement for the S60R, it is a vehicle that finally lives up to Volvo’s “naughty” branding by giving Audi A4, 328i and C350 shoppers a viable option from the frigid north.

Volvo provide the vehicle, insurance and one tank go gas for this review

Specifications as tested

0-30 MPH: 1.9 Seconds

0-60 MPH: 5.05 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 13.5 Seconds @ 104 MPH

Observed Average Fuel Economy: 24 MPG over 724 miles

 

2012 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design, Exterior, front 3/4, Photography Courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design, Exterior, side, Photography Courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design, Exterior, side 3/4, Photography Courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design, Exterior, front 3/4, Photography Courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design, Exterior, wheel, Photography Courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design, Exterior, front 3/4, Photography Courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design, Exterior, front 3/4, Photography Courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design, Exterior, front 3/4, Photography Courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design, Exterior, grille, Photography Courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design, Exterior, rear, Photography Courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design, Exterior, rear 3/4, Photography Courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design, Exterior, rear 3/4, Photography Courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design, Exterior, rear, Photography Courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design, Exterior, Photography Courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design, Interior, gauges, Photography Courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design, Interior, gauges, Photography Courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design, Interior, infotainment and navigation, Photography Courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design, Interior, infotainment, Photography Courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design, Interior, infotainment, Photography Courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design, Interior, infotainment, Photography Courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design, Interior, backup camera, Photography Courtesy of Alex L Dykes IMG_5442012 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design, Interior, HVAC and infotainment controls, Photography Courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design, Interior, keyless go, Photography Courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design, Interior, seat controls, Photography Courtesy of Alex L Dykes IMG_54522012 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design, Interior, driver's door, Photography Courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design, Interior, Trunk, Photography Courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design, Interior, center console, Photography Courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design, Interior, dash, driver's side, Photography Courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design, Interior, dashboard, Photography Courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design, Interior, driver's side dashboard, Photography Courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design, Interior, rear seats, Photography Courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design, Interior, rear seats, Photography Courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design, Interior, rear seats, Photography Courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design, Interior, rear seats, Photography Courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design, Interior, steering wheel controls, Photography Courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design, Interior, steering wheel, Photography Courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design, 3.0L twin-scroll turbo engine, Photography Courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design, 3.0L twin-scroll turbo engine, Photography Courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design, Exterior, front 3/4, Photography Courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design, Exterior, front 3/4, Photography Courtesy of Alex L Dykes volvo-s60-thumb Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]>
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New or Used: Mind Reading and Wagon Lust http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/07/new-or-used-mind-reading-and-wagon-lust/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/07/new-or-used-mind-reading-and-wagon-lust/#comments Thu, 21 Jul 2011 21:45:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=402131

Mark writes:

Hi Guys,

I read TTAC regularly and am debating what to do about getting a new car. The situation is I had a 2001 Volvo S60 which started experiencing transmission “issues” that the mechanic could not replicate, so I traded it for a 09 Fit to get better mileage. The Fit was an excellent appliance car, but felt a bit tinny after the relative comfort and solidity of the S60. The new Lexus CT200h got me excited and my sister-in-law needed a new car so I sold her the Fit and am awaiting the Lexus. However it appears that actually fitting my kids in the back of Lexus won’t work. What would you suggest as a car? I want good mileage, because I have a city commute, a bit of luxury and reliability with not ridiculous repair costs. I had hoped the Mercedes C300 Estate would come here, but it won’t and BMW has me concerned about repairs costs. Could I be happy with a used Lexus SportCross? Please provide your perspective.

Steve answers:

We can’t read your mind. There is a big part of me that says, “Hey. All this guy wants is a hybrid with a bit more room than the CT200h.”

Then the next little voice says, “My good God! Have we sank to the level of serial numbers when it comes to model names?”

I’m surprised the CT200h won’t fit your kids. I recall test driving last year and thought the rear space was fine. But who knows? Maybe your kids are well over six foot and husky.

The Sportcross also has a small rear seat. Sorry.

As for alternatives… there are dozens to choose from. I happen to like the 2008-2009 Audi A6. It clicks all the buttons of a sporty and comfortable ride and there are plenty of low mileage CPO versions to choose from. You can usually get one of those for a lot less money than a Mercedes C300 or BMW 5-Series and if warranty issues are important to you, the CPO warranty will go a long way.

If you want new only, the Infiniti G25 is a wonderful car that is sitting on dealer’s lots (106 days in inventory). The price will be comparable to the CT200h. It will also give you a lot more real world power than the CT while offering reasonable fuel economy (20/29) and a more spacious interior. Go drive one of those and see if you like it.

Sajeev answers:

Life is full of compromises: the only cars I passionately desire are well out of warranty, making spare parts hard to find at times. So let’s get down to you.

Don’t expect a C300 Estate (if it ever arrives) to be any better than a BMW in total cost of ownership. And forget about pleasing everyone or everything in your next ride, odds are they won’t have the room to play nice with each other. All modern Euro Wagons are for ownership under warranty exclusively, unless you hate your wallet. This isn’t a Caprice-Roadmaster-Panther Love thing: it’s a lament over the USA-centric design of the 1990s Honda Accord Wagon, Toyota Camry Wagon, or Ford Taurus Wagon. I’d love to throw you into an Accord wagon right now: Honda Crosstour FTW?

But if you like the Lexus IS Sportcross, get it! Sure the back seat is smallish, but the real problem is that the latest version is about 6 years old. It will need a host of upkeep to keep it in top shape: tires, hoses, belts, fluids, shocks and who knows what else was worn out by the last owner. Maybe nothing, but I suspect your time value of money is important enough to give you pause on a used SportCross.

Can’t take the heat? Get out of the kitchen and straight to your nearest CUV. Or maybe…the Acura TSX sport wagon: one drive will put your mind at ease and push enough buttons to make you happy for years to come. Or maybe even longer.

Need help with a car buying conundrum? Email your particulars to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com , and let TTAC’s collective wisdom make the decision easier… or possibly much, much harder.

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Review: 2012 Volvo S60 T5 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/05/review-2012-volvo-s60-t5/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/05/review-2012-volvo-s60-t5/#comments Mon, 23 May 2011 23:17:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=395915

Quite a few of you balked at the idea of a $47,610 not-quite-midsize Volvo sedan. Well, for 2012 a T5 joins the S60 range. While the T6 might venture a bit deep into Audi and BMW territory, with a $31,850 base price the T5 is within striking distance of the similarly semi-premium front-drive Acura TSX and Buick Regal. But how much of the T6’s self-proclaimed naughtiness must one do without? Is the more affordable T5 a match for the Acura and Buick, much less the Germans?

Silver is not the new S60’s best color, and the standard 17-inch wheels also don’t do the long-nosed, high-belted exterior any favors. With “ember black metallic” paint and more delicate 18-inch alloys, the previously tested T6 was considerably more attractive. As tested, the T5 appears less upscale than some decidedly non-premium compacts. Not that a 240 looked upscale, either. But Volvo loyalists won’t recognize the object of their devotion in the S60’s coupe-like sweeping roofline. Which leaves the new S60…where?

The T5 has the same oh-so-Scandinavian interior as the T6, though without the $1,900 Premium Package (on both photographed T5s) the former’s seats are upholstered in T-Tec (think soft-sided luggage). The optional leather has an attractively heavy grain, and looks especially warm in “Beechwood.” Add the $800 Climate Package and the seats will also feel warm. Heated or not, these seats are among the most comfortable and properly supportive you’ll find. The Acura’s front buckets aren’t far behind, but the Buick’s are. The Regal wins back points for materials and workmanship. An especially sore point within the Volvo: the oversized shifter feels clunky and literally rings hollow. Though none of the cars in this class are especially foursome-friendly, the Volvo’s aft cabin is especially tight.

Unlike GM, Volvo realizes that 220-or-so horsepower is no longer enough for street cred. So ye olde boosted five kicks out 250 horsepower at 5,500 rpm in its latest iteration. While this is only ten more than the naturally-aspirated inline six offered in other Volvos, the T5’s peak torque of 266 pound-feet at 1,800 rpm outgrunts the six by 30. On paper it’s the superior engine. Drop a half-liter of displacement and AWD, and the EPA ratings improve from the T6’s 18/26 to the T5’s more respectable 20/30. This is better than the TSX V6 (18/27), Regal 2.0T (18/28), or the slightly larger Volvo S80 when fitted with the naturally-aspirated six (19/27), but not quite as good as an Audi A4 2.0T (22/30).

Problem is, the boosted five doesn’t deliver its numbers with the smooth feel and lusty sounds expected from a premium sport sedan. Despite the early torque peak, at low rpm the engine feels soft and responds sluggishly. Even the turbocharged four in the Buick sounds and feels better. The responsive, sweet-sounding six in the TSX is beyond comparison.

Handling similarly takes a hit. When I drove the T6 the salesperson said that Volvo was concerned that the car’s ride was too firm. The tires were a touch thumpy, but that car felt alive in a way no Volvo sedan had in recent memory. With the standard suspension, the S60 T5’s body motions are less well controlled. There’s more lean in turns and more bobbling over bumps. The Acura does a little better here, the Buick much better. The T5’s steering, though still satisfyingly quick, feels less direct and less precise than the T6’s. Partly because the Michelin Primacy tires lack grip, the stability control cuts in far too early. There’s no convenient button to dial it back; instead, this must be done through menus (think iDrive, but with the controls high up and to the right on the center stack). The Dynamic Package, with the T6’s 18-inch wheels, selectable effort steering, and firmer suspension, would close the handling gap with the Buick. It’s a must for anyone who cares about driving. But it also swells the price by $900. Even with this package, the T5 lacks the additional handling flexibility provided by the T6’s all-wheel-drive.

Even with the base suspension, the S60 T5 doesn’t ride as smoothly or as quietly as the Acura or the Buick. Compared to those cars it seems slightly raw, and not in a good way. The ears report a lesser car.

“Naughty” posturing notwithstanding, Volvo continues to push safety. “City Safety,” which can totally prevent hitting objects in front of the car up to 9 mph and minimize damage up to 18 mph, is standard on all S60s. I again lacked the nerve to test it. A full array of more commonly found safety features is also standard, of course.

Equip an S60 T5 to match the features of a $32,000 Buick Regal 2.0T or a $36,000 Acura TSX V6, and the MSRP ends up at $37,300. So not far off the latter, and very close to a similarly equipped $37,100 Audi A4 2.0T. Discounts should be larger on the Volvo, though.

Most notably, the Volvo S60 T5 starts a considerable $7,725 lower than the T6, but how much are you really saving? Equip both with heated leather, sunroof, adaptive xenon headlights, and the Dynamic Package, and the difference shrinks to $4,625, $36,250 vs. $40,875. (Add another $2,700 to either for nav plus a 650-watt surround sound audio system.) Volvo charges $2,000 for all-wheel-drive in the XC60 crossover, so figure $2,625 for the T6’s engine. A little steep for just one additional cylinder, but in this case it’s a must. Even if the inline six’s additional performance isn’t needed, the larger engine sounds and feels so much better than the cobby five—it adds ten grand to the perceived value of the car. The Germans have certainly charged much more for less.

Dwyer and Sons Volvo in Commerce Twp, MI, provided the car for this review. They can be reached at (866) 759-0593.

Michael Karesh operates TrueDelta, an online source of automotive pricing and reliability data.

S60 T5 view forward Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail S60 T5 front S60-T5-thumb S60 T5 rear quarter S60 T5 front quarter S60 T5 trunk S60 T5 front seats S60 T5 instrument panel 2 S60 T5 side That's when I reach for my re-Volvo... S60 T5 instrument panel S60 T5 rear quarter 2 S60 T5 front seats 2 S60 T5 engine

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Review: 2011 Volvo S60 T6 AWD Take Two http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/02/review-2011-volvo-s60-t6-awd-take-two/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/02/review-2011-volvo-s60-t6-awd-take-two/#comments Wed, 16 Feb 2011 21:03:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=384119

Judge me if you must, but when I think of “naughty Swede,” NSFW images of a blonde au pair in a slutty French maid outfit flash in my head. It therefore struck me as a bit odd that Volvo, long known for being the Birkenstock of the auto, would start running TV and internet ads calling the new S60 “naughty.” What exactly is a naughty Volvo? As the former owner of a V70R, I had to hit Volvo up for one to find out.

Now that Volvo belongs to the Chinese, it would seem that a new corporate direction is working its way through Gothenburg. It’s not some crazy new idea but an old one: profitability. Apparently Volvo’s new Asian masters want Volvo to actually make some cash, and to that end a drastic reduction in the brand’s US lineup is already underway. With an automotive austerity campaign underway, expect to see only a few Volvo models on showroom floors, with the S60 occupying the volume sales leader position. This of course places the new Swede in some serious competition with the likes of the Audi A4/S4, BMW 3-Series and Mercedes C-Class. Does Sweden’s most popular sedan have what it takes?

Though the new S60 has grown compared to the outgoing 2009 model, the competition has grown as well, meaning the safe cars from the land of ABBA are no longer a “half-step” between the vehicles from the German competition. With an overall length of 182-inches and a wheelbase of 109.3-inches, the S60 could even be said to be a “middle of the pack” contender. Similarly, the 300HP twin-scroll turbocharged 3-liter inline 6-cylinder engine and 6-speed automatic lands the new S60 solidly at the upper end of the Euro competition (at least on paper). But does that make the S60 “naughty”? Not quite.

The 2011 S60 carries a $37,700 base MSRP in T6 AWD trim ($30,975 for the newly announced T5 FWD model), which represents an increase of approximately $1000 over the previous top-end S60. Luckily, that’s still a relative bargain in the Euro segment where competition in the form of the BMW 335xi starts at $43,100 and Mercedes C350 starts at $39,990 (especially when you consider standard equipment). Volvo forum-fan boys are all aflutter over Volvo’s continuing price hikes. Sorry cheap Swede fans, the truth of the matter is Volvo needs to remain a premium brand in the USA to be profitable. Until we are all buying Chinese built Volvos, labor rates in the EU will keep Volvo’s premium cost structure and premium brand position.

From the outside, the new S60’s sheet metal is a departure from Volvo’s traditional past, but still retains the strong shoulders of the outgoing S60 and something of the iconic Volvo two-box style . If it were not for the over-sized proboscis, the design might rival the original S80’s form for the most elegant Volvo ever penned, but as it is, passengers and observers were mostly undecided whether they likes the new schnoz. Light pipes in the tail lamp modules, subtle swoops over the wheel arches, and a coupé-like C-pillar conspire to add a touch of modernity to the new S60, but taken as a whole the new S60 is still more conservative than mischievous. Naughty? I’m not so sure, especially without the bright orange paint our tester came with. I’m also not sure naughty sells cars; Audi’s latest cars wear sheet metal that is the “Midwest farm girl” of the auto industry, and their sales are on fire.

While the exterior might be a departure for Volvo, the interior is typical of the Nordic brand: high quality parts, logically-placed controls and subtle Scandinavian style. Volvo entered the 21st century with interiors that were class leading in design and materials, but in the past decade the competition has evolved and improved. While Audi may have little to fear, and I’m sure the next generation 3-series will continue to build on BMW’s interior renaissance, the S60 delivers materials an interior build quality on par with the best in the Euro luxury market. How about the rest of the competition? Mercedes’ C-class interior feels cheaper than the new S60 and the Acura TSX is cute but the fake wood and plastics are only a mild step above the Honda line.

Anyone familiar with Volvo’s product portfolio will feel right at home in the S60, as interior appointments are mainly borrowed from, or are subtly tweaked versions of those in the S80. From the seated-Swede shaped climate control buttons, to the large easy to use dials, the interior continues Volvo’s tradition of function and form being equally important. All the controls are easily within reach and fairly logically laid out. The only fly in the ointment is the key-fob slot to the right of the steering wheel. If you decide not to opt for the $550 “PCC” key-less go option, your fob will need to be inserted in this hole while driving, meaning the rest of the keys are free to bang on the dash ad nauseum. I understand the need to have a low MSRP, but really, given this design, the PCC key should be standard.

Our tester is proof that Volvo still loves the less pedestrian interior color combinations. In a world where even Subarus are suddenly becoming mainstream beige, we can only hope Gothenburg keeps the quirks and odd colors inside and out. In a world gone bland world, they make Volvos all the more interesting. Sadly the “Creamcicle” white/orange interior in some of the press photos is not an option in the USA. Pity. Still, the orangeish-brown leather interior is striking when accompanied by the shiny copper metallic paint job our tester had. Naughty? Bring me that Creamsicle interior or something in lime green and then we’ll talk.

If there is one area where the old S60 was severely lacking it was the electronic gizmo department. The 2011 S60 may not be revolutionary, but it is thoroughly modern. In addition to offering optional radar cruise control, lane departure warning, and monitoring your alertness, it also finally offers basic luxury features such as Bluetooth, iPod/USB integration, Satellite and HD radio as standard features. Speaking of audio, the base and up-level sound systems both deliver excellent sound with the 12-speaker Audyssey system easily matching the high-end systems from the competition in terms of clarity and beat-for-the-buck. The heart of the system is the all-new high resolution 7-inch screen (standard in the USA, other markets may get a standard 5-inch screen) is bright and clear with well-designed graphics and intuitive, logical menus. The new system combines audio, vehicle and navigation settings together and is controlled by a knob and button in the center console, or via a scrolling wheel/button on the steering wheel.

The interface proves to be fairly responsive and delivers high quality graphics, however with self-proclaimed competition being the BMW 3-Series, I have to ask why Volvo didn’t pop a BMW-like wide screen display in there? Opportunities lost. Still, the only thing I found myself missing was a broader range of voice commands for controlling audio devices, alá Ford Sync. The Swedish rumor mill indicates we should expect this same infotainment system to trickle down to the XC60 in a mid-cycle refresh and the S80/XC70 sometime later. Meanwhile, the system offers a nice twist to Volvo’s safety conscious reputation in that it allows quite a bit of leeway to fiddle with the infotainment system while in motion. Naghty? Perhaps.

Speaking of gadgets, rounding out the list on the new S60 is Volvo’s revised radar cruise control. The new system will now bring you to a complete stop and keep the vehicle stopped until traffic moves again. I have tested systems from Lexus, Jaguar, Land Rover, BMW, Ford and Infiniti and oddly enough the system in the new S60 is quite simply the best I have ever tested. Systems in cars costing three times more than the S60 don’t work this smoothly. Who knows what programming wizardry has been done under the electronic hood, but this system reacts quickly and without drama when a car cuts in front of you, it works well on fairly windy roads and doesn’t have the same strange “lag” that some systems do where they drop far behind the traffic when accelerating. Included with the radar cruise is a collision warning system that lets know you if you are tailgating and if a doom is impending. The system works we’ll and unlike similar systems from Ford we never experienced a “false alarm” caused by windy mountain roads. A Volvo that lets you drive feet-free, now that’s naughty.

One cannot review a Volvo without discussing safety. From collapsible steering columns, anti-whiplash seats and “anti-submarineing” guards to Volvo’s latest active safety systems that will intervene when you fail to, we can easily say the safety box is well and duly ticked. The biggest improvement in the new S60 is City Safety with pedestrian detection and full-auto-brake. Personally I think this system should be standard on all Volvo models, even if it means a higher base price. If you recall, the previous generation City Safety system saved my bacon in the XC60 I reviewed last year, so I’m confident it will do the same here. The S60 takes this system to the next level by detecting pedestrians as long as they are over 31-inches tall. While Volvo may have some egg on their corporate face for the failure of the system to act in some recent demonstrations, if the system keeps at least one person from plowing down little Jimmy running after a ball, then it’s worth it in my book. Oddly enough I was unable to find a volunteer to stand in front of the system so we could test it. Is a safer Volvo naughty? No, but I’ll take the safer car any day.

Heading out to the coast for some Highway 1 time I was hoping to find the S60’s inner daemon. Volvos in the past decade have been far from slow but lacked the engagement you find in a BMW or Audi. When the road gets twisty the new S60 delivers more than I expected but less than forum fanboys would hope for. The S60 chassis is very stable, surprisingly well balanced and delivers very confidant handling. The available adjustable electric power steering allows you to tune some heft into your steering, but regardless of mode it remains fairly isolated. While the S60 will never be a 335xi, it actually does manage to put the likes of the Audi A4 on notice. The 3-liter turbo engine our tester was equipped with is an eager and willing companion, as long as you put your foot in it. Tallish throttle mapping and a transmission programed for efficiency take a toll on the fun factor unless you are willing to romp on the go pedal often. Fortunately the car responds well to being flogged and easily delivered a 5.67 second run to 60 every time it was asked. Top speed? 130. Naughty? Not bad at all.

Speaking of those options, let’s talk pricing. The base MSRP of $37,700 for the T6 AWD trim, gets you the base city safety system that detects cars only (it will just plow Jimmy right over), dual-zone climate control, leather upholstery, 18-inch wheels, and more safety acronyms than I have ever seen in my life. Our tester was equipped with: the $2,100 “Technology Package” which included Adaptive Cruise Control, Collision Warning with Auto Brake, Pedestrian, Distance Alert, Driver Alert Control and Lane Departure Warning. We also had the $2,700 multimedia package: up-level audio with 650 watts, 12 speakers, Dolby pro logic, the voice command navigation system and a backup camera; $1,500 premium package including the moonroof, power passenger seat and steering Xenon headlights; $800 Climate package which included heated seats, heated washer nozzles, headlight washers, rain sense wipers and an air quality system. The above packages bumped our tester to $45,675 including a $875 destination fee.

While the BMW 335xi is faster and more fun to drive, similarly configured it tips the scales at $56,375. The slower RWD only C350 from Mercedes doesn’t offer the range of features as the S60 so it’s difficult to compare but the S60 ends up being cheaper when similarly configured. The most natural competition for Volvo appears to be the Audi A4/S4, while the S4 is faster and more powerful than the S60, similarly configured the S60 is almost $6,000 cheaper and the A4 2.0T lacks the zip for a similar price point.

At the end of a week with the S60 I can honestly say this new Volvo isn’t naughty at all, but that’s OK because this car is designed for real people. It’s not brash, nor loud, and it doesn’t scream ego. Instead the S60 T6 AWD is an extremely competent sedan that is well priced and offers compelling safety features. If an AWD Euro sedan is what you seek, the S60 should be at or near the top of your list. The newly announced S60 T5 model may yet be a better deal, as, priced at just over $30,000 starting, it delivers all the style, many of the same features without the AWD and 300HP. Volvo’s new S60 looks ready to do battle with the competition for another 8-9 years, let’s hope it doesn’t have to fight single-handedly for that long.

Volvo provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for the review.

Performance statistics as tested:

0-60MPH: 5.67 seconds

30-60MPH: 3.5 seconds

Average economy: 24.5MPG

IMG_0999 IMG_1021 IMG_1007 IMG_1001 IMG_1014 IMG_1015 IMG_1009 IMG_1008 IMG_1011 IMG_1012 IMG_1005 IMG_1010 IMG_0997 IMG_1000 IMG_1016 Who are you calling "naughty"? IMG_1013 IMG_1017 IMG_1002 IMG_0996 IMG_0998 IMG_1003 IMG_1019 IMG_1018

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Review: 2011 Volvo S60 T6 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/10/review-2011-volvo-s60-t6/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/10/review-2011-volvo-s60-t6/#comments Wed, 06 Oct 2010 19:01:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=367773

Remember the 240? Volvo clearly wishes you didn’t. Instead, they’d rather you think of the thoroughly redesigned 2011 S60 T6 as “naughty” despite a bevy of new safety features. Just a tease—again—or does this Volvo actually put out?

The 2001-2009 S60 added some curves to Volvo’s traditional Amana-inspired design aesthetic, but retained strong shoulders as a link to the past. With the 2011 sedan, the shoulders have been softened and flowing curves predominate. Front-drive packaging and safety standards have conspired to distend the nose, but this is the extent of the exterior’s flaws. Unless looking more than a little like a more tightly proportioned second-gen Olds Aurora also counts as a flaw. Volvo has not copied the recent Benz-BMW practice of adding extraneous details in a bid to dial up the drama. And yet the new S60 is more eye-catching than the German competition. Unfortunately, Oldsmobile is proof that excellent styling isn’t capable of saving a dying brand.

A note on the “ember black metallic” of the tested car. In photos it appears black, but in sunlight brown metallic undertones are evident. Interesting, but overly subtle.

The tastefully stylish theme continues inside the car, where as in other recent Volvos the influence of Scandinavian furniture design is evident. Materials are upscale without seeming opulent. A heavy grain to the leather lends character. In the center stack overly similar buttons ring a phone pad. Breaking these buttons up into logical groupings would make them easier to operate. Thankfully, four large knobs have been provided for the most common functions.

Front seats have long been a Volvo strength, and those in the new S60 continue this fine tradition, providing both excellent comfort and very good lateral support. The driving position is about perfect. The rear seat is a much less happy place. Despite a comfortably-shaped cushion the seat is not comfortable. Likely because of the coupe-like roofline, the cushion is mounted too low to the floor, and knee room is in short supply. The S60 has always seemed a half-size larger than the BMW 3-Series et al., but in the rear seat it certainly isn’t. Trunk space is similarly constrained, tying the 3 at 12 cubes.

When I drove (and reviewed) the XC60 R-Design a few months ago, I was impressed enough to wonder why the late V70 wasn’t as enjoyable to drive. After all, it should be easier to get a wagon, with its lower center of gravity, to handle well. And the straight six—unique in a transverse application—felt and sounded so good I wondered why anyone bothers with a V6. But couldn’t Volvo wring more than 281 horsepower out of a turbocharged 3.0-liter?

Well, for 2011 horsepower has been bumped to a nice, round, BMW-tying 300, at 6,500 rpm. Torque has also been bumped, to 325 pound-feet, all of it at least theoretically available from 2,100 to 4,200 rpm. In practice, the engine feels strong throughout its range, with hardly any turbo lag. Though it weighs nearly two tons, the latest S60 is a quick car. If only ex-parent Ford’s EcoBoost felt nearly this responsive or sounded nearly this good.

Unlike in the 2004-2007 R, no manual transmission is offered. The six-speed manually-shiftable automatic performs passably well, though it’s getting long in tooth. Newer transmissions are both more responsive and smoother.

The brakes feel firm and strong. Automatic-braking at low speeds (“City Safety” in Volvoese) is standard. A $2,100 Technology Package adds adaptive cruise, distance alert (a series of lights displayed on the lower windshield let you know when you’re getting too close, plus an audible alarm if a collision seems likely), automatic high-speed braking, pedestrian detection (on the Volvo site: “unprotected road users”), a driver alertness monitor, and lane departure warning. I did not test the automatic braking or pedestrian detection. Of the bunch, the distance alert is most likely to prove useful on a daily basis.

The standard all-wheel-drive system remains a Haldex design, though as in other recent Volvos it’s pre-charged to very quickly transfer torque to the rear wheels as needed. To this Volvo has added “corner traction control with torque vectoring.” What this means: the brakes are selectively applied to proactively counteract understeer. And it works. Until its high limits are approached the S60 has a very neutral feel for a nose-heavy car. Engage “sport mode,” seriously prod the throttle, and oversteer is even on the menu.

The biggest, most pleasant surprise with the new S60: the steering retains only a hint of the numbness that has long afflicted the marque’s cars, including the late, lamented R. By current luxury car standards it feels direct and almost communicative. The chassis has been similarly tuned with driving enthusiasts in mind. The new S60 still doesn’t feel as delicate or precise as a BMW 3-Series, and isn’t as engaging, but in terms of overall driving enjoyment it actually isn’t far off. The tested car wasn’t fitted with the $750 adaptive shocks. They’re not needed.

The dealer asked my opinion of the ride. Apparently Volvo asked them to. They’re concerned that it’s overly firm for the typical customer, and assured me that an optional “Touring Package” with a softer suspension is on the way. Personally, I wouldn’t want it. But I’m not the typical Volvo customer. That buyer is likely to find the ride overly firm. Not so much because it is firm as because the tires clomp over every bump and divot. Figure out how to eliminate this noise, and the ride would seem much better. Even with it, the new S60 sounds and feels like a premium sedan.

As it better, given the $47,610 sticker on the tested car. It’s possible to shave $2,100 by doing without the Technology Package, another $2,700 if you can live without the fantastic 650-watt audio system and nav, and so forth down to the $38,550 base price. When both cars are similarly loaded up, BMW 335i xDrive lists for $5,500 more. At invoice the difference is just over four large. Not pocket change, but still a bit close. And the 2007 R? Despite having fewer features (about $1,700 worth based on TrueDelta’s price comparison tool), it listed for $1,800 more when both cars are comparably equipped. Then again, the R died.

Volvo has not resurrected the true “R” appellation for the new S60 T6. Yet I enjoyed driving it more, thanks to a stronger, better-sounding engine, more responsive steering, more balanced handling, and a generally tighter feel. The new, come-hither styling also doesn’t hurt. So, “naughty,” even if successfully participating in Deathrace 2000 is not an option? No home run on the first outing—the new S60’s not that kind of car—but certainly good for a triple. I’d love another date. Now if only they’d offer the V60 here…

Michael Karesh owns and operates TrueDelta, an online source of automotive pricing and reliability data

$160 100_9262 100_9270 100_9281 Naughty or just nice? (all photos TTAC/Michael Karesh) 100_9263 100_9278 100_9252 Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail 100_9268 Note the distance alert lights 30-inch inseam ISO thigh support 100_9267 100_9266 Enlarged to show texture 100_9279 ]]>
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Price Analysis: 2010 Volvo S60 And 2011 Saab 9-5 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/06/price-comparison-2011-volvo-s60-versus-2011-saab-9-5/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/06/price-comparison-2011-volvo-s60-versus-2011-saab-9-5/#comments Tue, 01 Jun 2010 14:29:06 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=357757

In recent years Sweden’s car makers have staked out an uneasy position above the mainstream brands but below the premium European marques. With profits elusive, both were recently sold by their American owners. And both are about to introduce new sedans that they badly need to sell well. How does the pricing of the new 2011 Volvo S60 and 2010 Saab 9-5 compare? Has either been priced aggressively to pump up sales?

I’ve come across remarks that the Saab is considerably more expensive than the Volvo. And it is, especially before adjusting for its roughty $4,250 in additional standard content (based on TrueDelta.com’s car price comparison tool). The Volvo starts at $38,500, the Saab at $48,390. In both cases only the top trim level will be available initially, with others to follow.

But this isn’t a valid comparison. They’re both sedans powered through all four wheels by 300-horsepower turbocharged sixes, but the 9-5 is much larger than the S60, with 15 inches more overall length (197 vs. 182) and over five inches more rear legroom (38.8 vs. 33.5). The Volvo S60 really competes with the Saab 9-3, while the Saab 9-5 really competes with the Volvo S80. So each requires a comparison with its own peer group.

For the enlarged Saab 9-5, this means other midsize luxury sedans. After similarly loading up both cars (the default comparison at TrueDelta.com), the 2011 BMW 535i was about $15,000 more than the new 9-5. Even after adjusting for remaining feature differences the BMW is about $13,900 more, a sizable premium but one that history has proven many people will pay. The 2010 Mercedes-Benz E350 4Matic is not quite as pricey, about $10,200 more before feature adjustments, and about $8,000 afterwards. The 2010 Audi A6 3.0T is closer still, about $5,300 more than the Saab before feature adjustments, and about $5,700 more afterwards.

Moving beyond the pricey Germans, the redesigned 2011 Infiniti M37x lists for virtually the same as the Saab before adjusting for remaining feature differences, but is about $3,000 more afterwards. A Lexus GS 350 AWD? About $1,800 less than the Saab, but also a little more compact. And the 2010 Volvo S80 T6, which has failed to meet sales expectations? It’s about $600 more before feature adjustments and about $900 more afterwards. Close, but it offers considerably less rear legroom, and needs to be closer to the Saab in size. From these comparisons, Saab appears to have priced the new 9-5 about even with the Volvo (which few buyers pay remotely close to sticker for) and not far from the Infiniti and Lexus. If the car sells, it won’t be based on an aggressive pricing strategy.

The new Volvo S60 goes up against the 3-Series and the other aspirants to the BMW’s crown. It replaces a model that has been on life support in the U.S. for the past three model years. Here as well the BMW costs quite a bit more. Specifically, a similarly loaded up 2011 335i xDrive lists for about $7,200 more. With the 2010 Audi S4 the difference is even larger, about $10,000. But then Volvo hasn’t blessed the new car with its late, lamented R moniker. The closest American competitor, the Cadillac CTS 3.6 AWD, is about $4,000 more than the Volvo after a series of price increases over the past few years.

On the other hand, a 2010 Infiniti 2010 G37x lists for about $4,900 less before feature adjustments, and still about $2,900 less afterwards. (The Japanese offer no other 300+ horsepower AWD sedans in this lower-midsize entry lux class.) Saab deprived the 9-3 of its V6 for 2010. Going back to the 2009, the 9-3 Aero was about $2,500 more expensive than the new S60—but massive $6,500+ rebates were required to get them off dealer lots. And what about the Volkswagen CC, which shares a coupe-like roofline with the new S60? In VR6 form it’s within $1,000 of the Volvo. The Volvo’s interior should be considerably nicer than the VW’s, and in general it should have a more premium look and feel. But is this a sign that the Volvo is aggressively priced, or that the VW is overpriced? More likely the latter.

So, with the new cars both Saab and Volvo appear to have maintained their pricing position from the past decade or so. They’re much less expensive than comparable German cars, but are at best even with and are often more expensive than Japanese competitors. This pricing strategy hasn’t helped them sell many cars in the U.S. in recent memory. So, unless the new cars are highly desirable to car buyers—they’ve really got to be outstanding in some highly relevant way—they’re not likely to sell much better than the cars they replace.

Of the two, the Volvo has the better shot, even a much better shot. Its brand is stronger, with a clearer identity and broader awareness and consideration. Its company’s future is (relatively) more secure. The new sedan’s more dramatically styled. And it’s simply easier to sell a $40,000 car than a $50,000 car.

But even $40,000 is a stretch for these brands. Neither should count on selling many new S60s or 9-5s with the top trim level, and each needs to introduce lesser trims before the public fixates on the introductory pricing—if it hasn’t already.

To run your own price comparisons: Car price comparisons

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Volvo S60 Priced Starting At $37,700 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/05/volvo-s60-priced-starting-at-37700/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/05/volvo-s60-priced-starting-at-37700/#comments Tue, 11 May 2010 19:23:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=356192

We’ve already laid into Saab’s new 9-5 for launching with with only the 300hp, AWD “Aero” trim level, for which the former GM division wants a base price of about $50k. That asking price just became a little more ridiculous as Volvo has announced base pricing for its new S60 sedan at $37,700. And guess what? That’s for the 300 hp, AWD “T6″ version as well, which is also the only trim level available at launch. Volvo 1, Saab 0. UPDATE: OK, OK, we admit that Volvo’s “win” here is minimal. A lower base price does potentially bring in more buyers, but on an apples-to-apples basis, the two Swedes are pretty much a wash, price-wise. Which still leaves plenty of room for debate… and inevitable references in each others reviews. Besides, both models will offer cheaper versions over time. Does this make us think Saab’s $50k fan tax is any less ridiculous? Not a bit. But then, only time and test drives will truly tell if Saab’s gamble has paid off.

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What’s Wrong With This Picture: BMW By Volvo Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/11/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-bmw-by-volvo-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/11/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-bmw-by-volvo-edition/#comments Wed, 11 Nov 2009 19:04:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=334993 Seems... familiar

Customers in this segment want emotional appeal, sporty design and dynamic driving properties. The S60 has it all. We are convinced that it will be one of the strongest contenders around

Volvo CEO Stephen Odell explains in the press release for the new S60 why people who buy 3 Series sedans don’t cross-shop Volvo… and why he wants to expand his brand so that someday they might. But leaving aside the sad fact that every luxury brand wants to build “the new 3 Series,” we’re having a hard time figuring this move out. Considering that Volvo is about to get a Chinese-style upscale overhaul, expect the “dynamic driving properties” part of the “what does Volvo stand for this week” exercise to fall off the radar with haste. And really, Volvo makes a lot more sense as a Euro-tinged, safety-forward alternative to Lexus and (in China) Buick than a BMW wannabe.

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