Despite a sprinkling of performance here and there, Volvo cars are best known for their ultra-safe reputations. And, many buyers, especially in the Snow Belt, feel that all-wheel-drive is an essential safety feature. Volvo has offered all-wheel-drive on their latest S60 luxury-sport sedan, but only on the up level T6. Well, that’s changed, as Volvo now offers all-wheel-drive on the base S60 T5. So, let’s see if the T5 plus AWD makes a safe bet…
The last time we slid behind the wheel of an S60 we were slinging the deceptively fast T6 R-Design around the corners of Roebling Road Raceway. Well this year, all S60’s get updates, and for this test we’re on the other end of the spectrum, with the standard 2013 Volvo S60 T5.
And, the biggest change is the addition of a new Haldex all-wheel-drive system as a T5 option. The Instant Traction AWD is electronically controlled and can send as much as half of the available torque to the rear wheels when needed, yet operates primarily as a front wheel drive vehicle.
Other S60 changes include some tweaking to the Inline 5-cylinder direct injection turbo motor, where Volvo boosted compression ratio from 9.0:1 to 9.5:1 and reduced internal friction. Output stays the same however, at 250-horsepower and 266 lb-ft. of torque. Combined with some revised mapping for the 6-speed Geartronic manual-mode automatic transmission the T5 is a little quicker off the line.
Our T-5 hit 60 in a decent 6.4-seconds. There’s a little hesitation at launch as you wait for power to build fully, but as you get rolling it starts laying it down very nicely. Shifts are surprisingly firm and quick, with little power loss, helping the quarter mile eclipse in 14.9-seconds at 94 miles-per-hour. With that throttle that’s a little slow to respond at times, the T5 feels much more powerful in passing situations than off the line.
Despite a fair amount of roll and weight transfer, and without the T6’s 4C Active Suspension, the T5 equates itself very well through the slalom. Turn-ins are quick, and with DSTC stability and traction system in Sport mode you can get pretty aggressive before it kicks in. When you do trigger it however, it is very forceful in shutting you down, or “keeping you safe” in Volvo-speak.
We were a little disappointed with braking performance. It’s not that stops from 60 in 131-feet are that bad, but there’s an overall soft and almost lackadaisical feel that’s out of character.
There are no changes to the taut, understated styling of the S60. There’s enough of a sporty flair to get you intrigued, thanks to standard 17-inch alloy wheels, dual polished exhaust tips, and optional deck-lid spoiler; but not enough to attract any undue attention.
While far from the biggest in its class, there is a decent amount of space inside; all seats are very comfortable, as we’ve come to expect from Volvo and the two tone theme looks great. Controls are somewhat unusual if you’re not among the Volvo faithful, but are easy to master with a little bit of time, and Volvo’s Sensus system has been improved allowing more functions to be carried out on the steering wheel mounted scroll-knob.
Despite the added weight of the all-wheel-drive system, Government Fuel Economy Ratings change little over last year’s front-driver. City and Combined ratings remain the same at 20 and 23, while the highway number dips 1 to 29. We averaged a fine 25 miles-per-gallon of Regular even with a fair amount of stop-and-go traffic. Making the Energy Impact Score better than average at 14.3-barrels of oil use per year with annual CO2 emissions of 6.2-tons.
For this year, Volvo has also reconfigured the S60 line-up, adding more standard features and dividing both T5 and T6 models into package levels, of which there is now a confusing total of nine. A base T5 will go for $32,645, with a T5 Platinum coming in at $38,695, just below where the 6-cylinder T6 models start. All-wheel-drive is standard on T6, a $2,000 option on T5’s.
The 2013 Volvo S60 T5 All Wheel Drive may not be our first choice for a weekend get away car, but when it comes to everyday commuting or long highway trips, it is both a safe and smart bet, thanks to its great comfort and refined drive-train. And now, with the addition of all-wheel-drive to the base model even the 99%-ers can “occupy Main Street” with all of the outstanding safety and all-weather capabilities that signify today’s Volvo.
Engine: 2.5 liter
Torque: 266 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 6.4-seconds
1/4 mile: 14.9 seconds @ 94 mph
EPA: 20 mpg city/ 29 mpg highway
Energy Impact: 14.3 barrels of oil/yr
CO2 Emissions: 6.2 tons/yr