Volvo is back, and in a big way, as their all-new XC90 crossover is already selling like mad, with media awards likely to fill a trophy case. But Volvo is also on course to rapidly modernize every carryover vehicle in their lineup. And that brings us to the Volvo S60 midsize sedan. And along with expected updates, comes a stretch for something new.
Somewhat lost in the midsize luxury sedan segment shuffle is the 2016 Volvo S60. But if Volvo continues down its current revolutionary path, it shouldn’t remain lost for long.
The S60 is far from all-new for ’16, but well-placed updates should quickly bring about the best of times from the worst of times.
This “tale of two sixties”, begins with the S60 Cross Country. And while all-wheel-drive is hardly new to the platform, this is the first time the Cross Country badge has adorned the S60 sedan ranks.
It’s full-time Haldex all-wheel drive system is of course designed more for all-weather capabilities, than full-on off-roading; but we found plenty of traction regardless. More low-end torque would have given us even more confidence for when the going gets steep and slippery.
On pavement, in typical Volvo fashion, the S60 Cross Country feels very solid and safe; European but not German. Which is to say, there’s bank vault-like solitude but not an overly firm ride quality.
Most things inside are familiar, as you feel right at home nestled in the wonderful seats that are just as comfortable as ever. Overall material quality is quite good, wood trim is beautiful, and Volvo’s pictograph climate controls are still one of our favorite interfaces.
The S60 Cross Country is equipped with Volvo’s 2.5-liter I5 turbo engine. It’s an oldie but still a goodie; very quiet with only a hint of crudeness to it. Output is now 250-horsepower and 266 lb-ft. of torque.
Bigger news, in every sense, is the new S60 Inscription model. It rides on a wheelbase that’s 3.0-inches longer than the Cross Country; with all of that extra length dedicated to rear seat legroom.
There’s also a different engine under hood, the XC90’s 2.0-liter I4, though here just turbo-charged. Output is 240-horsepower and 258 lb-ft. of torque. It has a much more modern feel to it, more 4G to the 2.5’s 3G.
Even more notable, is that the engine, as well as the rest of this S60, is assembled in China; making it the first streetable car we can buy here that’s “Made in China”.
In addition to all of the extra rear seat space, you’ll also get plenty of room for luggage, as the Cross Country’s AWD hardware robs a significant amount of real estate.
Constrained to the pavement and our test track for this S60, we found it to be quite spirited.
It leapt off the line with zero torque steer and shuttled us to 60 in 6.6-seconds. Shifts were both quick and strong from the standard 8-speed Geartonic transmission; and we cleared the ¼-mile in 15.0-seconds at 96 miles-per-hour.
As for handling, this lengthened S60 was well balanced with plenty of grip. Quick response with only minor understeer made for a fun dash through the cones. Though with a very soft, spongy pedal, and mediocre 127-foot average stopping distance from 60; braking performance was a bit disappointing.
As for advanced safety systems, all work as advertised; including City Safe with full auto brake. We found the sci-fi sounding warnings chimes very unobtrusive. And the backup camera, which is unfortunately still optional, was tucked away nicely to provide a clear image even in nasty weather.
Both test samples, along with the rest of the revamped S60 lineup, feature the typical exterior upgrades of new front and rear fascia’s and new wheel choices.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for the 2.0-liter equipped Inscription are 25-City, 37-Highway, and 29-Combined, which we almost nailed perfectly with a 28.9 miles-per-gallon average on Regular. Its Energy Impact Score is 11.4-barrels of oil consumed, and 5.1-tons of CO2 expelled, yearly.
The Cross County numbers are more old school, at 20-City, 28-Highway, and 23-Combined. Which we did manage to hit exactly.
S60 pricing starts at a reasonable $34,890. The long wheelbase Inscription goes for $39,640. For the Cross Country, you’re looking at $44,400.
It will take a full overhaul, along the lines of the XC90 and just revealed S90, to really get us shouting the Volvo S60’s praises. So while it may not be a far better thing they’ve done for ’16; it is certainly enough to hold our interest, as we eagerly look forward to when that all-new S60 arrives.
Engine: 2.5-liter (Cross Country) / 2.0 liter I4 (Inscription)
Horsepower: 250 (Cross Country) / 240 (Inscription)
Torque: 266 lb-ft. / 258 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 6.6 seconds
1/4 mile: 15.0 seconds @ 96 mph
EPA: 25 mpg city/ 37 mpg highway (Inscription) & 20 mpg city/ 28 mpg highway (Cross Country)
Energy Impact: 11.4 barrels of oil/yr
CO2 Emissions: 5.1 tons/yr