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CAR OF THE MONTH October 2010

2011 Volvo S60 Review

More Sporting, Still Safe

A three-quarter front view of a 2011 Volvo S60

In short: A high-tech, high-performance luxury sedan.

Driving quickly on unknown country roads is a joy; driving alongside a rushing river punctuated periodically by white water increases the pleasure. Focused attention on an old road carved into the side of the river's canyon wall gives satisfaction — and in a Volvo, confidence. The new S60 dramatically raises the level of both. As Volvo says, "Its trajectory is aimed straight into the hearts and minds of driving enthusiasts."

In concert with this new dynamic attitude is a refinement in visual presence. Gone are the broad shoulders underscoring the solid block of safety, and in their place move flashes of sunlight reflecting from aerodynamic waves from nose to tail. Gone, too, is the stoic face of crash proofing, replaced by foils of air control drawing a face of exuberance. The new design language is backed by an additional decade of Volvo safety engineering and development that includes the science of radar and recognition to assure avoidance as the first line of defense. When the S60 loses confidence in the driver's ability to respond, it can apply up to full braking force to save an errant life on the road or preclude contact with a solid object.

A look at the interior of the 2011 Volvo S60

A naughty counterpoint to deceleration is the rush of a 300 hp DOHC turbocharged in-line 6-cylinder and the 5.8-second 0-60 mph push of 325 lb-ft of torque. Maximum torque is created at only 2,100 rpm and is maintained through the upper rev range. It is delivered to the all-wheel-drive system by a 6-speed "Geartronic" transmission that makes silky automatic gear changes or allows the driver to make his own selections with the lever in a special fore and aft gate.

Chassis set-up is available in three specifications. The standard Dynamic Chassis is optimized for precise control without diluting the impression of ride comfort. Touring Chassis offers softer compliance for more rural, uneven surfaces. An extra cost option is Volvo's brilliant FOUR-C active chassis, a system that continually monitors car behavior and adjusts settings to improve driver requirements. It can be pre-programmed to Comfort, Sport and Advanced sets of specifications. Beyond these criteria are Volvo's Dynamic Stability and Traction Control (DSTC) and Corner Traction, which operates by torque vectoring to control individual wheels for directional precision.

Volvo delivers all this exciting performance while cosseting occupants in a leather-lined safety capsule full of 21st-century electronics. A "Multi Media" package blends Dolby with Pro-Logic II Surround Sound through a premium 12-speaker, 650-watt amplifier. Complete on-board navigation includes Real Time Traffic and remote control. One might be forgiven for forgetting this is a sports sedan.

The S60 T6 AWD delivers all the joy of the automotive sporting life with the interior opulence of a luxury car within the most sophisticated safety systems Volvo has ever created.

A rear view of a 2011 Volvo S60

Read a review of the 2012 Volvo S60 R-Design

Warranty/Service: Five-year/60,000-mile limited warranty; five-year/60,000-mile complimentary scheduled service and repair; four-year roadside assistance.

Base Price: $37,700 / As Tested: $46,200

Technical Specifications

Vehicle type: front engine, all-wheel drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan

Engine: 3.0-liter turbocharged inline 6-cylinder
Horsepower: 300 hp @ 5,600 rpm
Torque: 325 lb-ft @ 2,100 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed Geartronic automatic

Curb weight:
3,901 lbs
Wheelbase: 109.3 in
Length/Width/Height: 182/73.4/58.4 in
Turning circle: 39 ft

ABS with hydraulic brake assist and Ready Alert brakes
Suspension: MacPherson strut front; multi-link rear; front and rear stabilizer bars

Traction: all-wheel drive with Instant Traction; dynamic stability and traction control with corner traction control

0-60 mph: 5.8 seconds
Top Speed: 130 mph (electronically limited)

EPA City:
18 mpg
EPA Highway: 26 mpg

driver and front passenger airbags; dual-chamber side airbags; inflatable curtain; pedestrian detection and collision warning with full auto brake

Likes: new design; driving precision and feedback; optimum size for front and rear adult seating


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Text: Larry Crane
Photography: Larry Crane and Volvo

PNW062410 (Updated: 07/16/12 NW)