Walkaround and Interior

By December 16, 2011

Walkaround

The chief designer of the S60 says that his mission was to “pump up the volume,” to make it look more like a coupe. Mission accomplished, we'd say. Gone are the days when Volvo styling reflected Scandinavian conservative practicality.

The Volvo S60 is as sleek and stylish as sedans come, with practicality redefined in today's world. Great care went into the details, for example the symmetrical angles of the trapezoidal air intakes in the front fascia, two in the corners under the headlights, and the long horizontal intake at the bottom of the seamless nose. The headlights mirror those shapes, and the tidy grille is perfectly appropriate to the small size of the car's forward-leaning face. Small vertical trapezoidal LED parking lights snuggle up against the grille.

There are no bulging fender flares, no strutting to flaunt horsepower. Smooth lines from the front fenders to rear, where the hips meet the graceful coupe roofline. The only chrome on the side of the car is a thin strip surrounding the windows and stating the grace of their outline. The standard T6 wheels are split seven-spokes, nice but we've seen better from Volvo.

Interior Features

The snug and comfortable leather seats in the Volvo S60 T6 are gorgeous in Beechwood Brown. Some of the shapes inside, for example the trim on the doors could be metal sculpture. Shimmer Graphite aluminum inlays, they call it, which sounds better than slightly shiny trim. Lovely little touches, such as strips of Beechwood Brown leather over the seatback pockets.

The non-leather T-Tec upholstery in the T5 is really nice, and offers a healthy savings over leather.

The S60 interior is well thought out, from cupholders to storage compartments. Volvo did this thinking-out over many years of refining interior practicality. The instrumentation is clean and stylish like it's always been, the tach and speedo having a black background, white lettering, red needles and brushed metal rings. The headliner is a rich fabric.

At the rear, the trunk is a spacious 12 cubic feet, with enclosed hinges and a pass-through to the 60/40 rear seats. There are 2.1 inches more rear legroom than the previous S60, with a longer wheelbase but the same overall length. But that's still only 33.5 inches of rear legroom. The S60 is a sports sedan, not a roomy one.

One of our two test models had the Premium, Technology, Multimedia and Climate Packages, totaling $7100. So we had a nice big power moonroof to add airiness to the interior, 650-watt Dolby Surround Sound with 12 speakers, rearview camera and navigation system, among quite a few other things. The rearview camera screen is the 7-inch navigation screen, and it's split, angled in the center to give a view off to the sides of the car.

The navigation system worked well for us, with its 7-inch screen in the top center of the dash. It has far more options and capabilities than we were able to try out, driving from the Oregon wine country east to the high desert, for a few laps at Oregon Raceway Park to further test the cornering and brakes. The nav system wasn't confusing, at least.

The screen also displays information from the new DCI, or Driver Control Interface, including audio settings. Functions can be operated by a thumbwheel on the right steering spoke, or with buttons on the center stack.

Volvo invented that center stack that's like a thin wall with storage space behind it. The face of the wall is like a neat keyboard, with dials and buttons mostly for radio tuning that are easy to understand and use.

The Technology Package includes pedestrian detection with full auto brake, adaptive cruise control, collision warning with full auto brake, distance alert, alert driver control, and lane departure warning. Sometimes it feels like Volvo overkills with safety systems. Engineers burn the midnight oil to find new ways to mitigate the driver's errors in (take over) the control of his or her car, while barraging him or her with information.

Pedestrian Detection brings the car to a halt at any speed below 22 mph, without the driver's involvement, when a pedestrian is in the vehicle's path. Sounds good. Although we ran into the dummy named Junior during an actual test. Because of raindrops on the windshield, we were told. We've also noticed that BLIS (Blind Spot Information System) sometimes thinks raindrops are cars.