Driven: 2020 Volvo S60
  • Car Review

Driven: 2020 Volvo S60

By Chris Teague | December 27, 2019

Autolist rating: 4/5
But would we buy it? Yep!
Price range: $37,045 to $66,440, including destination but before options.

Key takeaways

  • The S60 was totally redesigned for 2019.
  • There’s a variety of solid turbocharged powertrain options for the model line.
  • The spacious interior and generous rear seats come at the expense of a small trunk.
  • The T8 and Polestar models make a whopping 400 and 415 hp, respectively.
  • Most models have sporty handling that doesn’t ruin the smooth ride.

239369 New Volvo S60 Polestar Engineered exterior

What is it?

The Volvo S60 is a compact premium sedan that slots into the automaker’s lineup below the larger S90.

The S60 -- and its wagon counterpart, the V60 -- were completely redesigned for the 2019 model year with a new exterior design, updated tech and safety features, and premium materials throughout.

Volvo’s trim and model structure is a bit different than other companies’ lineups, and is separated into trims that are then further broken down by drivetrain choice. There are four primary trim levels: Momentum, Inscription, R-Design, and T8 Polestar Engineered.

Beyond that, there is the T5 front-wheel drive that has a four-cylinder engine with 250 hp, a T6 all-wheel drive that has 316 hp, a T8 eAWD plug-in hybrid that makes 400 hp, and the T8 eAWD Polestar that has 415 hp. T8 powertrains come with both a supercharger and a turbocharger to produce their power. Because they're supercharged, power delivery is smoother.

The S60 is aimed at new car buyers that want a luxury experience but don’t need a ton of space. Volvo is also popular for its safety technologies, which are plentiful across the S60 lineup.

The car competes with other premium sedans like the BMW 3-Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Jaguar XE, Lexus IS, Acura TLX, Genesis G70, Infiniti Q50, and Audi A3/A4.

While it's similarly priced, the Swedish sedan is quirkier and has a unique look that sets it apart from the others. There's also a wagon version of the car, known as the Volvo V60, with similar trims and options to the S60 Sedan.

What’s good

TLDR: Sporty powertrain options, luxurious and spacious interior, solid technology features.

Powertrains: With up to 415 horsepower on tap, the S60 can be configured to be downright fast. It’s got all the chops of a legitimate sports sedan, but carries itself much more as a luxury car. Optional all-wheel drive is a bonus for people that live in cold weather climates.

239381 New Volvo S60 Polestar Engineered interior

Interior: The S60 is a compact car that doesn’t look like it has any business sporting a legitimate amount of head and leg room, but that’s what we get from Volvo’s smallest sedan. The cabin is appointed with high-end materials that feel more expensive than they are, and the whole package is designed cleanly in Volvo’s quirky Scandinavian style.

Technology: The S60 comes packed with driver assistance features like lane keep assist, and plenty of options like adaptive cruise control. The new S60 comes with a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, and there’s standard Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. The touchscreen infotainment system, while feature-rich, can be frustrating to use.

What’s bad

TLDR: Handling doesn’t match powertrains, the trunk is tiny, and infotainment can be hard to use.

Tiny Trunk: It’s obvious that Volvo prioritized people space over cargo space in the S60, and while that’s not necessarily a bad thing, loading up something like a large suitcase can be a frustrating experience.

Frustrating Infotainment: Despite the abundance of features and tech, the Sensus infotainment system can be confusing and frustrating to operate. At least the tablet-style screen is bright, colorful, and easy to read.

Handling: In lower trims, the S60 doesn’t feel as agile or sporty as it does in higher trims. Though there’s plenty of power from the 250-hp T5 powertrain, there’s more body roll and the ride feels less planted than we’d like.

239377 New Volvo S60 Polestar Engineered exterior

5 stars of execution

Safety Features? YES

  • Volvos have long been known known for their safety features and the S60 doesn't disappoint. Even the base model comes standard with collision mitigation support, a lane keeping system, hill start assist, and a park assist camera.

  • Optional features include a 360-degree camera, a driver assistance system with adaptive cruise control, a head-up display, full LED lighting, and more.

  • The 2019 S60 received “Good” scores in all categories except headlights, where it scored a “Marginal”. Front crash prevention was rated “Superior” with standard tech in place.

Value? NO

  • The S60 is expensive, starting at over $36,000, and for that money all safety tech should be standard.

  • Options packages are expensive and can easily add thousands to the S60’s bottom line. Higher trims get luxury features like heated front seats, but buyers will pay for the privilege.

  • Black is the only “no-cost” option. Every other color adds $645 to the price tag.

239393 New Volvo S60 R-Design exterior

Efficiency? YES

  • The base front-wheel drive S60 hits fuel economy numbers of 34 mpg highway, which is competitive with the BMW 3-Series and Audi A4.

  • Plug-in hybrid models reach 31 mpg combined while delivering serious performance and the all-wheel drive T6 still does decently at 25 mpg combined.

Driving experience? Yes

  • Despite some handling missteps in lower trims, the S60 has an engaging driving experience and plenty of power.

  • Higher trims, especially the Polestar model, have direct steering, more than generous power, and confidence-inspiring handling.

  • The cabin remains quiet and relaxing, and the S60’s suspension soaks up all but the worst road imperfections.

Execution? YES

  • There could be more standard features and fewer added charges for things like color choices, but the S60 offers a premium experience that mostly matches up with its price tag.

  • Interior materials are quality and feel expensive, while the exterior styling and stance are befitting of a premium sedan.

  • The Volvo stands up well to more popular rivals like the BMW 3-Series and Audi A4, and offers a slightly different experience for people that want to be unique.

Total Rating: 4 stars

What’s it gonna cost me?

The base Volvo S60 T5 Momentum FWD starts at $37,045 after a $995 destination charge, and comes with a 12.3-inch digital instrument panel, a high-performance audio system, USB connections, Bluetooth, navigation, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, Sirius Satellite Radio and HD Radio,, dual exhausts, selectable drive modes, LED headlights, dual-zone climate control, 18-inch wheels, a panoramic moonroof, leatherette seats, lane-keeping aids, hill-start assist, and a rain-sensing system.

The Momentum T6 AWD starts at $41,545 after destination and adds the aforementioned all-wheel-drive plus the 316-horsepower engine

The S60 R-Design T5 starts at $44,540 after destination, and comes with Nappa leather, metal mesh inlays, a Harman Kardon premium sound system, a power trunk , illuminated door handles, fog lights, four-zone climate controls, sport seat padding, memory front seats, and blind spot monitors with cross-traffic alerts. This trim level also adds various (and minor) upgrades inside and outside the S60 to give it a sportier look, plus a lower, stiffer suspension for better handling.

239392 New Volvo S60 R-Design exterior

The R-Design T6 AWD has a starting price of $49,040 after destination.

The R-Design T8 eAWD Plug-in Hybrid has a starting price of $57,040 after destination.

The S60 Inscription T5 has a starting price of $44,540 after destination and has similar options to the R-Design, with the exception of comfort seats.

The Inscription T6 AWD has a starting price of $49,040 after destination charges.

The Inscription T8 eAWD Plug-In Hybrid has a starting price of $57,040 after destination.

The S60 Polestar Engineered T8 eAWD Plug-in Hybrid has a starting price of $66,440 after destination, and comes with a graphical head-up display, a Bowers & Wilkins premium sound system, electric rear axle drive, Polestar chassis tuning, full LED active bending headlights, a high-pressure headlight cleaning system, 19-inch wheels, dual-zone climate controls, a heated steering wheel, adaptive cruise control, a 360-degree camera, and pilot assist with navigation.

If we were shopping for an S60, we’d pick the Momentum T6 with all-wheel drive and add a few options packages for a complete luxury experience that costs less than most of the other trims.

239385 New Volvo S60 R-Design exterior

Also consider

The Audi A4 is one of the best handling and most comfortable entry-level luxury sedans on the market. Its interior feels as spacious as the Volvo’s does, and there’s plenty of tech on board. Its great handling and driving dynamics don’t come at the expense of ride quality, however, as it retains a comfortable ride over a variety of surfaces.

The BMW 3-Series was redesigned for 2019 with a larger size, better handling, and more tech options than the models that preceded it. The new car corrects many of the sloppy characteristics of the previous generation and retains the BMW driving experience we all expect.

The Mercedes-Benz C300 is a benchmark in the luxury segment, and remains one of the best offerings on the market. The 2019 models got a new engine and several other changes, but it remains a refined and luxurious car that matches up well against all competitors.

The Genesis G70 has excellent road manners (plus the availability of a manual transmission), sublime build quality and luxury amenities, and a smart price point. It’s worth a look for car shoppers who don’t mind that it’s not from a more traditional luxury brand (Genesis is the luxury division of Hyundai).