Volvo’s S60 melds a sporty ride with world-class safety features

Mary Welch | May 23, 2013

In the eight years that Penya and Eric have lived next door, they have owned four Volvos. So imagine my shock when they asked who made the neon blue sedan in my driveway because it was ... a Volvo! Yes, the Volvo S60 looks more like an American muscle car than what we stereotypically think of a Volvo.

In a moment of full disclosure, I must admit that I’ve always loved Volvo’s “boxy” cars, especially its iconic station wagon. But, for those who want a bit more sportiness in their ride but still covet Volvo’s safety features, well the S60 is for you.

The S60 has all the features for which Volvo has made its reputation and the S60 has earned top scores in crash tests for both the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (only one of three to get the top designation) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. We have to admit that we were a little off put that the car we drove didn’t have safety features such as blind spot monitoring, a backup camera or GPS. Frankly, we expected a bit more as many other car companies are biting the bullet and making such features standard, but on this S60, it still comes under the “optional” category and costs extra.

The car is low to the ground so that one feels the road a bit more, which again gives it part of its sporty allure. The ride is smooth and with the twin scroll turbo charged engine it roars with 325 horsepower, 354 ft/lb. of torque. With the added all-wheel drive that electronically controls the drive, you have the traction to glide effortless through curves and straightaways that helps lesson any over-steering or understeering. Some reviews have said that acceleration can be sluggish but we didn’t find that to be the case. The ride is smooth and, frankly, fun.

The interior continues the sporty look with stylish Beechwood leather seats and a leather-clad sports steering wheel with silver metal inlay. The S60 provides just enough of a hard sports edge to satisfy the inner race car dream but not enough so that you still realize that you’re a software salesmen with three kids. In other words, it feeds into the sporty dream without going overboard.

We actually drove the S60 to Tampa and found it very pleasant. After hundreds of miles we didn’t experience any of the muscle atrophy or knee pains that often occur with a less-than-desired designed car. Both the passenger and driver would exit the car no less better for wear and even still refreshed. Thumbs up to whoever designed the car’s roomy interior and its supportive seats.

What is most surprising about the S60, is of course, its look. With a sportier front grille, color coordinated body molding and edgier tailpipes, the car is attractive to my 40-year-old next door Volvo-loving neighbor as well as my 17-year-old nephew who already has totaled two cars (as well as his father). In fact, my nephew was already pleading his case for his father to buy him this car, although he felt the Rebel Blue paint color was not masculine enough. (For the record, his father isn’t buying in any mood to buy him another car, but conceded that, if -- and when -- the time came, the S60 would be at the top of the list). It’s a cross-generational car that checks off all the items needed and wanted by people who don’t want a compact car nor a large luxury car.

Starting at $44,000 and getting 21 miles per gallon on city streets and 25 mpg on highways, the Volvo S60 provides a fun drive with all the safety features desired -- and you can still turn your neighbor’s head with its style.