Volvo S60, 2011 car review

James Raia

Ten years after Volvo debuted its S60 sedan, the second generation arrived for the 2011 model, and what a difference a decade makes.

The newly designed S60 is the most sports car-like offering in the Volvo fleet and it has all the signature qualities of the Swedish manufacturer now owned by the Chinese carmaker Geeley.

Volvo builds heavy (the S60 weighs 3,901 pounds) and sturdy cars equipped with arguably the longest list and most efficient safety features in the auto industry. The S60 continues the tradition, but it also gives Volvo one of its rare models that catapult the brand away from its conservative reputation.

The Weekly Driver Test Drive

A new design and a unique exterior color (copper) usually attract attention. It certainly did during my week with the Volvo S60 AWD sedan. But its construction, features and performance more than matched the car’s appearance.Volvo S60, 2011 car review 1

The S60 features a 3.0-liter turbocharged, 300-horsepower drivetrain with a six-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. It’s a four-door, five-passenger sedan that acts more like a sports car.

The S60 exudes confidence with its quick acceleration and maneuverability. On several occasions during freeway driving, via on-ramps or when changing lanes, I characteristically hesitated.

But while driving a sedan with 6.2-second 0-60 mph rating, there’s little to worry about. After a few days with the car, I drove the S60 aggressively and far differently than the staid Volvos of yesteryear would allow.

In short, the new S60, once far removed from performance-oriented competitors like BMW and Audi, now warrants a position at the front of the pack with its German rivals.


Steady, powerful acceleration. That’s confidence. The all-wheel drive system complements the impressive ride, particularly on sweeping turns.Volvo S60, 2011 car review 2

Interior design. Classy textured metal and artistic console design.

Unlike manufacturers who make up multiple word color titles for their cars, Volvo keeps it simple — at least this time. The color of my test Volvo S60 was copper.

Color coordination of the exterior color with seats of nearly the same color. It may not be appealing to everyone, but it is to me.

Steering wheel feel. It’s tight and responsive.


Rough ride in the back seat.

Leather seats get too warm too fast, even in mild temperatures.

Push-lever parking brake system. Why is the lever so low and nearly hidden? And is it push or pull to engage the brake?

Rear park assist camera hazy at night.

Radio, heat and air conditioner controls and circular navigation read-out are very cool, but not intuitive.

Tight rear seating.

Facts & Figures: 2011 Volvo S60

Acceleration: 0-60 mph, 6.2 seconds.
Airbags: Front and rear head and dual front side-mounted.
Antilock brakes: Standard.
First aid kit: not available.
Fuel economy: 18 mpg (city), 26 mpg (highway)
Government Safety Ratings: Not tested.
Horsepower: 300.
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: $37,700.00
Manufacturer’s Web site: www.volvocars.com
Price As tested: $46,200.00.
Warranty: Bumper to bumper, 5 years/60,000 miles; Powertrain, 5 years/60,000 mile; Free Maintenance, 5 years/60,000 miles.

What Others Say:

“The S60 exhibits a crispness and a confidence that will surprise current drivers of Volvo sedans. With it, Volvo has improved not only on its traditional strength, safety, but also has made an even bigger styling statement. Most important, the S60 finally is competitive in terms of its driving dynamics.” —- Automobile Magazine.

“The S60 offers one of the safest cars built in a handsome package that is fun to drive and extremely comfortable.” —- AutoWeek.com

“Step on the gas pedal and the 2011 Volvo S60 T6 AWD moves out briskly. Overtaking other cars on the freeway is effortless, and Volvo’s claimed 6.2-second 0-60-mph time should be right on target.” —- Edmunds.com

What The Wife Says:

“The biggest advantage is the acceleration. And there are nice contours and quality material on the dash.”

The Weekly Driver’s Final Words:

“BMW, Audi and now Hyundai are leaders in the performance sedan category. But Volvo belongs as a new front runner in the group. The S60 is stylish, fast, safe and has more than its share of confidence in city driving or when powering along the open road.”

Article Last Updated: April 12, 2011.

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