Volvo S60, 2012: Still sturdy, safe (and now) sporty after all these years

James Raia

Introduced 12 years ago as the carmaker's first major departure in a few decades from its box-on-wheels reputation, the Volvo S60 is now in its second generation. The 2012 edition is offered in three trims, including the most-sports-car-like Volvo yet, the S60 T6 AWD R SR.

That's a lot of numbers and letters for a model. But what the alphabet soup name means for potential buyers is 325 horsepower, a turbo-charged six-cylinder engine with a six-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive.

Volvo S60, 2012: Still sturdy, safe (and now) sporty after all these years 1

The R means "R-Design Elements" and that translates into the car's sportiness with a handful of features — 18-inch alloy wheels to sport tuning and lower front and rear spoilers to the signature Volvo blue watch dial instrument cluster.

The Weekly Driver Test Drive

Volvo is headquartered in Gothenburg, Sweden, but it's hard to keep up exactly where Volvo is made and with whose parts and with what labor force.

Volvo in recent years was sold to Ford, which in turn sold it to China-base Geely. The manufacturer's documents for my weekly driver, the aforementioned S60 T6 AWD R SR, noted that U.S./Canadian parts comprised one percent of the parts content. Belgium (25 percent) and Germany (20 percent) are also in the Volvo mix as are Great Britain and Japan.

The 2012 edition is the second year of the car under Geely ownership, but the S60 and other Volvo vehicles still maintain Swedish style and performance characteristics.

The S60 has same sturdy feel as my parents' Volvo wagon from the 1970s. But the S60 also teeters the line between luxury sedan and an odd description as a four-door sports car.

It's quick and maneuvers in city traffic and in highway situations, and it's also a comfortable four person (not five person as advertised) sedan that's a fine cruiser.


Volvo has its own feel — Solid, safe, stable.

Steady acceleration from a standstill or while accelerating at any speed.

Comfortable leather seats.

All-wheel drive adds to already keen steering.


Rear spoiler. On a Volvo?

Exterior color — Passion Red.

Expensive base price.

Facts & Figures, 2012 S60 T6 AWD

Acceleration: 0-60 mph, 5.6 seconds.
Airbags (6) Dual-stage front seat, side impact and roof-mounted curtain side-impact.
Antilock brakes: Yes.
First aid kit: No.
Fuel economy: 18 mpg (city), 26 mpg (highway).
Government Safety Ratings: Not rated; Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Top Safety Pick.
Horsepower: 325
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: $42,500.00
Manufacturer's Web site:
Price As tested: $46,875.00
Warranty: Bumper to bumper, 5 years/60,000 miles; Powertrain, 5 years/60,000 miles; Corrosion, 12 years/unlimited miles.

What Others Say:

"Still, the S60 offers one of the safest cars built in a handsome package that is fun to drive and extremely comfortable." —-

"This higher-performance S60 shares the throne of ‘most powerful production Volvo ever’ with its sister XC60 R-Design, but it has an uphill battle to win over the Euro-sport constituency, as it's priced right up against some serious and well-established competition." —- Car and Driver.

"The 2012 Volvo S60 is a well-balanced and stylish luxury sedan. It's a solid alternative to otherwise ubiquitous German luxury sedans." —-

What The Wife Says:

"I thought it was easy to handle and I like that the lights on the trunk come on at night."

The Weekly Driver’s Final Words:

"Is there a more solid-feeling car on the road today? Volvo has a long, well-deserved reputation as a safe car. The S60 is another reason why, despite the Swedish-0nly manufacture of Volvo long gone, the reputation remains."

All 2012 Volvo S60 images © James Raia

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Article Last Updated: January 31, 2012.

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