2017 Volvo S60 T5: Mid-Size Sedan with Personality

The Mid-Size Sedan segment might just be the most overlooked and passed-over of the entire car market. Many of them are relegated to unloved rental-car duty, or supplied as company cars to people who don’t really care what they drive. Because of this, many of the cars in the segment are boring and feel as if the manufacturer didn’t put much time into them. However, the Volvo S60, much like many of Volvo’s current offerings, is different.
Volvo has always been different, and that is a good thing. You can have more of the same, or you can have a well thought-out sedan with some of the industry’s most advanced safety features. You can have boring styling, or Volvo’s refined and ‘handsome’ Swedish design. I wouldn’t call this car beautiful, but it certainly evokes the company’s heritage in a good way. The 2.0-liter turbocharged engine puts out 240hp, yet manages very good fuel economy at 22/31 city/highway. You can also get a T6 version with twin-charging, both turbo and supercharging.
The handling is also above average, especially with the sport package equipped on our test car. Stiffened chassis/suspension, paddle shifters and aggressive 19” wheels/tires mean a very spirited driving experience. The chassis is firm, but doesn’t ride too poorly even on Chicago roads. The 19” wheels may mean more possibility of pothole damage, but if you’re careful, the payoff is serious traction in the corners.
On the inside, you’ll find a pair of what could contend for most comfortable seats you can find in any car, regardless of price. The supportiveness, firmness and materials all add up to an experience I can only classify as ‘just right.’ The overall experience on the interior is very nice, with good materials and craftsmanship throughout. Contrasting stitching and aluminum trim combine for a sporty and luxurious look.
When it comes to safety, Volvo has always been at the forefront. They were the first to offer seat belts, and were early to adopt air-bags. Now, they have pledged to advance technology to the point where nobody loses their life in a Volvo by 2020. The City-Safety system really steps it up, with collision avoidance, automatic braking, lane assist and pedestrian safety systems. In total, it really adds up to life-saving advances. You also know that safety is built into the car, with a strong unibody design. In this day and age of technology, it can be easy to focus on the whizzy new aids, but having a strong and well-engineered frame can be even more important in the event of an actual collision.
Speaking of technology, however, this S60 doesn’t yet benefit from Volvo’s more touch-screen based controls, but it still has a nice user interface. The new design does away with the buttons in favor of a larger screen. So if you prefer physical buttons, this is your car – grab one before the new model arrives! The Harmon Kardon stereo is of the higher quality ones we’ve tested, and makes for a nice-listening experience.
Overall, the $44k sticker, even with all the options we enjoyed on our test car, means that while you can get a cheaper sedan, you probably can’t touch this level of safety, efficiency, and certainly safety for less money. In a sea of sameness in the midsize-sedan category, here’s a wonderful, bright red example of different. And often, different is good!