Without a flagship luxury badge on its nose, the 2020 Volvo S60 is often overlooked among European luxury cars, but its luxury credentials make it worthy of serious consideration. While the S60 may not have the same cachet as Europe’s better-recognized sport sedans, it is a solid, safety-forward car that, thanks to a combination of attractive styling and top-notch interior design, manages to rise above the mainstream market.
The S60 lacks the powertrain refinement found in its more-expensive counterparts, and its infotainment system can be a bit finicky to configure and operate, but the S60’s cabin alone makes it a worthy competitor to Europe’s best. Its seats are among the most comfortable and supportive of any luxury car under $100,000, and when combined with Volvo’s available semi-autonomous highway driving features, they make for a phenomenal highway cruiser.
For those who crave the sharper handling and more power, there’s even a sporty, all-wheel-drive Polestar-engineered hybrid model packing 415 horsepower, and since it’s a plug-in, it makes urban living hassle-free too.
The 2020 S60 isn’t perfect, but it’s quite an impressive package. The 2020 Volvo S60 represents a unique blend of ingenuity and common sense without an eye-watering price tag.
What’s new for 2020?
For 2020, Volvo made its 12.3-inch digital cluster standard across the S60 lineup. A new premium audio system was also added to the Polestar Engineered variant of the T8 model, which also got a slight bump in hybrid battery capacity. The adaptive suspension system was removed as a stand-alone option, but remains available as a component of some trim packages.
What’s the interior and in-car technology like?
If the 2020 Volvo S60 was a concert, its interior would be the headline act. Its cabins range from impressive to stunning, with premium materials and gorgeous design from top to bottom. Higher-end models are bedecked with open-pore wood and/or real metal trim pieces. Inscription models get a crystal gear selector, and sportier R-Design and Polestar Engineered variants have one wrapped in leather.
Volvo’s infotainment suite, dubbed “Sensus,” occupies a vertical touchscreen that interfaces with the S60’s digital cluster. It is compatible with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay and also offers robust integration with phones via Bluetooth, including speech-to-text, allowing it to read and compose text messages without outside assistance.
Sensus lacks polish in some areas, offering slow boot-up times and menus that can be difficult to navigate on the road, but its settings allow for à la carte selection of just about all of the S60’s safety and driver assist technology. On T8 models, there are also multiple settings for hybrid system behavior.
How big is the S60?
The S60 is Volvo’s smallest sedan. With a wheelbase of more than 113 inches and an overall length of approximately 187 inches, it’s the same size as most of Europe’s luxury compacts, including the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and Audi A4. Because Europe’s small cars have grown so much over the years, they offer genuine family-friendly space. Though non-luxury midsize sedans offer more back seat and trunk space (Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata, etc), most should find the S60 provides plenty of room.
That said, though the S60 ostensibly seats five, the driveline “hump” in the rear seat footwell is pronounced, severely limiting leg room for a center occupant. The S60’s trunk is also on the smaller side for the class, with 11.6 cubic feet available. Volvo lists that there is some underfloor storage that provides a few extra cubes, but the T8 and its extra batteries eliminate that.
What’s the performance and fuel economy?
Volvo offers the 2020 S60 with three powertrains, all of which are based on the same 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine and are mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission.
The base, dubbed the T5, is turbocharged and delivers 250 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. It’s available exclusively with front-wheel drive and is rated at 23 mpg city, 34 highway and 27 combined.
The next step up is the T6, which uniquely has both a turbo and supercharger, boosting output to 316 hp and 295 lb-ft. T6 models feature all-wheel drive and EPA ratings of 21 mpg city, 32 highway and 25 combined.
T8 models are plug-in hybrids, and they gain a 65-hp electric motor. Total output of the T8 Inscription and R-Design models is 400 hp and 495 lb-ft of torque. The range-topping T8 Polestar Engineered boasts an extra 15 horsepower and can crack off a 0-60 run in just 4.3 seconds. The base model is only a tenth slower. Both T8 variants can operate up to 22 miles on electric power alone with a full charge and are rated at 30 mpg combined when the battery is depleted. On a 1,000-mile road trip, our long-term S60 T8 Inscription averaged slightly better than the EPA combined figure without any attempts to recharge.
What is the S60 like to drive?
The S60 is an incredibly comfortable commuter and highway cruiser. Higher-end models offer a plethora of customizable driver aids and an effective semi-autonomous highway self-driving mode that can significantly reduce fatigue on long trips.
Thanks to its double-wishbone suspension and 18-inch wheels, the S60 offers a good balance of ride and handling. While luxury is clearly Volvo’s priority, the S60 handles sharply enough to please even an enthusiast. A sport suspension option is available on R-Design models, and the T8 Polestar Engineered model comes with an adaptive suspension that tightens up handling even more when called upon without sacrificing ride comfort. That sportiest model also comes with 19-inch wheels, however, and as with most Volvos, selecting bigger wheel sizes can result in impact harshness or jittery ride motions over certain pavement surfaces.
T8 models, with their hybrid batteries and all-wheel drive systems, are on the heavier side, but even Inscription models are nimble enough for some corner-carving despite 4,000-pound-plus curb weights.
What else can I read about the Volvo S60?
The 2020 Volvo S60 T8 Inscription is the latest addition to the Autoblog long-term garage.
Here’s a rundown of our experiences so far:
Our fist taste of the S60’s hottest performer.
The new Volvo S60 impressed us from the get-go.
What features are available and what do they cost?
The 2020 Volvo S60 starts at $37,045, including a $995 destination charge. The model range is broken down into engine choice, designated by T5, T6 and T8, and then trim level: Momentum, R-Design, Inscription and the T8-exclusive Polestar Engineered.
Base Momentum models are reasonably well-equipped, sporting features such as leatherette seating, dual-zone climate control, a power-adjustable driver’s seat with lumbar adjustment and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.
From there, you can step up to either the R-Design, which is for those who prefer a sporty look, or the Inscription, which is more luxury-oriented. R-Design models include Nappa leather sport bucket seats, metal interior trim pieces, and a black mesh grille. Inscription models get leather seats without the extra bolstering, a slotted grille and wood trim. Otherwise, the two essentially share the same list of feature upgrades, including a premium audio system with a subwoofer.
The Polestar Engineered model is Volvo’s range-topper. Unlike lower trim levels, it can be paired only with the T8 plug-in hybrid powertrain. It gets several unique Polestar treatments, an upgraded suspension, a Bowers and Wilkins audio system and more.
- T5 Momentum: $37,045
- T5 R-Design: $43,895
- T5 Inscription: $43,895
- T8 Polestar Engineered: $66,440
The T6 engine adds $4,500 to above prices. The T8, which isn’t offered on the Momentum, adds $12,500.
What safety equipment does the S60 offer and what are its crash test ratings?
“Volvo” has long been synonymous with safety innovation. As such, many of its available safety systems are standard. These include lane keeping assist, hill start assist, front and rear collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and a whole host of airbags. Blind-spot monitoring with cross-traffic alert and a 360-degree camera system are both available on higher trims.
The government has not yet crash-tested the 2020 Volvo S60, but the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded it with a Top Safety Pick. It just missed out on the Top Safety Pick+ designation due to the “Marginal” performance of its optional LED projector headlights.