by Jared Rosenholtz
With such a strong lineup of SUVs, no one would blame Volvo if it announced that it no longer wanted to build sedans. But instead of following the herd of automakers who have abandoned the sedan segment, Volvo decided to introduce an all-new third-generation S60 back in 2019. Now based on the company's Scalable Product Architecture platform, the S60 looks to do battle with other luxury sedans like the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Unlike those, however, the S60 in T8 guise is the only plug-in hybrid. It generates 400 horsepower from a 2.0-liter twincharged engine and electric motor system, placing it in an elite power range that was previously the reserve of sports sedans like the M3.
Volvo's approach to the compact luxury sedan segment is very different than its competitors. Yes, there are R-Design and Polestar Engineered models for those who like to go fast and want an alternative to the AMGs and Ms of the world, but we were sent a 2020 S60 T8 Inscription to test instead. Unlike any other vehicle in this segment, Volvo's Inscription trim leaves out the sporting accouterments and instead favors luxury features only found two classes up in many of its competitors. This may not be the sportiest sport sedan but we think it is all the better for it.
A number of small changes have been made for the 2020 year model to keep it fresh after 2019's total redesign. Among these are a larger 11.6 kWh battery pack (up from 10.4 kWh on the 2019 model), standard four-zone climate control, enhanced ambient interior lighting, and numerous safety features as standard. There is also a faster processor for the infotainment system, fixing the slow start-up times.
|Hybrid T8 R-Design||
2.0-liter Twincharged Inline-4 Hybrid
|Hybrid T8 Inscription||
2.0-liter Twincharged Inline-4 Hybrid
|Hybrid T8 Polestar||
2.0-liter Twincharged Inline-4 Hybrid
The S60 is one of the most attractive luxury compact sedans on offer today, with sharp edges offset by subtle curves and aesthetically dynamic LED lighting. R-Design models benefit from some sporty touches, with gloss black accents on the body, including the wing mirrors, while both available trims ride on standard 18-inch wheels with 19s optional. A dual-exit exhaust is standard, although you can spec a quad-tip arrangement for either model. A panoramic sunroof is standard fit on both trims.
At the time of writing, official curb weights have not been published, although estimates put it around 4,000 lbs. We can, however, furnish you with the other dimensions, applicable to both available trims of the S60 T8. Length measures 187.4 inches from end to end, with the wheelbase between the hubs measuring 113.1. Width, including mirrors, measures 80.3 inches, with the height at 56.6 inches.
Black Stone is the only no-cost option on the S60, but a number of metallic options are available. The R-Design gets access to options like Osmium Grey, Pebble Grey, Denim Blue, an attractive Fusion Red, and a color that has quickly become a signature of R-Design models, Bursting Blue. The Inscription trim has access to the same colors, as well as Pine Grey, Crystal White, and Birch Light. Each metallic color option is priced the same, at $645.
The S60 T8 is powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, with both a turbocharger and a supercharger. This is assisted by a pair of 87 hp electric motors, for an impressive total output of 400 hp and 472 lb-ft. Power is sent through an eight-speed Geartronic automatic gearbox to all four wheels. A Polestar Engineered variant was also available, bumping the output to 415 hp and 494 lb-ft of torque, but this model was introduced in extremely limited numbers and sold out almost immediately in 2019. Volvo says more will be available for the 2020 model year. With both a supercharger and electric assistance, the small turbo is designed to be completely free of lag, with near-instant acceleration and response. Various driving modes allow for either fully electric power, maximum acceleration, or the most efficient mix between both. Standard adaptive dampers allow imperfections in the road to be soaked up with aplomb, while a low center of gravity - the result of clever packaging of the hybrid powertrain - is intended to assist in the corners, minimizing body roll and helping with grip. The automatic transmission is similarly well-chosen, with smooth shifts making for a comfortable, yet brisk experience.
The Volvo S60 T8 is fitted with a 2.0-liter four-banger that is both supercharged and turbocharged. Along with twin electric motors, the system generates 400 hp and 472 lb-ft of torque, with an eight-speed automatic transmission responsible for managing the output. Power is distributed between all four wheels. Despite the inclusion of a supercharger and turbocharger, we experienced some lag from the drivetrain when accelerating. This could be due to the transmission tuning or the engine itself, but it seems to be mostly eliminated when the car is driven in Power Mode. The S60 T8 can also be driven purely using the battery for up to 25 miles - an increase of three from 2019's range with the smaller battery - creating an even more serene experience than when the engine is running. The gauges show when you are too heavy on the throttle so you can perfectly modulate your acceleration to stay within the limits of the electric motors. Using Pure Mode, the drivetrain allows for greater acceleration under electric power without kicking on the engine.
Thanks to the assistance of the hybrid system, shifts from the eight-speed automatic are nearly imperceptible. Volvo says the S60 T8 can hit 60 mph in a rather quick 4.4 seconds, though the acceleration does not feel savage like some M and AMG-tuned competitors. Those looking for a more sporty, visceral experience may want to look elsewhere. The S60's engine produces more power than most drivers will ever require but the groans it makes during hard acceleration are nowhere near as aurally pleasant as the ones found in its German rivals.
Compared to other vehicles in the segment, the S60 doesn't feel very sporty. The steering is light, over-assisted, and lacks engagement but does weight up in Power Mode. As for the suspension, it allows for a small amount of lean but it is mainly tuned to let the car float over rough pavement. Where the S60 lacks in sporty flavor, it makes up for with the most comfortable ride in its segment. Even larger options like the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes E-Class struggle to match the softness of the S60's adaptive suspension. The regenerative brake feel was a noted issue on last year's model but it seems Volvo has eliminated the issue with more natural pedal feel for 2020.
R-Design and Polestar Engineered variants of the S60 bring in a more aggressive ride but we'd easily forgo both of these trims for the comfort of the Inscription. There are very few compact luxury sedans left on the market that don't pretend to be a sports car with stiff suspension and paddle shifters on the steering wheel. The S60 Inscription is unapologetically comfortable and is one of the last bastions for drivers who don't care about 0-60 and lap times.
Official EPA figures for the Volvo S60 T8 show that it achieved 27/34/31mpg on the city/highway/combined cycles, with an electric MPGe rating of 69. With a 15.9-gallon gas tank, mixed driving will return a range of around 492.3 miles between fill-ups. With an 11.6 kWh battery pack, the S60 T8 can travel up to 23 miles on electric power alone, though the car's readout promised 25 miles on a full charge. Recharge time for the battery is around two hours with a level two charger, and six hours on a level one charger. Regenerative braking and a stop/start system for the internal combustion engine help to maximize the results.
In the real world, your fuel economy in the S60 T8 will vary drastically depending on your driving style and how much you plug it in. With a light foot and daily charges, fuel economy in the mid-30 range can easily be expected. We don't have a convenient charger where we test our vehicles and we averaged 28.6 mpg during our week of testing. If your daily commute is less than 12 miles and you have a place to charge at home, the T8 drivetrain can easily be worth the upgrade over a T6.
Minimalistic. Modern. Elegant. Stylish. The S60 T8 has an interior that is simply and smartly finished, with impressive features and clean design. Wood or metal inlays break up the cabin, with your choice of leather or Nappa leather as the upholstery options. Front seats are heated, with ventilation, massaging, and heated rear seats as an option, while a 12.3-inch digital driver display relays info to the pilot. In the dash, a smart-looking vertically-mounted nine-inch tablet of a touchscreen handles infotainment using Volvo's Sensus Connect software. With four-zone climate control fitted to all T8 models and smartphone integration from Apple and Android as standard, the S60 T8 is an impressive vehicle that is both comfortable and connected.
The interior of the Volvo S60 offers accommodations for up to five people, though passengers in the middle rear seat will have to split their legs on either side of a large center tunnel. Front seat passengers have generous headroom of 37.4 inches and 42.3 inches of legroom. Rear passengers only have slightly less headroom with 37.2 inches while rear legroom is a respectable 35.2 inches. These dimensions are not the largest in the compact luxury sedan segment but they are competitive.
The sportier R-Design trim gets Nappa leather finished in Charcoal or Slate mixed with metal mesh inlays. R-Design models also get a sportier seat design that lacks the massage feature found in our Inscription tester. We recommend the Inscription trim, which gets leather upholstery in Charcoal, Maroon Brown, Blonde, or Amber with driftwood inlays. Perforated Nappa leather is also available with the Luxury Seating Package. Like the R-Design, the Polestar Engineered model also gets sportier seats wrapped in Nappa leather with open grid textile upholstery and metal mesh inlays. Polestar models are also differentiated with yellow seatbelts, but we review this model separately.
The Volvo S60 T8 has average storage space in the cargo area, with just 13.8 cubic feet of volume in the trunk, 11.6 of which is traditional in nature, with the balance being available under the floor. While this does not seem like a lot, the Volvo does have a party trick in its power-folding rear seatbacks that maximize available space at the touch of a button.
In the cabin, storage options are similarly average in size but are well-packaged. An average-sized glove box is included, along with door pockets and shallow center armrest storage both front and rear, with a pair of cup holders for both front and rear occupants too. While the storage options may not be the biggest available, they are more than adequate to hold pocket overflow like phones, wallets, and keys. Volvo's larger 90 Series vehicles have a larger transmission tunnel and therefore have a bit more space to store objects in the center console.
The S60 is impressively equipped with convenience features, offering a power trunk, a panoramic sunroof, power-adjustable heated front seats, power-folding rear seats, a compass, ambient lighting, and a 12.3-inch digital driver display - all as standard. In addition, you can spec massaging front seats, a heated steering wheel and rear seats, plus an automated parking system and remote smartphone access. Volvo has a prominent history when it comes to safety features, and the S60 is no exception when it comes to upholding that. Along with hill start assist and a driver alert system, the S60 also features blind-spot monitoring with cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, front and rear collision mitigation with autonomous braking, a parking camera, and whiplash protection. Volvo's Pilot Assist suite of safety features is one of the few systems able to hold a candle to Tesla's Autopilot with regards to partial self-driving. The system inspires enough confidence to take your hands off the wheel for short periods.
Volvo houses its Sensus infotainment system on a nine-inch vertically-oriented touchscreen that houses most of the car's controls including the climate adjustment. The only physical controls are for volume, play/pause, forward/rewind, and the defrosters. This could be a nuisance for some users who prefer physical controls but at least Volvo's screen offers intuitive, smartphone-inspired controls that are quick and responsive. Volvo has used a faster processor for all 2020 models, eliminating the laggy start-up we experienced in previous test drives.
The S60 features both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility that can be used without completely taking over the screen. Listening to media in the S60 is a wonderful experience with the standard 14-speaker Harman Kardon stereo, though we highly recommend stepping up to the optional Bowers and Wilkins system for $3,200. This system is well worth the cost because it adds 15 speakers, a 10-channel amplifier, and 1,500 watts. Volvo also includes a unique Concert Hall mode, which transforms your music to make it sound as though it is being performed live at the Gothenburg Concert Hall in Sweden.
The 2020 Volvo S60 T8 has thus far been free of any recalls, but it is worth noting that the 2019 model was subject to a single recall in April of the same year. This was for rear suspension toe links that may be loose.
In the event of any issues, Volvo offers an impressive and comprehensive warranty package with the vehicle. Along with the usual eight-year/100,000-mile hybrid component warranty, Volvo also provides a limited and powertrain warranty for four years/50,000 miles. A 12-year/unlimited-mileage corrosion warranty is also included, as is a four-year roadside assistance package. Finally, complimentary scheduled maintenance is covered for three years or 36,000 miles, whichever comes first.
While the NHTSA hasn't evaluated the current-generation S60 for safety, the IIHS has, awarding one of its highest honors in the form of a Top Safety Pick award for 2020.
The Volvo S60 T8 is equipped with numerous safety-enhancing features to maximize the occupants' protection, with seatbelt pretensioners, an anti-whiplash system that cradles an occupant's head in a rear collision, and a slew of airbags, including front- and side-impact airbags, as well as overhead airbags and knee airbags. Also included is a parking camera, forward and rear collision mitigation with autonomous emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring with cross-traffic alert, a drowsy driver warning, and lane keep assist. Optional Pilot Assist systems bring semi-autonomous cruise control to the table, with a range of collision avoidance and driver assists that elevate the S60 to be one of the safest cars around.
In a segment filled with overly stiff sedans that want to be race cars, the Volvo S60 is a breath of fresh air. This is a sedan (at least in Inscription trim) that forgoes the silly notion of ever visiting a race track and setting lap times. It doesn't even have paddle shifters. Volvo realized that it could carve out a niche in the compact sedan segment by offering premium features such as ventilated seats with massaging, a luxury rarely found on sedans in the six-figure price bracket.
Volvo does offer sporty versions of the S60 but after driving the T8 Inscription, we can't think of any reason to opt for the stiffer R-Design or Polestar Engineered models over sporty alternatives from other brands. The S60 shines as a luxury car, so let the German makes worry about breaking your spine. As for the T8 drivetrain, we enjoyed driving the S60 around in silence and we can't wait to see an all-electric version. But unless you do mostly city driving, have a short commute, and can charge at home, we'd say you are better off with the non-hybrid T6.
Pricing for the S60 T8 starts at $55,400 for the sporty R-Design model before destination ($995), options, and taxes. Interestingly, the Inscription - which focuses more on luxury - carries an identical asking price, despite differences in styling and certain equipment changes. The limited-availability Polestar Engineered model started at $64,800, or at $1,100 per month on the Care By Volvo subscription service. Fully loaded with options like a valet key, massaging front seats, bigger wheels, a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, an upgraded Bowers & Wilkins 15-speaker sound system, and an automatic parking system, the luxurious Inscription will set you back a little over $66,000. Because this is a plug-in hybrid, the S60 T8 also qualifies for $5,000 tax credit.
The Volvo S60 T8 is available in three trim levels: R-Design, Inscription, and Polestar Engineered. Both models are very similarly equipped and feature the same hybridized powertrain good for 400 hp, but there are a few key differences.
The R-Design is more sporty, featuring body-hugging sports seats, a unique steering wheel, and a leather gear-lever. Its 18-inch wheels are of a more aggressive design, while the interior features Nappa leather and metal mesh dash and door inlays. The exterior also features a unique grille, while the wing mirrors and parts of the front and rear bumpers are finished in gloss black. This model has access to five paint choices and two interior color options.
The Inscription model is a more comfort-focused variant, featuring genuine leather in a wide variety of colors and access to massaging front seats as an option. Its interior is available with a choice of two wood accent options while the gear-lever is finished with a crystal knob. This model also rides on 18-inch wheels, but its exterior is slightly blingier, featuring chrome in most of the areas that the R-Design is accented with gloss black.
Both models get heated front seats, quad-zone climate control, LED headlights with auto high-beams, a 14-speaker Harman Kardon sound system, a panoramic sunroof, navigation, satellite radio, smartphone connectivity, an impressive suite of safety features, and a 12.3-inch driver info display.
Limited to just 20 models in the USA, the Polestar Engineered model is a performance-oriented trim with 415 hp and 494 lb-ft. It benefits from Ohlins dampers, Brembo brakes with gold calipers, a Polestar Engineered strut brace, and exclusive 19-inch alloy wheels, while also receiving additional gold detailing inside the cabin.
The Inscription model has access to a luxury package that adds massaging front seats for $2,200, while both trims can be specced with heated rear seats and a heated steering wheel for 750 bucks. 19-inch wheels cost $800 on either model, while an automatic parking system, that can operate if the parking space is at least 1.2 times the length of the car, is available for just $200. A Bowers & Wilkins 15-speaker sound system with an air-ventilated subwoofer is a masterpiece of sound engineering and is the most expensive option at $3,200.
We feel the Inscription model is by far the most appealing S60 available, but the decision to opt for the T6 or T8 will mainly depend on your living situation and daily commute. If you can charge every day only drive less than 25 miles to work, the T8 could save you money in the long run. Assuming you do opt for the T8, we suggest adding the Bowers and Wilkins audio, Luxury Seating Package, Heated Rear Seats and Steering Wheel, Park Assist Pilot, and the 19-inch wheels for a total cost of just under $64,000. Yes, that price is dangerously close to the BMW M3 but just remember, an M3 doesn't have massage seats.
The all-new G20 BMW 3 Series has come into the market with a quartet of models and a pair of engine options, with the $54,000 M340i performance-enhanced model starting just $1,400 cheaper than the S60 T8 R-Design. It too is equipped with an eight-speed automatic gearbox, but its 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six produces a little less power at 382 hp. Where it comprehensively beats the S60 is in cargo volume, with 17 cubic feet versus the S60's 11.6. However, this luxury compact can't compete with the Volvo's hybrid economy, offering a combined mpg rating of 25 versus the S60 T8's 31. However, the 3 Series once again pulls a point back by not being burdened with a heavy battery pack, thus offering better driving dynamics and more agile handling. Overall, the BMW is a more traditional option and will doubtless be the default choice for most buyers, but the Volvo is competitive and offers a host of standard safety features, modern, clean design, and a number of comfort features like quad-zone climate control that will likely prove attractive for buyers who aren't deterred by electrification. Whichever you choose, both are competent offerings.
If a hybrid powertrain seems like a compromise, the Tesla Model 3 is available with its all-electric system that provides between 258 and 450 hp. With 15 cubic feet of volume, it offers more storage space and its regular over-the-air software updates help to ensure that it stays relevant long after the purchase date. Tesla's Autopilot advanced semi-autonomous driving features are also a big drawcard, and the fact that its most expensive variant, the all-wheel-drive Performance model, costs just $2,590 more than the cheapest Volvo S60 T8 is sure to be a big factor too. Nevertheless, if you can't commit to questionable range (unless you live in an area well-populated with charging stations), the Volvo is a more conventional, albeit slower, route to increased efficiency. With arguably more modern exterior design and a more luxurious interior feel, the Volvo is possibly more than a match for the Tesla.
Check out some informative Volvo S60 Hybrid video reviews below.