First Look

2019 Volvo S60 First Look Review: Designed In Sweden, Built In The USA

It's time to rekindle some excitement in the sedan segment.

Volvo has big plans for the coming decade, with aims to achieve half of its sales from electric cars, a third from autonomous vehicles and for half of its customers to be enlisted in subscription services rather than outright ownership. Bold plans no doubt, but considering Volvo’s explosive growth in the past five years since being acquired by Geely holdings, with performance and mainstream spinoff brands in Polestar and Lynk & Co and record profits in 2017, I wouldn’t bet against them.

The backbone of its masterplan from a product perspective is the incredibly flexible Scalable Product Architecture (SPA), launched under the XC90 SUV in 2015, adapted for the S90 and V90 large sedans and wagons, and then downsized for the 60 series starting with the XC60, then V60 Wagon that debuted in February, and now the new 2019 S60 Sedan. The 2019 S60 is the first Volvo car to be assembled in the US, and it is being built here for the US and international markets. Because it shares a platform with the SPA products, Volvo is planning to add XC90 assembly by 2021 as well to reach its ultimate production capacity of 150,000 cars per year.

In the meantime, Volvo will have to rekindle some excitement in the sedan segment, as S60 sales have dropped significantly over the years due to shifting customer tastes and a car fading from relevance with a chassis that dates back to 2010. Volvo’s plans for excitement come in the form of the S60 T8 eAWD Polestar Engineered, which combines Volvo’s plans for electrification, subscription and performance in one fell swoop. Although Polestar is branching out as its own sub brand with dedicated performance models, the S60 will get a limited run of the T8 Twin Engine (turbocharged and supercharged 2.0L four-cylinder) plug-in hybrid that gets boosted to 415 hp and 494 lb-ft torque

It also gets kitted up with Polestar-tuned Ohlins Suspension, Brembo Brakes, Strut Brace and exclusive 19-inch alloys. This limited edition will only be available through Care by Volvo subscription service in the United States, and while pricing hasn’t been announced, it will likely be a steep premium over the $850 per month you’d have to shell out for a T6 AWD R-Design. However, the Polestar Engineered model isn’t the only way to get into the top-trim T8 plug-in hybrid. This will also be offered in R-Design spec for $54,400 or Inscription at $55,400 (plus $995 destination fee) with 313 hp from the gas engine and the electric motor chipping in 87 hp for a combined power output of 400 horsepower.

Although Volvo didn’t specify it here, the XC60 T8 makes an identical 400 combined hp, so it’s likely the S60 will follow suit with similar 472 lb-ft of torque and a 10.4-kWh lithium-ion battery pack enabling more than the XC60’s 18 miles of electric range and a stellar 59 MPGe. Shoppers looking for a more conventional powertrain and affordable packages will be more interested in the T5 FWD and T6 AWD powertrains, each of which can be outfitted in Momentum, R-Design, or Inscription trims. The T5 FWD trim is the same 2.0-liter four-cylinder with just turbocharging, matching up nicely with the base power plants from Audi, BMW and Mercedes. Volvo’s entry makes 250 hp.

The T6 adds AWD and a supercharger in addition to the turbo pushes power to 316 hp at a price premium of $4,500 over T5 models. As far as feature content goes, the Momentum comes standard with panoramic moonroof, LED headlights, 18-inch wheels, real aluminum trim and Volvo’s Sensus Connect touchscreen interface with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and 4G hotspot. City Safety with Steering Support is also standard, which can detect pedestrians, cyclists and large animals and brakes or steers to avoid accidents at intersections. The S6- Momentum will set you back $35,800 powered by the T5 FWD, but if you step up to the T6 AWD, the cash price is $40,300, or you can opt into the Care by Volvo program for $775 per month.

Additional equipment here includes the Premium and Multimedia Packages, wood inlays and a variety of interior and exterior color combinations. To recap some of the perks of the Care by Volvo program, aside from bypassing some of the painfully complicated negotiating, financing and leasing options, the monthly fee also covers insurance, 24/7 customer care and concierge services, roadside assistance, scheduled maintenance, tire and wheel damage protection, and even wear-and-tear items like wipers and brakes within the annual 15,000 mile allowance. Subscriptions contracts come in 24-month terms, but just like your phone plan, you can upgrade to a new model after 12 months if you re-up your contract for another 24 months.

The next trim level in the S60 lineup is the R-Design, that ramps things up with sporty cues like gloss black exterior trim and grille, metal mesh inlay, perforated leather steering wheel with gearshift paddles, nappa leather sport seats and an R-Design leather-wrapped gear shifter. The R-Design can be had with any of the three powertrains, the T5 FWD priced at $41,900, T6 AWD at $45,400, and the T8 Hybrid $54,400. You can also get the T6 AWD R-Design through Care by Volvo for $850/month, once again adding the Premium and Multimedia Packages and 19-inch R-Design wheels. The Inscription trim represent the peak of S60 luxury.

The R-Design’s sporty gloss black is traded for bright chrome window trim and grille accents, driftwood inlays, and adding creature comforts like four-zone auto climate control, power front seats with lumbar support and power cushion extensions. No doubt there will be further options like the spectacular Bowers and Wilkins audio system and massaging seats to stay at the forefront of seat comfort, although Volvo has yet to detail all the particulars at this point. It did, of course, tout its new safety systems, including the optional Pilot Assist adaptive cruise with lane-keeping assistance and braking in curves, as well as Run-off Road Mitigation, Oncoming Lane Mitigation and Cross Traffic Alert with auto braking.

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