6.19.2014

How The 2015 Volvo S60 T6 Drive-E Has Changed Everything

Front 3/4 view of 2014 Volvo S60 T6 Drive-E
The 2015 Volvo S60 T6 Drive-E.

If you find yourself wondering "Whatever happened to Volvo?", you can't be blamed.  A status symbol of sorts as the thinking man and woman's car in the 70s, 80s and 90s, ownership changes--from the original Swedes to Ford and then to Geely of China--some less than stellar vehicles (the S40, essentially a re-badged Mitsubishi Carisma) and a loss of focus in what Volvo stands for have driven Volvo's sales to the point of near-invisibility.

This may be the turning point.



Rear 3/4 view of 2015 Volvo S60 T6 Drive-E
2015 Volvo S60 T6 Drive-E.

It is the 2015 Volvo S60 T6 Drive-E.  And it is the beginning of a new era at Volvo.  Six-cylinder engines are on their way out, in this case replaced by a two-liter four-cylinder that is both turbocharged and supercharged.  Combined with an eight-speed automatic transmission, it produces 302 horsepower, only 23 fewer than the 3-liter turbocharged six-cylinder in last year's S60 T6 R-Design.  It also lowers the point at which peak torque occurs from the low-to-mid 3000 RPM range to produce all 295 pounds per foot at 2100 RPM, which cures the turbo lag that plagued previous models.  Press the accelerator now and you'll get response immediately, not two seconds later.

Other not-inconsiderable benefits of the turbo- and supercharged four include a major improvement in fuel economy. Last year's turbo six was EPA rated at 18 city/25 highway.  For 2015, with the new powerplant, that leaps to 24 city/35 highway, helped along by start/stop technology.  And less weight over the front wheels improves the balance and handling of the car.

Interior view of 2015 Volvo S60 T6 Drive-E
2015 Volvo S60 T6 Drive-E interior.

The base price of $38,150 includes 18-inch alloy wheels, Volvo's Sensus infotainment system with a seven-inch LCD color monitor, an eight-speaker, 160-watt audio system with single CD player, HDRadio, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, USB and Bluetooth, the City Safety low-speed collision avoidance system, a passel of Volvo's active and passive safety systems, a power glass moonroof, leather-surfaced eight-way adjustable power front sport seats with three-position memory for the driver's seat, keyless entry, dual-zone climate control and rain-sensing wipers.

That is a complete car as is, but our test vehicle came with options.  Almost $10,000 worth.

The Platinum Package ($3,350) adds navigation with real-time traffic, an upgraded sound system, auto-dimming exterior and interior mirrors (the exterior mirrors are also power-retractable), accent lighting, HomeLink, a rear park assist camera and a grocery bag holder.

The car was treated to 19-inch BOR Diamond Cut wheels with sport chassis for $1,250.

The Technology Package ($1,500) includes adaptive cruise control, collision warning with full auto brake, pedestrian/cyclist detection with auto brake, distance alert, driver alert control, lane departure warning, active high beams and road sign information.

Active dual Xenon headlights with washers cost another $800.

The Blind Spot Information Package ($900) brings blind spot information, cross-traffic alert, lane change merge aid and front and rear park assist.

And beyond that, the car's metallic paint ($550), and heated front seats ($500) were also options. Frankly, the last one is offensive.  There are far less expensive cars that either make heated front seats standard or part of an option package.  For Volvo, which is, despite its Chinese ownership, still a car built in Sweden---the only car built in Sweden, since SAAB's demise---to make them an a la carte option at that price is just nickel-and-diming.

With $925 destination charge, the as-tested price was $47,925. A stone's throw from $50,000 for a mid-size Volvo is sobering, but forgo the options and the price is $39,075 with destination.

Most of all, though, it is very, very good.  Performance and fuel economy essentially meet in the middle in this car.  But the middle is higher than expected. And, more than any car in recent memory, the seat and steering wheel seem capable of easy, quick adjustments to find the position just right for drivers of different sizes.

If it has been a long time since Volvo has been on your list of cars to consider---and the sales figures suggest that's likely---this is the one that should put it back into contention.

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