2024 Volvo S60

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It’s hard to sell what not enough people are aware is for sale – and that may be part of the reason why Volvo’s S60 sedan will soon no longer be for sale.

The Swedish luxury car brand recently announced that this model year will be the final year for this interesting alternative to better-known compact-sized luxury sedans sold by BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi.

Probably because not enough of the people who bought a BMW, Benz or Audi realized there is an interesting alternative to all of them.

What It Is

The S60 is – per above – Volvo’s alternative to better-known (and better-marketed) luxury-brand sedans such as the BMW 3 Series, the Mercedes C-Class, – which are about the same size – and the Audi A4, which is a little smaller (as well as the Audi A6, which is a little larger).

Prices start at $42,000 for the base front-wheel-drive B5 Core trim, which comes standard with a 2.0 liter turbocharged four cylinder engine paired with a mild-hybrid system that cycles the engine off during deceleration and when the car isn’t actually moving, to increase fuel economy. AWD is available as a stand-alone option, which raises the MSRP to $44,300.

But what makes the S60 an interesting alternative is that all trims – including the base B5 Core trim – can be equipped with a plug-in hybrid system called Recharge T8 that nearly doubles the power you get while also enabling the S60 to travel as far as 40 miles without burning (or “emitting”) any gas at all.

The T8 equipped S50 Core stickers for $51,950 and comes standard with AWD.

A top-of-the-line S60 Recharge T8 Ultimate Black Edition – which comes standard with a 15 speaker Vowers & Wilkins premium stereo, power-extending seat bottoms for the driver and front-seat passenger, a translucent crystal gear selector, four zone climate control, headlight washers, ambient interior lighting and unique-to-this trim cosmetics lists for $58,550.

What’s New For 2024

It’s more a case of what’s soon-to-be-gone.

Volvo will stop producing the S60 – which is made in the USA – after the end of the current model year.

That means if you want one, you haven’t got much time left to get one.

What’s Good

An interesting alternative to the better-known contenders in this class.

A less expensive alternative to the better-known contenders in this class.

The most comfortable seats in the class.

What’s Not So Good

This alternative will shortly no longer be available.

Trunk space (11.6 cubic feet) isn’t much.

Hasn’t got the status-appeal of the better-known-contenders in the class.

Under The Hood

Every 60 trim is available with either of the two available drivetrains. The latter word is in italics to emphasize an important difference between this Volvo and the alternatives to it, which require you to buy a more expensive trim to get the drivetrain that isn’t available in the base trim.

Which means you can only get it if you’re able (and willing) to spend more to get the trim and the available engine.

Here, you can just buy the engine. Either one.

The first is a turbocharged 2.0 liter four paired – as discussed above – with a mild-hybrid set-up; the combo produces a total of 247 horsepower. This is pretty much the same as you’d get get in either a base trim BMW 3 Series or a Mercedes C300, which both come standard with 2.0 liter, turbocharged fours that make 255 horsepower. The BMW’s standard 2.0 liter four does not come standard with a mild hybrid system; the Mercedes’s four does.

Interestingly, the Mercedes’ mild-hybrid set up doesn’t offer any significant gas savings vs. the Volvo, which touts 26 city, 35 highway vs. 26 city, 36 highway for the Benz. And – on the other hand – the Volvo’s gas-mileage advantage vs. the BMW without the mild-hybrid set up is also insignificant. The base trim 3 Series with just the 2.0 liter four touts 25 city, 34 highway. But the Volvo’s sell is that you can buy it for $2,500 less to start (the difference in priced between the $44,500 BMW 330i and the $42,000 S60 B5 Core).

The Benz C300’s base price – $46,950 – means you’ll spend $4,950 more to get no appreciable gas savings vs. the Volvo.

But – the Mercedes will seem to have one, because it goes farther in-between fill-ups on account of having a larger gas tank that holds 17.4 gallons vs. the Volvo’s 15.9 gallon tank. The extra gas enables the C300 to go 452 miles in city driving and 626 miles on the highway vs. 413 miles in city driving and 556 miles on the highway for the Volvo.

It gets more interesting when you take a look at the Volvo’s optional plug-in hybrid drivetrain.

There’s still a 2.0 liter four but when supplemented by the electric motor/battery pack total output increases to 455 horsepower – and 523 ft.-lbs. of torque.

BMW offers a plug-in version of the 3 Series – but it only offers 288 horses and it can only travel about 20 miles on battery power alone. The Volvo can go about twice that distance. Mercedes C-Class mild-hybrids can’t go any distance on battery power alone and to get anything close to the power you get in the Volvo, you’d have to spend at least $60,700 to start for the 402 horsepower C43.

If you bought the S60 Recharge T8 Core instead, you’d have spent $8,750 less – and gotten 53 more horsepower, as well as the capability to drive about 40 miles without using any gas at all.

On The Road

The standard-drivetrain’d S60 is a nice small sedan with what are arguably the most comfortable seats available in any current sedan. Volvo doesn’t do a very good job of getting the word out about this alternative to the others in the class. And that’s a shame, because they are that good – and by themselves make the car worth considering vs. the others in the class. You can sit in them for eight hours and – after eight hours – not feel as though you’ve been sitting for eight hours.

But it’s the alternative drivetrain that makes the S60 really interesting.

For openers, because almost no one outside of Volvo enthusiast circles knows it exists. And almost everyone else wouldn’t suspect it, just to look at it. The S60 is a nice-looking car; it does not look like a car that has 455 horses under the hood. The Benz C 43 does – and it doesn’t have 455 horsepower under its hood.

What it means is you can have the kind of fun – and get away with it – that is harder to have in most cars that have even 402 horsepower, like the C 43.

This Volvo – let that sink in – can get to 60 in 4 seconds. That makes it one of the quickest cars that doesn’t look fast you can buy. It’s like being able to punch like Mike Tyson without looking like Mike Tyson – and that can put whoever wants to try to get in the ring with you in serious trouble.

But it’s also fun to have a car like this that you can use – and then just throttle back and fade into the crowd. Anyone who has owned a Corvette (or anything that looks like it might want to race a Corvette) knows it’s less fun because everyone thinks you want to race and every cop is looking at you and knows what you’re thinking.

It gets old fast.

This one’s just fast – and that never gets old.

There’s also this being able to drive the car for long enough to make the plug-in part something more than just a talking point. Forty miles is 20 miles there – and back. Well within the distance many people drive most days. Keep it fully charged by plugging it in before you go to bed at night and you will probably have enough driving range the next morning to drive to work – and back – plus some errands and not need to put any gas in the tank.

And if you do, you can – and that means you can drive as far as you like, anytime you like.

This is a huge advantage over a purely electric car, including the ones Volvo’s trying to sell that aren’t selling well because most people don’t like being leashed to a driving range that restricts how far they can drive before they’re forced to wait an inconveniently long time (at least half an hour at a “fast” charger) before they can drive again.

The S60 T8 has speed – without the price you pay for that when there’s just a battery and a motor to move you.

That’s its own form of alternative.

At The Curb

This Volvo looks like a Volvo, which will appeal to people who like Volvos – and to people who discover what this Volvo can do.

It’s also a little bigger than some of its better-know competitors, such as the BMW 3 Series sedan, for instance. The S60 is 188.1 inches long; the 3 sedan is 185.9 inches long. More finely, the BMW 3 sedan is firmly within the boundaries of the compact-sedan class while the S60 edges closer to being mid-sized. It is also just a smidge longer than the Mercedes C300, which is 187 inches long.

Oddly, the Volvo has the least trunk space (11.6 cubic feet) of the three and much less than the BMW 3 sedan, which has a big car’s 16.9 cubic foot trunk (the C300 splits the difference with 12.6 cubic feet).

The S60’s trunk isn’t just small for the class – it’s small, period. And this is arguably the Volvo’s weakest selling point in that a small trunk places a physical limit upon the practicality of a small sedan. A tiny trunk isn’t as much of an issue for a sports car, which people buy because it isn’t practical. Else they’d buy something with four seats and four doors. But people who shop for cars with four doors generally do so because they need seats for four (or even five) and a trunk that can take more stuff than just one person – maybe two – might need for an overnight trip.

Or even a trip to the airport.

The other deficit – the electronics interface – is more subjective. All trims come standard with a 12.3 inch LCD main gauge cluster and a 9 inch secondary display that’s canted toward the driver. The look is clean and ergonomic – but the functionality can be frustrating until you get to know how it functions.

The tall air vents on either side of the secondary cluster, on the other hand, assure there’s always ample airflow and directed where you want it. Thankfully, no car company has yet thought to electronicize the control of air vents.

The Rest

Volvo has a “safety” problem.

The problem being that all cars are now “safe.” That is to say, all new cars come with pretty much the same array of “safety” technology, including a bevy of what are styled “advanced driver assistance technologies” and typically at least six air bags (in this class of car).

That leaves Volvo sans what was – once – Volvo’s main selling point; i.e., that Volvos were “safer” than other cars. They were significantly more crashworthy because they were designed around “safety.”

Now all cars are.

The S60 might be slightly “safer” in this or that way – but the difference is so slight that it no longer matters.

Or rather, it no longer sells like it used to.

So Volvo has had to try to sell what its rivals have always sold, such as performance and style. But that’s a harder sell for Volvo. Just as it was a harder sell for VW when it tried to sell a luxury-priced car like the Phaeton.

But VW was able to walk that back – and return to selling Wagens the Volk could afford. Or at least, that were more affordable than the cars BMW and Mercedes sold.

It’s hard to see how Volvo can come up with “safer” cars than the cars sold by BMW and Mercedes – and that’s why Volvo has been trying to sell its cars as an alternative to them on a different basis.

The problem – for Volvo – has been explaining the difference.

The Bottom Line

The S60’s fate has been sealed, but there’s still time to get one of these alternatives to the others.

. . .

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8 COMMENTS

  1. No thanks. I will just drive my 1985 Volvo 240 GL until parts are no longer available or I die. Volvo made around 2.8 million 240’s from the late 1970’s until the early 1990’s. Still plenty of parts around. Easy to work on. Built like a tank……that is where its saaaaaafety comes from.

    • I agree with you, Orbit –

      Old Volvos like the 240 were (are) sturdy, reliable things. Not sexy or speedy – but that’s the point. They weren’t supposed to be. Now they are trying to be – and in the process have lost what made Volvos different (and appealing).

  2. My daughter bought a used Volvo, and did have a serpentine belt installed.

    The mechanics had to remove the air conditioner compressor to install the belt. The cost was about 700 dollars. Rip off, maybe, you have to take care of business.

    An oil change, total cost 782 dollars.

    May not seem worth it, but I owned a 1972 Volvo at one time, it was a good car.

    The Volvo my daughter owns will probably be good for 500,000 miles.

    Take care of the engine, you will be happy.

    I’d buy a Volvo long before a BMW or MB.

  3. I owned two previous gen S60’s. One FWD with the T5 and the 2nd with the T6 AWD and the Polestar upgrade. The first was fine, the 2nd was a Swedish Muscle Car. It could handle, but it wasn’t fun, but the 0-60 was very fast, probably around 4.8-5.00 seconds and had no drama. Just step on the gas and go, quickly, with no wheelspin. My daughter had a nickname for it, she called it the “beep beep” car after the roadrunner. Mine was also the Inline 6, rather than the turbo 4. It had a great noise, although subdued. My previous car was an E39 528 with a stick. Had the Volvo had a stick as an option, I might still have it, but the tranny was the weak point, but it compared favorably to the E39, the greatest sedan every made. However, Volvo has lost it’s way. These new engines are not reliable, my wife’s ’16 XC90 R with the turbo and supercharger and AWD is now at 80,000 miles and the engine is eating oil and there is a leak from the rear main seal. She is out of warranty, but I’m trying to get Volvo to cover this. The problem is that they had a coverage for the eating oil problem, that that coverage expired recently. They might cover it, since we are frequent Volvo buyer’s but they can’t do the oil test with the leaky rear main seal because they can’t show the engine is eating oil by doing a pressure test because the oil is going to leak from the rear main seal. So I’ve been told at the dealer that we’d have to spend $4-$5,000 to fix the rear main seal just so they can do the pressure test to determine if we can get the engine replaced due to it also eating oil. Right now, we are waiting for an answer from Volvo customer service, and we’ll see. But these new engines are high stress and bely Volvo’s history of reliability or at least durability. I cannot recommend anyone by this car without a warranty. But then again, that probably fits any new car running a smaller engine to “save fuel”.

  4. The newer Volvo sedans have been very nice looking and different than others.
    I think the problem was that they were one of the first to go 4cyl-turbo, and when I looked at them that’s all you could get even in their bigger models. I walked. It appears it has changed but probably too late.
    BTW, Eric, when mentioning sedans from BWM, MB, Audi, please mention Caddy too (CT4/5) so we can get people to know they are in the mix. I really would like these caddy’s to stick around for awhile.

  5. ‘Keep it fully charged … and you will probably have enough driving range the next morning to drive to work – and back – plus some errands and not need to put any gas in the tank.’ — eric

    Presumably in electric-only mode, the S60 has around 200 horsepower on tap from the electric motor. Is that adequate? Does it feel sluggish? Can you easily engage the gasoline engine when more power is needed?

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