On The Road

Volvo's S60 is a nice mix of safety & style


Mike Hagerty/Special to the Town Crier
The Volvo S60 is a hybrid with a robust 400-horsepower engine that gets the car from 0 to 60 mph in just 4.5 seconds.

 

Those of us of a certain age remember when Volvos were boxy sedans and station wagons sold largely on their safety. In the 1980s, Volvo’s TV commercials were largely videos of its cars in crash tests – including plummeting off cliffs into a concrete pit 45 feet below.

In the past few years, Volvo has figured out how to maintain the safety and blend styling and power into the mix. The big S80 sedan ranks high on my want list since reviewing it three years ago. And now, a lot of what makes the S80 so desirable is available in a mid-size package, the S60.

A few weeks ago, I finished a week driving the 2020 Volvo S60 T8 E-AWD R-Design. That’s a mouthful, so let’s decode: The “T8” is Volvo’s new twin-engine plug-in hybrid system. It combines a turbocharged and supercharged gasoline engine driving the front wheels with an electric motor driving the rear. So that’s full-time four-wheel drive, because of the electric motor, which is the “E-AWD.” And “R-Design” is Volvo’s sport, as opposed to luxury, trim level.

Let’s get back to the power part of this package. When it’s running as a hybrid, there’s a combined 400 horsepower and 425 pounds-per-foot of torque. That will get you from a standing start to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds. And it’s more than just brute force. The S60 handles beautifully – it’s balanced and composed. And by using the adjustable sport mode, your right foot and good judgment, you can dial up and down the car’s aggressive nature to suit roads and conditions.

Then there’s the plug-in part of the hybrid. For short trips, you can switch to pure electric-vehicle mode and drive for 21 miles without using a drop of gas or putting a particle of pollution into the air. You can recharge at home or at a public charger, or, while driving, use the regular battery to recharge the plug-in battery, which also regains charge by converting the friction of braking into electricity.

In its dual-power hybrid mode, the 2020 Volvo S60 T8 E-AWD R-Design gets an Environmental Protection Agency-estimated 30 mpg combined city and highway. Remember, we’re talking about a car with 400 horsepower. That’s astonishing fuel economy. Charge it every time, use that 21 miles of pure electric range and then let the car automatically switch over to hybrid mode and the EPA estimate jumps to a combined 69 mpg.

Bells and whistles

The base price for the 2020 Volvo S60 T8 E-AWD R-Design is $55,400. And there’s a long list of standard features, including:

• Electric power-assisted steering

• 12.3-inch digital driver display

• Blind-spot information system with steer assist

• Cross-traffic alert with auto brake

• Pilot Assist driver system with adaptive cruise control

• Collision avoidance

• Lane-departure warning and lane-keeping aid

• 360-degree surround camera

Our test vehicle also had some extra-cost options: heated rear seats and heated steering wheel ($750); metallic paint ($645); Bowers & Wilkins premium sound system ($3,200); park-assist pilot ($200); and 19-inch R-Design alloy wheels ($800). Among these options, I highly recommend the Bowers & Wilkins sound system – it’s phenomenal.

When you add on the $995 destination charge, the bottom line on the window sticker reads $61,990.

That sounds like a chunk, but it’s a little more than $5,000 less than the 2020 BMW M340i we tested back in December, which is smaller, less powerful and less fuel efficient (but still an amazing car).

In other words, this is what this level of performance, features and solidity go for these days. And the Volvo S60 T8 E-AWD R-Design has a lot to recommend it.

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