I really liked the last Volvo S60 sedan I drove and was curious about this new Cross Country model that adds all-wheel drive, plus more pronounced fender flares to give it a somewhat different look.
AWD continues to gain popularity, especially in the northern climes such as ours. Subaru offers its Legacy sedan with it, but doesn’t make it look as tall and awkward as the Volvo. In fact, from a rear three-quarter view the new Volvo looks an awful lot like the ancient American Motors Eagle sedan, which was obviously way ahead of its time as an AWD sedan. I think it’s the Volvo’s ride height, which is 2.5 inches taller than the standard S60 sedan, plus the short rear-end that creates the AMC illusion.
If you can get beyond the awkward appearance, the S60 Cross Country T5 that I tested is a fun car in most respects. It’s quick and sporty in both acceleration and handling.
The car’s unique 5-cylinder 2.5-liter turbocharged engine with computer assisted variable valve timing creates 250 horsepower and a good kick-in-the-pants 266 torque rating. Power comes on in a flash and with the AWD the car rips up to highway speeds with solid footing.
I also like the S60’s handling, which is responsive and quick, albeit with a heavy steering feel. Still, this is fun on winding roads and in corners like a sport sedan.
The downside is a stiff ride that sometimes feels fine and at others a lack of damping on sharp bumps can wear a bit thin.
There is first-rate braking though, plus stability, traction and hill descent control. And mostly the 6-speed automatic Geartronic transmission shifts smoothly.
Naturally Volvo includes several safety features on the sporty off-roading sedan, including City Safety to avoid low-speed collisions such as rear-ending a car that stops suddenly in front of you, or avoiding a pedestrian that steps from the curb. There also are collision warning and automatic braking to beep and brake for you if something does appear to be a likely accident source.
Then there’s BLIS, the Blind Spot Information System, a $925 option that also includes park assist and lane change systems. Many cars have something similar to BLIS that warns you if a vehicle is in your blind spot. But I applaud Volvo for putting the warning light inside the car on the A pillar, making it obvious and easy to see. Some put that light in the side mirrors, which isn’t bad, but this is better.
The Volvo’s interior looks classy. The pewter paint schemed test car featured dark gray leather interior with redish brown stitching, a gray leather steering wheel, brushed metal trim in an edgy pattern on the doors and similar trim around the dash gauges and center stack, plus “urbane wood” inlays by the console shifter and on the doors. The wood costs $400 extra.
Gauges were clear to see and offer three adjustments for how the dash gauges are displayed. I settled on one with a reddish background. Other pluses include push-button start, frameless rearview mirror, sunroof, driver’s seat with three memory settings, heated front and rear seats, plus a heated steering wheel, all that heating coming as part of a $1,550 climate package.
Standard is a radio/nav screen, but Volvo offers two radio knobs, for volume and tuning, plus two knobs to control the dual temperature settings for the automatic climate control. So at least the main functions you need regularly are conveniently dealt with via knobs, not toggles, a mouse or touchscreens.
Seats are well-formed and supportive, but a bit snug in the butt pocket. Be sure you fit before you buy. Front and rear seat room is good for moderate sized adults. The knock on the S60 from some writers is lack of rear legroom. If you need more space, Volvo now offers the Inscription model with nearly three additional inches of rear legroom, so check that out if you’re on the tall side.
A few oddities bugged me. First, this is a car you’d expect to carry four adults comfortably, but the trunk space is oddly shaped as a spare tire sticks up into its center. While covered it makes for a shallow trunk of just 12 cubic feet, smallish for a mid-size car. I suspect the tire was raised to give the car more ground clearance, so ask yourself how often you’re going off-road with your sedan. A standard S60 might do you.
Also, the cruise control, while it can be set at any speed initially, jumps to the next speed divisible by 5, if you press the button to nudge it up a bit. Most cruise controls allow you to edge them up by 1 mph a click. And my pet peeve has not been addressed in the S60 since I last drove one several years ago. The sun visors do NOT slide. Unforgiveable when nearly every other car make offers sliding visors, even on entry-level cars.
On to the standard stuff, gas mileage and price.
The EPA rates the S60 Cross Country at 20 mpg city and 28 mpg highway. I got 21.8 mpg in about 60% city driving.
The base price on this model is $43,500, but after a delivery fee of $940 and its various options the S60 ended up at $48,390, that’s nearly $50 grand in my book. That’s competitive, in fact a bit less, than some competitors like BWM’s 3 Series, Audi’s A4 and the Mercedes-Benz C Class, at least similarly equipped.
But you can get into a Volvo S60 for much less. The base T5 with 2.0-liter Drive-E 4-cylinder turbocharged engine starts at $34,890. Adding AWD pushes that to $36,390. All AWD models come with a 6-speed automatic while the Drive-E models feature an 8-speed automatic that helps them achieve better fuel economy.
If you like the S60s looks, need AWD and want all the bells and whistles, there’s a T6 R-Design model that starts at $48,640. Your call!
FAST STATS: 2016 Volvo S60 Cross Country T5 AWD
Hits: Quick and sporty acceleration and handling, plus AWD. Classy interior look, heated seats and steering wheel, 3 modes of dash display, 3-position seat memory, sunroof and blind-spot warning system.
Misses: Oddly shaped shallow trunk, snug seats, cruise control jumps by 5 mph per click and sun visors don’t slide.
Made in: Ghent, Belgium
Engine: 2.5-liter turbo 5-cylinder, CVVT, 250 hp
Transmission: 6-speed automatic Geartronic
Weight: 3,602 lbs.
Length: 182.5 in.
Wheelbase: 109.3 in.
Cargo: 12.0 cu.ft.
Tow: 3,500 lbs.
MPG: 20/28 (EPA)
MPG: 21.8 (tested)
Base Price: $43,500
Dealer’s Price: $41,830 (includes delivery)
Climate package (heated front/rear seats, heated steering wheel, heated windshield/washer nozzles, interior air quality system, $1,550
Blind-spot information system package (blind-spot information system, cross traffic alert, front & rear park assist and lane change merge aid), $925
Speed sensitive steering, $325
Urbane wood inlays, $400
19-inch BOR matte black wheel, $750
Test vehicle: $48,390
Sources: Volvo, www.autos.yahoo.com
Photos: Mark Savage