2011 Volvo S60

PORTLAND, Ore. — Fun-to-drive safety has taken a quantum leap with Volvo’s all-new 2011 S60 T6 AWD four-door sedan. With its sleek roofline and sculptured lines it truly is more of a four-door coupe than a typical “family sedan.”

The 2011 model is a world removed from the long-held vision of Volvos being “safety squares.”

Putting several hundred miles on this vehicle, through a variety of road and climate conditions, is enough to convince even the most cynical that the neighborhood this vehicle has chosen to live in – that of the Audi A4, BMW 3-Series and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class – is appropriate.

This new kid on the block is not about to be bullied. A 3.0L inline 6-cylinder DOHC, 24-valve turbo with intercooler powerplant vehicle putting out 300 horsepower, 325 pound-feet of torque and a 0-60 time of 5.8 seconds makes it a player in this game. Through hours of twisty roads, trailing huge logging trucks and legal, but short passing lanes there was never a feeling of “This is going to be close” when the opportunity to go around them eventually came. It is the kind of assurance one can expect from a vehicle in this segment.

The handling speaks volumes for the technology Volvo put into the suspension and chassis and to call it an all-day vehicle (a car that can be driven all day without any sign of driver fatigue) is an understatement. It comes equipped with a six-speed “Geartronic” driver-adapted automatic transmission and a choice of three chassis’: Dynamic, Touring, and the optional FOUR-C driver-ride-selected model. Volvo purposely chose to not include paddle shifters. The steering wheel is wonderfully thick and the steering ratio is wonderfully quick, center on, giving the driver a feeling of assured control.

Being a Volvo there’s no such thing as not feeling safe in it and the Swedes haven’t disappointed in their continuous improvement in this area. New in the S60 is Pedestrian Detection with Full Auto Brake at speeds up to 19 mph. This innovative system joins City Safety in taking automotive safety another step forward. 

There are a handful of packages you can add to the base price of $38,550 including Climate, Multimedia, Technology (with Pedestrian Detection and other safety items) and Premium. If you bought them the entire toll adds $7,100 to the base. It is unlikely that you would need them all. There is also another handful stand alone options. Our Dynamic suspension test car topped out at $42,500 and it seems loaded to us.

The S60 is at a terrific price point for a vehicle in this segment considering the amount of standard equipment. Since entering the world market in 2000, Volvo has sold about 600,000 S60s – a third of them in the North American market.  We wouldn’t be surprised to see those numbers take a huge leap upwards.

— Al Vinikour and Ted Biederman