We drove a $55,000 Volvo S60 sports sedan on a road trip to see if it’s ready to challenge Audi, BMW, and Mercedes. Here’s the verdict.

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Our 2019 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design test car. Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider
  • The third-generation Volvo S60 is all-new for the 2019 model year.
  • In the marketplace, the S60 will take on a slew of highly capable European compact luxury sport sedans such as the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, and the Alfa Romeo Giulia.
  • The S60 is the first Volvo to be made in the US at the company’s new factory near Charleston, South Carolina.
  • We were impressed by the S60’s stylish looks, comfortable cabin, and available safety tech. On the downside, we found our experience with Volvo’s Sensus infotainment system to be less-than-ideal.
  • The base Volvo S60 T5 Momentum starts at $US35,000. With options and fees, our S60 T6 AWD R-Design carried an as-tested price of $US55,490
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Volvo is perhaps most famous for its boxy, no-nonsense station wagons that conquered America’s suburbs during the 1980s.

Things have changed over the past couple of decades. The box on wheels is long gone. In its place is a stylish, eye-catching European sports sedan with a decidedly Swedish flair.

The first-generation S60 debuted for the 2001 model year as the heir to the successful S70 sedan, itself a slightly curvy update of the straight-edge Volvo 850.

Volvo debuted an all-new third-generation S60 for the 2019 model year. It’s built on the company’s modular Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) platform that also underpins the XC60 and XC90 SUVs as well as the S90 sedan and V90 wagon.

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In the marketplace, the S60 will take on a slew of highly capable European compact luxury/sport sedans such as the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, and the Alfa Romeo Giulia.

The S60 is the first Volvo to be made in the US at the company’s new factory near Charleston, South Carolina.

Earlier this year, Business Insider had the chance to spend a week with the new 2019 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design clad in a stunning Fusion Red Metallic paint job.

The base Volvo S60 T5 Momentum starts at $US35,000 while the sporty R-Design starts at $US41,900. The luxury-focused S60 Inscription starts at $US42,900. The top-of-the-line S60 T8 Polestar-engineered performance hybrid is available only as part of a subscription deal.

With options and fees, our S60 T6 AWD R-Design carried an as-tested price of $US55,490.

Here’s a closer look at the 2019 V0lvo S60:


Here it is! Our 2019 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design test car. We spent a week with the Volvo earlier this year in Arizona and even took it on a road trip from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon.

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Aesthetically, the S60 is a stunner. It’s Euro-chic at its finest. Up front, a large grille and Volvo logo are flanked by the company’s signature “Thor’s Hammer” headlights.

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Our test car came optioned with these striking 19-inch R-Design alloy wheels wrapped in low-profile tires.

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Out back, the S60 is less eye-catching, but still very stylish and attractive.

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The S60 styling marks the latest iteration of the Volvo design language that debuted on the XC90 SUV in 2015.

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Time to set off on our road trip.

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Our route takes us north from Phoenix, Arizona, through Flagstaff and up to the Kaibab National Forest before reaching the Grand Canyon National Park.

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On the road, the S60 proved to be a highly competent highway cruiser. The cabin remains quiet and comfortable even at high speed. Our S60 came equipped with Volvo’s Pilot Assist semi-autonomous-drive system. It worked effortlessly, offering steering inputs to keep the car within the lanes while modulating the distance between the car in front. We kept our hands on the steering wheel even though the system does offer reliable semi-autonomous capabilities.

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We made our first stop about an hour and a half into our journey, in McGuireville, Arizona.

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A not-so-subtle reminder of how inhospitable the American West could be.

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Inside the S60, conditions were far more pleasant. Our tester was upholstered with soft Nappa leather with metal mesh accents. Material quality was superb as was the fit and finish.

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The S60 boasts some of the most comfortable seats I’ve ever experienced.

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The large panoramic roofs added a pleasant dose of natural light to the cabin.

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In front of the driver is a 12.3-inch digital information display. It’s beautifully presented and easy to use. However, it would be lovely if Volvo could make it as configurable as Audi’s Virtual Cockpit.

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There’s also a graphical head-up display.

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Overall, the S60’s cockpit has stellar ergonomics. All buttons and controls are clearly labelled and easy to use.

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The center dash is dominated by a 9-inch rectangular Sensus touchscreen. I’ve got mixed feelings about the Volvo Sensus system. Generally, I found it to be a bit unintuitive and needlessly complex to use. It’s another system that falls victim to the need to pack a whole lot of content into limited real estate. However, it’s a system with a lot going for it. I love the fact that you can use the pressure sensitive touchscreen while wearing gloves and that the system is loaded with features such as …

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… a host of audio options, including satellite radio and Spotify …

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… app integration, Wi-Fi hotspot capability …

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… an easy-to-use built-in navigation system, as well as …

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… Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration.

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The touchscreen is also home to Volvo’s advanced camera system that boasts not only a rearview camera but …

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… also a 360-degree camera system.

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The touchscreen can also control the S60’s many safety features.

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Our test car came equipped with adaptive cruise control; cross traffic alert with autobrake; City Safe collision avoidance that detects large vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists, and large animals; lane keep assist; and blind spot awareness.


The S60 offers adequate room for a pair of rear-seat passengers. Tall people may find it to be a tight squeeze if there’s someone six feet or taller in front.

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The rear cabin also gets its own heated seat controls and power plugs.

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As we head further north, desertscapes are replaced by snow-capped mountains.

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In fact, a late March snowstorm turned the landscape of Northern Arizona into a temporary winter wonderland.

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Our all-wheel-drive Swedish sports sedan all of the sudden felt a lot more at home.

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The only bit of traffic we encountered during our trip happened as we reached the entry point to the Grand Canyon.

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It was well worth the wait. The Grand Canyon is breathtakingly beautiful.

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After a few hours at the Grand Canyon, we headed south back toward Phoenix. All the snow from a few hours earlier had melted.

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The snow may have been gone, but our Volvo was caked in road salt.

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Along the way, we decided to make a detour to Sedona and its famous red rock formations.

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Once off the highway, we put the S60’s sporting pretensions to the test.

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Under the hood, our T6 came equipped with a 316 horsepower, 2.0-litre turbocharged and supercharged inline-four-cylinder engine.

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It sends power to all four wheels through an 8-speed automatic transmission.

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The Volvo four-cylinder doesn’t sound beefy, but you can certainly feel its power. The twin-charger setup offers brisk acceleration off the line that continues through the rev range. According to Volvo, the AWD T6 can do 0-60 mph in just 5.3 seconds and reach a top speed of 130 mph.

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The base Volvo S60 T5 comes standard with a turbocharged version of the 2.0-litre engine that produces 250 horsepower. The T8 twin-motor hybrid adds a 10.4 kWh battery pack and an electric motor to the T6 powertrain to produce 400 horsepower. The Polestar Engineered S60 bumped the hybrid system’s power output up to 415 ponies.


On the way to Sedona, we stopped to fill up the S60. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the S60 T6 with AWD is expected to return 21 mpg of fuel economy in the city, 32 mpg on the highway, and 25 mpg combined. We got a little more than 27 mpg during our time with the car.

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By late afternoon, we reached our hotel in Sedona. Our car was a bit dirty, but still performing well.

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The S60 boasts roughly 15 cubic feet of trunk space.

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A spare tire is located under the main cargo area.

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We got up early the next morning to check out the Red Rocks of Sedona.

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During our last day with the S60, a battery charging fault light came on. It didn’t affect the car’s driveability, but we’re still not entirely sure what went wrong with the car. Volvo was not immediately available for comment.

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The verdict.

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Volvo has always been an odd duck as a brand – a bit too quirky to be mainstream. However, those who drive Volvos swear by them. With its new generation cars, Volvo is about as close to mainstream as it has ever been. Its state-of-the-art engine tech is about as innovative as they come while their cabins and safety tech are industry leading.

The S60 is indicative of this new Volvo. It looks great, drives well, is about as comfortable as you’ll ever need a car to be, and it’s packed with some of the best safety tech on the market.

In other words, Volvo has a winner here.