If you’re considering buying a BMW 3-Series or X3, you need to put Volvo’s S60 and XC60 on your list, too. Here’s why:
2012 Volvo S60
On the Outside
Volvos have been flying below the radar of late—probably because they look, well, nice. Once maligned as boxes with wheels, Volvo added subtle curvature to its form vocabulary just as every other manufacturer did the same thing. Consequently, we hardly notice them anymore. Thankfully, the S60 sedan’s most recent redesign is pretty dramatic in its stance, forms, and lamp graphics—still very Swedish, but with nary a straight line to be found. An R-Design package adds even more sass to the front and rear bumpers, as well as hotter wheels. Make yours metallic orange. I would.
On the Inside
Volvo’s simple, elegant interiors have been among their best selling points—other than safety, of course—for the last decade or so, and the S60’s is Volvo’s best yet, if you ask me (which if you’re reading this, you more or less did). No carmaker does seats like Volvo—seriously; Volvo seats are still the benchmark of the industry and as soon as you sit in one, you’ll know why. And the center stack controls, which used to be as skinny as a TV remote, have widened nicely into true usability. This is a slick space.
Under the Skin
Volvo’s engines used to be as interesting as their interiors. (Yawn!) Not anymore. At least not if you get the T6 or R-Design. The standard five-cylinder is adequate, getting you to 60 in about seven seconds, but upgrading to the turbo six-cylinder yields 300 hp, lobbing off a good second or more from that time with the sinewy smoothness that only a BMW 3-Series might be able to match. The R-Design version proves it’s more than a looker with another 25 hp and 29 lb-ft. As such, extra-legal speeds are easy to attain, and easy to maintain. The clean driving record is up to you.
For the size, performance and safety of Volvo’s new mid-sizer, it is a smashing deal in all trim levels. If you drive a 3-Series, you need to put Volvo’s sweet new S60 on your list.
Estimated Base Price (incl. destination): T5: $32,025; T6: $38.775; R-Design: $43,375
Engine: T5: 2.5-liter 5-cylinder, 255 hp, 266 lb-ft of torque; T6: 3.0-liter 6-cylinder, 300 hp, 325 lb-ft of torque; R Design: 3.0-liter 6-cylinder, 325 hp, 354 lb-ft
Drive Wheels: T5: front; T6: all
Fuel Economy (city/hwy): T5: 20/30 mpg; T6, R-Design: 18/26 mpg
2012 Volvo XC60
On the Outside
Volvo’s compact crossover, the XC60, represents the sweet spot for Volvo’s current design theme. Smaller and tidier than the dated XC90, the “60” features nonetheless features some nifty design touches, including LED taillamps strips running up the window pillar. As with the S60, the R-Design package packs more than design, but it is definitely the looker of the lot.
On the Inside
I don’t usually take well to the uprightness of tall vehicles, but as with the S60, the XCX60’s ergonomics, seating position and seats themselves are more or less faultless. Outward vision is amazing, as is the sound quality of the optional sound system. It is definitely a nice place to pass the time one sits in traffic these days, whether it be for minutes or hours.
Under the Skin
The XC60 comes standard with a six-cylinder engine that produces 240 hp, a healthy enough motor but nothing next to the 300 and 325 hp churned up by the turbocharged T6 and R-Design versions, respectively (which also get all-wheel-drive standard), all without much of a penalty in fuel economy. The R-Design also brings suspension and steering modifications that bring the drive experience to life in a way that will absolutely stun anyone who hasn’t driven a Volvo in the last two years.
As with the S60, the XC60 needs to be on more gay shopping lists, even if they also include the formidable, but almost universally pricier competitors from Germany. For the coin, the Swedes are the sweet deal to be sure.
Estimated Base Price (incl. destination): Base: $32,775; T6: $36,275; R-Design: $38,025
Engine: Base: 3.2-liter 6-cylinder, 240 hp, 236 lb-ft of torque; T6: 3.0-liter 6-cylinder, 300 hp, 325 lb-ft of torque; R Design: 3.0-liter 6-cylinder, 325 hp, 354 lb-ft
Drive Wheels: Front or all
Fuel Economy (city/hwy): Base: 18/24 mpg (FWD), 18/22 mpg (AWD); T6/R-Design: 17/22 mpg