Vital Stats

Engine:
Turbo 2.5L I5
Power:
250 HP / 266 LB-FT
Transmission:
6-Speed Auto
0-60 Time:
6.6 Seconds
Drivetrain:
All-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight:
3,700 LBS.
Seating:
2+3
Cargo:
12.0 CU-FT
MPG:
20 City / 29 HWY
Volvo's Best Seller Adds Four-Wheel Grip To Its Base Model



Those beautiful mountaintop vistas? They come with a price tag. And we're not just talking about blue chip real estate values – high altitude can be hell on your body, even if you're a paragon of physical fitness. Low air pressure can really curb one's appetite for alpine hikes, moguls or mountain biking down single-track. If you're not used to living the high life and your red blood cells aren't up to snuff, you can easily find yourself short of breath, dizzy, nauseated, dealing with an unusually rapid heart rate or worse. The same goes for your car. It might be a finely tuned piece of machinery, but it feels the effects of high altitude, too.

Thank goodness for forced induction. Despite existing for decades primarily in performance-minded cars, the auto industry is just now catching on to the virtues of turbocharged power in real volume – primarily for fuel economy and emissions gains. But the benefits of turbos and superchargers have never been lost on high-altitude motorists. Having a mechanical windsnail lashed to one's engine helps compensate greatly for thin air in places like Park City, Utah (elevation: 7,000 feet), which is helpful, because that's exactly where we went to test Volvo's 2013 S60 T5 with all-wheel drive.

It's possible for a normally aspirated engine to lose well over 20 percent of its peak power at elevations like this, which can smother the sort of driving engagement that good mountain roads hold almost intrinsically dear. A proper turbo setup can cut that loss in half or even by two thirds. Swedes being no strangers to altitudes, it should come as no surprise that turbo power has long been a staple of Volvo's powertrain lineup. In fact, Volvo's current generation S60 is rolling into its third model year as the company's best-selling model, and it's had turbo power since birth. So why are we revisiting it now? Because Volvo has finally fitted its T5 volume model with all-wheel drive, tweaking the in-line five-cylinder to boot.
2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD side view2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD front view2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD rear view

Volvo is offering Haldex's fifth-generation AWD with the T5 engine for 2013 as a $2K option.

While the S60's bodywork remains the same for 2013, Volvo has updated the turbocharged five-cylinder engine, which once again produces 250 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque in normal driving (a 10-second overboost function swells torque output to 295 pound-feet in gears two through six). Despite no change in the power figures, Volvo has added a new crankshaft and pistons, upped the compression ratio from 9.0:1 to 9.5:1 and reduced internal friction, all with the aim of improved drivability and performance. Also new is a modified engine management system that expands the engine's max torque range to 4,200 rpm, and there's a reprogrammed six-speed automatic transmission for quicker cog swaps in Sport mode. The S60 T5's 0-60 time thus tumbles from 6.8 seconds to 6.4 in front-drive guise, or 6.6 for all-wheel-drive models like ours.

To handle the power, Volvo is offering Haldex's fifth-generation AWD with the T5 engine for 2013 as a $2,000 option. The system is lighter than previous iterations by approximately five pounds, which helps reduce rotating mass and thus increase fuel efficiency. In normal driving, torque is distributed 95/5-percent front/rear, but depending on traction conditions and throttle input, power can be divvied up to 50/50, as under a hard launch.

2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD headlight2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD wheel2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD taillight2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD exhaust tip

We have trouble imagining paying more for the nose-heavier, thirstier T6 and its 300-hp 3.0L I6.

Even with altitude-associated losses, our S60 pulled hard as we drove over and down the area's mountains, eventually wending our way into Wyoming on a long and beautiful drive route before heading back into the Beehive State. We observed plenty of power on hand throughout the rev-range – peak torque shows up at 1,800 rpm. There's very little turbo lag and enough power that we have trouble imagining paying more for the nose-heavier, thirstier T6 and its 300-horsepower 3.0-liter I6.

Despite the inclusion of Volvo's Corner Traction Control system (read: electronic torque vectoring technology), a handful of very tight switchbacks were not the S60's forte, as the front end washed out safely and predictably with understeer. Even so, the Volvo was otherwise at home on the Utah range, with well-controlled body motions, good steering response from the 17-inch Continental rubber and a general feeling of precision. Bombing down the Wasatch mountains' well-maintained road surfaces was a joy – the S60 proved surprisingly in its element stringing together lilting curves and off-camber corners, feeling lighter than its 3,700-pound curb weight would suggest. The chassis was similarly accomplished over everything from freeway expansion joints to cattle grids and railroad crossings, the modestly sized 235/45-R17 rubber offering adequate sidewall compliance to preserve ride quality.

2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD engine

The continued omission of paddles remains a curious one for Volvo's self-described "naughty" sport sedan.

Despite the T5's odd cylinder count, the engine's sound wasn't unpleasant, or even particularly characterful, but it was nonetheless fun to keep the tachometer in its upper reaches with the +/- gate, even if the transmission was smart enough to leave alone in its Sport detent when hammering on. That said, the continued omission of paddles remains a curious one for Volvo's self-described "naughty" sport sedan. They were particularly missed up in the mountains, where engine braking is often desired and sheer drop-offs give one added incentive to keep both hands on the wheel. A manual transmission option would be nice, too – it's absent on the entire S60 range, in contrast to rivals from Acura, Audi, BMW and Infiniti that all offer some sort of six-speed manual.

The S60's nicely quiet interior has remained unchanged since introduction, and that's a good thing. Oh, there's a bizarre new gearshift lever capping the six-speed automatic for 2012 (complete with a cheap-looking translucent plastic PRNDL pictogram), but otherwise, the cabin is the same Scandinavian minimalist cocoon it's always been. Our test car arrived sewn up in stunning Beechwood brown/orange leather, a bold choice that did a fine job of livening up what might have otherwise been too severe of an aesthetic. The driver-canted floating center stack remains, too, with its funky asymmetric air vents but well-thought-out pictogram HVAC controls. The occasionally fiddly stereo/vehicle settings menu system has returned, too, but we've found you get used to their operations quickly in non-navigation models like this one. The rear seat remains a bit tight for adults, but on the whole, accommodations are no worse than the BMW 3 Series or Mercedes-Benz C-Class, among others.

2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD interior2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD front seats2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD gauges2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD instrument panel

The Volvo accomplishes this on regular fuel – its foes either recommend or require premium hooch.

Even though the S60's gearbox still only has six ratios, the all-wheel-drive S60 is in the thick of the fuel efficiency hunt. Our AWD T5 is EPA rated at 20 miles per gallon in the city and 29 on the freeway, while the FWD model nets 21/30 figures, an increase of one mpg. Unlike its competitors, however, the Volvo accomplishes this on regular fuel – its foes either recommend or require premium hooch to get their power numbers.

This being a Volvo, safety systems are predictably front-and-center, with the usual alphabet soup of electronic minders joined by standard City Safety (read: collision detection with auto brake), and option packages that include everything from Drive Alert Control (drowsiness sensor) and LDW (Lane Departure Warning) to automatic high beams and RSI (Road Sign Information) detection, a system that uses the forward-facing camera to read posted limit signs and display the results in the instrument cluster.

2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD rear 3/4 view

With comparatively generous standard equipment levels, it shades the Germans for value quite easily.

FWD T5 models start at $31,750, rising to $33,750 for AWD. Our Ice White example included a $2,200 Premium Trim group (leather, moonroof, keyless go, power passenger seat, auto-dim rearview mirror) and Climate Package (heated seats and windshield washer nozzles, rain-sensing wipers, HVAC pollen filter), $375 rear spoiler, $250 17-inch Njord alloys and $895 for destination charges, bringing the grand total to $38,170. That's a pretty thick wad of frogskins, but it's also a boatload of European sedan for the money. With comparatively generous standard equipment levels, this Volvo shades the Germans for value quite easily.

Officials tell Autoblog that the company has sold some 45 percent of S60s with all-wheel drive thus far, and it reckons it will see a 20-percent improvement in the model's sales by simply adding grips-at-all-fours technology to the T5. We don't doubt they're right, especially since there's an added windfall: The five cylinder isn't just cheaper, it's also better to drive – and that's something you don't have to be high in Utah to see the value in.


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 60 Comments
      mikeybyte1
      • 2 Years Ago
      I sat in one at the auto show and the interior is much nicer than it looks in the pictures. Seats are amazingly comfortable and the materials have a great look and feel. Controls feel good as well. It's a sharp looking car.
      brgtlm
      • 2 Years Ago
      A solid choice in the entry-level premium car market. I liked the C30 interior better. Some odd shapes going on with the center stack. Wishing it success since it'd be great to have Volvo stick around.
        telm12345
        • 2 Years Ago
        @brgtlm
        Totally agree! I wish they kept the C30...it was a great little car. Not enough market in the US unfortunately.
          NightFlight
          • 2 Years Ago
          @telm12345
          There wasn't a market for the C30 in the US because Volvo priced it completely out of the market. A C30 with a few important options was approaching or cresting $30,000. That's simply too much for too little.
          Tiberius1701
          • 2 Years Ago
          @telm12345
          C30 is and wull continue to be available in North America..the S40 and V50 have been cut out.
      enderstc
      • 2 Years Ago
      I recently switched my wife's car from a 2007 G35S to a 2012 S60 T5 and I have to say, while the G35 was certainly faster and sportier, the T5 isn't a slouch and is extremely comfortable. I've been trying to find some way to create an office chair out of the front seats because they're the most comfortable I've ever sat in. Also, I love the interior - I'm a tech guy but I love the simple/clean design of the Volvo. It does what I want it to (stream BT audio, make phone calls, etc.) but changing the temperature or radio is still just one dial away. I would recommend to anyone out there that they sit in one and drive one before knocking it. Also, for the price, it's a better deal than anything else out there: BMW, Infiniti, MB, Audi. Acura is the only one to come close on price but this is a much cleaner design.
        leo
        • 2 Years Ago
        @enderstc
        like you said for the wife personally i could not find one reason to get out of my G35 into the S60 Similarly loaded a G37x is barely more expensive than the S60 T5 they have here, not to mention the added performance and handling but my wife would likely have the S60 due to it being more compliant I agree than Volvo makes some of the best front seats in the industry I used to have a Geo Prizm back in college and I spend many days trying to fit a Volvo front sit in there just because the Prizms (Carolla) seats were some of the worst ever and I just could not stand them anymore.
      Alex740
      • 2 Years Ago
      Surprised to see negative comments about the interior, it's of the best features of this car, the materials are all very high quality, hands down the most comfortable seats in it's class and the layout is so simple and clean. To each their own but I much prefer the simplicity of this over the clutter of buttons and knobs, pop up screens, busy styling, and never ending menus that you find in a BMW or an Audi.
        brucec039
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Alex740
        I think just about all the european sport sedans have nice interiors nowadays. You can't beat these seats for comfort. You have to be really nit-picky to criticize cars in this class. This $38,000 T5 is as fast as a $50,000 540i was 15 years ago, and is much nicer inside. Other than perhaps intangibles like feel and sound, the T6 is looking less necessary. Steering feel is still not there, but at the current pace BMW will have theirs mucked up enough for the Volvo to pass it in a few more years.
      CarCrazy24
      • 2 Years Ago
      Any color but white would make this car much more appealing. Nice alternative to a 3 series or A4.
      Ben Gabrielson
      • 2 Years Ago
      This is a gorgeous car...but not in white. Really photographs poorly in that color.
      SpikedLemon
      • 2 Years Ago
      The D5's the engine to have.
      RetrogradE
      • 2 Years Ago
      I like Volvo. My local dealership has been advertising free plan tickets to Sweden if you do ED with them. But to me, Volvo still has the stink of GM on it. I recently tried to sell a used one that belonged to my friend and had to GIVE it away. Resale really sucks on these.
        GML
        • 2 Years Ago
        @RetrogradE
        Volvo was owned by Ford, SAAB was owned by GM.
        Rental Rep
        • 2 Years Ago
        @RetrogradE
        Stink of GM? Ford owned part of Volvo so I'm not sure where that smelll was coming from.
        Robert Rochelle
        • 2 Years Ago
        @RetrogradE
        That's funny...GM never owned Volvo...they owned SAAB. Ford Motor Company owned Volvo. This S60 that is selling so well, was conceived when Ford still owned them...
        Phendrix
        • 2 Years Ago
        @RetrogradE
        "Stick of GM". I humbly suggest you have your hot Swedes mixed up. Ford dated Volvo. The relationship that ended in bitterness and tears was GM and Saab.
        Shiftright
        • 2 Years Ago
        @RetrogradE
        Misinformed FAIL
        Jacob
        • 2 Years Ago
        @RetrogradE
        Dude, it was Ford who owned Volvo, GM "owned"... scratch that, kept SAAB on life support during 1990-2010.
        NightFlight
        • 2 Years Ago
        @RetrogradE
        Ummm, you are thinking of Saab. GM and Volvo had nothing to do with eachother, aside from the transmission used on the 1st gen S80 T6 and XC90 T6. Volvo's European Delivery is one of the very best next to Mercedes. One of my co-workers did European Delivery on his last gen S60R and said everything they did was top notch.
        Jeremiah
        • 2 Years Ago
        @RetrogradE
        Stink of GM? Do you mean Ford, the ones who actually owned them before?
        brucec039
        • 2 Years Ago
        @RetrogradE
        I think you mean Ford. Resale on newer Volvos is much stronger. Price increases on new models are one reason, improved quality another, and more desirable designs the third.
        SatinSheetMetal
        • 2 Years Ago
        @RetrogradE
        Adding to GML's comment. Volvo was owned by Ford, and is still in business. SAAB was owned by GM, and is bankrupt. It is easy to remember.
      timebecomes
      • 2 Years Ago
      40k for that interior,,,? No thanks.
        NightFlight
        • 2 Years Ago
        @timebecomes
        I'm going to guess that you've never even sat in one. Volvo's seats are the best in the business and this thing has great material quality and fit and finish.
      Leon
      • 2 Years Ago
      only nice thing about the interior is the seats
      GN
      • 2 Years Ago
      Fantastic. Inside and out.
      dimcorner
      • 2 Years Ago
      To each his own, but I think that interior looks terrible...
        NixiN
        • 2 Years Ago
        @dimcorner
        Opinions are like an ass..... divided.
        tony
        • 2 Years Ago
        @dimcorner
        Upon seeing the interior in photos about a year ago I had the same adverse reaction. I later drove an s60 R Design and once inside the car I was surprised to find the interior was not off putting, I'd even say its pretty nice. Perhaps I was impressed because my expectations were so low? One thing is for sure, the interior does not photograph well.
        amels802
        • 2 Years Ago
        @dimcorner
        I mostly agree. I won't say the whole interior is terrible but that center stack is atrocious. Looks just like a large Nintendo joystick
        ravenosa
        • 2 Years Ago
        @dimcorner
        Agreed. Looks like an appliance (albeit with some decent materials), inside and out. The layout seems very chintzy and dated. Driven my friend's S40 and it's not a very inspiring place to be, and even more uninspiring to drive. And I have to say, not a big fan of Volvos in the first place, but man, white really is unflattering. Minus the Volvol grill/badge, it looks like a generic Honda/Nissan/Toyota thing. Definitely has hints of the Civic from the rear.
    • Load More Comments