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Expert Reviews 1 of 6
By Jim Flammang
February 27, 2002
Vehicle Overview An all-wheel-drive model has joined the S60 sedan lineup for 2002. The electronically controlled AWD system was developed in cooperation with Haldex, a company called a pioneer in the vehicle-technology field. Power is distributed automatically to the wheels via a wet multiplate clutch. As a result, Volvo promises rapid engagement and disengagement times. Late in 2001, the S60 AWD will be available and equipped with Dynamic Stability and Traction Control (DSTC), which utilizes the sensors of Volvos antilock brake system to monitor wheel spin. If one front wheel rotates faster on a slippery surface, DSTC automatically brakes the spinning wheel until traction is regained.
A 197-horsepower, 2.4-liter five-cylinder light-pressure turbocharged engine powers the S60 AWD. This engine also is used in the regular S60 2.4T. Sales of the S60 AWD begin in late August 2001, and Volvo hopes to sell 9,000 units in the first year.
Fitting between the entry-level S40 and the top-of-the-line S80, the front-drive S60 debuted last year to target such European models as the Audi A6 and BMW 3 Series. Based on the S80s front-drive platform, it bears a family resemblance but is shorter in wheelbase and overall length. Such sporty styling was uncharacteristic of the Swedish automaker. The base 2.4-liter five-cylinder engine makes 168 hp, and a turbocharged, 247-hp 2.3-liter goes into the T5 sedan.
Ford purchased Volvo in 2000, adding the company to its Premier Automotive Group, which also includes Aston Martin, Jaguar, Land Rover and Lincoln. Volvo developed the S60 before Ford bought the company.
Exterior A surprisingly curvy shape for a Volvo gives the four-door S60 sedan the look of a coupe. In fact, Volvo calls it a coupe with four doors. Styling themes include a low hood, short front and rear overhangs, and sloping rear roof pillars. Volvos square hallmark grille is more compact in this installation, and it is flanked by aerodynamic headlights. At 180.2 inches long overall, the S60 is close to 10 inches shorter than the S80 and 4 inches longer than the BMW 3 Series sedan.
Interior Five occupants fit inside the S60. A split, folding rear seat expands cargo capacity beyond the trunks 13.9 cubic feet. Power windows with automatic up/down operation for the front occupants are standard. Other standard equipment includes a cassette player, tilt/telescoping steering column, air conditioning and a remote keyless entry system. Leather upholstery is optional.
Under the Hood Three five-cylinder engines are available. A 2.4-liter five-cylinder produces 168 hp, while a turbocharged version of that engine develops 197 hp. Topping the performance spectrum is the S60 T5s turbocharged, 247-hp 2.3-liter, which drives only a five-speed-automatic transmission. Buyers can choose the automatic or a five-speed-manual gearbox with the other two engines.
Safety Volvos comprehensive safety package includes side-impact airbags for the front seats, curtain-type airbags that protect front and rear occupants, antilock brakes and whiplash protection for the front passengers. Rounding out the list are dual-stage front airbags. Volvos electronic stability system, called Dynamic Stability Traction Control, is standard on the T5 and optional on other S60 sedans.
Driving Impressions Superior construction, inside and out, tops the list of S60 attributes. Refinement is the next word that comes to mind. Everything about the car appears to be aimed toward driver convenience and safety.
The turbocharged 2.4-liter engine is exceptionally quiet, and it produces eager and energetic performance even though it cant exactly be described as wild. The S60 is smooth-riding overall, but it lets quite a few road imperfections get through to its occupants because of an undeniably taut suspension. But thats a small price to pay for the kind of control the driver feels while behind the wheel. The tires adhere smartly to the pavement.
Confident steering demands some effort, so this isnt a car that can be driven lazily. Automatic-transmission response varies from smooth to a bit abrupt, which depends on the throttle position and road speed. Shifts are crisp and somewhat noticeable.
The sharp-looking body actually draws attention a new reaction from that of Volvos of the past. Its gauges are large, fully calibrated and easy to read at a glance. In addition to a huge glove box, the S60 has a deep trunk, but its opening is on the small side.