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Expert Reviews 1 of 2
By Jim Flammang
May 20, 2003
Vehicle Overview An all-wheel-drive (AWD) model joined the S60 sedan lineup for the 2002 model year. Volvo says that nothing of consequence will change for 2003, but a brand-new high-performance S60R goes into limited production early in the year. Featuring an adaptive chassis, the S60R will get a 300-horsepower engine, Servotronic steering, Brembo brakes and Haldex AWD.
A 197-hp, light-pressure turbocharged 2.4-liter five-cylinder engine is used in the AWD version and the regular 2.4T model. The base engine is a 168-hp 2.4-liter, and a turbocharged 2.3-liter is available in the T5 edition.
Based on the S80s front-wheel-drive platform, the S60 bears a family resemblance but is shorter in wheelbase and overall length. Rivals include the Audi A6 and BMW 3 Series. The Ford Motor Co. owns the Swedish automaker.
A surprisingly curvy shape for a Volvo gives the four-door S60 the look of a coupe. In fact, Volvo calls it a coupe with four doors. Styling themes include a low hood, sloping rear roof pillars, and short front and rear overhangs. Volvos hallmark square grille is more compact in this installation; it is flanked by aerodynamic headlights. At 180.2 inches long overall, the S60 is nearly 10 inches shorter than the S80 and 4 inches longer than a BMW 3 Series sedan.
Five occupants fit inside the S60. A split, folding rear seat expands cargo capacity beyond the trunks 13.9 cubic feet. Standard equipment includes power windows with automatic up/down operation, a cassette player, a 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 247-hp, turbocharged 2.3-liter, which drives a standard five-speed manual or optional five-speed-automatic transmission. Buyers can choose the automatic or a five-speed-manual gearbox with the other two engines. When equipped with AWD, power is distributed automatically to the wheels via a wet multiplate clutch.
Volvos comprehensive safety package includes side-impact airbags and whiplash protection for the front passengers, curtain-type airbags that protect front and rear occupants, and antilock brakes. Volvos electronic stability system, called Dynamic Stability Traction Control, is standard on the T5 and AWD models, and it is offered as an optional feature on the other S60 sedans. The system monitors wheel spin and automatically brakes a spinning wheel until traction is regained.
Superior construction tops the list of S60 attributes, and refinement is the next word that comes to mind. The turbocharged 2.4-liter engine is exceptionally quiet, and it produces eager and energetic performance, albeit in a modest manner. The S60 is smooth riding overall, but it lets quite a few road imperfections get through to occupants because of an undeniably taut suspension. But the driver feels in complete control.
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, and this depends on throttle position and road speed.