I'd been waiting, hoping and wishing that I'd get the opportunity to drive Volvo's highly anticipated redesigned 2011 S60. I'm having a love affair with sedans now that my kids are old enough to get in the car and buckle up on their own. No more head-bonks and back pains for this mama when I'm in a sedan. The timing for my test of the S60 couldn't have been better.
Just sitting still, the car looked beautiful. The S60 has a curvier, lower-profile feel than previous models. The C-pillar is pushed back, giving the S60 a coupe-like look that's pretty hot right now. I was impressed that the redesign was so thorough. Would the drive live up to the looks?
My first outing in the S60 was no disappointment. The Vibrant Copper paint color let everyone know I was coming. Not that anyone had a chance to really overthink it; with a turbocharged six-cylinder engine, I didn't stick around long enough for bystanders to question what they just saw. Tight handling from this all-wheel-drive sedan was spot-on, adding a thrill to every turn and maintaining spotless integrity on the straightaways.
If you thought that a fancy-pants Scandinavian speed machine would be priced through the roof, you're partly right. While the S60's base price starts at $37,700, my test car had a couple optional packages that bumped up the price by $8,500 to arrive at $46,200.
The S60's lines make the car so much more modern and beautiful than the average sedan. I especially love the look of the S60's rear end. The taillights follow the lines of the trunk lid and keep the back interesting. The front end has an aggressive stance that's complemented by the race-inspired headlights and air vents.
Race-inspired means I'm more inclined to race around in a car, and that lead foot of mine did have a price because I didn't come close to meeting the S60's EPA-estimated fuel economy of 18/26 mpg city/highway. The 2011 S60 has a 300-horsepower, turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six-cylinder engine that's paired with a six-speed automatic. The S60 uses premium gas, so my heavy foot caused me some pain at the gas pump.
For the kids, getting in and out of the S60 was easy. The doors weren't too big or wide, and they felt solid and sturdy. The interior door handles were easy to reach for my kids, so closing the doors on their own was a piece of cake. Yet the doors still felt solid and sturdy. That's a rare combination, that one!
The S60's cargo area is a decent size, but it seemed to fill up quickly after a trip to Costco.
SENSE AND STYLE
Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Great
Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Groove-On
Yes, I've already mentioned the S60's copper color, and I might have mentioned how much I really liked it. Well, guess what? The S60's interior is copper, too. Actually, it's called Beechwood Brown and it looks more of a pumpkin color than copper. Stitched orange leather graces the interior in abundance. Sure, there's some black leather, too, but it's not the first thing you see. Here's the hiccup: I loved the orange on the outside, but I didn't love it as much inside this five-seater. I'd love it on the inside if it came in smaller doses.
Volvo's signature slim center stack is present in the redesigned S60, and this design element never wears out its welcome. The tray behind it is fun to use and always a crowd pleaser. The center stack has a metal inlay, which Volvo calls Shimmering Graphite. I call it beautiful. It looks like wood at first. Not much has changed with the controls themselves and that's good. I did like the button that when depressed dropped the rear head restraints for better visibility out the rear window.
The information system's screen is easy to read and see. Opposite this modern, fancy screen are the dot-matrix-like readouts on the instrument gauges. Everything else on the car seemed detailed, modern and sophisticated, which made the instrument readouts seem ancient.
The S60 has covered cupholders in the front and rear seats. Anytime you can disguise a mess, it's a good thing. In the back, the cupholders are in the armrest so they are easily accessible by the kids. Speaking of kids, mine liked the S60. They liked the roominess and the color, of course. More than that, they're like their mom and they love the speed. Turbo makes kids happy; I highly recommend it. Adults fit well in the back, too, which was a great aspect of the S60. It looks small, but it can carry people comfortably.
IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT
Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair-Ample
It should come as no surprise that this may be the longest section of the review of the 2011 S60. Volvo doesn't skimp a bit on safety, which is something any parent can appreciate.
Standard safety equipment includes four-wheel-disc antilock brakes with brake assist, an electronic stability system, traction control, active head restraints and six airbags, including side curtains for both rows. Volvo's City Safety system also comes standard. It puts the brakes on for you in slow-speed traffic situations when a collision is eminent. That doesn't mean you shouldn't brake; it just means that if you're not paying attention in bumper-to-bumper traffic and the car in front of you suddenly brakes, the S60 will apply the brakes if you haven't done so. Standard! That's amazing.
If you want to amp up the already beefy safety components, you can add the Technology Package ($2,100). This includes Volvo's Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake, which can prevent a collision with a car or person at speeds under 22 mph; adaptive cruise control and a lane departure warning system. A backup camera is part of the Multimedia Package ($2,700), which includes a navigation system, and front and rear parking sensors are optional and cost $500.
Child-safety seats fit pretty well in the S60, but there's a bit of seat bolstering that can make installing the car seats a little tricky. With the driver's seat set at my preferred position, it was a tight fit for the rear-facing infant-safety seat in the second row. If you're shorter, it may not be a problem.
The two sets of lower Latch anchors are easy to get to, and the three tether anchors also are easy to access because the head restraints collapse downward.
Get more safety information about the 2011 Volvo S60 here.
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