2011 Volvo S60 Review – Naughty by Nature

Expert Reviews Volvo

By Gary Chan


  • Impressive engine and suspension
  • Quiet cockpit
  • Driver comfort and controls
  • Active Cruise Control


  • Lack of keyless entry at this price point
  • Navigation input/lag and interface
  • Rear visibility with tall/thick C-pillar that reach the taillamps
  • Bluetooth setup

My family owned a sky blue 1974 Volvo 144 sedan that we purchased new and had for a number of years. My childhood memories of that large car include its heavy feel, slow acceleration and sleeping steering. Absolutely nothing that would stir the senses. Fast forward 37-years, and times have sure changed for the better. Light, nimble, and fast (complete opposites of the 144) are the adjectives I’d use to describe the new redesigned S60 during my long weekend with the car.

2010 Volvo S60

Driving Impressions

The S60 is blessed with a 3-liter, 300-hp, 6-cylinder turbocharged engine that revs quickly and is very smooth. One of the other reviewers, Twain, and I took the Volvo on a road/fishing trip to Los Vaqueros reservoir both marveling at how quiet the interior is.

One of the cool features is the speed dependent steering force selectable from the car settings (via the LCD display) with choices of Low, Medium, or High. The two lower settings were too artificial, and I kept it on “high” because the weight and feedback was much more tactile. Power is more than adequate, and the engine revs build quickly and smoothly with little turbo lag. The engine, in fact, feels like it loves to be rev’d with the 6-speed transmission smoothly making gear changes.

The suspension soaks up most road irregularities with aplomb, but on harsh surfaces the firm suspension does transmit those imperfections to the occupants and interior. Driving at night, the HID lighting (part of the Premium package) throws a blanket of light forward allowing me to see farther forward than normal and the Active Bending lights do an amazing job on dark, single-lane mountain roads.

2010 Volvo S60 pedestrian warning system

Looking over my right shoulder, it was consistently difficult to see if there were any cars (on the right) due to the wide C-pillar and I could never quite adjust the passenger side mirror to get a good view of that side.

One thing that I used regularly was the Active Cruise Control (ACC). It’s so much easier to use (i.e., intuitive) and adjust following distances than other iterations while being highly useful. During a 20 mile drive, I set the cruise control at the beginning of the trip at 70 mph. Even though traffic speeds sometimes dipped to 55 mph, I never had to disable or adjust anything (nor brake) with the cruise control automatically slowing and accelerating the car as needed. Out of curiosity, I wanted to see what would happen activating the ACC in town. Again, the system automatically adjusted the vehicle speed and came to a complete stop without any driver intervention when approaching a car at a stop light. Truly amazing.

For the record, I drove 382 miles and averaged 21-mpg. With the cruise control set at 70-mph on flat Hwy 101 (and no a/c), instantaneous gas mileage was 26-mpg.

2010 Volvo S60 crash test


The 2007 S80 is the last Volvo I drove, and it possessed a solid structure devoid of squeaks or rattles. This new S60, however, had a few squeaks coming from the B-pillars when going over uneven terrain – a disheartening quality of car with less than 5,000 miles. Other than that, my only other complaint was the trunk lid: I lost count of how many times I had to re-close the lid because it didn’t close the first time. The lid does require a bit of force and speed to close completely.

The leather seats and interior are on par for car costing almost $50k. I loved the contrasting leather door panels that matched the seats. The contrasting black frame around the top of the aluminum shift gate is gorgeous – I believe it’s brushed black anodized aluminum (Volvo calls them “shimmer graphite decor inlays”) – a work of art that I found myself admiring each time I got into the car.

(Continued on page 2)

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