2018 Volvo V90 T6 AWD Inscription Review

Wednesday December 13th, 2017 at 11:1212 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

2018 Volvo V90 T6 AWD Inscription

Hypes: Sensuous Looks, Primo Finish, Good Performance
Gripes: Sensus Is Not Consensual

Your first and lasting impression of the V90 is one of surpassing beauty. Its restrained styling provides more wow factor than the overwrought exercises coming out of Cadillac, BMW or Mercedes Benz these days. If you are looking for a station wagon with all wheel drive, sculpted in consummate good taste, stop by your Volvo dealer for a close look at the 2018 V90. We spent a week cosseted inside the top line trim version of the V90 called the Inscription. In keeping with this wagon’s understated good looks, the “Inscription” nameplate appears in just two places on this vehicle: a pair of chrome identifiers located almost out of sight on the lower front rocker panels.

2018 Volvo V90 T6 AWD Inscription

Inside, the V90 is exquisitely tailored. This wagon’s show car interior belies its base price of $57,950. The first element that catches your eyes when stepping aboard is the illuminated threshold plate, done in matte aluminum with backlit “Volvo” lettering. Slide into the French vanilla leather front seats and enjoy 10 way power adjustability and 3 stage heating. Savor the medley of linear walnut wood inlays defining all dash and door panels. Slide open the enormous laminated panoramic moonroof to convert the interior to convertible airiness. The V90 interior is a destination second home you always leave with some regret.

2018 Volvo V90 T6 AWD Inscription

But this Volvo also scores points as a fun car to drive. Under the wind cheating snout of our Maple Brown Metallic tester was a highly tweaked 4 cylinder motor displacing just 2.0 liters. This relatively small engine leaves lots of room for people packaging in a car with an extravagant 111 inch wheelbase and a total length of 191 inches. Volvo turbocharges and supercharges this motor to produce 316hp and 295lb.-ft. of torque. Because the torque peak arrives at just 2200rpm, you’re almost always guaranteed immediate response from this B4204T27 engine, which averages 25MPG in all driving.

2018 Volvo V90 T6 AWD Inscription

Helping keep the economical four banger on full boil is an 8-speed automatic transmission with enough ratios to insure immediate response to any acceleration request. Volvo labels this sweet shifter “Geartronic” and equips it with am manual operation gate that allows you to select and hold your ratio of choice. Unfortunately, the Inscription model does not provide steering wheel mounted paddles to accomplish this task. However, if you seek such paddles, the otherwise less lavishly equipped V90 “R” offers them as standard fare.

2018 Volvo V90 T6 AWD Inscription

Volvo does not stint on the V90′s suspension of tire choice. Although this wagon weighs in at more than 2 tons (4,170 pounds), it never feels ponderous, even on back roads. That’s because you can dial in the steering feedback and suspension behavior you desire by choosing a “Drive Mode Setting” from the four menu choices available: Eco/Comfort/Dynamic/Individual. Before each drive, I generally opted for Dynamic. Eco or Comfort tighten up at freeway speed, but provide way too much power steering boost at lower speeds. In any case, the Pirelli P Zero radials (255/35R20), mounted on Inscription specific 8 spoke alloy rims, never lose grip or traction on dry pavement.

2018 Volvo V90 T6 AWD Inscription

If the V90 has a weak point, it lies in the design and logic of the “Sensus Connect” system which regulates virtually all functions of this car through a 9 inch touchscreen/navigation unit centrally located on the dash. Figuring out how to operate this video screen is like searching for something specific at Ikea – you have to wade through the whole store before finding what you need. And just like Ikea’s bewildering maze of pathways, Sensus acts like a funhouse mirror. You’re never sure where you are, where you’re going, or where you’ve been. Ironically, for a company long celebrated for promoting safety in driving, this confusion causes inattention while driving. We even visited our local Volvo dealer for some help with Sensus and were instructed to issue voice commands when needed. We tried this repeatedly, but every time we wanted to raise or lower the interior temperature, the voice genie responded with help for the radio.

2018 Volvo V90 T6 AWD Inscription

If Volvo ever decides to equip the V90 with good old fashioned buttons for control of the HVAC system, this wagon will merit unanimous praise. But until that time, the V90, lovely and comfortable as it is, merits a triple, not a home run.

2018 Volvo V90 T6 AWD Inscription

  • Engine: 2.0 liter inline 4, Direct Injection, Super & Turbo-Charged
  • Horsepower: 316hp@5700rpm
  • Torque: 295lb.-ft.@2200rpm
  • Fuel Consumption: 22MPG City/31MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $69,340
  • Star Rating: 8.5 out of 10 Stars

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2018 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD Inscription Review

Friday October 20th, 2017 at 1:1010 PM
Posted by: D.Colman

2018 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD Inscription

Hypes: Best Headlights Ever, Massage Front Seats
Gripes: iPad Style Control Panel

I spent more time driving this Volvo than normal because the XC90 arrived the same week the Indycar finale played itself out at Sonoma Raceway. So I commuted between home and the race track for three days in a row, and also spent a fair amount of down time between sessions inside the Volvo’s beautifully appointed, spacious cabin. You couldn’t ask for a more comfortable SUV than this particular Volvo.

2018 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD Inscription

But you have to be willing to take the big plunge on option packages to duplicate the model I enjoyed. While the XC90′s base price is reasonable ($54,050), Volvo slathered the sticker with enough options ($19,045) to buy a another car. Honda’s Fit, for example retails for as little as $16,090. Here’s the breakdown of optional equipment on the test XC90: Inscription Features ($5,100), Convenience Package ($1,950), Luxury Package ($3,150), Bowers and Wilkins Premium Sound ($3,200), Air Suspension ($1,800), Tailored Dash ($1,000), plus 5 other dingers costing under a grand apiece. Let’s assess the importance of each optional contribution.

2018 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD Inscription

The most beneficial elements among the Inscription Features are “Active Bending Lights,” LED lasers powerful enough to ferret out deer hiding in the woods at night. If this Volvo doesn’t have the best night beams in the universe, than nothing does. Inscription also provides heated and ventilated Nappa leather seats, handsomely set off by matte walnut inlays on the dash face, center console and door panels . The Convenience Package contributes a 360 degree camera system and Park Assist front and rear. The Luxury Package is worth its steep price because it includes backrest massagers for both front seats that provided much needed therapy after long days hoofing around Sonoma Raceway.

2018 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD Inscription

My initial appreciation of the XC90 was rather tepid thanks to Volvo’s unnecessarily complicated “Sensus Connect” protocol that channels virtually every control command through a series of menus illuminated on a 9 inch touchscreen on the dash. Need to change the temperature? Better bring up the correct screen for your side of the vehicle. Need to change the fan setting? Ditto. And so on and so forth, through the endless series of finger manipulations required to get this Volvo to do what you want it to do. The whole process is needlessly complicated and annoying, and at the very least, Volvo should install hard buttons for critical commands like the fan and temp settings.

2018 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD Inscription

After a couple of days frustration, I sort of got the hang of the Sensus Connect system. You should be aware, however, that the “Complimentary 6 Month/3GB Subscription” to the Sensus WiFi Hot-Spot will cost you $10/month to renew or $20/month for unlimited data usage. 2018 Volvos now provide Apple CarPlay/Android Auto without the additional charge that characterized previous Volvo policy. The Bowers and Wilkins stereo unit makes a sharp contribution not only to your ringing ears, but also your eyes, since all the speaker mounting plates are fabricated from matte aluminum and deftly inscribed with the Bowers and Wilkins logo. Combined with the contrasting stitching of the “Tailored Dash,” the interior of the Inscription Volvo is a real showplace.

2018 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD Inscription

From a driver’s standpoint, however, the XC90 leaves something to be desired. Clearly Volvo didn’t lavish any visual attention on the engine compartment, which is covered with a funereal flat black plastic shroud. There is nothing to alert you to the fact that this is a milestone engine design, with both turbocharging and supercharging working in consort to produce 316hp from just 2.0 liters of 4 cylinder motor. Coupled to an 8-speed automatic gearbox unfortunately devoid of paddle shifts, the XC90′s power train is hard pressed to motivate this 4,595 pound SUV with alacrity. Each one of those 316 ponies is tasked with moving 14.5 pounds, not a scintillating power-to-weight ratio. The shortfall shows up when you need to make a speedy lane change on the freeway, or initiate a pass on a two-lane back road. However, the XC90 does acquit itself well in handling tasks thanks largely to optional air suspension at all 4 corners and massive 275/40R21 Pirelli Scorpion Verde tires mounted on $800 optional 21″ 8-spoke Diamond Cut Alloy Wheels.

2018 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD Inscription

2018 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD Inscription

  • Engine: 2.0 liter inline 4, Direct Injection, Super and Turbocharged
  • Horsepower: 316@5700rpm
  • Torque: 295lb.-ft.@2200rpm
  • Fuel Consumption: 20MPG City/27MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $74,090
  • Star Rating: 9 out of 10 Stars

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2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country T6 AWD Review

Thursday October 5th, 2017 at 12:1010 PM
Posted by: D.Colman

2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country T6 AWD

Hypes: Plush and Luscious Interior
Gripes: Needs Paddle Shifts, Jerky Gearbox Shifts

Volvo’s nomenclature can seem mysterious to the uninitiated. Our rather deliciously appointed test car this week is the wagon (“V”) version of the all-new “90″ series model line. This 90 model line replaces the aging 70 and 80 series cars from Volvo. Volvo also offers its 90 as an “S” (sedan) version and as an “XC” (SUV) type. “Cross Country” describes our test wagon’s level of trim, while “AWD” refers to our test car’s all-wheel-drive system. The V90 is also available in rear wheel drive trim. Volvo began importing the S90 last year, and the V90 completes the company’s move to the new model range.

2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country T6 AWD

As a top drawer offering, the V90 Cross Country AWD carries a base price of $55,300. Our test sample upped the ante with a Convenience Package which added $1,950 to the bottom line for “Heated Washer Nozzles, Park Assist Pilot, and 360 Degree Surround View Camera.” A Bowers and Wilkins Premium Sound System boosted the price by a whopping $3,200. Graphical Head Up Display added another $900, Osmium Gray Metallic Paint contributed $595 to the final tally, and another $1,200 went for “Premium Air Suspension in rear.” Final out-the-door cost for this metallic grey Volvo totaled a tidy $64,640.

Is it worth that much money? As a driving experience, probably not. As a living room environment, definitely yes. Volvo recently announced that in the near future, all their new products would either be electric or hybrid powered. The latest V90 we drove, however, is neither. Rather it utilizes a very small displacement (2.0 liter) four cylinder engine which has been tweaked with both turbocharging and supercharging to produce 316hp and 295lb.-ft. of torque. The fuel efficiency of this motor is remarkable, with an overall EPA MPG figure of 25.

Although the engine produces peak torque at just 2200rpm, you really have to twist it to gain maximum horsepower at 5700rpm. In everyday terms, the 2.0 direct injected motor launches with a boot, then hesitates to follow through until the revs rise above 5000rpm. Even though it’s coupled to an 8-speed automatic, the Geartronic transmission stumbles while selecting the appropriate ratio for maximum acceleration. A lack of paddle shifts exacerbates the problem.

2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country T6 AWD

The net effect is that this combination makes passing with authority on two lane roads something of a crapshoot. You have to time your move with precision. On the other hand, the upside of this sophisticated engine is its ethereal soundtrack. The turbo kicks in with a base note while the supercharger contributes its soprano whine. For the record, the V90 is also available with a hybrid drive unit that will undoubtedly overcome the hesitancy of the gas-only engine we tested. The optional hybrid is good for 400hp. In the handling department, this beefy, 4,220 pound Volvo offers moderate understeer coupled with decent traction from its Pirelli Scorpion Verde tires (235/50R19) mounted on standard 19 inch alloy rims. For better cornering performance, you can select the “Dynamic” handling option from the 4-item menu of adjustable “Drive-mode” settings.

2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country T6 AWD

Drivers not centrally focused on ultimate performance, however, will not be phased in the least by the big Volvo’s slight acceleration or handling shortcomings. That’s because the V90 Cross Country is so regally appointed and handsomely finished. The interior is really a Swedish work of art. The seating surfaces are not only exceptionally comfortable, but exquisitely tailored in Cross Country specific crackle grained mocha hides. The central dash pillar contains a 9″ “Sensus” touchscreen which controls virtually all infotainment and HVAC controls. This screen illuminates with startling clarity, but can be difficult to manipulate when fingerprints build up on its surface. Virtual instruments fill the dash behind the steering wheel, and, as with the latest Audis, a Google Earth type map spans the distance between the tachometer and the speedometer.

2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country T6 AWD

The most incredible aspect of the V90′s interior is neither its 10-way adjustable seats, nor its Sensus interface, nor its cabin length smoked glass moonroof. Rather, its signature item is that expensive, but worth-every-penny, Bowers and Wilkins Premium Sound system. When you chose “Concert Hall” mode from among its three settings, prepare yourself for the listening adventure of a lifetime. In conjunction with the virtually unlimited musical offerings from Sirius radio, this mega system will have your tympanic membranes flapping with such vehemence that you’ll want to take up permanent residence in your V90 Volvo.

2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country T6 AWD

2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country T6 AWD

  • Engine: 2.0 liter inline 4, direct injection, supercharged and turbocharged
  • Horsepower: 316 @ 5700rpm
  • Torque: 295lb.-ft. @ 2200rpm
  • Fuel Consumption: 22MPG City/30 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $64,640
  • Star Rating: 8 out of 10 Stars

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2017 Volvo S90 T6 AWD Inscription Review

Thursday December 8th, 2016 at 11:1212 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

2017 Volvo S90 T6 AWD Inscription

By David Colman

Hypes: Palatial Interior, Great Back Seat
Gripes: Printed Owner’s Manual Not Provided; Perplexing Graphic User Interface

This all new Volvo sedan combines scintillating detail design with enough maddening driving nannies to staff a child care center. Let’s start with the S90′s positives first. Even the most cursory inspection of this Volvo leads to the inescapable conclusion that it is a work of art deserving of inclusion in a museum retrospective of Swedish design. From the outside, the S90′s clean lines and exceptional lighting treatments front and rear set it apart from anything else on the road. Volvo designers have endowed the grill with a ripe and luscious mouth, described as a “matte silver waterfall with a chrome frame.” If one car could define the word sleek, it would be this chic Volvo sedan.

2017 Volvo S90 T6 AWD Inscription

But stylish as the exterior may be, it plays second fiddle to the sumptuous interior. The cockpit of the new S90 Inscription looks more like the latest living room ensemble from IKEA than a car interior. The cream colored seats, with perforated Nappa soft leather surfaces, invite close examination. Note the breathable perforations, the neatly tailored piping, and the standard inclusion of heating and ventilation systems. The rear compartment is equally alluring, with enough legroom to assuage a basketball pro. Although the rear side windows are big enough to survey the countryside, they can be configured to hide your presence thanks to manually operated “sun curtains.”

The $3,300 “Inscription Features” include “Linear Walnut Wood Inlays” that are stunning in their matte simplicity. They cover the central console, the passenger quadrant of the dash, and all upper interior door surfaces. These unvarnished swatches of wood comprise but a small part of the Inscription bounty. You’ll also appreciate the self-cleaning LED headlights whose beams bend with the direction of travel. The upper sections of the dash and lower sections of the door panels are leather upholstered. The already plush front seats benefit from inscription grade tweaks like power side bolsters, power under-thigh extension bolsters, and the subtle inscription of the word “Inscription” on the headrests. If you can’t get comfortable in this Volvo, you can’t get comfortable, period. Finally, the list of Inscription Features concludes with 19 inch diamond cut alloy rims. On our test vehicle, Volvo upped the contact patch by equipping it with a $750 set of 20 inch model-specific alloys shod with premium Pirelli rubber (255/35R20 P Zero).

2017 Volvo S90 T6 AWD Inscription

A brand new 8 speed gearbox makes its Volvo sedan debut, providing smooth propulsion for the T6′s 2.0 liter engine. Thanks to turbo-charging and super-charging, the direct fuel injection engine, which is mounted sideways under the hood, produces 316hp and 295 lb.-ft. of torque. While the horsepower peak takes a bit of sprinting to achieve at 5600rpm, the torque flow maxes at just 2200rpm. Make no mistake, this Volvo is quick enough in a straight line to beat almost any of the German or British competition in the traffic light grand prix. The addition of all-wheel-drive makes the P Zero tires work even harder to gain traction at both ends of the car. Even when you push this admittedly heavy (4,220 pound) Volvo hard, it responds with predictable grip and commendable precision. The center console contains a rotating drive-mode selector, fetchingly done in knurled silver, that allows you to alter the car’s responses from lethargic (Eco) to alert (Normal) to spirited (Sport). But you must reassign your preference every time you restart the S90. With a ride this sportingly inclined, the absence of paddle shifts is a surprising omission.

2017 Volvo S90 T6 AWD Inscription

At the outset, we mentioned Volvo’s preoccupation with safety measures that detract from the pleasure of driving. Here’s a brief list of the nannies that will drive you nuts if you fail to stifle them: low speed collision avoidance system; pedestrian, cyclist and large animal detection system; run-off-road protection and run-off mitigation system; road sign information; lane departure warning and driver alert control. If you chose to drive with all these systems active, the S90 transforms itself from a pleasure module into a beeping, dash illuminating warning system that will reduce you to a bundle of over-wrought nerve endings inside ten miles. Turn most or all of these nannies off, and the S90 instantly reverts to being the slickest sedan Sweden has ever built.

2017 Volvo S90 T6 AWD Inscription

  • Engine: 2.0 liter inline 4, direct injection, turbocharged and supercharged
  • Horsepower: 316hp @ 5700rpm
  • Torque: 296lb.-ft.@2200rpm
  • Fuel Consumption: 22 MPG City/31 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $66,105
  • Star Rating: 8 out of 10 Stars

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2016 Volvo S60 T5 Inscription FWD Review

Friday March 4th, 2016 at 11:33 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

2016 Volvo S60 T5 Inscription FWD

By David Colman

Hypes: Beautifully Crafted, Ultra Comfortable Interior
Gripes: Unwieldy Suspension, Poorly Indexed Owner’s Manual

When Geely, the Indian automaker, took Volvo off Ford’s hands several years ago, many fans of the Swedish marque wondered what the future might hold in store for this revered, safety conscious label. Well, the future is here now in the form of the Volvo Inscription S60, a special lengthened version of the S60 sedan. At 185.6 inches in length, it stands 3.5 inches longer than the base model S60 four door. The Inscription is the first Volvo built in Chengdu, China, of parts that are 60 percent Chinese and 10 percent Japanese. This luxurious and expensive ($45,925) sedan carries a turbocharged 2.0 liter engine also built in China. Its 8-speed automatic transmission comes from Japan. In view of this disparate sourcing of parts, just how much Volvo DNA remains? Thankfully, quite a bit.

2016 Volvo S60 T5 Inscription FWD

For starters, the Inscription has so many available safety features that its Swedish reputation for precaution remains strong. For example, “City Safety” – a low speed collision avoidance system – is standard issue on this car. Even the engine cover is made of dense, pliable foam. If you order the “Platinum” group of accessories ($3,000 extra), Volvo includes a “Technology Package” which provides collision warning with full auto brake, as well as pedestrian/cyclist detection with full auto brake. In a world replete with drivers more intent on reading their handheld devices than the road ahead, these safety features greatly improve your chances of accident avoidance.

Some of the other features of the Platinum group, however, are more annoying than useful. For example, the Lane Keeping Aid is helpful in the sense that warning lights on your exterior rearview mirrors illuminate when hidden traffic pulls alongside. But the same system goes overboard when you change lanes without using your blinker, something I prefer to do with no traffic nearby. Under these circumstances, the Volvo’s steering goes artificially light and the steering wheel itself wobbles gently in your palms. The feedback is similar to having your front tires aquaplane in heavy rain. It’s completely distracting and unnecessary, and thankfully Volvo provides a switch to delete this lane change punishment.

2016 Volvo S60 T5 Inscription FWD

Although Volvo offers a number of more powerful engines in the S60 range (250hp inline 5, 302hp turbo inline 4, 345hp turbo inline 6), our test Inscription made do with the adequate but unexciting 2.0 liter turbo inline 4, which returns the best fuel consumption of the bunch at 29 MPG overall. The 8 speed gearbox compensates nicely for the underwhelming output of the 240hp motor by allowing you to stage your passing needs by selecting an appropriate gear before stomping the accelerator. You’ll need to plan ahead with this package for your acceleration requirements, because the engine must spool to 5600rpm for maximum thrust. Luckily, the 3,610 lb. sedan makes peak torque of 258lb.-ft. at just 1500rpm, so launch from a dead stop is decent. Volvo has incorporated an automatic start/stop system, ostensibly to save fuel while idling at traffic lights. This device shakes the whole car every time it re-fires the ignition. Although you can delete it, you have to do so every time you re-start the Volvo. It’s a design that should never have made production.

2016 Volvo S60 T5 Inscription FWD

Inside the cabin, the Inscription will win over drivers accustomed to Audi/BMW levels of design simplicity and sophistication. The front seats are heated, but if you want heated rears plus a toasty steering wheel, you’ll need to pop $1,300 extra for the “Climate Package.” Lavish expanses of matte finished, open pore barn wood lend a country inn felicity to the Inscription’s interior environment. Glass area is immense, a bonus that leads to excellent vision in all directions. Such niceties as Park Assist and rain-sensing wipers come standard. The Platinum group includes a nifty grocery bag holder which flips up from the trunk floor to act as an anti-slide partition. I used it to keep a storage box from roaming the trunk on a twisty section of road.

2016 Volvo S60 T5 Inscription FWD

Speaking of the twisties, the S60 is not particularly well acclimated to such driving usage. Granted, it rolls on 18 inch alloy rims bearing 235/45R18 Pirelli Cinturato P7 tires that uphold their end of the contact patch bargain. But the S60′s suspension is calibrated for comfort over handling, so the Inscription tends to bottom its shocks over mild depressions. Push it hard enough and the suspension hikes itself into the air as you try to make quick transitions on a curvy road. This Volvo offers a great freeway ride, but you won’t be blowing off any BMWs or Audis on the back roads.

2016 Volvo S60 T5 Inscription FWD

  • Engine: 2.0 liter inline 4, turbocharged, direct injected
  • Horsepower: 240hp@5600rpm
  • Torque: 258lb.-ft.@1500-4500rpm
  • Fuel Consumption: 25MPG City/37 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $45,925
  • Star Rating: 8 out of 10 Stars

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Review: 2015 Volvo V60 T6 R-Design

Tuesday July 28th, 2015 at 1:77 PM
Posted by: D.Colman

Title: 2015 Volvo V60 T6 R-Design

By David Colman

Hypes: Handsome, Useful and Fun to Drive
Gripes: Tight Rear Seat

Volvo’s Polestar Program is such a well kept secret that the company provides each new purchaser with a presentation kit explaining the virtues of this hottest Volvo you can buy. Polestar is Volvo’s racing arm, an outfit that has won the Swedish Touring Car Championship for many years running. Here’s a brief list of the V60’s many special attributes. Under the hood lies a tweaked 3.0 liter V6 that produces 325hp, 25hp more than the standard V6. This motor also makes 354lb.-ft. of torque, 29 pounds more than the standard B6304T4 engine. To handle the extra power, the V60 station wagon version of the S60 sedan drives through all four wheels with a highly evolved system using torque vectoring to disseminate power where needed. Although Volvo has introduced a new 8 speed automatic gearbox for 2015, it is available only with 4 cylinder versions of this wagon. Thanks to the ample torque of the turbocharged 6, the Polestar doesn’t need the extra gears provided by the 8-speed. Rather, it connects through a 6 speed Geartronic automatic that provides manual shifting with aluminum paddles mounted on the steering wheel. The combination of the quick boost provided by the twin scroll turbo, and the instant gear selection afforded by the paddle shift automatic make this V60 the fastest accelerating Volvo I have ever driven.

Title: 2015 Volvo V60 T6 R-Design

The beauty of the Polestar package lies in the fact that the suspension is perfectly calibrated to enhance the performance of the drive train. Volvo’s sport chassis provides an authoritative sense of control. The ride is firm but never punishing. Especially welcome are the top notch set of Bridgestone Potenza S001 tires (235/40R19) mounted on matte black “IXION” rims ($750 extra) that look like Cuisineart blades. Exterior flourishes are handsomely integrated into the sleek lines of this model. At the back, you’ll find a small Polestar identifier attached to the R-Design rear diffuser with polished tail pipes. The front fascia sports a more aggressive splitter and a discreet R-Design offset badge. Climb into the spacious cabin, and sink into special R-Design, race inspired front seats that offer accentuated thigh and lower back support. These carefully tailored buckets feature grey leather with contrasting white stitching. Matching R-Design shift knob and fat-rimmed steering wheel complete the high performance touches.

Title: 2015 Volvo V60 T6 R-Design

Although the Volvo’s interior cabin measures just 69 inches from the front seat backs to the tailgate, I was able to slip a mountain bike into this cavity without removing a wheel. Granted, it was a tight fit, but it does reveal just how much storage space is available in a car with a wheelbase of just 109 inches. Note, however, that seating for two on the rear bench is tight, especially if tall occupants have positioned the front seats far aft. When lifted, the rear storage area floor board reveals a large number of hidden compartments that would be perfect for secreting valuables. Underneath that sub floor you discover that the V60 has no spare tire, but does provide a sealant can and a tire inflator.

Title: 2015 Volvo V60 T6 R-Design

According to Motor Trend Magazine, Volvo is only bringing over 120 Polestar S60s and V60s for the rest of this model year. This adds a rarity quotient to an already highly desirable package. For the money, you can’t find a better sports wagon than the Polestar equipped V60. A Polestar information kit provided by Volvo suggests that you register your VIN number with the company as soon as you buy it. They will then provide a certificate indicating your wagon is equipped with “Polestar Power Optimisation,” a document that is “especially important when it’s time to sell your car, since a Polestar optimization is likely to increase the resale value.”

2015 Volvo V60 T6 R-Design

  • Engine: 3.0 liter alloy V-6 with twin scroll turbo, CVVT and DOHC
  • Horsepower: 325hp @5400rpm
  • Torque: 354lb.-ft.@3000rpm
  • Fuel Consumption: 19 MPG City/28 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $48,225
  • Star Rating: 10 out of 10 Stars

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Review: 2015 Volvo XC60 T6 AWD

Friday April 3rd, 2015 at 1:44 PM
Posted by: D.Colman

2015 Volvo XC60 T6 AWD

By David Colman

Hypes: The safest SUV You Can Buy
Gripes: Useless Owner’s Manual, Sea of Dog Cage Bars

The XC60 is a mid-size sports utility crossover based on the S60 sedan. For 2015, it presents a cleaner face to the wind thanks to a more streamlined front fascia. In conjunction with this newly lowered snout, Volvo stylists have visually elevated the XC60′s tail. Decisive side creases underline the aggressive stance, making this Volvo look like it’s about to pounce on prey. The illusion is not unsupported, because a powerful and willing twin-scroll turbo straight 6 lies under the hood, ready to devour pavement with alacrity. The 3.0 liter engine produces 300hp and 325lb.-ft. of torque, with full torque infusion coming on line at just 2100rpm. Coupled to a 6-speed automatic with standard paddle shifts, the XC6 T6 jumps when prodded, despite its substantial 4,275lb. curb weight.

2015 Volvo XC60 T6 AWD

While Volvo’s all-wheel-drive system is not designed for serious off-road work (there’s no transfer case), it will insure splendid traction on all forms of pavement. Our test XC sported $1,000 optional 20 inch diameter “Titania” alloys which mounted premium Pirelli Scorpion Zero tires measuring 255/45R20 at each corner. Despite their enormous diameter, these rims, which replace standard 18 inch wheels, look surprisingly delicate thanks to their almost invisible rim bead connected to 10 wafer-thin double spokes. The overall visual effect is similar to that of a Mattel Hot Wheels dream toy.

The interior shares the exterior’s exciting visuals, with a two-tone seat leather treatment adding Swedish modern sophistication to the $900 optional Sport Seating surfaces. In fact, if you are a fan of Mid Century Modern design, you will love the simplistic integration of materials and surface treatments in the cabin. For example, the center stack, a design nightmare in so many other SUVs, is here cleanly arrayed, devoid of frills, and operationally sound, with all key HVAC and Entertainment system functions accessible through separate buttons rather than menu driven nonsense. Particularly nice is the standard issue “Laminated Power Roof with Power Sunshade. This oversize opening can be configured in any number of useful ways, ranging from tilting the front panel, to sliding the shade wide open over all interior seats.

2015 Volvo XC60 T6 AWD

Volvo equipped the cargo area of our sports utility with a dog kennel apparatus that made the interior seem more like a Swedish police cruiser than a family wagon. Vertical and horizontal metal bars (called a “Safety Grill”) not only segregated the rear compartment from the passenger area, but also created a structure (called a “Load Organizer and Dog Gate”) large enough to house a medium size pet. With its hydraulic lift door, the Load Organizer proved very handy for safe transport of fragile items. The downside to the array of black metal bars is poor rear vision, and a sepulchral feel to the interior.

2015 Volvo XC60 T6 AWD

The expensive “Platinum” option, which boosts sticker price by $4,400, brings several important safety measures into play. Perhaps the most significant is the Technology Package, which includes radar controlled cruise control, collision warning with full auto-brake, pedestrian/cyclist detection with full auto-brake, and Driver Alert Control, which prevents your Volvo from straying out of its lane. In addition, our XC60 also featured a $900 optional “Blind Spot Information System Package” (BLIS) which consisted of small warning lights on the A pillars next to the rear view mirrors that illuminated orange when traffic impinged in adjacent lanes. This proved useful without becoming intrusive. The BLIS package also includes front and rear park assist beepers.

Although the XC60 has plenty of straight line punch, its handling is a notch below comparable sports utilities like BMW’s X3 and new X4, or Porsche’s Macan. The Volvo’s main weakness is its lack of precise steering feedback. In fact, even the range of vertical adjustment for the wheel itself is too limited to allow a sporty driving position. The XC’s suspension is also complicit, with too much pitch on corners, combined with too harsh shock damping over potholes. This makes for a ride that is simultaneously pitchy yet jarring. A final irritation comes courtesy of the purported Owner’s Manual, which inexplicably contains no index references to such basics as instrument location and function, or even cruise control operation. Consequently, I could never figure out how to adjust my cruise control default speed without changing it in 5mph increments.

2015 Volvo XC60 T6 AWD

The incredible array of safety measure Volvo brings to bear on its XC60, however, more than compensate for these trivial glitches. In fact, I can’t think of a better vehicle in which to avoid or survive an accident than this Volvo, given its standard Auto-Stopping Technology and optional and reasonably priced BLIS Package.

2015 Volvo XC60 T6 AWD

  • Engine: 3.0 liter alloy, in-line 6 with CVVT and twin-scroll Turbo
  • Horsepower: 300hp @ 5600rpm
  • Torque: 325lb.-ft. @ 2100rpm
  • Fuel Consumption: 17 MPG City/24 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $51,675
  • Star Rating: 8 out of 10 Stars

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Review: 2013 Volvo C30 T5 R Design

Sunday July 21st, 2013 at 8:77 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

By David Colman

Hypes: Hottest Hatch You Can Buy
Gripes: Hard to Access Rear Seat, Flimsy Trunk Cover

In a performance world adrift in a sea of ever wider tires, Volvo’s choice of petite 205/50R17 Michelin MXM4 rubber for its top performance hatchback, the R Design C30, seems inexplicable. Choosing such a modest width of 205mm front and rear would appear to hobble this Volvo before it ever gets out of the starting gate. Well, guess what? The handling and responsiveness of the R Design C30 puts most other front engine, front wheel drive hot hatchbacks to shame. Without question, this limited edition (250) Polestar-tweaked Volvo proves that you do not need a huge tire footprint to leave an indelible imprint in your memory bank. Great handling is all about balance, and this diminutive 4 seater has that asset in spades.

Polestar is the factory affiliated tuning department at Volvo, and for this very special model, they’ve dialed in the suspension of the already competent C30 by stiffening the chassis and firming up the suspension. The Polestar Limited Edition uses 17 inch STYX matte black alloys, and sports R Design front and rear roof spoilers. Handsome exterior cosmetic touches include matte aluminum grill surround and polished 3.5 inch dual exhaust tips. Inside, two-tone leather seating surfaces distinguish this special model, with light gray leather centers contrasting against black side bolsters. “R Design” monikers are embossed into the front headrests, sparkling blue watch dial instrument faces make the gauge cluster pop, and spiffy alloy sport pedals grab your rubber sole. The unique leather and alloy rimmed steering wheel sports an “R Design” badge on its lower rim, and a Polestar Limited Edition numbered plaque graces the dash (ours was 249/250).

On top of all these delectable cosmetic improvements, the best part of the Polestar package lies unseen, beneath the hood. Unlike so many hot hatchbacks in this price range, the C30 boasts an hydraulic hood strut instead of a chintzy manual prop rod. When you lift that sleek hood, you’re gazing at a substantially reworked inline 5 cylinder turbo engine, Although sharing the base C30’s 2.5 liter displacement, this one boosts horsepower from 227 to 236, and torque from 236 lb.-ft. to 273 lb.-ft. With its undersquare bore/stroke dimension of 83mm x 93mm, the Polestar-tweaked B5254T7 engine is a real torque monster, producing maximum output from throttle tip-in of 1,500rpm all the way to 5,000rpm. Although Volvo supplies 6 perfectly spaced ratios in its delightful manual gearbox, you hardly need more than one of them to keep this little tiger on full boil.

Compared to the hideous, overly complicated interior treatments common to most of today’s cars, the design ethos of the Volvo seems to be from another planet. There’s a wonderfully simplified center stack here, for example, which stresses utility, with its obvious knob placement for HVAC and radio controls. The symmetrical layout is clear, concise, and diametrically opposed to the ridiculous cell-phone dashboard emulations that have become so popular today. Volvo designers place a premium on safety, which begins with the sensible design of the cockpit. This is one company that will never be faulted for inciting distracted driving. But should you ever lose control of the C30, the safeguards Volvo has included will stand you in good stead. Standard are inflatable curtain side impact bags, front AND rear dual stage bags, and whiplash protection for both front seats.

Even with the addition of a $5,000 Platinum package that provides Navigation, Premium sound, SIRIUS radio, Power Moonroof and Dual Xenon headlights, the C30 R Design totals just $35,545. In a world full of Sofa City products, the C30 R is like taking a rejuvenating trip through the spa at IKEA.

2013 Volvo C30 T5 R Design

  • Engine: 2.5 liter inline 5, Turbocharged with Continuous Variable Valve Timing and Intake
  • Horsepower: 236 hp
  • Torque: 273 lb.-ft.
  • Fuel Consumption: 21 MPG City/29 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $35,545
  • Star Rating: 9.5 out of 10 Stars

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Review: 2013 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R

Tuesday April 30th, 2013 at 11:44 PM
Posted by: D.Colman

By David Colman

Hypes: Sleeper Backroad Burner, Quality Fit and Finish
Gripes: No Paddles, Tight Back Seat

Ever since Ford sold Volvo off to the Chinese several years ago, the Swedish automaker has been having a tough go in the marketplace.  Thankfully, not as bad as Swedish compatriot Saab, which recently declared bankruptcy and closed its doors, but still concerning enough to make marque loyalists fret.  But if the latest S60 R is indicative of Volvo’s future, the company outlook is very bright indeed.  In fact, just as bright as the piercing shade of Rebel Blue that graced our scintillating test car.  If you’re in the market for a 4 place sports sedan, you’ll definitely want to consider the S60 R as a top contender, because it beats the competition from Audi and BMW in almost every department while costing considerably less.

For example, the base price of this twin turbocharged road burner is just $43,900.  Even with the addition of a $2,300 Platinum Package (Navigation, Back-Up Camera) and $700 Cold Weather Package (Heated Front Seats and Washer Nozzles), this Volvo’s out-the door price totaled $48,195.  A comparable BMW 3 Series sedan starts about the same price as the Volvo ($43,150) but by the time you’re finished toting up the laundry list of extras, the BMW costs almost ten grand more than the S60 R.  And in a straight shoot out based on performance, I’d take the Volvo every time.  The “R” branding starts under the hood, where the 3.0 liter six is mounted sideways rather than lengthwise to minimize front overhang.  This long stroke (93.2mm) small bore (82mm) motor is designed to make most of its torque low in the rpm range.  Between 2,100rpm and 4,200rpm, the big six produces 354 lb.-ft. of torque.  This wide rpm spread allows you to access instant power, no matter which gear the Geartronic 6-speed has selected.  Volvo has also upped horsepower output this year from 300 to 325hp at 5,600rpm.

Although the Geartronic system lacks paddle shifts, the console-mounted shift lever features a unique illuminated knob which highlights the range you’ve chosen.  Sport-Mode, activated by moving the lever backwards and left, allows you to select your preferred gear manually.  In practice, however, this manipulation is hardly ever necessary, due to the abundant torque of the R-specification motor.  The S60 is fitted with a unibody steel passenger safety cage, dual stage front seat airbags with anti-whiplash headrests, and side impact head protection for all 4 seats.  All that safety gear is as reassuring as the S60’s exceptional handling.  Volvo has not stinted in supplying the “R” with premium “Sleipner” alloy wheels that look like Cuisineart blades.  Continental provides top notch ContiSportContact 235/40R18) rubber at each corner, and Volvo stiffens the suspension of the “R” to take maximum advantage of the Conti’s mountain goat traction.  This sedan will corner with the best contenders from Germany without giving them an inch advantage.

Saving the best for last, the cockpit of the S60 R is a splendid exercise in Swedish modern design.  Unlike most dashboards, which look like they were cobbled together by 20 different parents, the S60 R control layout looks like one mastermind did the trick.  The fact that almost every surface is matte black makes the Op Art aluminum center stack throb with visual excitement.  It contains just 4 large, simplified knobs which control radio volume, radio tune, and thermostats for driver and passenger.  Like the silver center stack, the boldly delineated “Blue Watch Dial Instrument Cluster” is also startlingly impressive.  Bold, concentric rings of silver and ice blue convert the 8,000rpm tachometer and 160mph speedometer into Swatch-like chronometer faces that are as easy to read as they are refreshing to see.  Volvo designers also supply just enough “R” model designations (front grill, headrests, steering wheel spoke) to this sedan, without resorting to undue braggadocio.  The all-wheel-drive S60 R is an affordable sports sedan for the owner whose ego needs no reinforcement from badging.

2013 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R

  • Engine: 3.0 liter inline 6, DOHC, Continuous Variable Valve Timing, Twin-Scroll Turbo
  • Horsepower: 325hp @ 5,600rpm
  • Torque: 354 lb.-ft. @ 2,100rpm-4,200rpm
  • Fuel Consumption: 18 MPG City/25 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $48,195
  • Star Rating: 9.5 out of 10 Stars

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2012 Volvo C70 Inscription Convertible Review

Monday July 23rd, 2012 at 3:77 PM
Posted by: D.Colman

By David Colman

For: Starkly Handsome, Subtle, Quick
Against: Trunk Closure Difficulties, Fingertip Steering Effort

This C70 has more facets to its personality than a Hearts On Fire diamond. The Inscription package blesses it with an uprated 250hp motor that yearns to power a sportscar. The full leather interior confers Bentleyesque riches on its inhabitants. And the upgrade is endearingly subtle. Only the black leather headrests are inscribed in black thread with the phrase “Inscription.” Nowhere else does the phrase appear. Not even the tail of the C70 carries any such “Inscription” notation.

The 2.5 liter, 5 cylinder turbo engine jumps from the standard C70 output of 227hp and 236 lb.-ft. of torque to 250hp and 273 lb.-ft. of torque. That’s a hefty 10% gain in both departments. Instead of the C70’s standard 17 inch rims, Inscription brings you 18 inch “MDIR” gloss black and stainless-spoked appliances shod with ContiProContact 235/40R18 tires. “Active” dual Xenon headlights, which pivot in the direction of your turn, brilliantly illuminate the night. Volvo adds aluminum pedals, plus aluminum inserts to the sport steering wheel rim. A gloss black grill matches the finish of the alloy wheels. Chrome trimmed daytime running light pods add the only note of bling to the otherwise somber exterior. The C70 Inscription is understated to a fault, but inarguably handsome in the Swedish minimalist way.

 

The driving experience is all over the map. The lively special tuning of the motor propels the C70 with enough authority to keep any BMW 3 Series in sight on a twisty road. But you’ll have to work harder than the Bimmer driver because the Conti tires break loose early in a turn and insist on squealing through apexes. The C70 steering is too light to be informational. Steering feedback is so weightless, that you might think you’re driving a ’58 Buick. While the chassis itself is so stiff it can traverse railroad tracks at 60mph without a squeak or deflection, springing and shocks are so soft that the ingot-like body squirms on bump compression.

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