It might not turn heads, but it's an impressive all-arounder

2016 Volvo S60 T5 Inscription Platinum Review

The Swedish flavor is strong in this one

By: Amos Kwon

Web2Carz Editor-In-Chief

Published: March 17th, 2016

Lest you think the now Chinese Geely-owned Volvo has compromised their ways, think again. Volvo makes smart Swedish automobiles, and that trend continues -- even though the S60 T5 Inscription (meaning long wheelbase) is designed for and built in China. Every other S60 is made in Sweden, but that doesn't mean the stretched out S60 is a lesser vehicle. In fact, thanks to the 3.1 inches of added rear legroom, it's actually more. We drove the S60 T5 Inscription Platinum FWD this past winter in Chicago and got to see how this Swedish-flavored, Chinese-made S60 fared against some of the more common German brands.

  • Exterior: Restyled but still not prominent

    For the 2014 model year, Volvo took its faithful S60 and tweaked it for more sophistication. The bigger grille and integrated driving lights and headlights (which used to be separate) look handsome. The rear is more of a fastback with more prominent boomerang taillights. Any layperson, though, would be hard pressed to see any difference between the updated version and the last one. It's still a little vanilla, especially in gold metallic paint.

    • The larger, more unified fascia gives the car more presence in spite of its plainness compared to its German competition.
    • The overall shape of the S60 is smooth, but it could use more visual drama.
    • Gaps between tires and fender might not be larger than others in this segment, but they seem huge.
    • The contours at the sides of the hood make the car look less aggressive than it could be, making the sides of the front drop off.

  • Interior: Beats to a different drum

    The most prominent aspect of the Inscription's interior is the stretched wheelbase, providing more legroom, though we were hard-pressed to find that the back is as capacious as a long wheelbase car should be, though it is still roomy. The cabin has a distinctly Volvo flavor, which is a good thing. The safety measures are as robust as they come.

    • No one does seats like Volvo. The Inscription's front seats are some of the best with great bolstering and thigh support, they're great for long drives and more spirited ones, too.
    • In spite of the numerous center console buttons that seem overdone, practically everything is easy to use. The waterfall center console still looks great, and we're glad to see Volvo has kept it.
    • Volvo's instrument cluster is very non-German. It makes good use of color and an appealing layout, in spite of its strange italicized font.
    • Phone pairing is very easy, voice sound quality and audio from the 12-speaker Harman Kardon system are spotless.
    • Park Assist Pilot System seemed less than flawless to use. We found it easier for us to do it ourselves.

  • Driving Impressions: Toes the line between sporty and cushy

    The S60 isn't a road rapier by any means, and those who opt for this car aren't looking for a street carver or a track beast. But the S60 is capable when it comes to acceleration and handling. For an extended wheelbase car, the body roll is kept low, and the steering is actually pretty good for a car that's supposed to just be a comfortable cruiser. Short of the enthusiast, no one should be disappointed with the way the S60 drives.

    • The S60 manages to keep road noise at bay with a very quiet ride and solid cruising chops.
    • Mild understeer is more than manageable, and the S60 handles turns well for a sedan that's just shy of 4,000 pounds.
    • Gas mileage is seriously impressive for a car that hits 60 mph from a standstill in just over six seconds.

  • Final Impressions: A great Euro alternative

    It's both unsurprising and a bit shocking that the S60 doesn't sell better. Let us explain. For nearly $50K, there are more prominent, more dramatic choices in the marketplace. The Audi A6, the Lexus GS and the Infiniti Q70 are more popular choices, but the S60 is a remarkably good car that customers should have on their list, and now with the option of going long-wheelbase, there's even more reason to consider it as a pragmatic European car with that touch of uniqueness.

    The S60 T5 Inscription Platinum nails the safety qualifications with a 5-Star crash rating and build quality that feels solid, a supremely comfortable cabin, solid driving dynamics and excellent gas mileage. Plus, if you want to be different from the mainstream, it's a seriously good option for car shoppers. Other than the somewhat vanilla styling, the S60 should be at the top of the list for buyers who are sensible.

  • Specifications & Price

    Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged inilne 4-cylinder

    Transmission: 8-speed automatic with manual shift mode

    Drivetrain Layout: Front engine, front-wheel drive

    Power Output: 240 horsepower, 258 lb-ft of torque

    Fuel Economy (mpg): 25 city / 37 highway

    Base Price: $38,700

    As Tested: $45,925 (incl. $940 destination)

    Standard Features: Heated door mirrors, tilt/telescoping steering wheel, emergency communication system, power moonroof, automatic temperature control, integrated navigation system, steering-wheel mounted audio controls, rain-sensing wipers, variably intermittent wipers, limited-slip differential.

    Options on our test vehicle: Platinum package - Harman Kardon Premium Sound System, Active Dual Xenon Headlights w/ Washers; Convenience Package - HomeLink Integrated Garage Door Opener, Keyless Drive, Power Retractable Exterior Mirrors, Grocery Bag Holder; Technology Package - Adaptive Cruise Control with Queue Assist, Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake, Pedestrian/Cyclist Detection w/ Auto Brake, Distance Alert, Driver Alert Control, Lane Keeping Aid, Road Sign information, Active High Beams, Auto Dimming Rearview Mirror; Climate Package - Heated Front Seats, Heated Rear Seats, Heated Windshield Washer Nozzles, Interior Air Quality System; Park Assist Pilot with BLIS Package - Blind Spot Information System, Park Assist Pilot; Metallic Paint.

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