First Volvo built in US doesn’t disappoint

The 2019 Volvo S60 body lines are drawn to radiate this sport sedan’s muscularity, handling prowess and solidity. It’s an instantly identifiable as a Volvo, with the brand’s signature strong shoulder line. The S60’s appearance says, “I’m fast, sophisticated, and I will protect you.”

Leveraging the Scalable Product Architecture upon which all Volvos have ridden since 2014, the new S60 has much in common with its siblings — even while exhibiting a unique personality. And the 2019 S60 is the first sedan to emerge from Volvo’s brand-new factory in South Carolina.

Propulsion systems are based around a 250-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, which produces 258 pound per foot of torque. This is applied to the base T5, which also uses an eight-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive. For the T6 designation, Volvo adds a supercharger and all-wheel drive. Power output in this configuration is 316 horsepower and 295 pound per foot of torque.

The T8 adds a plug-in hybrid system with an electric motor driving the rear wheels. Total system output is 400 horsepower and 472 pound per foot of torque. The limited-edition S60 T8 Polestar Engineered package enjoys 415 horsepower and 494 pound per foot of torque.

Inside the sedan, lessons learned over Volvo’s many years of designing smart and ergonomically efficient interiors are on vivid display. The passenger compartment is sumptuously outfitted. You’ll find plush leather upholstery covering the dash and the handsomely sculpted sport seats, which are also exceptionally comfortable. Tastefully incorporated metal bright work and open-pore woods adorn the dash, center console, and door panels, while the low beltline and generously sized windows contribute exceptional outward visibility.

The centerpiece of the dash is a 9-inch vertically mounted touchscreen, from which the car’s secondary systems are operated — as well as its comfort and convenience features. A new, faster processor improves its response time over previous iterations. The home screen’s four main panels make operating it a paragon of simplicity and efficiency for the most often used features. However, swiping to reveal the secondary screens reveals a bewildering array of miniscule lookalike icons.

Fortunately though, the S60’s performance potential is far more accessible. After spending time with all four powertrain configurations, we’d opt for the T6 with the R-Design package. Call us traditionalists, but we like the more organic feel of this arrangement the best. It’s a suitably powerful, responsive, and properly sorted performance sedan offering.

While we applaud Volvo’s effort to apply the benefits of an electrified powertrain to a high-performance intention, the Polestar Engineered T8 needs to be dialed-in better. Throttle response lacks linearity, the braking system is next to impossible to use smoothly and ride quality — while serviceable — is a bit stiff for day-to-day driving.

Long story short: while we were highly impressed with the Polestar Engineered S60’s hardware and big numbers, the actual driving experience led us to conclude the T6 R-Design is the enthusiast’s best choice. You’ll get 316 horsepower, 295 pound per foot of torque, and 32 mpg on the highway. If we were seeking to optimize comfort and fuel economy we’d go with the T5 in Inscription trim.

Pricing for the 2019 Volvo S60 base model starts at $35,800. However, Volvo also offers a subscription-based acquisition model it refers to as Care by Volvo. Blending the best elements of leasing and renting, maintenance, repairs (including tire replacement), insurance, registration fees, and the car payment are incorporated into one sum. In the case of the S60 T6 R-Design, this is $850 monthly — no down payment required.