Volvo isn't a small player in the compact luxury market, but there's no denying the S60 sedan never posed a serious challenge to the dominance of the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Certain aspects of the second-generation car put it at a disadvantage even as it hit dealer lots as a 2011 model. At a time when infotainment systems started incorporating more technology features and small cars were growing larger for better passenger space, the S60 had a cramped back seat and a difficult-to-use user interface. Volvo gave the S60 an attractive face-lift and several new engines over its lifespan, but the drawbacks remained.
Take one look at its muscular flanks and aggressive front end, and you realize the redesigned 2019 Volvo S60 is completely different from the outgoing model. Typical Volvo strengths — including numerous advanced safety features and a range of powerful, fuel-efficient engines — remain, now joined by improvements such as a superior touchscreen interface and adaptive suspension dampers that can provide a comfortable or sporty ride. It all adds up to a car that should prove a formidable rival to the German marques.
Familiar but Different
From the distinctive headlights (the so-called Thor's Hammer design) to the upturned decklid, the 2019 Volvo S60 closely resembles a scaled-down version of the full-size S90 sedan. But the similarities aren't just skin-deep. The S60 rides on Volvo's Scalable Product Architecture platform, the same platform that provides the underpinnings for the V60 wagon and the XC60 crossover as well as Volvo's 90-series vehicles. Adopting SPA also replaces the front MacPherson strut suspension with a double wishbone, which should bring improvements to the S60's handling and help control body roll. For those who want even greater control over their driving experience, an air suspension with adaptive dampers is also newly optional.
A range of familiar powertrains will be available. All engines, including the one in the base, front-wheel-drive T5 model (starting price, including destination: $36,795), are 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinders that produce 250 horsepower. Upgrading to the T6 ($41,295) adds a supercharger and all-wheel drive into the mix, a combination good for an impressive 326 hp. Finally, the T8 Twin Engine ($55,395) is a plug-in hybrid that takes the T6's supercharged-turbocharged engine and pairs it to a battery pack; the entire unit produces a robust 400 hp. If 400 horsepower in a small family sedan isn't enough for you, Volvo will also offer a Polestar-tuned version with 414 hp and nearly 500 pound-feet of torque.
Actually ordering the limited-production Polestar is something of an unusual process, at least if you aren't familiar with the Care by Volvo subscription program. Launched with the XC40 small crossover, Care by Volvo allows customers to "subscribe" to a car of their choice. In essence, it's a lease program that includes insurance, service and maintenance for a flat monthly cost. For 2019, the Polestar will exclusively be available through this service. Pricing has not been announced yet, but expect it to command a healthy premium over the T6 R-Design's $850-a-month cost.
Advanced Safety and Tech Features
Volvo's penchant for safety is further solidified with new advanced driver aids. Besides now-ubiquitous features such as lane departure warning and cross-traffic alert with automatic braking, Volvo's forward collision system can also detect large animals in addition to pedestrians and bicyclists. The same system can now detect oncoming collisions and hit the brakes to lessen the impact. The Pilot Assist system — which pairs adaptive cruise control with an automated steering system — offers better lane-keeping performance in turns.
Even if you never use Volvo's new safety aids, it's impossible to miss the new central touchscreen. In the previous S60, the driver used a dash-mounted dial that required a stretch to reach and controlled an interface with a confusing menu structure. The new tablet-size screen is closer to the driver and quick to respond to user inputs, and it features graphics crisp enough to make Tesla owners envious. Best of all, it supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
While it was easy to lose sight of the previous model in this crowded class, the 2019 Volvo S60 commands attention. Its stunning design, additional driver aids, new tech features and revised range of powertrains ensure that nearly every prospective buyer can find something they like. Check back with Edmunds for more information about the 2019 Volvo S60 closer to its winter 2018 release date.