November 6, 2015 - 12:24 pm
Mocha latte in hand, do you ever feel like hopping into the plush-leather world of your luxury car, and as you’re gliding along in your soundproofed, tune-filled auto-biosphere, the caffeine and sugar shift you into a mood for testing in Autobahn fashion the highly tuned sport suspension before stopping on a dime when you suddenly spy an exhilarating off-road opportunity — and you instantly conquer it?
It could happen.
And Volvo’s S60 Cross Country can make it so by combining three car-lover experiences in one.
For 2016, Volvo has jacked up its familiar S60 compact sedan a few inches, in the style of the also-familiar V60 and XC70 Cross Country wagons, and dubbed it the S60 Cross Country. For drivers looking for a thrill, the S60 boasts up to 302 horsepower, sophisticated suspension and sharper steering. It’s the most dynamic Volvo sedan to date.
“All I’ve heard are great things about this vehicle. Most people are saying it has a great ride,” said Lane McEnaney, general manager of Volvo of Las Vegas.
“It just came out but is selling great. There’s been no issues with people coming in not liking it. We’re getting just great feedback on them. It’s sporty, unconventional and adventurous but rides like a luxury should.
“The buyers of the S60 seem to have a love of nature. People like to get off the beaten path, and with this vehicle, they can. Volvo is marketing this as an in-betweener. Like any vehicle on the market, people either love something or hate something. People are loving this.”
This new variant comes as a stand-alone model in “Platinum” trim with all-wheel drive and the also-familiar T5 engine, for $44,440, including destination fee. Our example had more options costing an additional $3,950: a Climate Package (heated seats, wheel, windshield and washer nozzles); the Blind Spot Information System, which adds lane-change and front and rear parking assistance plus cross-traffic alert; and (separately) speed-sensitive steering, “Urbane Wood Inlay” and 19-inch matte-black wheels.
At $48,390 all in, Volvo insists the S60 Cross Country is a luxury car, but it’s just too much fun to drive to be luxurious. With its peppy motor, quick steering and braking, all-wheel drive with torque vectoring at both ends, body-hugging front seats and compact footprint, the agile S60XC does a fine imitation of a European sports sedan. The DSTC, Dynamic Stability and Traction Control, even has a sport setting that allows some sliding and slipping in hard cornering.
Since it sits higher, for more ground clearance, the S60XC does lean over in corners, but this just adds to the sensation of speed. The transmission has a sport mode, but it’s not needed — downshifts are always quick and positive. The steering wheel is hand-fillingly fat, but it lacks shift paddles; manual gear changes are done with the lever.
So no, this isn’t your traditional Volvo family hauler, either. But the S60XC hews to Volvo’s tradition of safety with a broad suite of interventions called IntelliSafe: Its City Safety and Collision Warning systems decide whether a frontal collision is likely and then automatically brake to reduce the impact, or prevent it entirely. They also watch for pedestrians and cyclists; if anyone steps or rides out in front of the car, they instantly warn the driver and then go to full braking, if necessary.
The S60XC comes with adaptive cruise control, too, as well as automatic high beams and all manner of driver alerts, including a tinny, metallic warning rattle when the car is in danger of veering out of its lane. (It can be switched off.)
Here’s a quick look at some terrific IntelliSafe features:
360 degree camera: Get a bird’s-eye view of your Volvo, so you can see obstacles at any angle. It makes parking and maneuvering in tight spaces a breeze.
Park assist pilot: Simply activate Park Assist Pilot, pull up to your space, and let go of the wheel. The car steers itself and lets you know when to brake.
Blind spot information: Change lanes in total confidence with radar sensors that alert you to any cars that you may not see.
Keeping in your lane: If your car starts to veer out of its lane, our Lane Keeping Aid kicks in, gently steering you back and sending warning vibrations to keep you alert.
Volvo has set its safety-record bar higher than any competitor and earnestly states its laudable mission is on its website (volvocars.com):
“No one will be seriously injured or killed in a new Volvo by 2020. That’s how seriously we take safety. From features that support you while driving, to features that help prevent accidents and protect you in the event that one occurs, IntelliSafe is our way of giving you everyday convenience and peace of mind, anywhere you go.”
Ford Motor Co. sold Volvo Cars to the Zhejiang Geely Holding Group back in 2008, and we’ve been waiting ever since for Chinese-flavored Volvos. To their credit, the new owners didn’t throw any babies out with the bathwater, and they seem to have been very cautious. It’s as if Geely said, “Here, you tall blond people, is a Kowloon ferry full of money — use it as you think best, and call when you’re done.”
No dopes, the Swedes spent the cash on re-doing their flagship, the big XC90 sport-ute. From what I’ve seen of it, the new SUV is a work of automotive art.
— Silvio Calabi reviews the latest from Detroit, Munich, Yokohama, Gothenburg, Crewe, Seoul and wherever else interesting cars are born. Contact him at email@example.com. RJDrive.Vegas senior writer John Kelly contributed to this story. Contact him at Jkelly@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0206.