2003 Volvo S60

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2002 Volvo S60

This 2002 review is representative of model years 2001 to 2009.
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
Rating: 7

Bottom Line:

New all-wheel-drive version makes safe, practical S60 more desirable.
Pros:
  • Stylish
  • Practical
  • All-wheel-drive version
Cons:
  • Numb steering
  • Overly soft brake pedal
  • Turbocharger lag

A new all-wheel-drive version enhances the appeal of Volvo's midsize S60 sedan lineup, and may attract folks who want the security of such a drive system but don't want a four-wheel-drive truck.

The S60 is likely the last Volvo car model that will be made with an all-Swedish platform. Ford has bought the automaker and future Volvos will probably share parts with other Ford-owned car producers—to hold down costs.

The S60 model is called the 2.4T AWD because it has a turbocharged 2.4-liter engine with 197 horsepower and the advanced electronic all-wheel-drive system introduced in a racy Volvo concept car at the 2000 Paris auto show.

How the AWD System Works
The system operates almost entirely in front-drive mode during most driving conditions, but instantly shoots power to rear wheels when the front tires slip on, say, wet roads. The S60 AWD also has a traction and stability control system to provide more road grip. A more sophisticated skid control system will be offered as an option early in 2002.

The all-wheel drive system should be especially appreciated in Snow Belt areas of the country. The three other S60 models have front-wheel drive, which is fine for other areas.

All S60 trims have an inline 5-cylinder engine, which is a step up from a four cylinder but isn't as smooth as a six cylinder.

Various Versions
The base S60 sedan has 168 horsepower. There also are a 197-horsepower S60 and a turbocharged S60 T5 model with 247 horsepower. The $34,025 T5 is the hot rod of the group and the most fun to drive.

Prices range from $27,125 to $34,025, with the S60 AWD costing $33,375.

New Features
The S60 is essentially unchanged because it was introduced for 2001. New features for the base trim include Stability Traction Control, emergency trunk release and electrical foldable rear headrest. The S60 T5 adds a Dynamic Stability Traction Control and memory feature for exterior mirrors. Volvo also made the sunroof standard on all turbocharged models.

For 2002 the spotlight falls on the S60 AWD, which has the same slick body as other S60s. The sedan's styling probably surprised many veteran Volvo owners accustomed to the boxy, old Volvo shape—although Volvo has been building stylish cars for several years.

Sleek Styling
The S60 looks as if it might have come from an upscale Italian automaker, with such things as a sloping hood, coupe-like roof and short rear end. However, except for the trademark diagonal grille bar and huge taillights, the S60 could be mistaken for any number of nicely styled foreign sedans.

The rigidly built S60 looks and feels solid, and the AWD trim has a wealth of standard equipment and safety features, including inflatable side curtains for head protection of outboard occupants. In fact, all S60 trims are loaded with safety features.

The base S60 has adequate acceleration, especially with a manual transmission, but the more potent S60 AWD is considerably livelier. The power-boosting turbocharger causes a little lag in acceleration, but highway cruising is relaxed.

There are 5-speed manual or 5-speed automatic transmissions, but the S60 AWD comes only with the responsive automatic, which has a manual-shift feature

The all-wheel-drive system eliminates the annoying torque steer of the front-drive S60s and improves dry-road traction. But it adds weight, so fuel economy is just 19 mpg in the city and 26 on highways. Premium gasoline is needed to provide the best performance, but Volvo says regular-grade fuel can be used.

Not A Sports Sedan
Volvo calls the S60 AWD a sports sedan, but the speed and precision of such a car just aren't there. While quick, the steering feels numb. And a mushy pedal makes it hard to modulate the brakes for smooth stops—although anti-lock and brake-assist systems help provide short stopping distances.

Actually, even the T5 is more of a hot rod than a sports sedan because its front-drive layout causes nose heaviness that adversely affects handling. All S60 models have a supple ride, but the T5's ride is on the firm side.

Impressive Cargo Space
The S60 has the cargo hauling abilities of smaller sport utes, because it has a large trunk and seatbacks that flip forward to enlarge the cargo area via a pass-through area from the trunk, which has a low, wide opening.

There is good room up front in large, supportive seats for two tall adults. But legroom gets tight for a tall rear occupant if the driver's seat is moved back more than halfway.

Functional Interior
The interior looks bland, but has easily read gauges and fairly large controls placed within the natural arc of a hand. There are plenty of sturdy cupholders, but inside door handles and map pockets should be larger. The big rear armrest has a storage compartment, but back windows don't roll down all the way.

The S60 AWD enhances Volvo's reputation for safety, and is an intelligent addition to the S60 lineup.

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BB06 - 7/24/2014 4:49:58 PM