Forget everything you thought you knew about Volvo when it comes to performance sedans. The 2011 S60 is a driver's sport luxury sedan, with fresh new looks and a host of high-tech safety aids you won't find elsewhere. MotorAuthority rates the 2011 S60 8 out of 10.
With its all-new design punched up all over the Internet with an eye-popping orange exterior color (which really comes off well in real life, too) the S60 might be the most recognizable Volvo currently available. Rakish, thoroughly modern yet neither too understated or dramatic, the 2011 S60 strikes a unique and attractive balance. Inside, it's more of the same, with a waterfall center stack hiding a convenient storage cubby, excellent materials and textures, and attractive color schemes.
Performance from the single available engine is excellent. The T6 turbocharged inline six-cylinder 3.0-liter engine feels strong than its 300-horsepower rating, with boost building quickly at low rpms and pulling healthily to redline. The six-speed automatic transmission is perfectly happy to be left to mind itself, but the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters enable the driver to snap off surprisingly crisp shifts with ease as well.
Despite a fair amount of body roll--as much as you'll find in a typical 3-Series or C-Class--the steering is responsive and offers a unique three-position adjustment for the amount of power assist, ranging from light and easy to heavy and direct. You can even program your own personal preference of steering, transmission, and throttle response and activate it with the touch of a button. Overall grip is impressive, direction changes are quick and ready, yet back off the hard-driving edge and the S60 morphs easily into a calm, composed cruiser.
Features in the S60 are also top-tier luxury-class fare. The controls are all easy-to-use, with unique pictographic HVAC controls front-and-center. Base 2011 S60s include heated outside mirrors, a trip computer, dual-zone climate control, power driver's seat, steering-wheel audio controls, Sirius Satellite Radio, auxiliary audio and USB inputs, and a 160-watt audio system with HD Radio. Opt for a higher spec and you can add an Audyssey Laboratories 12-speaker digital-amp sound system, iPhone connectivity, navigation, real-time traffic, rear park assist, heated seats, headlight washers, rain-sensing wipers, and headlight washers among other add-ons. Most of these are bundled into a few core packages.
In terms of comfort and space, the cabin is good, but not great. For those over six feet, even the front seats can be a bit cramped, but, oddly for the mid-sized sedan sector, the rear seat accomodates six-footers with relative ease thanks to rear seating positions carved into the bench, which is itself lower than usual, meaning both headroom and legroom are quite good.