Park City, Utah —It may still be a few years before we start seeing the efforts of the hard working Swedes arriving at American Volvo dealerships, but in the meantime the company is still pumping out some interesting variations on the current lineup.
We were at Volvo?s Midsommar Drive in Park City Utah and the introduction of Volvo?s latest variation, the S60 T5 AWD, when we had a chance to chat with John Maloney, President and CEO of Volvo Cars of North America over breakfast.? We asked Maloney how the change in ownership from Ford Motor Company to Chinese automaker Geeley was affecting Volvo.
It has now been two years since the Geeley took charge, and Maloney indicated there was no change in the way Volvo operated.? He said during final days of Ford ownership, Volvo didn?t get much support from Ford, just the money to keep the company running.? Now with Geeley they have more support and a lot more money for development of new products.? He also said Geeley has allowed Volvo be Volvo.
That was good news to us, because we like the way Volvo has been progressing, especially with the last several models.? A good example is the latest iteration of the S60 T5 all-wheel drive (AWD) we drove while we were in Park City.
The 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD is an outstanding car, but not a lot different than the other S60s we driven recently. ?The T5 is the entry-level version of the S60 sedan, and previously it had only been offered in front wheel drive.? AWD is standard equipment on the upper level T6 and T6 R-Design.
Living in the Northwest where rain and snow are the norm, we have come to appreciate the traction advantages of all-wheel drive, but have discovered in the in between times that we like AWD for gravel and dry pavement just as much.? The sophisticated new system is so instantaneous with the application of additional traction it makes all types of driving more controlled and safe.
The 2.5-liter turbocharged five-cylinder engine that powers the T5 has been upgraded for 2013 with a higher compression ratio and reduced internal friction.? The six-speed Geartronic transmission also is tweaked for faster gear changes in the Sport mode.? Combined these two changes increase 0 to 60 mph acceleration times from 6.8 seconds to 6.4 seconds for the front-wheel drive version, with the AWD taking only two-tenths of a second longer.? The engine is rated at 250-hp and 266-lb.ft. of torque.? The AWD gets an EPA fuel economy rating of 20 mpg city and 29 mpg highway or 23 mpg combined.
At $32,645, including destination charge, the S60 T5 may be the lowest price version of Volvo?s two-year old S60, but it certainly does not want for equipment, features or even performance.? All-wheel drive and Instant Traction is $2,000 extra. ?For 2013, the T5 also comes in four trim levels with groupings that allow the customers to select the appropriate equipment in a group rather than as individual options.? The T5 trim levels now include the base version, Premier, Premier Plus and Platinum.? T5 prices top out at $38,695 for the Platinum, which gets the full load of equipment including the gee-whiz features of the standard Technology Package. ??The top model, the S60 T6 AWD R-Design starts at $44,795 and can go to about $52,000 when full loaded.
New to the Technology Package is Active High Beam headlights, which switch to high or low beam based on the traffic.? There is also a Road Sign Information that displays speed signs on the instrument cluster so the driver doesn?t have to wonder what the speed limit is.? The package also includes Adaptive Cruise control with Queue Assist.? This is especially helpful for drivers in stop and go traffic.? The system will bring the Volvo to a complete stop, and then start up again when the traffic starts moving.? It also has Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake, Pedestrian Detection with Full Auto Brake, Distance Alert, Driver Alert Control and Lane Departure Warning.
One complaint we have is the Volvo Blind Spot Information System.? Volvo pioneered the technology, but only offers it as a $700 standalone option on the 2013 Volvo S60.? We think it should be standard equipment on Volvos and all cars for that matter — it is one of the most useful safety devices. ?Unfortunately, the high cost of the technology versus the impact of the increase in price of the vehicle probably weighs heavily on keeping it as optional equipment.
A couple of other standard features on 2013 models are rain sensor wipers and headlight washers.
During our drive time in the mountains near Park City, we were pleased by the excellent performance levels created by the turbocharged engine.? A naturally aspirated engine would have been wheezing at these 7,000-foot plus altitudes.
Too bad we didn?t have any snow to test out the AWD in slippery conditions, but on our 210-mile drive through mountains and valleys northeast of Salt Lake City we were able to get a good feel of the surefootedness of the S60 AWD.
Volvo has always been recognized as the safety leader, and the S60 has more technology and safety hardware than most people realize.? As engaging as the safety features are though, we think safety is probably further down the buyer motivation list, after styling, performance and comfort.? However, Volvo has done a good job covering those other motivations.? For years, we have ranked the Volvo seats as best in the industry, so we think they have covered comfort very well.? More recent models like the XC60 and S60 have addressed the design and performance stimulus with great, unique designs and some powerful new engines.
? The result has been some very appealing sedans and crossovers.? The 2013 Volvo S60 has received critical acclaim especially the turbocharged six-cylinder models, the S60 T6 AWD and S60 T6 R-Design AWD, which have 300 hp and 325 hp engines respectively along with some 0 to 60 mph acceleration times in the mid-five second level.
We also got a little seat time in Volvo?s top-of-the-line sedan, the S80 and are looking forward to spending more time in it later in the year.