The 2012 Volvo S60 was one of the biggest surprises during Automobile Magazine's annual All-Stars testing last fall. Long overshadowed and outclassed in the mid-size luxury sedan category by the likes of the BMW 5-series, the Audi A6, and the Mercedes E-class, the S60 staked a claim for itself as a "sensible" alternative to its European competitors -- it was less expensive, less accomplished, and, quite frankly, less desirable. But the long-awaited second-generation S60 changed our perceptions so completely with its refinement and handling capabilities that we not only named it a 2011 All-Star, we decided to subject it to the ultimate shakedown, a Four Seasons test.
For 2012, the S60 is available as either a front-wheel-drive T5 or an all-wheel-drive T6. We opted for the T6 and its 300-hp turbocharged in-line six mated to a six-speed automatic transmission (the same configuration as the car we put through its paces during our All-Stars tests). The T6 comes standard with the so-called "dynamic" chassis, which is tuned more for control and agility than for comfort. We opted to forgo Volvo's optional FOUR-C (continuously controlled chassis concept) active chassis and its three available settings -- comfort, sport, and advanced -- a choice we hope we don't come to regret after spending a year on the notoriously bumpy roads found here in the industrial Midwest.
The standard equipment list on the S60 is quite comprehensive (including items such as leather upholstery, satellite radio, sport seats, a seven-inch monitor, dual-zone climate control, and Bluetooth), and we likely could have forgone every available option and heard few complaints. But we're hedonists at heart, so we ordered up about $6000 worth of extras. First up, a multimedia package with a premium sound system, a rear-view camera, and a navigation system, which came to $2,700. Because of our icy winters, we are loath to do without a climate package, so we checked that box ($800 that included heated front seats and heated windshield washer nozzles, among other amenities). The premium package ($1,500) adds a power moonroof, a power front passenger's seat, and active xenon headlights, and another $550 brings PCC, Volvo's personal car communicator that uses keyless technology to capture security information. Last but not least, we spent an extra $675 for premium electric silver paint. Even with the options, the S60 prices out to a comparatively reasonable $44,800.
Because it's a Volvo, the S60 comes with a plethora of standard electronic safety features, including traction and stability control and City Safety, which uses a sensor to determine whether a collision is imminent and automatically applies the brakes. We've already unwittingly tested the system, which was triggered when the car was leaving the parking structure and rolled up too close to the arm of the parking gate. It proved to be quite jarring, but very effective.
With the summer vacation season rapidly approaching, we expect the S60 to rack up the miles during the next several months. We'll keep you posted on the comings and goings of our newest Four Seasons stablemate.