The handsome and sophisticated 2021 Volvo S60 shares desirable traits with other entry-level luxury sedans, but it also deviates from the traditional formula. People who prioritize driving verve over long-haul comfort will prefer the BMW 3-series or the Genesis G70. Unlike those rear-drive-based rivals, the Volvo uses a front-drive platform that makes it inherently less entertaining. Still, the S60’s trio of four-cylinder engines includes a potent turbo- and supercharged version and a stouter plug-in-hybrid setup that’s optimized on the sport-oriented Polestar model. Inside, the Swedish sedan really shines with cossetting seats, inspired décor, and high-tech features. Aside from its quirky infotainment system and uninspiring base engine, the 2021 S60 serves up all-day satisfaction and cutting-edge style in spades.
What’s New for 2021?
Volvo improves the 2021 S60 lineup in several small ways. All models now come with full LED headlights that turn with the steering wheel, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, two USB-C ports in the back seat, keyless entry with an automatic trunk release, auto-dimming and power-folding exterior mirrors, and the company’s Care Key that allows an owner to set limitations on the vehicle’s top speed. The T8 plug-in hybrid is now branded with the Recharge moniker. Other updates include a no-cost “City Weave” upholstery option, updated speaker cones for the Bowers & Wilkins sound system, and a new gloss-black grille for the R-Design.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
We’d choose the 316-hp, all-wheel-drive T6 powertrain paired with the sporty R-Design trim. Its standard features include front and rear parking sensors, a Harman/Kardon audio system, leather upholstery, added front-seat adjustments and bolsters, a power-operated trunklid, unique exterior trim, and more. We’d also recommend the Climate package (heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, and heated windshield washers) for anyone who lives in a cold-weather climate. And the Advanced package is worth it for the enhanced luxury provided by its 360-degree camera system, additional 12-volt outlet in the cargo area, head-up display, semi-autonomous drive mode, and wireless smartphone charger.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
The S60 T5 has a 250-hp turbocharged four-cylinder that powers the front wheels; the T6 version has standard all-wheel drive and gains 66 horsepower courtesy of its additional supercharger. Power increases to 400 horsepower on the all-wheel-drive Recharge T8 plug-in hybrid, and the top-of-the-line Recharge T8 Polestar is even sportier. Its plug-in-hybrid powertrain makes 415 horsepower and 494 lb-ft of torque and features all-wheel drive. Along with adaptive dampers and exclusive 19-inch wheels, the Polestar edition is solely available as part of the Care by Volvo subscription plan. During a first drive of the higher-spec S60 trim levels, we were extremely impressed with how well they handled. The steering proved to be quick and precise along twisty roads, and there was a remarkable amount of cornering grip. Likewise, both the 316-hp T6 R-Design model and the powerful Recharge T8 Polestar were effectively quick and responsive.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
The S60 has three separate EPA ratings that correspond with its different powertrain configurations. The front-drive T5 models are rated at 23 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway. The more powerful all-wheel-drive T6 versions drop to 21 mpg city and 32 mpg highway. The Recharge T8 plug-in hybrid is expected to earn 69 MPGe and have an all-electric range of 22 miles. We’ve only tested the front-drive T5 and all-wheel-drive T6 models on our 75-mile highway fuel-economy route—part of our extensive testing regimen—and they earned 37 mpg and 31 mpg, respectively.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
Volvo flaunts its superb build quality inside the S60, which displays upscale materials throughout and an uncommon attention to detail. The design is undeniably forward-thinking and replete with flourishes such as jeweled switchgear and supremely comfortably seats. Its deluxe features include a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, ambient interior lighting, a head-up display, massaging front seats, and more. Not only are front-seat passengers cosseted by comfortable and supportive buckets, those in the back seat will appreciate its generous legroom and headroom. Interior cubby space is highlighted by useful door pockets and a center console that boasts a tray with a retractable cover and a handy bin below the armrest. We also managed to fit five carry-on suitcases in the S60’s trunk, which is one less than the 3-series.
Infotainment and Connectivity
Every S60 features a tablet-style Sensus infotainment system that looks stylish but can be frustrating to operate. That’s because some of its touch-sensitive icons are hard to select, and some functions such as the climate controls can be distracting to use. Otherwise, the system benefits from a large volume knob and a useful home button. Every model has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration as standard; a Bowers & Wilkins premium audio system is available, too.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
The 2021 S60 earned a five-star crash-test rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), while the last version that was evaluated by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) was named a Top Safety Pick+. The sultry sedan also has a variety of driver-assistance technology as standard, as well as options such as a semi-autonomous drive mode. Key safety features include:
- Standard forward-collision warning and automated emergency braking
- Standard blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert
- Standard lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
Volvo’s limited and powertrain warranty line up exactly with its luxury rivals. While its complimentary scheduled maintenance covers the same lengthy period as BMW, both are still behind Jaguar’s impressive coverage.
- Limited warranty covers four years or 50,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers four years or 50,000 miles
- Hybrid components are covered for eight years or 100,000 miles
- Complimentary maintenance is covered for three years or 36,000 miles
More Features and Specs