2017 Volvo S60 T5 AWD Dynamic - Unapologetic Nordic Sports Sedan Zag - Quick Review

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(Contributing Editor: Tomasz Paluch)

Perhaps from the influence of the fjords (inlets) along the coastline not far from their Gothenburg headquarters, Swedish luxury carmaker Volvo always seems to Zag as their Teutonic rivals Zig; Back in 2013 the brand raised industry eyebrows when it announced that never again would a petroleum powerplant having more numerous than 4 cylinders power their products, and that eventually a process of battery electric hybridization would permeate their future lineups.

 

Indeed back in 2014 "Drive...He Said" sampled Volvo's switch to new forced induction 4-cylinder Drive-E locomotion. We mused it to be plenty powerful and simultaneously frugal. But the new Drive-E Aisin 8-speed transaxle was supposedly not yet ready for all-wheel drive, then only available on the outgoing 5- and 6-cylinder S60/V60/XC60 models.

 

In 2016 Volvo finally mated Borg-Warner Haldex 5 all-wheel drive to Drive-E. A combo we now examine on the 2017 Volvo S60 T5 AWD.

 

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WHAT: 2017 Volvo S60 T5 AWD Dynamic compact executive sport sedan. Code name: GL. Post mid-cycle update of D3 2nd generation.

Powertrain: transverse intercooled turbocharged 2.0L Otto cycle VVT DOHC 16V DI gas I-4 = 240 hp/ 258 (280 overboost) lb-ft + 8-spd. locking torque converter automatic planetary transmission, with 2016 MY addition of Haldex 5 AWD to Drive-E system.

WHAT (A) STYLING (DIFFERENCE): Only remaining vestige of  "Hip to Be Square" styling of old 700 series is tall trunk back; Now into its 7th year, the hallmark sharply raked hood, belt-line, with coupe-like roof and short overhangs mimic Volvo's upper-right tilted arrow symbol for steel; Adding the Sport package 19" diamond-cut smoked wheels qualifies the S60 as the Elsa Hosk of compact executive saloons (though Elsa might prefer being compared to the V60 "Sport Vagn).

WHY: For those who prefer boiled Lutefisk och Potatis to Wiener Schnitzel und Spaetzle.

WHEN: On-Sale (in the U.S.) since late fall 2016

WHERE: Volvo new car dealers

WHERE MADE: Ghent, Belgium

HOW STRONG: Borg-Warner intercooled turbo spools up fast, managing 10 second overboost capability for 23 psi in gears 2-8; Aisin 8-speed can make a full 3-gear downshift, occasionally upshifting with hesitance; 2.0L DOHC I-4 is whimpers compared to old I-5 grumble, All-wheel drive's 200 lbs. > than front-drive model makes for tamer acceleration, barely avoiding under-steer;

HOW LIMBER: Expect occasional glaring lags in steering response to inputs; While electric assist effort can be firmed up, it's not altogether noticeable at high speeds; Electric assist steering rack is nearly too quick, but delivers abundant road feel; Faster damping sport suspension complements chassis stiffness with less jarring by Himalayan road buckles than witnessed in the past;

HOW FAR: 26 miles-per-gallon (combined city/highway);

HOW BIG/ LITTLE: The U.S. EPA classifies the 2017 Volvo S60 as a compact sedan while a 2017 Hyundai Elantra makes the mid-size cut; and B) Most competition has since grown in length; High seat cushions cannibalize head-room; Row 2 leg room 2" < 2017 Honda Civic & requires knee splaying at the corners; The middle position is best left to affix a child seat; P.S: A Chinese assembled stretched wheelbase S60 Insignia is available;

HOW USEFUL: Trunk = 1 full size + 2 large carry-on suit-cases;  2nd Row 60:40% seat back folding split + pass though 2 x 12V power ports; -1 Limited door pocket & center front armrest bin storage; -1 Storage behind floating center stack = non-concealed; -1 USB ports x 1; -1 Thick, goose-neck trunk-lid hinges impinge;

HOW SAFE: IIHS 2017 Top Pick Plus winner: 10 airbags ; Driver assist technology: City Safety = Low speed collision avoidance self braking; LED Blind Spot & forward distance alert; Rear Cross traffic warning; Pedestrian detection full self-braking; Adaptive HID w/ auto high-beam headlamps; Adaptive Cruise Control w/ auto hold; Lane Keep assist "Hand-less" on sharper bends;  Road Sign information; -1 Rear camera view distant on deep recessed 7" media screen;

HOW FRIENDLY: Leather Front Sport Buckets = Baseball Mitt for [narrower girth] Humans; Automatic seat heating; Triple channel door seals and thicker glass have improved cabin muting; White-on-black analog TFT triple gauge cluster; Multi-function display now polychromic, but still sparse on info.

Cool Gizmo(s): Sensus 3-mode full-color TFT gauge cluster; Floating center stack; Alternating curbside motorized side-mirror tilt; Power flip-down Row 2 headrests;

Details Done Right: Soft-touch lower door panels; Turned & polished aluminum accents; Seated human anatomical climate control layout;

Nearly Non-Descript: -1 35 Center stack button switches NOT SO SWEDE; -1 Door latch release far fore of door pull cup = unwieldy to balance; -1 Dash top monolithic and front cover finish dour; -1 Steering wheel horizontal spoke controls lack tactile distinction;

HOW "APP" -LICABLE: Volvo Sensus 7"-inch LCD though recessed = first generation phablet lacking touch capability; Encylopedic menus hampered by cumbersome rotary dial control;

Android Auto and Apple Car Play unlikely to appear until adoption of latest Sensus infotainment; On-board GPS Navigation browser searches = S-L-O-W...; On-board subscription-based 3G WiFi = S-L-O-W-E-R & not worth the money; A bevy of apps such as Pandora, Aha & Stitcher sync separately to corresponding smart phone apps; Sirius XM subscription services; +1 Harman Kardon 650 5.1 DTS = finally redeems for loss of aurally sensuous Dynaudio systems, with A$$ tight BA$$;

HOW MUCH: $44,195 , 2017 Volvo S60 T5 Dynamic AWD

WHAT'S MISSING: More direct steering reaction; Heated steering wheel; 21st century Infotainment display;

ANY COMPETITION: Acura TLX, Audi A4 Quattro, Buick Regal GS AWD; Nissan Maxima, Volkswagen CC;

BOTTOM LINE: Pleasing, non-ubiquitous alternative to Teutonic compact executive sports sedan gang.

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