Those of us of a certain age remember when Volvos were boxy sedans and station wagons sold largely on their safety. In the 80s, Volvo's TV commercials were largely videos of their cars in crash tests---including plummeting off cliffs into a concrete pit 45 feet below.
In the past few years, Volvo has figured out how to maintain the safety and blend styling and power into the mix. The big S80 sedan ranks high on my want list since reviewing it three years ago. And now, a lot of what makes the S80 so desirable is available in a mid-size package, the S60.
Just yesterday, I finished a week in the 2020 Volvo S60 T8 E-AWD R-Design. That's a mouthful, so let's decode: The "T8" is Volvo's new twin-engine plug-in hybrid system. it combines a turbocharged and supercharged gasoline engine driving the front wheels with an electric motor driving the rear. So that's full-time four-wheel drive, because of the electric motor, which is the "E-AWD". And "R-Design" is their sport, as opposed to luxury, trim level.
Let's get back to the power part of this package. When it's running as a hybrid, there's a combined 400 horsepower and 425 pounds per foot of torque. That will get you from a standing start to 60 miles per hour in four and a half seconds. And it's more than just brute force. The S60 handles beautifully---it's balanced and composed and, using the adjustable sport mode, your right foot and good judgement, you can dial up and down the car's aggressive nature to suit roads and conditions.
Then, there's the plug-in part of the hybrid. For short trips, you can switch to pure electric vehicle mode and drive for 21 miles without using a drop of gas or putting a particle of pollution into the air. You can recharge at home, at a public charger or, while driving, use the regular battery to recharge the plug-in battery---which also regains charge by converting the friction of braking into electricity.
In its dual-power hybrid mode, the 2020 Volvo S80 T8 E-AWD R-Design gets an EPA-estimated 30 miles per gallon combined city and highway. Remember---we're talking about a car with 400 horsepower. That's astonishing fuel economy. Charge it every time, use that 21 miles of pure electric range and then let the car automatically switch over to hybrid mode and the EPA estimate jumps to a combined 69 miles per gallon.
Base price for the 2020 Volvo S60 T8 E-AWD R-Design is $55,400. And there's a long list of standard features beyond the powerplant:
- Eight speed automatic transmission.
- Automatic start/stop.
- Adjustable drive mode settings.
- Advanced Electronic Stability Control.
- Electric power-assisted steering.
- 18-inch alloy wheels.
- 12.3-inch digital driver display.
- Integrated touchscreen featuring Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, navigation and Volvo On Call with a free four-year subscription, including mobile app with remote start and send to car.
- Wi-fi hotspot with complimentary trial subscription.
- Two front USB ports.
- LED headlights with "Thor's Hammer" daytime running lights.
- Automatic high beams.
- Active bending lights.
- Blind spot information system with steer assist.
- Cross-traffic alert with auto brake.
- Pilot Assist driver assist system with adaptive cruise control.
- Collision avoidance.
- Low and high-speed collision mitigation.
- Lane departure warning and lane-keeping aid.
- Oncoming mitigation.
- Whiplash protection system in front seats.
- 360-degree surround camera.
- Laminated panoramic moonroof with power sunshade.
- R-Design Nappa leather and open grid textile.
- R-Design leather sport steering wheel and gearshift knob.
- Paddle shifters.
- Sport pedals.
- Heated front seats.
- 10-way power front seats with memory and four-way power lumbar.
- Power front seat cushion extenders.
- Power foldable rear-seat headrests.
- Graphical head-up display.
- Auto-dimming interior and exterior mirrors.
- Tailored dashboard.
- Metal mesh aluminum inlays.
- Keyless entry and drive.
- HomeLink garage door opener.
- Two-zone automatic climate control with CleanZone.
Our test vehicle also had some extra-cost options:
- Heated rear seats and heated steering wheel: $750.
- Metallic paint: $645.
- Bowers and Wilkins premium sound system: $3,200 (and the one option I wouldn't skimp on---it's phenomenal).
- Park assist pilot: $200.
- 19-inch R-Design alloy wheels: $800.
With $995 destination charge, the bottom line on the window sticker reads $61,990.
That sounds like a chunk, but it's a little more than $5,000 less than the 2020 BMW M340i we tested back in October, which is smaller, less powerful and less fuel-efficient (but still an amazing car). In other words, this is what this level of performance, features and solidity go for these days. And the Volvo S60 T8 E-AWD R-Design has a lot to recommend it.