If there’s one thing Volvo cars have always been known for, it’s safety. But in recent years they’ve also become known for luxury, performance, and even exterior styling. So when Volvo engineers set about to enhance the 2002 S60 sedan, they already had a pretty impressive package. What do you add to a car that already has luxury, performance, and style?

In the case of the Volvo S60 sedan, Volvo engineers have taken a fairly complete package and greatly enhanced it by adding a popular Volvo wagon feature, all-wheel drive. The result: the 2002 Volvo S60 AWD.

Called Active On-Demand, this new addition to the S60 is, like the all-wheel drive system in the V70 wagon, totally automatic and completely independent of any driver input. But this all-new AOD system from Haldex of Sweden uses sophisticated electronics, a wet multi-plate clutch, and a mechanical pump and control valve to move up to 50% of the torque from the front to the rear wheels when needed. A small electric pump pre-pressurizes the system so that power transfer is almost instantaneous.

Mounted to the front of the rear differential is an electronic module that controls the electric pump and the oil control valve. As part of the car’s Multiplex computer system, this module not only communicates with the engine and brake control modules, but also with the standard Stability Traction Control system and the now optional DSTC Dynamic Stability and Traction control system. This optimizes the all-wheel drive in every driving situation.

Under normal driving conditions, the S60 performs in front-wheel drive mode. But as soon as slippage is detected the oil control valve is opened, allowing fluid into the wet clutch which in turn engages the rear wheels. Operation is very smooth and virtually undetectable.

Providing the power is Volvo’s light pressure, inter-cooled turbocharged 2.4 liter 5 cylinder with 197 horsepower and 210 pound-feet of torque. It feeds a 5-speed automatic transmission with self-shift Geartronic and winter modes. Geartronic is standard on the all-wheel drive S60, but optional on the front-drive 2.4T and the T5.

At the track, our drivers found the heavier all-wheel drive hardware had little impact the S60’s acceleration and quarter mile times. 0 to 60 comes in at 7.4 seconds, just three tenths off the 0 to 60 time of the standard 2001 2.4T we tested last year. The quarter mile passed in 15.7 seconds at 89 MPH, only one tenth and 2 MPH slower. We found the all-wheel drive does launch you off the line a little firmer. And for 2002, throttle management has been improved for a quicker response. The 5-speed automatic is nearly seamless. But while using the Geartronic manual mode is entertaining, it won’t lower your elapse times. But the S60’s fine braking system, 4-wheel discs with ABS, Electronic Brake Distribution, and new for 2002, Emergency Brake Assist, will enhance your peace of mind. We averaged uneventful stops from 60 in an average 121 feet. Pedal feel is a little soft and there’s not much feedback from the ABS system, but stability is first rate, with nary a quiver from side to side.

But when you do want to go from side to side, you’ll find the S60 plenty stable there, too. The addition of all-wheel drive has virtually eliminated the understeer on turn ins, offering instead plenty of new found grip. The MacPherson strut front/multi-link independent rear suspension handles the weight transfer with little noticeable body roll. And, if you push the S60 hard, the back end lightens up just a touch, helping you to get through the corners even quicker.

As we’ve said before, the S60 is as fine a sport sedan as it is a luxury family tourer, delivering that responsive handling without sacrificing its excellent highway ride. Made all the more pleasant by comfy seats that are some of the best in the business. Standard 8-way power adjust for the driver, manual adjust for the front passenger, and full leather as an option. The tilt/telescoping steering wheel features integrated audio and cruise controls. The familiar gauges are clear and concise, if too few. While the controls in the center stack are laid out in a logical fashion. The general dash design is borrowed from the S80 and it’s still one of our favorites.

And while the rear seats are nearly as comfortable as those in front, we really miss the nearly three inches of leg room that was removed when the car went from being an S70 to an S60. The rear seats do fold, however, with a 60/40 split, and the trunk offers a competitive 13.9 cubic feet of cargo capacity.

Prices on the 2002 S60 All-Wheel Drive start at $34,000. That’s $1,750 over the base price for a front drive S60 with the 2.4T engine, and we think it’s well worth it.

In this age of hype and overblown expectations, we must admit that when we hear the phrase, ‘‘new and improved’’ we’re more than skeptical. But we’ve also learned that we can trust the words of a few brands like Volvo. And with the 2002 S60 AWD, they really have made a great car even better!


  • Engine: 2.4 Liter 5 Cylinder
  • Horsepower: 197
  • Torque: 210 Lb Feet
  • 0-60 MPH: 7.4 Seconds
  • 1/4 Mile: 15.7 Seconds @ 89 MPH
  • 60-0 MPH: 121 Feet
  • EPA Mileage: 21 MPG City 28 MPG Highway