It’s been a decade since the Volvo S60 first arrived, signaling the Swedish carmaker’s welcome departure from its traditional boxy design language.  The S60 also marked a more aggressive and sporty direction for the brand, overall.  Well, 10 years is a long time to wait for a redesign, but it’s finally here.  So, let’s see if the new 2011 S60 takes fresh pavement once again.

Our initial drive of the new 2011 Volvo S60 took us to the Pacific Northwest, just outside of Portland, Oregon, where endless evergreen forests and majestic Mount Hood served as a backdrop for our first-drive of this second generation Swedish sports sedan.

Built on a revised Y70 platform, the same one used by the S80, as well as the previous S60, wheelbase is up almost two and a half inches, with overall length up an inch. Size is similar to rivals like the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Audi A4, and BMW 3-Series.

Touting more assertive styling, the S60 is spearheaded with a larger grille, more aggressive-looking headlamps, and a decisively sculpted hood.

Its taut, shapely profile is highlighted by curved surfaces and what Volvo refers to as a double-wave form line that flows from front to rear.

The back-view of the car is framed by bold new taillights.  And the short deck combines with a concise rear overhang for classic sport sedan character.

The S60 rides confidently atop 18-inch alloy wheels.

In the U.S., initial power for the all-wheel drive S60 comes from a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six.

Output is 300 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque at only 2100 rpm. A 5-cylinder will join the lineup next year.

Volvo claims the six is 0 to 60 capable in 5.8 seconds.  Though that seems a little ambitious, the S60 does deliver strong acceleration, both off the line and in mid-sprint.  Power flows through a six-speed automatic only, but with manual shift mode. Haldex all-wheel drive is standard.

But the S60’s most impressive performance attributes rest upon its refined handling properties, which are the culmination of a faster steering ratio, stiffer suspension, and an all-around more rigid structure than the previous car.

The S60 also offers three separate chassis tunings: Touring-for the cushiest highway ride-Dynamic, and the Four-C Active Chassis, an improved continuous adjustable damper system with three modes: Comfort, Sport, and Advanced.

We put all of this new hardware to our test at Oregon Raceway in Grass Valley.  This highly-technical fourteen-turn track has over 400 feet of elevation changes per lap.  And several blind curves, making it ideal for putting the Four-C chassis through its paces.  Our S60 cornered hard with plenty of grip and balance.

Volvo’s Dynamic Stability Traction Control, seemed to step in a little early at times, but it was not overly excessive. All-wheel drive did not add noticeable understeer, while new Corner Traction Control torque vectoring allowed the S60 to power precisely out of turns on this very demanding track.

For normal duty, owners will find the upscale interior of the new S60 combines a sporty cockpit feel with classic Swedish styling cues.  The gauges have a bright, modern look, but despite a driver canted, floating waterfall center stack, some of the controls are starting to look dated.

Seats mimic pieces of high-end furniture.  Thick, padded, and very comfortable, they’re excellent for spirited driving as well as long-distance treks.

But upstaging seating is technology.  As a flagship for the cutting-edge, the S60 will debut the world’s first Pedestrian Detection System with Full Auto Brake.  This radar- and camera-based system can bring the car to a complete stop in order to avoid a collision with a pedestrian.

A full suite of available driver-assistance technologies includes such features as Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane Departure Warning. 

There’s also an optional camera in the front grille with a 180 degree field of vision, to help with parking.

And the optional navigation system can now be controlled by voice command.

The rear seat of the S60 offers two extra inches of legroom over the previous car.  There’s also a 60/40 split fold, and pass-through, which along with a flat folding front passenger seat, adds greatly to the versatility of the otherwise modest 12.0 cubic foot trunk.

Government Fuel Economy for the new S60 is 18 city/26 highway, but surprisingly on regular gas.

The Energy Impact Score is 16.3 barrels of oil consumed per year, with a moderate Carbon Footprint of 8.9 annual tons of CO2 emitted.

With no entry-level powertrain yet available, the 2011 Volvo S60 takes a big step up in price, now starting at $38,550.  Fully-loaded it tops 50 grand.

After a full decade, the 2011 Volvo S60 takes a major leap forward in performance as it becomes a much more serious Euro sport sedan contender. Combine that with Volvo’s timeless quest for safety and occupant comfort, and this road Viking is the Swedish four-door for a new age. 


  • Engine: 3.0-Liter Turbocharged Inline-six
  • Horsepower: 300
  • Torque: 325 Lb Feet
  • 0-60 MPH: 5.8 Seconds
  • EPA: 18 MPG City/ 26 MPG Highway
  • Energy Impact 16.3 Barrels Oil/Yr:
  • CO2 Emissions: 8.9 Tons/Yr