Date: May 2012
Months in Fleet: 11
Current Mileage: 24,414
Average Fuel Economy: 24 mpg
Average Range: 427 miles
Service: $ 0
Normal Wear: $ 0
Repair: $ 0
Damage and Destruction: $ 0
When our long-term Volvo S60 T6 played dead several times early in its life, necessitating a trip back to the brand’s U.S. headquarters in New Jersey for the installation of a new wiring harness and five fresh control modules, visions of lemons danced in our imagination. Thankfully, the frustrating electrical glitch was exorcised and our S60 has hardly missed a beat during its last five months of faithful service.
We interrupted the S60’s travels four times during this period. The first of those stops was to install a set of Michelin Pilot Alpin PA3 winter tires, which cost $ 973.48 including shipping. That rubber got us through the slippery months without issue, in part because of the warm winter that Michigan enjoyed this year, although complaints of too much understeer with these tires started popping up in the logbook. After three months with the Michelins, we were back on the Volvo’s original set of Continental ContiSportContact 3 radials. Two service stops—at 15,000 and 22,500 miles—took care of mandatory oil changes and inspections covering a dozen or so items. The cabin air filter also was replaced at 15,000 miles. Our out-of-pocket cost for these dealer visits was zilch, which left a warm fuzzy feeling in our corporate wallet.
Since our last update, six different logbook scribblers gave the front seats high praise, touting their ability to provide pain-free support during long stints in the saddle. Better than a visit to the chiropractor, the S60’s front buckets are easy to enter, initially soothing to a harried backside, and comfortable for days at a time. Most of us have lounge chairs at home not nearly as inviting as this Volvo’s front buckets. That said, one critic tempered his endorsement by noting that rear-seat occupants are less fortunate: Space in back can be an issue for those long of limb.
We’ve been able to live with the S60’s broad arsenal of safety warnings without hardship. Volvo’s Distance Alert is a dramatic but occasionally handy wake-up light that flashes when you loom too close to a car in your lane. The adaptive cruise control is the painless way to maintain a safe distance from any car that impedes your rate of travel. Unfortunately, the speed adjustments default to 5-mph increments when it’s active, requiring a press of the Resume button to jump up by 1 mph, and there’s no way to go down by 1, which discourages fine-tuning. The lane departure warning, automatically enabled after each engine start, could be considered a revisit to driver’s ed. because it beeps annoyingly every time you fail to signal a lane change. Contributing editor Tony Swan thought the beeps sounded like the first few bars of the William Tell Overture, prompting a check of the mirrors to see if the Lone Ranger might be in the next lane. Fortunately, that refrain can be switched off at the touch of a center-console button. Swan also characterized entering an address in the navigation system as a tedious process.
For the most part, those alerts remain in the background until you need them. An S60 attribute we came to enjoy more frequently is the deep well of energy on tap when you need to dive into a traffic hole. As quickly as the right pedal goes down, the turbo six spools up to provide assertive forward thrust. Without a hint of commotion or any theatrics, you’re able to seize your rightful place in the ebb and flow. The readily available acceleration moved us to think of this car as a 3-series in a plain-white wrapper. The 24 mpg we’ve experienced the last few months is comparable to what we’d expect from a 335i automatic.
You Don’t Have to Shout
To keep us from falling too deeply in like, this Volvo teased one of our test drivers with a weird anomaly during an evening drive home. John Phillips, an editor with the uncanny ability to cause electrons to scramble in fear, reported that the S60’s radio suddenly froze while playing full volume on a station not of his choosing. (We’re guessing our road warriors set him up for audio punishment before he commenced his drive.) Finding the volume and tuning controls unresponsive, Phillips pulled the car to the side of the road and shut down all systems. Mercifully, the radio display went dark. Phillips chose a station to his liking and continued on his way. Fifteen minutes later, the radio froze again . . . at full volume on a station he didn’t select. To give the electrons a respite, he’s sworn off driving the Volvo for a month.
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