Four on the floor

All-Wheel-Drive for the Masses: 2013 Volvo S60 T5 Sedan

With fresh changes to design language inside and outside of recent models like the XC60 and C30, Volvo has impressed buyers in the luxury/European markets, tempting some potential German-made owners to their (safe) side of the road. In hopes of continuing that trend, Volvo’s released an affordable AWD option for their entry-level, 2.5L engine 2013 S60 T5 Sedan ($31,750+) to compete with the Quattro, X-Drive and 4Matic options of the world.

Learn more and see photos of our ride in the AWD S60 T5 Sedan after the break.

This 5th generation Haldex AWD system gives the S60 a 50/50 traction split at launch, which spreads to a 60/40 split when speeding along wet Swedish roads — yet relaxes to provide 95% of power to the front wheels while drivers casually head out for a casual dinner of, say, meatballs and aquavit. Usually, the addition of a 200-lb AWD system would steal precious quickness and kill both performance and fuel economy — but the S60 somehow manages to rack up 20/29 mpg city/highway while getting you to 60 mph in 6.6 seconds. Inherently, all this comes with heaps of standard safety features, including Volvo’s City Safety, which uses a closing velocity sensor that readies the brakes or completely stops the car to help avoid that day-ruining fender bender.

What Volvo’s done here is create a sporting all-wheel drive, near-luxury sedan at an incredibly reasonable price. Covered in Ice White and trimmed out in one of the best interiors available, our AWD version of this 2013 S60 ($38,170) just had to be tested in the right environment. We thought the mountains and back roads just outside the 2002 Winter Olympic’s home in Salt Lake City were a perfect testing ground.

A Tron-inspired gear shift greets the driver, fitting in well against the brushed aluminium console and characteristically minimalist Volvo interior. The trappings are a little otherworldly and futuristic, but not uncomfortably so. All the elements of Volvo safety are present and readily noticed: doors closed with a thud, the seats were firm and even the seat belts had a click that seems to whisper “trust me” (we do). Steering was well balanced, despite a strangely thick steering wheel.

The confidence of AWD had us pushing the grip in the corners, which resulted in slight body roll. Overall, the car is more on the stiff, tight side. At lower speeds it even seemed a little heavy. The launch to 60 mph, however, felt much quicker than numbers would communicate; there was a nice spooling and releasing of the turbo, without that cheap hiss reminiscent of the Fast and Furious fleet. Once we hit — and exceeded — 60 mph, the car really came to life. Zipping through the expansive Utah scenery, it wasn’t hard to imagine ourselves careening through the Volvo’s native Swedish territory in the summer.

Having the AWD available on this smaller engine is not only nice from a wallet perspective, but saves weight (as well all know, the two enemies of speed are weight and cops). Overall, it’s a well-balanced car that — much like a Swedish model — is ready for fun, as long as you initiate.