Friday, January 18, 2013

Volvo sedan lives up to expectations, and more

Mark Glover’s AutoGlo car reviews also can be seen on the business page of The Sacramento Bee’s website – via the “GALLERY: Reviews of new cars” link at

Sacramento, California – For far too many years, Volvo has been underappreciated.

I can’t even put my finger on it, because Volvo once meant high-class cars with world-class safety features.

And yet, now I too often hear a bitter litany that goes something like this: Too vanilla, plain-Jane styling, unexciting, overpriced, Mercedes-Benz pretender, old yuppie’s middle-age crisis and grandpa’s car.

Wow, who knew slander could be so diverse?

I recently had a week behind the wheel of a 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD sedan, and here’s my take: aerodynamically stylish, perfect fit-and-finish, stout off the line and on the fly, absolutely loaded with comfort/tech features, safety features deserving of the highest honors, bank vault-quiet, smooth and seemingly respected by neighbors and fellow motorists alike.

All this for a list price of well under $40,000.  So, what’s not to like?

It occurred to me that the nation of Sweden – seat of Volvo’s long-standing DNA – doesn’t get much attention on the world stage, but the quality of life in that country consistently ranks among the highest in the world.

And so it with this particular S60.

I particularly ate up the 2.5-liter, turbocharged, five-cylinder engine rated at 250 horses.  It’s a serious performer, and yet the package qualifies as an Ultra-Low Emissions Vehicle.  That’s a notable accomplishment among peppy power plants.  Ask your local automotive engineer.

The all-wheel-drive system, highly touted by Volvo for this model year, is spot-on, ride-the-rails perfect.

Fuel mileage is, well, OK at 20 miles per gallon in the city and 29 mpg on the highway.

The interior luxury and safety packages are, in my estimation, what you’d expect on a $60,000 machine.  The bottom line on my tester, however, showed an entirely reasonable $38,170.  Federal government safety ratings on the car were the max five stars, across the board.

So, fine, you want to keep lobbing verbal shots at Volvo, go right ahead.  In my view, the smart folks are driving them.

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