Thursday, March 3, 2016

Technology-laden Volvo also high on safety, luxury

Mark Glover’s AutoGlo car reviews also can be seen on the Business page of The Sacramento Bee’s website

Sacramento, California ­– Every now and then, automakers will tag a well-known motor vehicle model with a fancy additional label, reflecting glorious add-ons and extras for which you’ll be paying more money.

For the 2016 model year, Volvo has done this with its S60 luxury sedan.  My tester officially was known as the 2016 Volvo S60 T5 Inscription FWD.  Inscription is the key word here.

Volvo says Inscription translates to premium-level S60 versions.

I will say this: The tester was absolutely loaded with oh-wow technology, security/safety features and comfort/luxury/convenience perks.  Loaded, I tell you.

The vehicle’s standard starting fare of $38,700 was pretty nice in this class.  Alas, the blizzard of extras pushed the  purchase price to $45,925.

That being said, the tested S60 was so full of technology wonders that I considered the sticker’s bottom line a reasonable figure.

The S60 T5 Inscription looks luxurious and aerodynamic from the outside.  I particularly like the grille with the familiar chrome slash/Volvo logo design.

Inside, passengers get a bonus with plentiful legroom, courtesy of a three-inch stretch in the standard wheelbase on this 2016 offering.

The vehicle vigorously scoots along with a turbocharged, 2-liter, four-cylinder engine rated at 240 horsepower handling the chores.  My ride had a seamless, eight-speed automatic transmission.  Simply put, the S60 handled like a champ in city traffic, dicey freeway commutes and on twisty mountain roads.
Fuel mileage is very nice for this sector: 25 miles per gallon in the city and 37 mpg on the highway.  A start/stop engine feature can be disabled, which I did consistently.

Interior comforts were excellent, and numerous.

The lineup included a power glass moonroof, leather seating surfaces, power folding rear seats and sport front seats with power lumbar support.

With Volvo involved, primo safety features could be found bumper to bumper.  The car seemed entirely capable of saving your life even in the nastiest of crashes.

Even so, a couple of the systems tried my patience.

The collision-warning system, a nerve-jangling tech piece with flashing lights and an audible alarm, was super-sensitive.  It triggered at least a dozen times during my week, which would be about 10 more than normal.  In truth, I think I had one close call in commuter traffic that warranted the triggering of the system.

The other thing I noticed was Volvo’s “Lane Keeping Aid,” a system that employs a forward-facing camera to identify road markings and continually evaluate whether you are staying within your lane, or drifting out of it.  It will not activate if you used a turn signal to indicate a lane change.

However, if you are, say, gliding up an exit ramp and angling right to make your right turn at the top of the ramp, the system starts maneuvering the steering wheel around to correct this perceived mistake.  It startled me several times, although the wheel adjustments were subtle, not forceful.

I’m chalking all that up to “everybody needs as much protection and help as they can get behind the wheel these days,” but control freaks be advised: You’ve been warned.

Given everything, this S60 T5 with Inscription badging gets a B-plus to A-minus grade as a new offering.

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