The Ultimate Plug-In Hybrid Sedan?
There was a time when Volvos were thought of as boxy sedans that were known for one thing, superlative safety reports. The new S60 Recharge has broken that mold. Sure, it’s still very safe, but it is also an excellent plug-in hybrid that is both stylish and can whisk you from zero to 60 mph in about 4.2 seconds. It is the most powerful Volvo to date, offering a whopping 455 horsepower and 523 pound-feet of torque thanks to a turbocharged and supercharged 2-liter inline four engine paired with an electric motor. Top speed is a respectable 131 miles per hour.
Startling acceleration aside, the S60 was not built to take on BMW’s M cars, but rather as a competent and confident four-door sedan that pulls back on its top speed times thanks to a rev limiter. While the Recharge can do a quarter mile in 12.5 seconds at a speed of 112 mph, the limiter starts cutting power at about 110 mph. That contradiction seems to be the balance Volvo was looking for. It is both fast and charismatic while at the same time safe in the original Volvo mold.
What this car does best to provide a rational and respectable hybrid to the masses. It’s 14.9 kWh battery pack allows you to do your daily driving in EV Pure Mode alone, taking you an EPA-estimated 42 miles before it need a recharge. In Hybrid Mode, the Recharge shifts between electric and gasoline power effortlessly giving you an EPA estimated 37 MPGe on the highway. It’s around town EV status means you can charge the S60 overnight and never really need to fill up with gas unless you are planning a long trip. So, the roomy sedan may offer the best of all worlds.
New for 2023
The S60 got a facelift for 2023 that shaves the looks of the front end and bumpers for a sleeker design and includes LED projection headlights and gloss black 19-inch wheels on the Black Edition shod in Pirelli P Zero all-season tires. The overall profile of the car is similar in many ways to the BMW 3-series. It’s a great-looking car.
Inside, there is plenty of room for five tall passengers and 13.8 cubic feet of space in the trunk. A 60/40 split in the rear seats allow for even more storage space. The cockpit showcases a panoramic sunroof and there is both a high-resolution digital instrument display and a head’s up display. A nine-inch infotainment touchscreen offers the latest Google operating system which responds instantly with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The gear selector knob is said to be made from crystal. Driver visibility is very good and the overall choice of materials, as well as fit and finish is excellent. It feels like an upscale car both inside and out.
On the other hand, though its straight-line numbers are impressive, this is no Porsche. Handling and suspension is reasonable but not thrilling. The Recharge is still a family hauler first and foremost. For instance, braking from 70 mph takes 178 feet. Though the Volvo brakes are pretty much fade proof, they feel more mild than wild. And that’s true for the suspension as well. The fact that you can’t turn off the traction or stability control tells you that this is still a very safe and responsible car that just happens to accelerate pretty darned quick for all its mild-mannered roots.
The Black Edition
For our road test we chose the upscale Black Edition in its cloak of Crystal White Metallic paint and Onyx Black Metallic wheels and details. While the MSRP for the Core model starts at $52,345, the Black Edition is ten grand more and includes such bells and whistles as a mighty Bowers & Wilkins sound system, heated seats front and back, and a heated steering wheel. You’ll also get a head’s up display and the latest Google-based infotainment system.
Other options include a four-way power lumbar leather seats in charcoal gray that are just excellent. You can drive this car all day and into the night with little fatigue. A 360-camera setup makes sure you can see where you’re going from a bird’s eye view, and the Black Edition includes adaptive cruise control. Driver assist features border on autonomous travel with what the automaker calls Pilot Assist. This includes automatic braking with cruise control functions that actually keeps the car in your lane, even in curves. You also get blind spot monitoring, cross traffic alert, and rear collision warning.
Behind the Wheel
What’s it like to drive? Here’s the scoop. Once you start the vehicle, you select the drive mode from the touchscreen. These include Hybrid, Power, Pure (for electric only), and All-wheel drive. Oddly enough, you push the crystal gear selector knob forward to put the car in reverse. Pull the selector toward you and you’re in drive. Pull towards you again and the regenerative braking mode is activated for one pedal driving.
Once you are on the road you’ll find the turning radius to be very tight and the response when accelerating is instant and daunting. Mid-range power is impressive as well. You can jump from 50 to 70 mph in a heartbeat. You can likewise pass another vehicle on the highway with supreme ease. In Pure Mode, driving is light and seamless. You’d think this sedan is a pure EV. The ride quality is pleasantly firm and the chassis feels much like other quality European sport sedans.
Being that this is a Volvo, you are always aware that it is a safe place to be. Even with 455 horsepower, the feeling is both sedate and luxurious. There is a feeling of softness merged with all that power, much like jumping off a diving board with a goose down pillow over your face. In Hybrid Mode, the cabin is still very quiet as you cruise along, floating along the highway, in pure comfort and control.
The ABS brakes work well but are not overly inspiring. In fact, everything in this car works flawlessly… if with little passion. Even with great gobs of torque at hand, it is a reserved and rather calm ride, a pleasant though uninspiring experience. The word “vanilla” comes to mind when thinking about how it feels behind the wheel.
However, in summation, let’s think about why this car exists. It isn’t meant to be the fastest or most dynamic performance beast on the road. It is, simply put, a luxury sedan that offers excellent fuel economy and even all-electric around town driving. And when it comes to all that, it truly rules the roost.
Volvo S60 Recharge
The Volvo S60 Recharge comes with a starting MSRP of $52,345 and features geared for all of life’s twists and turns. Dynamic details include luxury tailored wool blend upholstery, new aerodynamic wheels designs for Recharge cars, and 41 miles of all-electric travel before it switches to hybrid mode and 74 MPGe combined. The S60 Recharge brings you tomorrow without compromising your driving experience today. Explore the Recharge lineup and many other great vehicles by visiting the GreenCars Buyer's Guide.