2024 Volvo S60 Recharge Review and Test Drive
A familiar sedan experience that's still plenty compelling.
The current generation Volvo S60 has been on the market for five years now, with only a slight mid-cycle refresh last year. That's a long time for a sedan with luxury challenger aspirations to sit still on the market. Yet, after spending a week in the 2024 S60 Recharge, I'm still struck by how well its unique blend of conservative style, sophisticated comfort, and subtle luxury rings true.
Three Trims for the 2024 Volvo S60
You can choose between two versions of the 2024 Volvo S60. The automaker calls the base model the S60 B5 and equips it with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine, mild-hybrid technology, and front-wheel drive (FWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD). The S60 Recharge T8 has a plug-in hybrid drivetrain and standard AWD. You'll spend roughly $10,000 to upgrade from the base S60 T5 FWD to the most affordable S60 Recharge T8 AWD variant.
Each S60 model is available in Core, Plus, or Ultimate trim. The S60 T5 Core starts in the low $40,000s while the S60 Recharge T8 Ultimate has a base price in the high $50,000s, not including the destination charge to ship the car from the Ridgeville, South Carolina, assembly plant to your local dealership.
For this review, Volvo provided me with a one-week loan of an S60 Recharge Ultimate in upstate New York. It came with just two options. The Climate package added heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, and cleaners for the headlights. It also had the Bowers & Wilkins high-end audio system. The test car's manufacturer's suggested retail price was $62,445, including the $1,095 destination charge.
Depending on where you live, the S60 Recharge could be eligible for state or local rebates and incentives. However, the S60 Recharge is not eligible for any federal incentives.
The 2024 Volvo S60 Recharge Is Eye Catching, Not Head Turning
The look of modern Volvos is often likened to Scandinavian furniture design, and it's a difficult parallel to avoid. Great Scandinavian furniture has a simple, familiar look, and that's a great way to describe the S60.
Starting with the Thor's hammer headlights up front and sweeping back gradually to the tall taillights at the rear, the S60 doesn't look fresh by any means, nor does it look dated. It simply looks good. It's a car that will earn compliments, even in the understated shade of Thunder Gray.
The interior is more striking and memorable without being as shouty as the ornate, LED-festooned interiors in many BMWs and Mercedes-Benzes. The highlight here is the test car's lovely charcoal upholstery, a wool blend that is great to admire and even better to feel. While leather is still the default for luxury seating, Volvo has consistently shown there's room for more adventurous materials.
That gray weave pairs perfectly with the driftwood inlays on the dashboard, highlighted by a subtle sweep of bright metal that bisects the dashboard. The rest of the interior is largely vinyl or plastic. Still, the materials are appealing throughout, including the carpet that runs up the center transmission tunnel, a space usually covered in cheap, brittle plastics by most manufacturers.
Controls at this point are familiar on the Volvo, but similarly high end. The Orrefors Sweden crystal shifter is far and away the most ostentatious bit of the interior, but it has an excellent feel, as does the big, chunky volume knob that is an absolute pleasure to spin.
Left thumb controls on the steering wheel handle cruise control duties, including enabling Volvo's Pilot Assist system. Media controls are on the right, as well as a button for toggling between the three gauge cluster views (map, trip computer, or empty space). You can also trigger the integrated Google Assistant for your voice commands using the steering wheel or by simply saying, "Hey, Google."
Comfort and Support but a Slight Lack of Headroom
Rear-seat accommodations in the S60 are reasonable if a bit cramped. I had to duck a little to get in under the sloping roofline. Once in, I found my head quite firmly planted into the headliner. I'm about 6 feet tall, so I figure anyone under about 5 foot, 10 inches should fit without issue. The legroom isn't generous either, but it is more than adequate for most adults.
Theoretically, you can fit three across in the back for a total of five occupants, but your passengers will be far more comfortable if you only put two back there. That will also let them enjoy the wide armrest with pop-out cupholders. The rear seats are heated, air-conditioning vents are located on the roof pillars, and there's a pair of USB-C ports for passengers to use for charging smartphones.
The car's front seating isn't exactly roomy, either. You sit low in the S60, the transmission tunnel coming high up past your hip, but the seats are so snug and comfortable you won't mind. The panoramic sunroof helps make the car feel more open and airy.
Even with leather upholstery, front-seat ventilation for hotter days is unavailable. But the S60 is ready for winter, thanks to powerful front-seat warmers. You'll turn them down before long, even on the chilliest days. The heated steering wheel, likewise, is generously warm.
Limited Cargo Space, but Good Usability
The S60 Recharge's 11.6-cubic-feet trunk is small. Still, it is deep and should swallow a family's worth of luggage for a weekend away or a big trip to the market. There's nothing particularly clever going on in the trunk, other than two plastic hooks for keeping your perishables upright. The rear seats fold down at the touch of a button to expand cargo volume as necessary.
Likewise, you won't find anything innovative regarding storage space in the cabin. The front and rear door pockets are slender, and there's barely room for a smartphone beneath the center armrest. Wood-paneled covers hide the cupholders and the small storage tray on the center console, ensuring a clean, minimalist look when unused.
Android Automotive: Stuck in the Googleverse
Volvo was among the first major manufacturers to bring Google into the dashboard with Android Automotive. Since then, little has changed, and that's disappointing. The big apps are here, such as Google Maps and Spotify, but popular alternatives such as Pandora and Apple Music are still missing.
The addition of wired Apple CarPlay connectivity helps fill the gap, but Android users who want to stream media from their phones are still stuck using Bluetooth audio.
The most restrictive part is how static the whole infotainment experience is. There's very little room for personalization or customization, hallmarks of the Android experience on mobile devices. You have no control over what's shown on the head-up display, for example, and only three possible views on the digital gauge cluster.
Thankfully, Google Maps is about the best navigation experience on the planet, and having it baked right into the car has many benefits. That's especially true if you're a Google user and sign in to your account, a process that takes just a few seconds from an Android Phone — longer if you have to type in your password on the car's 9.0-inch portrait-oriented touchscreen.
Once signed in, all your recent destinations and upcoming appointments are in the car, meaning it'll probably know where you want to go before you do. Google Assistant is also powerful, able to understand everything from specific address entries by voice to more nuanced commands, such as "I'm hungry."
Volvo's optional 15-speaker, 1,410-watt Bowers & Wilkins sound system is excellent. It's on the bright and crisp side, so it's not ideal for those who prefer a thick layer of bass dominating their songs, but this system has plenty of power for any soundtrack you want to throw at it.
Volvo S60's Pilot Assist Is Reliable Yet Predictable
Every Volvo S60 has a comprehensive list of active safety features. They include:
- Forward collision warning
- Pedestrian, cyclist, and animal detection
- Automatic emergency braking
- Lane-departure warning
- Lane-keeping assist
- Blind-spot monitoring
- Rear cross-traffic alert
In addition, Volvo's Pilot Assist system with adaptive cruise control and lane-centering assist is available. Buyers must step up to the Plus or Ultimate trim to get it.
Pilot Assist worked well everywhere I tested it, whether on highways or rural roads, always spotting traffic early and managing speeds smoothly without issue. The lane-centering assist likewise kept the car planted in the middle of the lane, spotting even broken pavement markings without issue. It never seemed fazed by late-day or early morning glare.
What's here works well. It's unfortunate, however, there's no option for hands-off driving on the highway. This is a feature that's becoming increasingly common in the competition.
A Small Engine With Electric Assistance
The Recharge version of Volvo's S60 offers a medley of power augmentation systems to make the most out of a 2.0-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine.
In addition to turbocharging, the plug-in hybrid system adds plenty of power. That system, which drives the rear wheels with an electric motor, pairs with an 18.8-kWh battery pack. As a result, the S60 Recharge powertrain offers 455 horsepower and 523 pound-feet of torque, enough for a Volvo-claimed acceleration run to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds.
Strong, but Uneven Power
Having that many disparate powertrain systems creates an occasionally inconsistent driving experience in the S60.
Driven in Pure mode, the car attempts to use only the electric motor, which powers the rear wheels. In this way, the S60 has enough motivation to move through traffic without issue, but you'll struggle on hills and at higher speeds. In this mode, the S60 should travel 41 miles solely on electricity, and I managed exactly that, crossing 41 miles before the charge indicator indicated zero.
Without a battery charge, the S60 becomes a pleasant hybrid car, with a good mix of power from the rear electric motor and front gasoline engine. This, though, can result in some odd dynamics. Foot-to-the-floor antics will result in uneven power application as the electric motor comes on strong and then runs out of steam before the eight-speed transmission drops enough gears to bring the gasoline engine into play.
After some time behind the wheel, you'll learn how to drive the S60 to maximize its various power sources. And despite being a quick car with competent handling, the vehicle is best driven in a more relaxed manner. It's smooth and comfortable on the highway; even over broken asphalt, it's pretty compliant.
Ride quality on the 19-inch wheels is neither plush nor punishing, and while the tires offer plenty of grip, as soon as the car detects even the slightest loss of traction, it immediately cuts power. Volvo, remember, is a brand focused on safety, not driving excitement.
It's also focused on frugality. The S60 is EPA-rated for up to 74 MPGe, or 31 mpg in combined driving. My testing in Hybrid mode, starting with a partially charged battery, netted me 39.9 mpg. But this car could deliver tremendous efficiency if your driving includes shorter trips with battery charging in between.
And, even if you don't have access to a higher-speed 240-volt Level 2 charger and use a simple wall outlet instead, the S60 goes from empty to full overnight. On a 240-volt L2 outlet, it takes just five hours.
The 2024 Volvo S60 Recharge Is Worth a Look
Though it hasn't radically evolved, the Volvo S60 Recharge continues to satisfy inside and out. I've driven many Volvos with woven-cloth interiors, yet I never fail to appreciate the material, and my passengers never fail to compliment it.
The S60 Recharge is a powerful, comfortable, luxurious sedan that may not offer the engaging drive of a BMW 3 Series or the entry-level poshness of a Mercedes-Benz C-Class, but its understated sophistication will ring true with many buyers who appreciate Scandinavian sensibilities.