2006 Volvo S60 AWD – Test drive and new car review – 2006 Volvo S60 AWD

19 Dec 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on 2006 Volvo S60 AWD – Test drive and new car review – 2006 Volvo S60 AWD

Still Lovely After All These Years

Here’s how you know good car design: you can’t tell how old the car is. And, thankfully, that’s the case of the 2006 Volvo S60. I tested the AWD (all-wheel-drive) version that was first introduced in 2002. Since then, there have been few changes to what has been a sales success for Volvo.

In fact, nothing new at all for ’06. Occupant safety and comfort as well as attention to conservation all remain front of the class. MSRP: $32,415; Warranty: 4/50,000.

First Glance

The S60 was designed and engineered in California by a team that included both Swedes and Americans. It exudes a style that’s nearly impossible to pinpoint geographically. As much American as it is Swedish, it defies national stereotyping. This is a design that has aged incredibly gracefully.

Now, six years after it first appeared in the showrooms, it’s still lovely.

If you follow Volvo design closely (who doesn’t?), the S60 will have a familiar shape to you. For the ’05 model year, styling of the front and rear was freshened (think nip here and a tuck there) and Volvo redesigned the headlights. Thankfully both the center console and the confusing sound system controls were re-worked.

The AWD model we tested looks a bit gawky compared to the standard FWD model, however. There seems to be too much daylight under its wheel wells. The problem here is the same facing all carmakers when they install AWD in an automobile not originally designed for it.

Even BMW’s stunning 330 sedan looks like the kid in the flood pants when AWD mechanicals are added.

In the Driver’s Seat

S60’s dash: great attention to detail.

#169; Colin Hefferon

Safety has always been a Volvo priority. When other carmakers were building vehicles that crumbled on rollover like an empty beer can, Volvo was already building cars that provided roll cage-like protection for the occupants. The S60 AWD also features six of the latest air bags (front, side and head) as well as Volvo’s patented WHIPS seats with unique whiplash protection.

Speaking of seats, I love the front seats in the S60. You can adjust them every which way. Of course, Volvos have from time immemorial featured great seating – maybe the best, most comfortable front seats available in any automobile sold anywhere.

The rear seats are another story. Rear seat headroom and legroom are in very short supply. Keep in mind vehicles like the S60 are not really intended for car-poolers.

If you keep rear seat occupants small, everyone will be happy.

Concern for the environment is a traditional priority of Volvo. In its ’06 models, the company addresses the problem of off-gassing from chemical compounds used in car interiors. These affect interior air quality and can have a negative impact on the sensitive lungs of children especially.

Volvo pledges to restrict the amounts used and to work to find safe substitutes.

On the Road

The Volvo S60 AWD is, duh, all about the AWD. The Swedish firm Haldex supplies AWD system for the S60 AWD and I gotta tell you, it’s quite sophisticated and very sensitive. It adds very little weight to the car, too, just 137 pounds. It employs some 17 computers mounted strategically throughout the entire automobile and when the system detects as little as one-seventh of a rotation in a driving wheel, an electronic coupling device locks up.

When a loss of traction in one of the wheels is detected, that wheel’s function is transferred to whichever wheel has the best traction.

Dynamic stability and traction control (DSTC) is offered as a $695 option on the S60 AWD and is worth every Kroner. DSTC integrates the operation of ABS with the traction control system to provide extra help in the event the tires lose their grip on the road.

The Haldex system and DSTC make this an incredibly sure sure-footed vehicle. With four good Pirelli snow tires, my S60 AWD felt unstoppable on the steep and slippery, snow covered mountain roads above Vancouver this January.

Only one engine is available with the AWD option #150; the 2.5T. This is a 208hp (236 lb-ft), 2.5 liter, inline-5 equipped with a low-pressure turbo. This is all the power you want.

Journey’s End

It’s got four doors, but ignore the back seats.

#169; Colin Hefferon

The current heavy-shouldered Volvo look first appeared in the S60 sedan. It represented Volvo’s first attempt since perhaps the P1800 of the late ’50s to stir the car buyer’s loins. No longer the boring box-on-wheels, current Volvo designs are curvy and quite buff.

In its sixth year of existence, the S60 remains a striking, well engineered automobile. It is not without its shortcomings, however. Rear seat headroom and legroom are in short supply. The turning circle of an S60 is truck-like, which makes getting into parking spaces or turning around on city streets quite a chore. It’s always been a problem for the S60 and Volvo has yet to fix this.

It spoils the whole S60 driving experience for me.

Another problem is gas mileage. I got 16mpg during my test week. This is simply unacceptable.

There’s talk of one or more of Volvo#146;s economical and responsive new diesels being available here in ’07 or ’08. Let#146;s hope it’s more than just talk.

Car designs age exponentially. If a car design is left to flounder around for six years, it will turn to dust. Yet not so with the Volvo S60. But while the design has managed to stay lovely, some other bits have been neglected.

It’s a shame Volvo let it all revolve around a pretty face.

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