Volvo again? It certainly seems I am on Volvo’s preferred reviewers list or something as the brand populates this test driveway quite often. In the past year or so I reviewed all the new models of the automaker’s middle class in the form of S60, V60 and XC60 and now I add to that 2015.5 versions of S60 and XC60.
While there is really no such thing as .5 model year vehicles, manufacturers sometimes use this designation to denote some type upgrade on existing platforms and for Volvo this is mostly technology in the areas of safety and infotainment.
The XC60 has quickly become one of my favorite crossover vehicles of any brand and Volvo was kind enough to deliver one in Santa red for the holidays. While the arctic blasts that blew through here only brought wet precipitation I thoroughly enjoyed the driving experience in this raucous Polestar edition. Rain or shine, wet or dry, nothing slowed this sporty crossover down with the exception of the City Safety collision avoidance system when I would approach vehicles or objects a bit too fast for Volvo’s liking.
The S60 was the T5 FWD variety with the new Drive-E 2.0-liter turbocharged, direct-injected four-cylinder engine that spits out 240hp but up to 37 mpg in the highway thanks in part to the new eight-speed Geartronic automatic transmission. While the performance sort of paled in comparison to the 329 ponies going to all four wheels in the XC60 the new Drive-E powertrain was very smooth, more than capable of moving this vehicle through traffic and delivered great fuel economy.
Before I get into the new technology of the 2015.5 Volvos I have to go on a bit of a rant at the EPA. Both of these vehicles are listed as being in either small SUV or compact sedan categories due to their cabin volume. These vehicles are anything but small. They look, feel and drive like middle-sized vehicles and I believe the EPA has got it wrong with these rankings but hey, the EPA has never made a mistake before, right?
OK, back to the cars. Corner traction control is now standard and works as a torque vectoring system to help drivers avoid understeer (swinging out too wide in a corner) by applying brake force to inner wheels and power to outer wheels for better control.
Perhaps the biggest change for 2015.5 is the new Sensus Adaptive Digital Display that brings all information to the driver in a single, personalised display with a choice of Elegance, Eco and Performance themes.
The new Sensus Connect infotainment system brings the latest technology to the Volvo vehicles integrating audio, cloud-based services and text-to-voice capabilities while also allowing owners to connect to their vehicles via Volvo On Call smart device app and in-car On Call services. Thankfully Volvo PR is now able to offer these services to its press vehicles and believe me, I loved being able to start the Volvo on a chilly morning while I was still enjoying coffee inside my home or work locations. I could also monitor outside temperature at the vehicle, lock and unlock the doors and check fuel status.
Each of the test vehicles arrived with the Platinum and Blind Spot Information System packages adding to overall comfort, convenience and safety. The 2015.5 Volvo S60 T5 FWD rolled in with a final sticker of $44,125 and the XC60 T6 R-Design Polestar landed with a pricetag of $53,075. These are premium vehicles and definitely should be cross-shopped with the likes of Lexus, Infiniti, BMW, etc.
I may have driven more than my fair share of Volvo’s recently but I have become a fanboy and I look forward to my time behind the wheel come rain or shine.