12. Volvo S60
Model class and body style: Premium midsize sedan
Last full redesign: Model year 2011
Base price range: $34,815-$47,875
Volvo just can’t leave its hands off its answer to everything from the BMW 3 Series to the Lexus IS and ES. It redesigned the S60 for model-year 2011, shedding once and for all the boxy styling that had symbolized these sensible Swedes for decades. Then it gave it a major refresh for 2014, claiming more than 4,000 changes and reshaping the nose to a sporty taper not seen on a Volvo since the Beatles-era P1800.
Restless still, Volvo has updated the sedan yet again, altering it sufficiently to warrant a “2015.5” model-year designation. The traditional assets are in place: an emphasis on safety and solid construction that’s upscale without being uppity. That’s the Swedish way, of course, even though Volvo has been owned since 2010 by the Chinese manufacturer, Geely. Thankfully, the two cultures seem to recognize safe and solid alone are no longer exclusive selling points.
Thus the “2015.5.” It’s appearance is unaltered beyond some new available alloy wheels and a dress-up sport package. But there’s a changing of the guard underhood as Volvo begins to move away from five- and six-cylinder engines in favor of a family of modern turbocharged four-cylinders marketed under the “Drive-E” banner.
The mainstay is a 2.0-liter with 240 horsepower, 258 pound-feet of torque, and stop-start technology. It rates 29 mpg city-highway combined, links to a new eight-speed automatic transmission, and debuts on the front-wheel-drive S60 T5 model. Not satisfied with that advance, Volvo also unleashes a version with both a supercharger for low-speed oomph and a turbocharger for higher-speed punch. Unveiled in the front-wheel-drive S60 T6, it has 302 horsepower, 295 pound-feet of torque, and a rating of 28-mpg combined, pretty great for this level of power.
The Drive-E four-cylinders will eventually be offered with all-wheel drive but for now, you’ll need to fall back on a turbocharged five-cylinder or turbo inline-six to get an S60 with all wheels driven.
The safety cornucopia continues, of course, with available adaptive cruise control, blind-spot and rear cross-traffic alerts, pre-collision braking, and lane-departure warning and steering correction. Also aboard is Volvo’s City Safety system, which automatically applies the brakes at speeds up to 30 mph if a forward camera detects an imminent collision with an object ahead.