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Volvo S60 2001 review

The Volvo S60 is the best car yet from the Swedish car maker.

Any lingering thoughts that Volvos are designed exclusively for aging motorists have been comprehensively dispatched by the brilliant new S60 series.

It’s probably the best yet from the Swedish company.

The average age of buyers will probably still be high because retail prices start around $57,000, but the car has the looks, performance and features to appeal to a wide spectrum of buyers.

The elegant styling does not detract from the usual Volvo virtues, which include practicality, easy access to the rear seats and superb safety engineering.

The S60 isn’t quite a replacement for the S70 and, although it shares many mechanical features, it’s totally different and far more exciting than that car. Big brother S80 is larger than the old S70.

Lower and shorter, it sits on a reduced wheelbase.

The front-wheel, four-door sedan is powered by a five-cylinder, 2.4-litre engine driving a five-speed manual or optional five-speed automatic transmission.

It comes in three models – the 2.4 ($56,000), light-pressure turbo 2.4 T ($63,000) and potent T5, priced at $81,000 plus on-road costs.

The engines develop 125 kW, 147 kW and 184 kW and can accelerate a manual car from rest to 100 km/h in 8.7 seconds, 7.6 seconds or 7.0 seconds respectively.

Although the S60 boasts sportscar performance, it’s a refined family car, with quick-acting steering, powerful brakes, fully independent suspension and outstanding road manners.

It also has a tight turning circle, excellent driver visibility, wide door openings, fully adjustable steering column and a low loading lip.

2001 Volvo S60. 2001 Volvo S60.

Only one fault emerged. On the test car at least, the handbrake was found to be ineffective on steep hills.

The door bins are small but handy net pockets are attached to the lower front of both front seats. 

The roomy interior has similar passenger space to the out-going S70 but, despite the lower roofline, it offers even more rear headroom.

The split rear seat incorporates a ski hatch and either of its sides can be locked from inside the boot. They fold quickly, creating a flat floor nearly 1.9 metres long.

Even without this extension, the boot accepts a huge amount of luggage but lacks a luggage restraining net.

The S60 can be ordered with a manual transmission, though most buyers pay an extra $2,000 for the five-speed Geartronic which combines the advantages of a manual shift with a full automatic mode for congested traffic.

The S60 has virtually all known safety devices, including concealed side curtains that inflate to protect the occupants during a T-bone collision.

It has stability and traction control, patented anti-whiplash system, ABS brakes, SIPS side impact protection and an integrated rear child booster cushion. 

In a first for Volvo, the top S60 variant – the T5 driven for this review – has satellite navigation as standard.

Based on Mitsubishi technology, it’s the most comprehensive sat nav this writer has tried. 

It guides the driver not just to a street but to the actual street number, if it’s a major street and has been mapped by the system.

It can also be used to find restaurants, post offices, Volvo dealers and other service businesses.

The CD software contains complete inner city maps of all Australian metropolitan areas, national highways and most of the eastern seaboard.

The T5 also has leather trim, power-adjusted front seats with memories, cruise control and climate-controlled air conditioning as standard.

Remote central door locking, engine immobiliser, power windows, six-speaker CD audio system and a trip computer are fitted.

With all models, the high power output translates into a smooth and lively performance that's relaxing on the highway and easily controllable.

The T5 has none of the raw power syndrome often found in turbo engines, though there is some turbo lag.

Sensibly driven, it uses around 9.4 litres per 100 km (30 miles per gallon) on the highway and 13.3 litres/100 km (21 mpg) around town.

The Volvo S60 is a great driver’s car and comes with a two-year warranty covering unlimited kilometres.

Pricing guides

Based on third party pricing data
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Range and Specs

2.4 20V SE 2.4L, ULP, 5 SP AUTO $5,500 – 8,470 2001 Volvo S60 2001 2.4 20V SE Pricing and Specs
2.4T 2.4L, ULP, 5 SP AUTO $6,200 – 9,570 2001 Volvo S60 2001 2.4T Pricing and Specs
T5 2.3L, ULP, 5 SP MAN $7,800 – 12,100 2001 Volvo S60 2001 T5 Pricing and Specs
Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication.  Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.