2020 Volvo S60 T8 Long-Term Introduction | We plug in with an electrified Swedish sedan

Zac Palmer
·5 min read

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A 2020 Volvo S60 T8 is joining the Autoblog long-term vehicle test fleet. Now that the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid has officially made its exit, we felt it was time for another long-term tester with a plug. Enter our Crystal White Metallic sedan in Inscription trim. Volvo re-did the S60 for the 2019 model year — read our First Drive review here — but we’ve snagged a 2020 model for our year-long test.

Like every 60- and 90-series Volvo, the S60 rides on the company’s modular car architecture and possesses common exterior touches and interior design as. It's also the sedan sibling of the V60 wagon we recently tested. Like that car, our new long-termer has the T8 powertrain, making it the sportiest and quickest of all the S60s minus the rare Polestar Engineered variant. We’re excited for the opportunity to see if this plug-in hybrid sport sedan can quicken our pulses for a full year, while also coddling us with luxury and efficient motoring. It’s a tall ask, but the numbers are promising. Volvo quotes 400 horsepower and 472 pound-feet of torque combined between the 2.0-liter super and turbocharged four-cylinder and electric motor.

What we got

The main debate was between an Inscription or R-Design trim once we decided on the T8 over the gas-engine-only T5 or T6. They’re priced exactly the same without options, but they offer up different Volvo experiences. The R-Design is the sportier looking model, whereas the Inscription exudes class and luxury. After tallying the votes, luxury won out, and we asked for an Inscription trim from Volvo. That means less black trim on the exterior, the Inscription-specific grille, lower bolsters on the seats for added comfort, softer leather throughout, wood interior trim and the vaunted Orrefors Crystal shift knob.

Before options, our S60 T8 came to $56,400 with the $995 destination charge added in. After options, we clocked in at a reasonable $58,875. Yes, we showed extreme restraint in checking every possible option box, because there are plenty to check. The most important option we added was the Heated Rear Seats and Steering Wheel package, because we need those kinds of things in a Michigan winter. The Crystal White Metallic paint cost us $645, and the snazzy 19-inch wheels were another $800 (though 18-inch wheels shod in winter rubber are currently fitted). Our Volvo also came delivered with “Integrated End Pipes” that upped the price by $285. The pipes look alright back there, and add a sporty edge to the otherwise subdued appearance.

In contrast to the stark white paint, we opted for a Maroon Brown Leather in Charcoal interior. The two-tone brown and black combo looked spectacular on delivery, and it’s hard to imagine falling out of love with it. To complement the brown interior, we opted for the Linear Lime Deco inlays instead of the Driftwood option for interior trim. A couple big ticket items we said no to: The Luxury Package ($2,200) and the Bowers and Wilkins audio system ($3,200). These would’ve taken the MSRP well over $60,000, and we were hoping to keep our S60 under that mark — it is a small luxury sedan after all. We’ll see if the standard Harman Kardon audio and less luxurious seats start to make us think otherwise over the course of a year.

Why we got it

The small luxury sedan market may be overshadowed by the growing luxury compact crossover segment these days, but that doesn’t diminish the segment’s importance in our eyes. Volvo has something to differentiate itself in this space now with a plug-in hybrid powertrain on its S60, promising fun and efficiency. The BMW 330e is coming next year, but with much lower power numbers, it won’t pack the same punch as this Volvo sedan does. As of today, if you want a fun, luxury sport sedan with a respectable electric range, the S60 T8 is the only option. Unless, of course, you go full-electric with a Tesla Model 3. The EPA predicts a 22-mile all-electric range when the 11.6 kWh battery is full, and we’ll be taking advantage of that often, plugging in at our garage’s Level 2 charger every day.

So, here’s the chance for Volvo to convince us that the future of fun sport sedans can come with a plug. Tons of car companies are promising mass electrification of their lineups, but Volvo is one of the few that is currently selling that lifestyle. The entry point of luxury isn’t always the compact sport sedan nowadays given all the tiny crossovers entering the market, but the 3 Series-sized sedan is still a baseline to judge a brand on. Now that Volvo has its entry on equal footing with others like the Genesis G70, Alfa Romeo Giulia and BMW 3 Series, we think it’s high time to see if Sweden can outdo the superb competition with electrification as its secret weapon.

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