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  • William Maley
    William Maley

    Review: 2020 Volvo S60 and V60 Cross Country

      A Tale of Two 60s

    Rarely, do I get the chance to drive different versions of the same model. The fleet companies I work with scheduling vehicles do their best to serve up a smorgasbord of vehicles for me to experience. But from time to time, things happen where one vehicle in a run has to be swapped because it needs to go home or is required for an important event. It happened to be that the stars aligned in such a way that two Volvo 60 series models would be swapped for various vehicles in this go around. So I found myself with an S60 Momentum one week and a V60 Cross Country another week.

    A prime opportunity to experience two different takes on the same model.

    Design: Same and Different

    Both of the 60 models continue Volvo’s design of simple elegance. The smooth boxy shape is contrasted by the “Thor’s Hammer” lighting element in the headlights and a sloping beltline along the side. Compared to the larger S90, the S60 looks cleaner. This can be attributed to the rear where the license plate has been moved from the bumper to the trunk and a raised lip on the trunk lid. The optional 19-inch wheels fitted on my tester look somewhat out of place as it removes some of the understated look the sedan is trying to present.

    The V60 Cross Country certainly looks the part of an off-road wagon with a three-inch lift to the suspension, body cladding along the side, different grille color, and new wheel choices. Around back, Volvo takes some ideas from their crossovers with the tailgate being similar in design to XC40 and XC60, and the tall L-shaped headlights. Out of the two, I found myself liking the V60 Cross Country more than the S60.

    Inside Story

    The simple elegance philosophy continues inside for both the S60 and V60. The dash features a simplistic design with clean lines and minimal brightwork. Both vehicles feature some surprising interior touches such as wood trim and machined metal pieces. The S60 does falter slightly as some interior pieces are hard plastics with some texturing. This is due to the S60 being the base Momentum trim, higher trims swap this for soft-touch material.

    Both the S60 and V60 feature front seats that provide an excellent balance of support and comfort. Ten-way power adjustments allow any person to find a setting that fits them. I also like both models coming with the optional power thigh extender to make long drives more bearable. Rear seat space is a mixed bag as there is plenty of legroom in both models, but headroom is constrained in the S60 due to the sloping roofline. 

    In terms of cargo, the V60 Cross Country is the champ. Open the power liftgate and you’re greeted with 23.2 cubic feet. This can be expanded to 50.9 cubic feet with the rear seats folded. The S60 trunk space is slightly disappointing, only offering 11.6 cubic feet. At least the rear seats can be folded down to increase load capacity.

    Non-Sensus-ical Infotainment

    All S60 and V60s come with a nine-inch screen featuring Volvo’s Sensus infotainment system. A large screen oriented like a tablet to control most of the functions fits in line with the company’s minimalist approach. But using this system becomes quite infuriating. To start, Sensus takes over a minute to boot up whenever the vehicle is started. You’ll be able to tell since the system will not respond or respond slowly whenever an input is made during this. Thankfully, the system responds quickly once it fully boots up. This brings us to another problem with Sensus, its confounding menu system. Trying to do something simple such as increase fan speed or turn on/off a safety system means swiping into various screens and menus to find that button or slider.

    Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is standard and does make Sensus slightly easier to use. But I think some real improvements will come when the next version of Sensus comes out that will be based on Google’s Android platform. I’m also hoping for some more redundant controls such as a fan knob or temperature buttons.

    When Five equals Four

     

    Both models come equipped with the T5 engine. Before you start thinking that this means a turbocharged five-cylinder, T5 in current Volvos means a turbocharged four-cylinder engine producing 248 horsepower and 258 pound-feet. An eight-speed automatic is the only transmission choice. Opting for the T5 on the S60 means you only get front-wheel drive - you’ll need to step to the twin-charged T6 or PHEV T8 for all-wheel drive. As for the Cross Country, it gets all-wheel drive as standard. 

    The T5 is a very potent engine as I found in my review of the XC40 last year and that still holds true for both 60 series models. No matter the situation such as needing to pass a slower truck or leave a stoplight, the turbo-four is eager to move the vehicle at an astonishing rate. The eight-speed automatic is smooth and delivers prompt shifts.

    On the Cross Country, Volvo has an Off-Road mode that turns on a low-speed function, hill descent control, and optimizes the steering to keep the vehicle moving through whatever muck. For most buyers, this mode will never be touched at all. But I found it to be very handy driving through unplowed roads.

    EPA fuel economy figures stand at 23 City/34 Highway/27 Combined for the S60 and 22/31/25 for the V60 Cross Country. I got an average of 24.7 for the S60 and 23.1 in the Cross Country on a 60/40 mix of highway and city driving.

    A Smooth Ride Is Here, Provided You Have the Right Wheels

     

    As I mentioned earlier, the S60 I had came with a set of optional 19-inch wheels. This introduces a problem as the ride feels choppy. Over various bumps and imperfections, the S60 wasn’t able to smooth over a fair number of them. I assume going with the standard 18-inch wheels solves this issue somewhat, although some people report the ride is still rough on the smaller wheels. The V60 Cross Country also has a set of 19-inch wheels, but it is noticeably smoother over rough surfaces. Credit must be given to the higher ride height and softer suspension tuning. Wind and road noise are almost non-existent, making both perfect long-distance travelers.

    Handling is where the S60 redeems itself somewhat. The sedan shows little body and impressive grip when driven through a winding road. I do wish the steering had a little bit more weight, but that may be solved by moving to the R-Design or Polestar models. The Cross Country is a vehicle you want to push due to its softer suspension tuning.

    Two Good Models, But One Stands Tall

    The new 60 models are worthy successors to the models before it. An elegant design and mostly roomy interior pair nicely with the strong performance from the T5 engine. Sensus is the biggest stumbling block for both models, but a new version is around the corner which may solve some of the issues.

    Between the two, I found myself being more impressed with the V60 Cross Country. It has more character in its design compared to the S60 and the ride is much more comfortable. The almost $57,000 price-tag is a bit much, but with some smart optioning, you can make it much more reasonable. As for the S60, I did find it to be quite a decent steer. But the ride does need some work when on the larger wheels. Also, the Momentum can get quite expensive if you go overboard with options. My tester carried a nearly $46,000 price tag, three-grand more than the T5 versions of the R-Design and Inscription which come with some of the optional features as standard.

    The S60 and V60 Cross Country are excellent alternatives to the usual suspects, just be careful on the options.

    How I would configure them:

    There are two different ways I would go configuring an S60.

    • Value: Start with the Momentum T5 at $36,050 and add Heated Front Seats & Steering Wheel ($750) and Premium Package ($2,050) to end up with a nicely equipped S60 at $39,845. You will miss out on some items such as the 360’ camera system, pilot assist, and Harman Kardon audio system, but that pushes the price to over $44,000.
    • Sport: An R-Design T6 fits the bill here and comes with all-wheel drive as standard for a price of $48,045. Decide which metallic paint you would like ($645) or stick with the basic black. Add on the Advanced Package and Heated Rear Seats and Steering Wheel to end up with a final price tag of $51,645 for black or $52,290 for any of the metallic colors.

    For the V60 Cross Country, it would be similar to my test vehicle with most of the option packages and adding the Harman Kardon Premium Sound system ($800) to bring the final price to $52,795.

    Disclaimer: Volvo Provided the S60 and V60; Insurance, and One Tank of Gas

    Year: 2020
    Make: Volvo
    Model: S60
    Trim: T5 Momentum
    Engine: 2.0L Turbocharged DOHC Inline-Four
    Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
    Horsepower @ RPM: 250 @ 5,500
    Torque @ RPM: 258 @ 1,500
    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 23/34/27
    Curb Weight: 3,657 lbs
    Location of Manufacture: Ridgeville, SC 
    Base Price: $36,050
    As Tested Price: $46,249 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)

    Options:
    Advanced Package - $2,500.00
    Premium Package - $2,050.00
    Multimedia Package - $1,850.00
    19" 5-Spoke Cut Wheels - $800.00
    Heated Front Seats & Heated Steering Wheel Package - $750.00
    Pebble Grey Metallic - $645.00
    Linear Lime Deco Inlay and Interior High Level Illumination - $600.00

    Year: 2020
    Make: Volvo
    Model: V60
    Trim: Cross Country
    Engine: 2.0L Turbocharged DOHC Inline-Four
    Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive
    Horsepower @ RPM: 250 @ 5,500
    Torque @ RPM: 258 @ 1,500
    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/31/25
    Curb Weight: 4,202 lbs
    Location of Manufacture: Gothenburg, Sweden
    Base Price: $45,100
    As Tested Price: $56,990 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)

    Options:
    Bowers and Wilkins Premium Sound - $4,000.00
    Cross Country Pro Package - $2,800.00
    Advanced Package - $2,500.00
    Heated Front Seats & Heated Steering Wheel Package - $750.00
    Birch Light Metallic - $645.00
    Park Assist Pilot - $200.00

    Edited by William Maley

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    • By William Maley
      I rarely get the opportunity to drive two different flavors of the same vehicle within a short timeframe. But that's what happened in the fall when I had the chance to drive the new Hyundai Sonata in its standard and hybrid forms. The Sonata has always been a favorite of mine as it offered a lot for a midsize sedan, with a surprising price tag. It has also come very close to being at the top of the class, but falling somewhat short due to one thing or another. This new version has the chance of changing that.
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      If there is an issue I have with the Sonata's design, it is the grille. I find it to be slightly cartoonish due to the large size and shape.
      Simple, Yet Elegant Interior
      If you're worried that the polarizing ideas from the exterior make their way inside, don't. The interior is surprisingly sedate with clean lines and a simple design. Hyundai should be commended for using a lot of soft-touch plastics and leather on various surfaces. It makes the Sonata look and feel more premium than its price tag may suggest.

      Despite the coupe-inspired roofline, the Sonata's interior space is quite spacious. Most no one will have any complaints sitting in the back as there is ample head and legroom. Taller passengers should be aware that the optional panoramic sunroof for the Sonata will take away some headroom. The Sonata Hybrid doesn't worry about that as it doesn't offer the sunroof.
      Tech Galore!
      Both of the Sonatas on test came in the Limited trim which means a bountiful selection of technology. It begins with a 10.2-inch TFT display for the instrument cluster which provides all of the key information needed at a glance. A clever trick is when you engage the turn signal, the respective 'dial' brings up a camera mounted underneath the side view mirrors to provide a blind-spot view. I found this system to be helpful as it gave me an extra set of eyes whenever I needed to change lanes.

      Next up is another 10.25-inch screen housing Hyundai's latest infotainment system. I like the three-window layout on the home screen that you can customize to your needs. Navigating around the system is a breeze with a response touchscreen and capacitive touch buttons sitting on either side. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard.
      The next two tech features are exclusive to the standard Sonata. First is what Hyundai calls a digital key. Using the BlueLink application on a compatible smartphone, you can use this instead of the key to start the car and drive away. At the time of this writing, this is only available on Android phones. Hyundai did provide a loner Samsung Note smartphone for the week to try this out. I did not have the best experience with this feature at first because I found you need to be pretty close to the vehicle to make a connection. Trying to connect from my room upstairs, just above where the vehicle was parked, the application would throw up a connection error. I found that if I moved to the living room or just outside the front door, the phone was able to make the connection. This sours some of the appeal of this feature. 
      At least using the phone as the vehicle's key does work a bit better. It only takes a few seconds for the phone to make the connection to the vehicle and you can start it up. Although, I found myself wondering wouldn't it be easier and faster to have the key. The only feature that makes any sense to me is the ability to share the key with other people, but lock down certain aspects.
      Second is Smart Park (or smart parkh as made famous by the Super Bowl commercial from last year). Using the key, you can have the Sonata move forward or back out of the parking spot to allow for easier access to get into the vehicle. It's simple to operate, just hold down one of two buttons for a few seconds; the Sonata starts up and goes into the correct gear to move in the desired direction. I can see the appeal in urban areas where space is limited. But in the current pandemic times all of us find ourselves in, this seems to be more of a gimmick.
      Power Selection
      Hyundai offers two engines for the regular Sonata; a naturally aspirated 2.5L four-cylinder or a turbocharged 1.6L four. A more potent turbocharged 2.5L four-cylinder is available on the upcoming Sonata N Line. My tester featured the turbo 1.6 which produces 180 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. That puts it in line with some of the base engines found in the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry.
      I wouldn't call this engine quick, but it handles most driving situations with aplomb. This comes down to most of the torque being situated at the lower end of the rpm band. The only area where you might be wishing for more power is merging onto a freeway or keeping up traffic. The eight-speed automatic does an excellent job of maximizing the engine's output.
      Under the Sonata Hybrid's hood is a system comprised of a 2.0L four-cylinder and electric motor to provide a total output of 192 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque. The Sonata Hybrid feels just as fast as the standard Sonata around town and on country roads. It does struggle slightly on the highway due to the smaller torque figure. The six-speed automatic doesn't stumble when the change over from electric-only to hybrid mode like I have experienced on other Hyundai/Kia hybrid models.

      Opting for Limited on the Sonata Hybrid brings a solar panel for the roof which acts as a trickle charger for both the 12-volt car battery and 1.6-kWh lithium-ion pack for the hybrid system. Hyundai says that the panel can add an extra two miles of range with adequate sunlight. I can't attest to this claim, but will say the solar panel did add an extra bit of charge to the battery, even on an overcast day.
      Fuel economy for both models are as followed,
      Sonata 1.6T: 27 City/36 Highway/31 Combined Sonata Hybrid: 45 City/51 Highway/47 Combined My week saw an average of 29 mpg in the Sonata and 39 mpg for the Sonata Hybrid.
      Calm and Collected
      Hyundai has done some work on the Sonata's chassis and suspension to make it more rewarding to drive. It shows on a winding road as both versions show little body roll and feel more agile than the outgoing model. Steering feels direct and has a decent amount of weight. I will say the Mazda6 is still the one to beat if driving pleasure is your key goal.
      But the Sonata has an ace up its sleeve. It is also one of the most comfortable cars in the class. Driving over some of the roughest roads in Metro Detroit, the Sonata's suspension soaks up most bumps and imperfections to provide a serene ride. The minimal amount of road and wind noise that comes inside also helps.
      Rising To The Top

      The previous generations of the Sonata were always so close to being at the top of the class. But there always something that held it back whether it was the design, handling, or powertrains. But this new model shows how much Hyundai has put in. There is a nice balance between ride and handling; powertrains are very competent, and the interior is best in the class. Plus, the Sonata still retains Hyundai's trademark of offering a lot for not much money.
      Where most people will stumble on the Sonata is the exterior. It is very much a love or hate it affair. Plus, some of the tech features feel more like a party trick to show to friends than something you'll use. 
      Nevertheless, I think Sonata moves up to the top of the midsize sedan pecking order. 
      But there is one more question to answer. Between the regular and hybrid versions, which one I would drive away with. The answer which surprised me is the hybrid. I found it to be a little bit more well-rounded and deliver some excellent fuel economy figures during my time.
      Alternative:
      Kia K5: Like the idea of the Hyundai Sonata, but not to sure on the design? Then the Kia K5 may be the answer. Based on the same bones as the Sonata, the K5 takes a more evolutionary approach to the design. The basic shape may remind you of the previous-generation Optima, but its the little details such as a new grille and revised rear deck lid that help it stand out. From reviews, the K5 proves to be a bit sportier. We hope to get our hands on this challenger in the near future. Disclaimer: Hyundai Provided the Sonatas, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2020
      Make: Hyundai
      Model: Sonata
      Trim: Limited 1.6T
      Engine: Turbocharged 1.6L GDI DOHC 16-Valve Inline-Four
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 180 @ 5,500
      Torque @ RPM: 195 @ 1,500-4,500
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 27/36/31
      Curb Weight: 3,336 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Montgomery, AL
      Base Price: $33,300
      As Tested Price: $34,365 (Includes $930.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Carpeted Floor Mats - $135.00
      Year: 2020
      Make: Hyundai
      Model: Sonata Hybrid
      Trim: Limited
      Engine: 2.0L GDI DOHC 16-Valve Inline-Four, Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor
      Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 150 @ 6,000 (gas); 51 @ 1,800 - 2,300 (electric motor); 192 (total output)
      Torque @ RPM: 139 @ 5,000 (gas); 151 @ 0 - 1,800 (electric motor)
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 45/51/47
      Curb Weight: 3,530 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Asan, South Korea
      Base Price: $35,300
      As Tested Price: $36,430 (Includes $975.00 Destination Charge)
      Options: 
      Carpeted Floor Mats - $135.00
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