I must admit… I really like Volvo. Particularly new, reinvented Volvo, since the Swedish luxury brand completely reimagined its place within the luxury sector in 2015 with the launch of the 2016 XC90,…

2019 Volvo XC40 T5 AWD R-Design Road Test

2019 Volvo XC40 T5 AWD R-Design
The new XC40 provides a funkier alternative to Volvo’s normally elegant design language, but this fun attitude fits within the subcompact luxury SUV segment perfectly. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

I must admit… I really like Volvo. Particularly new, reinvented Volvo, since the Swedish luxury brand completely reimagined its place within the luxury sector in 2015 with the launch of the 2016 XC90, from its styling, interior design and quality, to its electronics, advanced drivetrains, performance, and of course safety. Volvo is leading its more commercially relevant competitors in almost every respect, and it’s seeing success because of it. 

I’m not going to pretend that all of its new models are enjoying the fruits of its labours in abundance, mind you, but lacklustre market response to its 90-series cars is hardly an isolated phenomenon within the ebbing sedan and wagon market. After all, where the S90, V90 and V90 Cross Country only managed a collective 835 sales in Canada last year, they beat Genesis (Hyundai’s new luxury brand), Maserati, Jaguar, Acura and Infiniti in the mid-size luxury E-segment, and repeated the feat over the first three months of 2019 too. 

2019 Volvo XC40 T5 AWD R-Design
R-Design trim means the roof gets painted black and other trim bits are blackened too. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Volvo is stronger when it comes to sales numbers in crossover SUV territory, but its XC60 only trounced Lincoln, Alfa Romeo, Jaguar and Cadillac last year, while getting extremely close to one-upping Infiniti, a performance it couldn’t quite repeat over Q1 of 2019 due to losing ground against Cadillac, Infiniti and Lincoln, while gaining market share on Porsche. The XC90 is stronger in the mid-size luxury SUV class, having overpowered Jaguar, Porsche, Tesla, Range Rover, Land Rover, and Maserati throughout 2018, although it only outsold Range Rover, Tesla, Land Rover, and Maserati as of March 31, 2019. This said the XC90 is doing pretty well for a vehicle that’s four years into its lifecycle. 

2019 Volvo XC40 T5 AWD R-Design
R-Design trim adds a unique grille with a glossy black surround. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

And how about the new XC40? This subcompact luxury SUV, winner of the 2018 European Car of the Year, opens up totally new opportunities for Volvo, and does so in a market segment that’s hardly filled out with competitors. Despite arriving just partway through the year, the XC40 outpaced Jaguar’s E-Pace and Infiniti’s QX30 (the latter discontinued for 2019), and did so by a very wide margin, more than doubling deliveries of the former and tripling the latter. It was actually nudging up against Range Rover’s Evoque as well, but stayed far from contention when compared to Audi’s Q3, Mercedes’ GLA, and BMW’s class-leading X1/X2 combination. Still, it was a worthy effort from a new entry that was only on the market for the latter half of the year. 

2019 Volvo XC40 T5 AWD R-Design
Like with all new Volvos, the XC40 sports standard “Thor’s Hammer” LED headlamps, upgraded with active-bending ability in R-Design trim. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

How about 2019? Over the first three months of this year the XC40 has found five and a half times more buyers than the Infiniti QX30 (again, a model being phased out), almost five times as many as the Jaguar E-Pace, hundreds more than the Range Rover Evoque, has surpassed BMW’s X2 sales, and is within shooting range of Mercedes’ GLA. We’ll have to watch and see if Volvo’s upward trajectory in this class continues, but I believe if more people learn about this impressive little SUV, the more chance it has of succeeding. 

So let’s run down the list of attributes I mentioned at the beginning of this review, starting with styling. Other than looking a bit too much like Jeep’s arguably handsome new Compass, the XC40 offers up a standout design, especially in its two-tone colour combinations. I tested a base Momentum model that I’ll cover in a future review, dipped in a lovely light pastel Amazon Blue paint with a white roof, and it caused more rubbernecking than anything else I’ve driven in this class. My Crystal White Pearl Metallic painted R-Design, showing off a standard black roof like all R-Design models, drew nearly as much attention, and would be my choice due to its slightly more masculine, sportier look. 

2019 Volvo XC40 T5 AWD R-Design
The XC40 R-Design’s lower front fascia details are nicely executed. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Inside, the XC40 provides all of the upscale luxury expected in a premium-labeled entry SUV, no matter the trim. The front roof pillars are fabric-wrapped, the dash-top and top halves of the door skins are finished in soft-touch composite, the armrests are padded with stitched leatherette, while the insides of the door pockets are actually carpeted, plus they’re large enough to accept a 15-inch laptop and a drink bottle. Back to the soft pliable surfacing, there’s none below the waistline, including the centre console that gets some soft paint for consolation, this above carpeting that wraps around the lower portion, while overhead there’s a high-quality woven roofliner framing a massive panoramic glass sunroof with a powered translucent sunshade. 

2019 Volvo XC40 T5 AWD R-Design
These 20-inch alloys are optional, with the standard R-Design wheels measuring 19 inches, and base and Inscription models equipped with 18s. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

The dash design is typical modern Volvo, which means tasteful with minimal clutter, although it’s been given a funky twist including cool retro-like vertical satin silver metal vents next to the centre stack and each corner, adorned by attractive textured aluminum inlays across the instrument panel and doors. All of the satin silver trim is exquisitely crafted, particularly the knurled metal grips on the rotating vent actuators, and the similar treatment given to the audio system’s main volume control knob, while all of the switchgear is easily up to others in this class and surpasses some. 

Likewise, the R-Design’s exclusive contrast stitched perforated leather-wrapped and metal adorned sport steering wheel is beautifully finished, while a similar treatment is given to the electronic shift lever, not to mention the stunning leather and suede-like Nubuck upholstered seats, which are joined by sporty metal foot pedals to make this the obvious choice for those who want to flex a little muscle while running their urban errands. 

2019 Volvo XC40 T5 AWD R-Design
These trademark L-shaped LED taillights could only come from Volvo. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Those seats are extremely comfortable and feature good side bolstering as well as extendable lower cushions that cup nicely under the knees, plus the rear seating area is ultra-generous, even fitting in large six-foot-plus passengers with room to spare. Volvo provides rear occupants with a flip-down armrest in the middle, which doubles as a centre pass-through when the otherwise 60/40-split rear seatbacks are folded flat to accommodate longer cargo in the equally sizeable and wonderfully flexible cargo area, which incidentally measures 586 litres (20.7 cubic feet) when the rear seats are in use, and 917 litres (32.4 cubic feet) when lowered. 

Making matters easier, they lower via a control panel of powered release switches on the passenger’s side cargo wall, while adding yet more utility is a cargo floor that folds in half and sits vertically with three handy grocery bag hooks on top, or alternatively can be swiveled into a small parcel shelf. I tested the former out on the way home from shopping and they worked fabulously. 

2019 Volvo XC40 T5 AWD R-Design
The XC40’s doors close with the solidity of a much larger luxury SUV, while Volvo’s smallest also gets an impressively finished interior. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Speaking of handy, the XC40 also includes a foldout hook from the glove box, a removable waste bin within the centre console, an available storage box under the driver’s seat cushion, a parking pass holder on the left side of the inner windshield, plus gas card slots to the left of the driver’s knee. Additionally, ahead of the centre console is a large compartment for stowing a big smartphone with sunglasses or what-have-you to each side, the base of which optionally doubles as an inductive device charger, plus sidled up beside a 12-volt charger there are two USB ports within the compartment as well, one solely for charging and the other for connecting to the Apple CarPlay- and Android Auto-infused infotainment system just above (there are three USB ports altogether). Yes, this little SUV is as convenient as they come, and really should win an award for thoughtfulness. 

2019 Volvo XC40 T5 AWD R-Design
Like the exterior, the XC40’s interior offers up a funkier take on the brand’s normally well-executed design. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Such hidden standard items might go unnoticed unless your Volvo sales or service rep points them out, but it’ll be difficult to miss the configurable colour TFT digital gauge cluster staring you in the face upon climbing inside. It’s large and bright at 12.3-inches in diameter, high in definition, and filled with features including an available navigation map that expands to fill most of the multi-information display portion in the middle. No direct competitor delivers anything anywhere near as good in standard trim, with most not even offering the a digital gauge option at all, giving Volvo the lead in electronic interfaces. 

This said, I haven’t even mentioned the brand’s award-winning nine-inch vertical centre touchscreen, which comes closer to resembling an iPad- or Samsung-style tablet than anything else in the category. No matter whether you’re purchasing this entry-level SUV or the full-tilt XC90, Volvo doesn’t differentiate between its Sensus systems, meaning you get the best they have to offer, and it’s truly superb. Like a tablet it ideally responds to touch gestures such as tap, swipe and pinch, and does so for many more functions than the usual navigation map. In fact, adjusting the temperature settings for the as-tested upgraded dual-zone automatic climate control system results in tall readouts popping onto either side of the display, letting you slide your finger up and down to choose your individual comfort zone. 

2019 Volvo XC40 T5 AWD R-Design
A standard 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, with the ability to display full navigation mapping at centre, sets the XC40 apart from all challengers. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

The Sensus touchscreen also allows control of all audio functions including streaming Bluetooth, satellite radio, 4G LTE Wi-Fi, and more, while it’s easy to connect your phone, whether doing so by Bluetooth or plugging it in for the aforementioned Apple and Android apps. It’s an elegantly designed interface that’s easily one of the best in its class, and should be easy to operate for anyone used to a modern-day smartphone. 

Also on the centre stack, a narrow row of high-quality switchgear can be found just below the main touchscreen for quick access to key HVAC controls, a couple of audio controls including the aforementioned metal-edged volume knob, plus the hazard lights, and to the very right a drive mode selector with Eco, Comfort, Dynamic, Off-road and Individual settings, the Off-road setting incidentally not available with base Momentum trim. 

2019 Volvo XC40 T5 AWD R-Design
Volvo’s 9-inch Sensus touchscreen is the most tablet-like infotainment system in the industry, shown here with its temperature setting panel expanded. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

As noted just before, navigation isn’t standard, but rather a standalone $1,000 add-on, yet the standard list is nevertheless long and includes most everything already mentioned plus LED headlamps, roof rails, remote engine start, pushbutton ignition, a leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel, an electromechanical parking brake, rain-sensing wipers, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, automatic climate control, voice activation, heated front seats, a powered driver’s seat with four-way lumbar support and memory, genuine aluminum inlays, plus a host of active safety gear like forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning and mitigation, etcetera, enough to earn it a best-possible Top Safety Pick + rating from the IIHS (the only SUV in its subcompact segment to do so), all for just $39,500 plus freight and fees, which makes it one of the most affordable vehicles in its luxury class with standard all-wheel drive. 

2019 Volvo XC40 T5 AWD R-Design
The overhead camera is superb. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

The as-tested R-Design, which starts at $44,100, includes all items noted previously as well as a one-inch larger set of 19-inch alloy wheels (although my tester wore optional 20s) attached to a sport suspension, plus a unique grille treatment, black skid plates, black mirror caps, gloss-black exterior trim, and the aforementioned black roof top, as well as active bending headlights, fog lamps, a rectangular set of exposed dual tailpipes (the base model’s are hidden), special aluminum front treadplates, upgraded carpets, better interior illumination, dual-zone auto climate control, a powered front passenger’s seat, cushion extensions for both front seats, a panoramic glass sunroof, black fabric pillars and roofliner (instead of light beige), an aluminum cargo sill protector, etcetera. 

My tester also had a $1,750 Premium Package featuring the inductive phone charger, the underseat storage box and grocery bag holders mentioned earlier, plus headlight washers, auto-dimming power-retractable side mirrors, heated wiper blades, a heatable steering wheel, heated rear outboard seats, a powered tailgate, and Blind Spot Information System with Cross Traffic Alert. 

2019 Volvo XC40 T5 AWD R-Design
The centre pad within a cubby on the lower console doubles as a wireless charger. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

On top of this was a $2,000 Premium Plus Package including a 360-degree overhead Surround View parking camera, a HomeLink universal garage door opener, adaptive cruise control, Volvo’s Pilot Assist semi-autonomous Driver Assistance System, semi-autonomous Park Assist Pilot with Park Assist Front and Rear (a hands-on self-driving system that helps to ease highway driving quite well), and a 12-volt power outlet in the cargo area; plus Volvo added the previously noted $1,000 navigation system, as well as $950 worth of great sounding 600-watt, 14-speaker Harmon-Kardon audio. 

Prior to its brand-wide revamp initiated in 2015, Volvo started to upgrade past models with a new lineup of innovative powertrains. Unlike any other luxury brand, or any other major automaker for that matter, the Chinese-owned Swedish company chose to base its entire model line on one 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine using turbocharging in base form, both turbocharging and supercharging in mid-range trims, and, debuting with the XC90 for 2016, a turbocharged, supercharged and plug-in electric version boasting 400 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque. 

2019 Volvo XC40 T5 AWD R-Design
The eight-speed automatic transmission’s shift knob is a nicely sculpted array of leather and metal. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

While a 400-horsepower XC40 sounds like a barrel of fun, a February 2019 announcement stated the plug-in variant slated for Volvo’s smallest SUV would in fact be the completely new 184-net-kW (247-net-hp) T5 Twin Engine with 328 net-lb-ft of torque thanks to an electric motor and a 1.5-litre three-cylinder gasoline-powered engine driving the front wheels. This should be followed closely by a version of the XC40 incorporating an even thriftier T4 Twin Engine, although we’ll likely only receive the more potent PHEV in North America. Additionally, Volvo announced in March that it will reveal a full-electric version of the XC40 before the end of 2019, as part of a push toward having half of its global sales made up of full-electric vehicles by 2025. 

2019 Volvo XC40 T5 AWD R-Design
Comfortable and accommodating, the XC40’s driving position is excellent, and the R-Design’s seat upholstery plush and luxurious. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

For the time being, Volvo’s second-most popular model worldwide (behind the XC60) receives a standard 2.0-litre turbocharged engine making 248 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, which drives all wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission. This said a new 2.0-litre turbo-four designated T4, capable of 187 horsepower and 221 lb-ft of torque and coming standard with the same eight-speed auto and AWD, will be the base powerplant in Momentum trim for 2020, with R-Design and Inscription trims including the T5 engine, featuring 248 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, as standard kit. 

I can’t speak for the upcoming T4, but my tester’s T5 powertrain is an ideal match for the lightweight XC40, resulting in a fast-paced, fun-to-drive subcompact crossover SUV. Of course, it’s hardly the most formidable in its class, Jaguar’s E-Pace and Range Rover’s Evoque R-Dynamic models bringing 296 horsepower apiece to the segment, BMW’s X2 M35i stepping up with 302 horsepower, and Mercedes’ blisteringly quick AMG GLA 45 holding the category title with 375 horsepower. 

2019 Volvo XC40 T5 AWD R-Design
The R-Design gets a large panoramic sunroof, that really opens up the interior. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Still, the XC40 immediately jumps off the line, its eight-speed autobox a bit annoying when moving into Drive or Reverse as it needs two taps to do so, but once underway it shifts with nice, snappy increments, especially when its sportiest “Dynamic” drive mode is selected and my R-Design model’s paddle shifters are engaged, and it feels nice and planted while doing so. 

No doubt my tester’s lower profile 20-inch tires played a role where rubber meets the road, not to mention its sport-tuned suspension setup, which otherwise is fully independent with aluminium double wishbones up front and a unique integral-link design that includes a lightweight composite transverse leaf spring at the rear. Hence it hooked up well enough through the corners, something I enjoyed when making up for lost time around town, as well as during a couple of fully engaged test sessions in the countryside. 

2019 Volvo XC40 T5 AWD R-Design
The rear seating compartment is spacious and comfortable too. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

You sit up nice and high, which is ideal for visibility, and while this should negate at-the-limit handling it’s not destabilizing at all, but rather my XC40 R-Design felt confidence-inspiring when pushed hard, only leaning slightly when asking more from it than most owners ever would. Fortunately braking is quite good, whether feathering the front discs to set up a corner or jamming down hard on all four during a panic situation, it responded with poise. 

Its ride quality is very good for such a small SUV, the XC40 feeling more substantive overall than its size should allow, and I don’t believe there’s much if any difference in suspension comfort from models with 18-inch wheels and a regular “Dynamic” suspension than the sport setup wearing 20s. Volvo offers an adaptive Four-C Chassis for $1,000, but honestly I don’t think it’s needed. 

2019 Volvo XC40 T5 AWD R-Design
The XC40’s cargo compartment should be large enough for most peoples’ needs, plus th rear seats include a handy pass-through in the middle. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

All in all the XC40 feels like a bigger and more substantive SUV than it really is, its doors and hatch closing with impressive solidity, plus it’s quiet and feels well-built when encountering road imperfections such as broken pavement, potholes, bumps, etcetera. 

Fuel economy, rated at 10.3 L/100km in the city, 7.5 on the highway and 9.0 combined, only looks poor if putting it up against something much less powerful and front-wheel drive like Lexus’ new UX (only 169 horsepower and 151 lb-ft of torque) that gets 7.2 combined in non-hybrid form. In fact, the XC40’s combined city/highway rating is identical to the Mercedes GLA 250 4Matic, better than the BMW X1 that can only manage 9.3 combined, noticeably ahead of the base Jaguar E-Pace P250’s rating of 9.8 combined, and a big improvement over Audi’s new Q3 that’s rated at just 10.6 combined. If anyone cares, the XC40 is even thriftier than the comparatively anemic yet still most capable (153-hp) full-load Buick Encore AWD that can only manage 9.1 L/100km combined. Of note, most of those above, including the XC40, benefit from auto start/stop technology that shuts the engine off when it would otherwise be idling, especially helpful in improving air quality. 

2019 Volvo XC40 T5 AWD R-Design
The XC40 has plenty of thoughtful convenience touches, including this folding floor that doubles as a grocery bag holder. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

I don’t think Volvo will mind if I end this review on such a positive note. The fact is, after a weeklong test I haven’t found much to fault the new XC40 on, but rather I feel it’s one of the better compact luxury SUVs now available. You may have heard me say this before about something different, but keep in mind that most new models improve with each new generation, and in the case of the XC40, which allowed Volvo a completely clean slate to build upon, it’s been extremely well executed. 

Thanks to a quiet, comfortable ride with better than average handling, strong straight-line performance mixed with impressive efficiency, a comfortable, accommodating, and superbly crafted cabin filled with thoughtful touches that make life more convenient, plus value that’s hard to argue against, the XC40 is a clear winner that should attract plenty of new customers into the Swedish brand’s fold, and that bodes well for Volvo’s long-term future.

An explanation for the uninitiated: “Polestar Engineered” is like Mercedes’ AMG or BMW’s M brands, but for Volvo.  Yes, once staid and conservative Volvo has not only become a lot more dynamic…

415 horsepower Polestar Engineered Volvo V60 and XC60 arriving in summer

2020 Volvo XC60 T8 Polestar Engineered
Volvo will add two new models to the T8 Polestar Engineered lineup for 2020, with this XC60 crossover SUV likely to be most popular. (Photo: Volvo)

An explanation for the uninitiated: “Polestar Engineered” is like Mercedes’ AMG or BMW’s M brands, but for Volvo. 

Yes, once staid and conservative Volvo has not only become a lot more dynamic in recent years, but also has a performance division. Polestar was born and bread in motorsport, just like its German counterparts, and having already provided an assortment of go-fast models in previous generation S60 and V60 models, is now doing the same with Volvo’s updated lineup. 

2019 Volvo S60 T8 Polestar Engineered
The 2019 S60 T8 Polestar Engineered sold out very quickly. (Photo: Volvo)

“At Volvo Car Canada, we are very excited about the addition of the new Polestar Engineered products in our portfolio,” said Alexander Lvovich, Managing Director, Volvo Car Canada Ltd. “Polestar always played a special role in the Volvo business in Canada, as in the last 2 years we achieved one of the highest levels of Polestar optimized product sales in the world. We plan to fully capitalize on this upcoming opportunity to strengthen both Volvo and Polestar brands in Canada.” 

2020 Volvo XC60 T8 Polestar Engineered
The Polestar Engineered models receive special glossy black grilles and unique lower front fascia designs. (Photo: Volvo)

Its most recent project was based on the 2019 Volvo S60, but the S60 T8 Polestar Engineered (as it was called) sold out before most of us even knew it existed. Now we have word from Volvo Canada’s Richmond Hill, Ontario office that new Polestar Engineered variants of the V60 sport wagon and XC60 compact crossover SUV are on the way for the 2020 model year, which should cause those in the know to get pretty excited. 

2020 Volvo XC60 T8 Polestar Engineered
Flared wheel arches, gold six-pot Brembo calipers, and unique 19-inch forged alloys come as part of the upgrade. (Photo: Volvo)

For starters, the new Polestar Engineered duo are once again based on Volvo’s turbocharged, supercharged and electrified T8 Twin-Engine Plug-in Hybrid AWD powertrain, which is sport-tuned to make 415 horsepower and 494 lb-ft of torque, 15 horsepower and 22 lb-ft of torque more than the regular T8 powertrain. 

Thanks to software updates, torque arrives earlier making throttle response quicker for more immediate response to input, while more of that twist targets the rear wheels for greater performance feel. To be clear, along with the boosted 2.0-litre four-cylinder, the T8 drivetrain combines an electric motor at each end of the vehicle for a total of two, while its battery pack is fed in both traditional hybrid form and via plug. 

2019 Volvo S60 T8 Polestar Engineered
A specially designed Öhlins strut bar helps to increase body rigidity. (Photo: Volvo)

Along with the handling benefits of a rear-wheel bias, performance will be further enhanced via an Öhlins-produced strut bar under the hood to aid body rigidity and allow for “more precise and responsive control,” says Volvo in a press release, while the Swedish-based suspension technology brand also designed adjustable dampers for the new models, featuring dual flow valves that respond “quickly to road imperfections.” 

2019 Volvo S60 T8 Polestar Engineered
A special leather-wrapped sport steering wheel and shift knob enhance the cockpit. (Photo: Volvo)

Additionally, traditional Polestar gold-coloured six-piston Brembo calipers add stopping power, while lightweight 19-inch forged alloy wheels, unique on all three Polestar Engineered S60, V60 and XC60 models, have been designed to provide freer cooling to those upgraded brakes. 

Polestar Engineered models don’t receive the same level of visual stimulation as their aforementioned German competitors, which may help them slide under the radar both figuratively and literally, with styling enhancements including a high-gloss black grille, extended wheel arches, black chrome tailpipes, plus “discreet” Polestar badges front and back. 

2019 Volvo S60 T8 Polestar Engineered
All Polestar Engineered models, this being the S60, sport unique gold-coloured seatbelts. (Photo: Volvo)

Following a similar theme inside, the two Polestar models will get a special leather-clad sport steering wheel and shifter, metal mesh aluminum inlays, plus signature gold seatbelts over unique charcoal-coloured Nappa leather and “open-grid” textile upholstered seats. 

The V60 T8 Polestar Engineered and XC60 T8 Polestar Engineered will arrive as early 2020 models this summer, so if interested make sure to let your local Volvo retailer know.

The compact luxury sedan market segment is a tough nut to crack. It’s more or less owned by three German makes, including Mercedes-Benz with its C-Class sedan, wagon, coupe and convertible, Audi with…

2019 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design Road Test

2019 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design
The new 2019 Volvo S60 delivers big on style, especially when upgraded to T6 AWD R-Design trim. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

The compact luxury sedan market segment is a tough nut to crack. It’s more or less owned by three German makes, including Mercedes-Benz with its C-Class sedan, wagon, coupe and convertible, Audi with its A4 sedan and tall wagon, plus its A5 coupe, convertible and four-door coupe, and BMW with its 3 series sedan and wagon, plus its 4 Series coupe, convertible, and four-door coupe, leaving a bevy of smaller players fighting over scraps. 

To be clear, most in this class are suffering from the success of their own compact luxury crossover SUV making, which means that while year over year sales of the BMW X3, for example, were up by 48.6 percent from calendar year 2017 to 2018, deliveries of the iconic 3 Series were off by 19.5 percent, and much lower volume 4 Series sales down by 5.4 percent. 

2019 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design
While its optional Fusion Red Metallic paint looks great, the S60’s new C-shaped LED taillights are easier to make out in a contrast hue. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Not every car in the D-segment lost ground, mind you, with the aforementioned C-Class gaining 6.5 percent, the Infiniti Q50 up 6.8 percent, and the Audi A5’s take-rate growing by an amazing 25 percent after a long-awaited redesign, but some saw significantly more shrinkage than BMW’s 3, such as Lexus’ RC coupe that dropped a staggering 37.9 percentage points, Jaguar’s XE sedan that lost 27.8 percent, Cadillac’s ATS sedan and coupe collectively down 25.4 percent, Acura’s TLX sedan off by 25.2 percent, Infiniti’s Q60 coupe down by 24.2 percent, and the Audi A4 sedan and tall crossover wagon’s popularity curtailed by a considerable 20.3 percent. 

Such steep sales declines make the Volvo 60-series’ loss of 5.1 percent seem easier to stomach, and to be yet farer to the Swedish automaker, those 60-series cars’ incredible 99.7 percent year over year increase from calendar year 2016 to 2017 made the slight downturn inevitable, the former upsurge directly resulting from years of pent-up demand for this all-new S60 sport sedan and its V60 sport wagon counterpart. 

2019 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design
The R-Design gets a unique take on the S60’s new hexagonal grille. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

The aforementioned tough nut to crack comment has less to do with sales volatility and more about actual sales numbers, however, with both 60-series Volvos only managing 1,245 units collectively through 2018, compared to 11,556 for the bevy of C-Class models, 10,173 for the various Audis, and 9,733 for BMW’s offerings—yes, the 3 Series/4Series was once number one in this segment. 

Everything else is much farther down the pecking order, with Infiniti’s sedan and coupe ringing up 3,424 orders, Lexus non-ES offerings (the IS and RC) tallying up to 3,163 deliveries, Acura’s previously noted TLX finding 2,397 buyers, and even Cadillac’s ATS scooping up 1,615 new owners (before it gets axed), while a fair ways below Volvo’s 60-series total was Genesis’ G70 at 967 units, Jaguar’s XE at 571, and Alfa Romeo’s Giulia at 510 deliveries. 

2019 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design
Signature “Thor’s Hammer” LED headlamps continue to give Volvo’s latest offerings a totally unique look, and this new design looks particularly good. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Now, before you scurry off to your local Merc, Bimmer or Audi store to sign up for one of their arguably worthy offerings, take note that earning a place in the top three doesn’t necessarily mean the car in question is better than something else on this list, or more specifically, doesn’t mean that something less popular won’t suite your personal style and requirements more agreeably. 

Case in point, this all-new 2019 Volvo S60. Volvo was once most notably known for safety above all, followed closely by bulletproof build quality. The good news here is safety is still high on the marque’s priority list, with its most recent offerings receiving Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick Plus ratings from the IIHS, plus its bevy of standard active safety and advanced driver assistance features amongst the most comprehensive in the industry, some including automatic front collision warning with full low- and high-speed autonomous emergency braking, Driver Alert Control, steering support, Run-Off Road Mitigation, plus a Lane Keeping Aid and Oncoming Lane Mitigation as part of its standard City Safety package, while Volvo also goes over the top by adding an airbag for the driver’s knees, front seat whiplash protection, and pyrotechnical seatbelt pretensioners in all positions front to rear. 

2019 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design
Sportier front fascia detailing, including fog lamps that bend around each corner, is exclusive to the R-Design. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Also noteworthy, if the S60’s sensors detect an imminent head-on collision, the new oncoming braking system will automatically activate maximum braking force two-tenths of a second before impact. Volvo says this feature reduces vehicle speed by 10 km/h before that impact occurs, which could potentially be a lifesaver, and should certainly help to minimize injury. 

While tempted to do a deep dive into all of the additional standard features found on this 2019 S60, let alone our sporty R-Design trimmed example, I’d better go over some of its other highlights first. Most of the S60’s design details, like its “Thor’s Hammer” LED headlights have been covered in previous Volvo reviews, as have its C- or hook-shaped LED taillights that are similar, at least, to those found on the larger S90. I have to admit to liking the overall shape and design of the S60 best, but this may only be due to its newness, plus the sportiness of this R-Design trim level. In truth, I find both new sedans very attractive, at the very least matching and in many ways surpassing some of their key competitors. 

2019 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design
These 19-inch alloys on Pirelli rubber will add $1,000 to your bill. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

I won’t go into detail as to the size difference between these two cars, this S60 clearly fitting into the most popular compact luxury D-segment, and the S90 within the larger luxury mid-size E-segment (going up against the E-Class, 5 Series, A6, et al), but take note this S60 has grown considerably when compared to its 2010–2018 predecessor, now stretching 133 millimetres (5.2 inches) longer from nose to tail at 4,761 mm (187.4 in), with a 96-mm (3.8-in) longer wheelbase measuring 2,872 mm (113.1 in), but strangely it’s 15 mm (0.6 in) narrower at 1,850 mm (72.8 in), while sporting a 53-mm (2.1-in) lower roofline than the outgoing model. 

The longer wheelbase improves rear legroom, which critics charged as a shortcoming on the old S60, and I must say the rear seating area is now much more accommodating with plenty of space to stretch out and get comfortable, plus it provides superbly comfortable outboard positions with excellent lower back support. 

2019 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design
Upon closer inspection, it’s easier to see the nice detailing and sharp edges added to the new S60’s taillights. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Such is even truer for the driver’s position, which in R-Design trim receives a six-way powered and wonderfully contoured sport seat with four-way powered lumbar support that allows ideal adjustment for the exact lower back pressure point, providing relief on long trips, or for that matter after a long day’s work, while a power-extendable lower cushion nicely cups below the knees for additional comfort and support. Two-way memory sets a favourite position for instant recall, this standard across the entire S60 line, while R-Design exclusive Fine Nappa leather upholstery with contrast stitching covers all seats from front to back, making for a luxurious look and feel. 

As attractive as they look I highly doubt your eyes will rest upon the seats at first entry, however, as the rest of the S60 R-Design’s interior is so spectacular you’ll likely be swept away by the elegant horizontal dash design and beautifully sculpted details everywhere else, let alone its three-spoke R-design leather-wrapped steering wheel, R-Design metal pedals, R-Design carpeted floor mats, R-Design metal sill mouldings, 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, impressive vertical infotainment touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, navigation, four-zone automatic climate control with rear controls, etcetera, while the black headliner is a nice touch too. Still, the S60 R-Design’s special Metal Mesh decor inlays are particularly eye-catching, as is all of the S60’s jewellery-like switchgear, the rotating instrument panel knobs, glittering ignition switch, and equally dazzling drive mode selector appearing as if provided by one of the auto sector’s ultra-luxe brands, such as Bentley. 

2019 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design
Slide inside one of the best interiors in the compact luxury D-segment. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Much of this glitz and glamour was initially introduced in the dramatically redesigned 2015 XC90 that formed the basis for most everything we’ve seen from Volvo since, so while the S60’s take on the Swedish automaker’s brand-wide interior design theme is nothing new to me or others familiar with the all things Volvo, the lavish luxury infused into each new 2019 model will likely produce eye-bulging levels of shock and awe amongst those trading up from their second-generation S60s. 

Expanding further on this line of thought, I previously spent three wonderful weeks in the V60 sport wagon, upgraded to top-line Inscription trim, which while slightly more expensive than the R-Design, in either V60 or S60 guise, is hardly more replete with features. Think of the Inscription as a more elegant take on luxury and the R-Design offering up a sportier edge, while the base Momentum is plenty impressive as well. Volvo should soon be offering the S60 in T8 AWD Polestar trims too, this model boasting the brand’s hybridized plug-in powertrain that ups performance to 400 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque via the same turbocharged and supercharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder as offered with T6 powered models. 

2019 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design
The cabin detailing is superb, especially when uplifted with the optional Bowers & Wilkins audio system. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

That thought segues into currently available powertrains, with both T5 FWD and T6 AWD combinations under the S60’s hood and at its wheels. The T5 FWD is solely available in Momentum trim, featuring the same 2.0-litre four without the supercharger for a healthy 250 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque driving the front wheels, while the T6 AWD is optional with Momentum trim and standard on the R-Design and Inscription, and thanks to the aforementioned supercharger joining the turbo, it makes a much more satisfying 316 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque while powering all four wheels. 

As is normally the case in this class, both engines come standard with auto engine start/stop that reduces emissions while improving fuel economy by shutting down the engine when it would otherwise be idling, this helping the base T5 FWD to achieve a claimed 9.9 L/100km city, 6.6 highway and 8.4 combined rating, whereas the as-tested T6 AWD is good for an estimated 11.1 city, 7.3 highway and 9.4 combined. 

2019 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design
The S60 R-Design’s cockpit is as comfortable as it’s impressively finished. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Possibly more important to you is how the S60 R-Design drives, and to that end it’s even more dynamic than the V60 Inscription I enjoyed over the holiday season. It’s plenty quick off the line, with all four of its optional 235/40R19 Pirellis immediately locking onto asphalt and its formidable little powerplant whipping through its conjoined eight forward gears with effortless ease, both quickly when set to its sportiest Dynamic drive mode, and smoothly no matter which selection is chosen, Comfort and Eco also on the menu, while the R-Design model’s standard paddle shifters thoroughly enhance the hands-on experience. The engine and exhaust makes a nice snarly combination of notes at full throttle as well, but otherwise is as hushed as the car’s ultimately refined interior, the S60 R-Design balancing performance and pleasantries on an equal scale. 

Similar kudos can be attributed to the S60’s underpinnings, the R-Design’s exclusively lowered sport suspension boasting firmer dampers for tauter, flatter handling through fast-paced corners that results in stable, predictable manners even when flung carelessly into tight off-camber curves, while it doesn’t get unsettled when tossed back and forth through serpentine stretches either. 

2019 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design
This stunning 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster comes standard with the R-Design. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

It rides on the same Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) that Volvo uses for its larger S90 luxury sedan chassis, plus most everything else in the brand’s current lineup, with aluminum double wishbones in front and an exclusive integral link rear suspension design featuring a transverse lightweight composite leaf spring at back. Driver-selectable low, medium and high personal power steering settings combine with the aforementioned driving modes to make the most of any situation, whereas the brakes match handling and acceleration ideally as well, proving strong when called upon and always smoothly progressive, the entire car never forgetting that, while a capable sport sedan, refined luxury, supported by a compliant suspension setup and ultra-comfortable seats, is paramount in the class. 

2019 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design
The Volvo Sensus centre touchscreen is all about big, attractive gesture controlled goodness, that’s easy to use and fully functional. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

To that end the $52,400 S60 R-Design, which normally rides on 18-inch alloys, pulls plenty of as-yet unmentioned features up from the $42,400 base Momentum T5 FWD model, such as Road Sign Information (RSI), an auto-dimming rearview mirror, rain-sensing wipers, a powered panoramic glass sunroof, a Clean Zone Air Quality system and a humidity sensor, rear parking sonar, a rearview camera with dynamic guidelines, voice activation, dual USB ports, Bluetooth phone connectivity with streaming audio, Volvo On-Call with remote start and vehicle tracking, 170-watt 10-speaker audio, satellite radio, heated front seats with driver’s memory, a 120-volt household-style power outlet in the rear console, power-folding rear seat headrests, and more inside, while standard dual chromed tailpipes are joined by a unique R-Design front grille, plus auto high beams and active bending for the aforementioned LED headlamps, fog lamps with active bending, high-gloss black exterior trim including the side mirror caps, door handle puddle lamps, proximity-sensing keyless access, and the list goes on. 

2019 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design
Unique Metal Mesh inlays can be found throughout the cabin, including the scrolling lids atop the centre console. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

I loved my tester’s $900 optional Fusion Red Metallic paint, one of five optional colours as well as no-cost standard Black Stone, while all R-Design models get Charcoal black for the interior. If you end up going for Momentum trim you can choose from seven exterior colours and a variety of interior motifs, while Inscription trim provides the choice of eight colours albeit fewer cabin combinations, although the Momentum’s upgradable upholsteries are optional at no cost with the Inscription. 

Those 19-inch alloy wheels mentioned before were a $1,000 upgrade, while additional options included a $1,150 graphical head-up display unit that projected useful information, like navigation directions, onto the windshield for an easy, safe overview, plus the 15-speaker, 1,100-watt Bowers & Wilkins audio system was soundsational, and well worth the $3,750 required, even if you choose it for its gorgeous aluminum speaker grilles alone. 

2019 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design
No competitor does jewel-like metal-edged switchgear as well as Volvo. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Volvo also added a $1,250 Climate Package that features heated Aquablades windshield wipers, a heatable steering wheel, and heated rear seats; plus a $1,500 Convenience Package with Volvo’s really impressive Pilot Assist semi-autonomous drive system featuring Adaptive Cruise Control, plus a Homelink garage door opener and a compass integrated into the rearview mirror; and finally an $1,800 Vision Package with very helpful 360-degree surround parking camera, easy to use Park Assist Pilot semi-autonomous self parking, always welcome front parking sonar, even more appreciated auto-dimming power-retractable side mirrors, and blindspot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert that could potentially save you from backing into oncoming traffic. 

2019 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design
These superb Nappa leather-covered sport seats are exclusive to the R-Design. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

In case you were wondering, the $53,900 S60 Inscription includes most everything from the R-Design, other than the sportier features mentioned earlier, while in their place it adds a classy chromed waterfall grille, chromed window trim, unique 10-spoke 18-inch alloy wheels, beautiful matte Driftwood Décor interior inlays, a tailored instrument panel with stitched soft-touch detailing, perforated Nappa leather upholstery, ventilated front seats, and more. 

I sourced all 2019 Volvo S60 pricing from CarCostCanada, incidentally, where you can find detailed prices on each trim level, all packages, and every standalone option for the S60 and every other Volvo, not to mention most other new vehicles sold in Canada, plus otherwise hard to get rebate information and money-saving dealer invoice pricing. 

2019 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design
Gotta love this massive standard glass sunroof. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

My only S60 complaint is a missing overhead sunglasses holder, plus not enough space on the centre console to place my average-sized Samsung S9 smartphone within easy visibility while driving, which was probably planned from onset by this safety-conscious automaker so as to reduce distracted driving. The most forward of two large cupholders, otherwise hidden below a lovely scrolling console lid, solved that problem, with the latter big enough to hold my ever-present water bottle securely, no matter how aggressively I took to corners. 

The S60’s 391-litre (13.8 cubic-foot) trunk was also large enough for my needs and about average for the class, and while its 60/40 split-folding rear seatbacks included a centre pass-through for skis and other long cargo, I would have preferred a larger opening via a 40/20/40 divided seat configuration instead, but this is still a lot better than no pass-through at all, which is how most Japanese offerings come. 

2019 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design
Rear seating is comfortable and plenty accommodating. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

In closing, anyone considering a car in the compact luxury D-segment should take a close look at this new 2019 Volvo S60, as it’s a serious contender that delivers at an extremely high level in every way, from styling to performance, leading technology to safety, and overall comfort to accommodating spaciousness. Also important, it’s wonderfully different than anything from Germany or Japan, and for that reason the S60 may very well strike a chord with those who especially appreciate uniqueness and exclusivity, let alone a level of opulence few in this class can measure up to.

If you think the auto industry has given up on cars and is only relying on SUVs to turn a profit, look no further than the thoroughly reinvigorated Volvo brand and its wonderfully renewed lineup of sport…

2019 Volvo V60 Inscription T6 AWD Road Test

2019 Volvo V60 Inscription T6 AWD
This is as sporty looking as wagons get, and the new 2019 Volvo V60 delivers even bigger on luxury. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

If you think the auto industry has given up on cars and is only relying on SUVs to turn a profit, look no further than the thoroughly reinvigorated Volvo brand and its wonderfully renewed lineup of sport wagons and crossover-styled variations on the same five-door theme. 

The first to arrive was the beautiful new V90 and V90 Cross Country duo, both having respectively replaced the old V70 and XC70 for the 2017 model year, albeit the former hasn’t been with us for a decade or so. Fast forward to 2019 and Volvo’s wagon lineup just expanded with all-new 2019 V60 and V60 Cross Country crossover models, and thanks to Volvo’s Canadian PR team leaving the sportier of the two in my driveway for three weeks last month we’ll be starting off closer to the ground. 

2019 Volvo V60 Inscription T6 AWD
A fabulous design from front to back, nothing else looks anything like a new Volvo wagon. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

I suppose referencing the more conventional V60 as sportier may not sit well with those who consider a trip down a gravel road with a kayak strapped to the top of the V60 Cross Country T5 AWD a more sport-oriented exercise than fast-tracking through a curving two-lane highway at the wheel of our V60 T6 AWD Inscription, not that the former car can’t manage the latter activity quite well, or vise versa. It’s just that the regular V60 is quicker when upgraded with its as-tested turbocharged and supercharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine, and as noted a moment ago sits a bit lower to the ground for better pavement-hugging handling, whereas the raised ride height of the Cross Country allows for greater ground clearance when traversing less hospitable backwater roads and trails. Either way, Volvo has you covered. 

2019 Volvo V60 Inscription T6 AWD
The V60 Inscription’s grille is one wonderfully elegant. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

I suppose this is as good a time as any to talk powertrains, being that both V60 models incorporate Volvo’s innovative 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine, the T5 featuring turbocharging and the T6 adding the just-noted supercharger to the mix. The former makes a laudable 258 horsepower and 250 lb-ft of torque for thoroughly enjoyable performance from standstill up to highway speeds and beyond via eight quick-shifting automatic gears and standard all-wheel drive, whereas the latter puts 316 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque down to the road via the same all-wheel drivetrain. 

2019 Volvo V60 Inscription T6 AWD
Volvo’s trademark “Thor’s Hammer” LED headlights come standard, of course. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

By the numbers, the V60 T5 AWD allows for an energetic zero to 100km/h sprint of 6.6 seconds and a top speed of 225 km/h (140 mph), whereas the T6 AWD cuts standstill acceleration runs down to 5.7 seconds while upping maximum velocity to 249 km/h (155 mph). 

Volvo’s T6 engine seems to make a more sporting note at full throttle than I last remember, while the zero-to-100 times quoted a moment ago feel as good as they look. The drivetrain is especially engaging when set to Dynamic sport mode via the jeweled switch on the lower console, which heightens the performance of all controls. Bend it into a sharp, fast-pace curve and the V60 immediately takes on the role of unflappable sport wagon, providing an adept level of poise that almost seems too capable when simultaneously taking in its luxurious Inscription-trimmed surroundings. 

2019 Volvo V60 Inscription T6 AWD
These 19-inch multi-spoke alloys are optional, but well worth the extra thousand. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The V60’s cabin is absolutely stunning, which caused me to leave the drive mode selector in Comfort more often than not, and Eco when I was paying attention, which together with auto engine start/stop provided best-possible fuel economy at a claimed 10.9 L/100km city, 7.7 highway and 9.5 combined with the as-tested T6 AWD, or alternatively 10.2, 6.8 and 8.7 for the less potent T5 FWD, and made the most of the impressively smooth ride and wonderfully quiet cabin, ideal for such resplendent accoutrements. 

As already executed to near perfection in the crossover SUV classes, Volvo once again creates the D-segment leader for interior design and execution thanks to the highest grades of materials and the finest attention to detail. From its myriad soft-touch surfaces above the waistline and below, including plush perforated leathers, to its beautifully executed decorative metal accents and matte hardwood inlays, the V60 Inscription provides a richness and elegance that’s been sorely missing from this more compact five-door luxury category. 

2019 Volvo V60 Inscription T6 AWD
An aerial view of the standard panoramic sunroof. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Then there’s comfort, which has always been Volvo’s strength. The Inscription seats are superb, and that’s even before making the myriad adjustments they allow for. The seat squabs extend forward, cupping below each knee, while the backrest side bolsters power inward or outward to fit most any body type, whether you want a snuggly hug or more relaxing support. Support in mind, four-way powered lumbar means you can position extra lower back pressure just about anywhere you want it, but surprisingly not all models the V60 competes against offer four-way powered lumbar. Then again some offer powered steering columns, which is not available with the V60, so therefore the Inscription’s two-way memory settings don’t affect the steering wheel, but if it were one or the other I’d optimize seat comfort and control. 

2019 Volvo V60 Inscription T6 AWD
The V60’s L-shaped LED taillights are wonderfully original. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Driver setup in mind, the V60’s tilt and telescopic steering column offers ample rake and reach for all bodily forms, my long-legged, short-torso five-foot-eight medium-build frame fully capable of clasping the leather-wrapped steering wheel rim with elbows optimally bent while my legs were easily within reach yet not too crowded by pedals, while plenty of small adjustments remained for tweaking during long road trips. 

2019 Volvo V60 Inscription T6 AWD
If you think the exterior design is classy, wait until you get inside. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Looking forward, the gauge cluster is digital, which is nothing new for the V60 that along with its S60 sibling was one of the first cars in its class to offer a colour TFT display in place of the usual analogue primary instruments. Still, this 12.3-inch driver display, upsized from the base Momentum trim’s 8.0-inch unit, is a much more advanced bit of kit than the old V60’s. In fact, it takes up all available space below the instrument hood, and even better it defaults to the navigation system’s colour map that features 3D building block graphics that are fabulous fun to watch when tooling amongst the high-rises of any downtown core. 

2019 Volvo V60 Inscription T6 AWD
The dash design is linear minimalism from afar, but get up close and the details are amazing. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Of course, that map can be shown over on the V60’s standard 9.0-inch vertical centre touchscreen, Volvo’s Sensus interface continuing to be one of the best in the industry. It’s not that it wows with bright colours and exciting graphics, but rather because it’s more tablet-like than any of its rivals and therefore is easier to figure out. It features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, all of the usual gesture controls, 4G LTE in-car Wi-Fi, responds 50 percent faster than earlier versions, although my tester’s otherwise excellent 360-degree surround parking camera was a bit lethargic at startup resulting in fashionably late appearances after I’d finished reversing out of my driveway when leaving in a rush, and thanks to an upgrade to the $3,750 optional 19-speaker 1,400-watt Bowers & Wilkins audio system provided sensational sound quality, while the satellite radio colour album cover graphics were wonderful. 

2019 Volvo V60 Inscription T6 AWD
The 19-speaker 1,400-watt Bowers & Wilkins audio upgrade sounds sensational and adds these beautiful aluminum door grills. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Incidentally, that B&W stereo does more than just sound good, it improves the interior design thanks to a lovely little tweeter at dash central, featuring a stylish aluminum grille, while the similarly drilled aluminum door speakers let you see through to coloured cones within. 

2019 Volvo V60 Inscription T6 AWD
The navigation system’s 3D map automatically builds high-rise towers within the 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster when driving around downtown. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Those speaker grilles are surrounded by some of the only hard composite in the entire car, the rest of each door panel soft touch synthetic from top to bottom, excepting the armrest that’s covered in contrast-stitched leather. Likewise for the centre armrest/bin lid, the front edge of the dash top, and the instrument panel just below, which is why I was a bit miffed that Volvo chose not to finish the glove box lid to the same standard, leaving it hard plastic in a segment that normally softens this surface. Volvo leaves the sides of the centre console hard plastic too, but this is more than made up for by a beautiful set of satin-silver framed matte hardwood scroll-top lids for the connectors, tray and cupholders below. 

Volvo chose not to add the same wood to the doors, but surrounding the steering column and just ahead of the front passenger are lovely sculpted sections next to an equally artistic inlay of flowing satin-silver aluminum, the V60’s interior design coming across much more zen-like than anything from Japan, or Germany for that matter. 

2019 Volvo V60 Inscription T6 AWD
The 9-inch Volvo Sensus centre touchscreen provides tablet-like ease-of-use and excellent functionality. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

I could continue on about cabin styling, the volume dial, vent controls, rotating ignition switch and cylindrical drive mode selector rimmed in a grippy diamond-patterned bright metal that sparkles as jewel-like as in any Bentley, while those aforementioned seats are as eye-arresting as sore back-alleviating, but there are still some as yet unmentioned details to cover. 

2019 Volvo V60 Inscription T6 AWD
The Driftwood and metal inlays on the dash and lower console are exquisitely executed. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

For one, the V60 is spacious. In fact, I think the new V60 is targeting previous V70 customers just as much as those who loved the outgoing V60, thanks to 124 mm (4.9 inches) more length overall, plus a 9.6-mm (3.8-inch) longer wheelbase that results in the most spacious rear seating area in the luxury D-segment. The new model is 51 mm (2.0 inches) lower than its predecessor too, which adds to its long, sleek visual stance, but nevertheless it provides ample headroom and legroom for a six-foot passenger behind a six-foot driver, although I wasn’t able to substantiate this claim due to my previously noted five-foot-eight height. Nevertheless, I can attest to an obvious increase in cargo space, the new V60 boasting 20 percent more than the outgoing car. 

2019 Volvo V60 Inscription T6 AWD
Like with other new Volvos, the V60 incorporates jewel-like switchgear. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Reason enough for its growth is Volvo’s new Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) that also underpins the larger V90 sport wagon, not to mention everything else in today’s Volvo lineup other than the compact XC40 crossover. Everything riding on SPA gets regularly praised by owners and auto pundits alike, with aforementioned ride-quality and quietness given near universal accolades, so it only makes sense the V60 delivers to the same high level. 

2019 Volvo V60 Inscription T6 AWD
Incredible comfort and support, the V60 Inscription’s driver’s seat is ultra-adjustable. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

I’ve touched on features throughout this review, but have yet to go into trim details, so without further adieu the base 2019 V60 Momentum T5 FWD starts at just $43,900 plus freight and fees, which is only $50 above than last year’s base V60 yet includes standard LED headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, a powered panoramic glass sunroof, dual-zone auto climate control, leather upholstery, power-adjustable heated front seats with driver’s memory, a powered liftgate, power-folding rear seat headrests, power-folding rear seatbacks with controls in the cargo compartment, a semi-automatic cargo cover that conveniently slides up and out of the way when opening the tailgate, and much more. 

2019 Volvo V60 Inscription T6 AWD
The standard panoramic sunroof really opens up the V60’s cabin. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Of course, plenty of safety gear comes standard too, including standard City Safety automatic front collision warning with full low- and high-speed autonomous emergency braking, plus Driver Alert Control, steering support, Run-Off Road Mitigation, Lane Keeping Aid and Oncoming Lane Mitigation, and more. 

Of special note, the new V60 introduces an Oncoming Braking system that, if sensing an imminent head-on collision will automatically actuate maximum braking force two-tenths of a second before impact. This is said to reduce vehicle speed by 10 km/h before impact, which could potentially save lives and certainly minimize injury. 

2019 Volvo V60 Inscription T6 AWD
There’s more legroom in back compared to the outgoing V60, resulting in much greater comfort for rear passengers. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

I won’t go into all standard and optional features available with base Momentum or $55,400 Inscription trim, although if interested feel free to check out my previous story that covered everything in detail, so suffice to say the latter as-tested model gets a special chromed waterfall grille, cornering headlights, fog lamps, a really nice leather-wrapped and metal edged key fob, Power Steering Personal Settings with low, medium or high assistance, the gorgeous Driftwood decor inlays, digital gauge cluster and four-way powered lumbar noted earlier, Nappa leather upholstery that’s perforated for allowing through forced ventilation up front, etcetera. 

2019 Volvo V60 Inscription T6 AWD
A centre pass-through makes the otherwise 60/40 split-folding rear seatbacks more versatile. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Option out a V60 Inscription T6 AWD and you can have the same $1,000 19-inch multi-spoke alloys as seen on my test car, the previously noted audio upgrade, $1,300 massaging front seats and a $1,150 graphical head-up display. Additionally, my tester included a $1,250 Climate Package with heated Aquablades windshield wipers, a much-welcome heatable steering wheel, and heated rear seats; a $1,500 Convenience Package with Volvo’s Pilot Assist semi-autonomous drive system that uses the Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Keeping Aid and other advanced driver assistance features to keep the V60 within its chosen lane, plus a Homelink garage door opener and a compass; plus an $1,800 Vision Package with the aforementioned 360-degree surround parking camera, Park Assist Pilot semi-autonomous self parking, front parking sensors, auto-dimming side mirrors, and blindspot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert. 

2019 Volvo V60 Inscription T6 AWD
More cargo space is always a bonus, plus the rear seatbacks power down automatically via buttons on the cargo wall. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

And by the way, all 2019 Volvo V60 pricing was sourced from CarCostCanada, where you can find detailed pricing on trims, packages and standalone options for every other new vehicle sold in Canada, plus otherwise hard to get rebate information and dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands. 

The only V60 attribute that arguably outshines all of the above is exterior styling, which to my eyes makes it the best-looking sport wagon in the compact luxury D-segment, and possibly the most attractive combination of new Volvo design elements to date. I love the shape of the new grille and the way the headlamps flow rearward over the front fenders, not to mention the motorsport-inspired wing strut design of the lower front fascia. Yet most of all I like this wagon’s profile, culminating at two of the most unorthodox taillights on today’s market, the V60’s sharply cut L-shaped lenses paying obvious tribute to Volvo’s recent past, but all-new and totally unique as well. 

It won’t be hard for you to tell that I really like the look of this car, and I must admit to liking everything else about it too. It made the recent holiday season all the more enjoyable and helped ring in the first week of 2019 with style, comfort and all-round class.

In our garage this week is the all-new 2019 Volvo S60 in its sportiest R-Design trim. It’s a critically important redesign arriving at a time when the majority of buyers are more interested in crossover…

2019 Volvo S60 R-Design T6 AWD

2019 Volvo S60 R-Design T6 AWD
The 2019 S60, shown here in R-Design T6 AWD trim, completes Volvo’s brand-wide transformation. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

In our garage this week is the all-new 2019 Volvo S60 in its sportiest R-Design trim. It’s a critically important redesign arriving at a time when the majority of buyers are more interested in crossover SUVs, so should Volvo be worried? 

Time will tell if the Swedish brand manages to take back market share lost while waiting half a decade longer than usual for a redesign, but once again offering this four-door sedan along with sport wagon and more rugged crossover SUV-style tall-wagon variants will certainly help attract more buyers. 

Hot off the heels of three wonderful holiday weeks with the just noted 2019 V60 sport wagon, we eagerly dive right into this new-from-the-ground-up S60. Of course, you won’t find many of our opinions in this garage review, leaving such experiential talk for an upcoming road test review, but there’s certainly opportunity to share some background info as well as a bucketful of meaty info morsels that would-be buyers and otherwise interested parties should find useful. 

2019 Volvo S60 R-Design T6 AWD
The new S60’s design is clean and uncluttered from front to back. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

The first S60 arrived at the turn of the century for the 2001 model year, a great looking update to the more conservatively penned 1997–2000 S70 that took over from the even boxier 1992–1997 850, which followed the much more sharply cut 1985–1991 740/760/780, the now classic 1974–1985 200 Series, the more shapely 1968–1975 164 Series and 1966–1974 140 Series, the beautiful 1956–1970 120 and 130 Series, and finally the one the started them all, the truly classic 1943–1958 PV444/544 (excuse us if some of the dates aren’t 100-percent accurate). Ok, that was a lot more history than was needed, but it goes to show how far the tentacles of this model reach back into yesteryear, and how much historical significance Volvo brings to the automotive industry. 

2019 Volvo S60 R-Design T6 AWD
The “Thor’s Hammer” LED headlamps come standard across the S60 line, while sporty R-Design trim includes gloss black detailing and a unique lower fascia, while our tester also featured optional 19-inch alloys. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Even more importantly, the new S60 is the final piece in Volvo’s rebranding puzzle for North American markets, unless they decide to bring us a revived V40 to go along with the similarly sized XC40 crossover SUV that was introduced last summer, or further expand their lineup with a reincarnated C30, S40, C70, S80, or who knows what? Volvo already offers Canada’s luxury market an impressively large lineup of models and therefore doesn’t likely need to water down its efforts by filling more niches, but we’re happy to see it continue with mainstay products like the S60 despite some market weakness amongst four-door sedans in recent years. 

As it is, this new third-generation S60 should cause today’s smaller group of premium car lovers to sit up and take notice, thanks to design details that have proven favourable to the majority of the Scandinavian automaker’s loyal owners as well as most auto industry critics when seen on other Volvo models. 

2019 Volvo S60 R-Design T6 AWD
Distinctive C-shaped LED taillights help provide a unique look from behind. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

While once again uttering “Thor’s Hammer” LED headlights might nauseate regular readers as much as the words delighted when Volvo first coined them for the then-new XC90 in 2014, they’re an integral part of the new S60’s frontal design, just like the mostly rectangular crested grille in between. Likewise, the C- or hook-shaped LED taillights provide an original look from its backside, the new S60 getting a similar set of rear lenses to those found on the larger S90 sedan. 

Speaking of larger, the compact (or mid-size, depending on market) D-segment S60 has (surprise, surprise) grown from the outgoing 2010–2018 iteration to this new 2019 model, its length now 133 mm (5.2 inches) longer at 4,761 mm (187.4 in) with a 96-mm (3.8-in) longer wheelbase of 2,872 mm (113.1 in), but unusually it’s now 15 mm (0.6 in) narrower at 1,850 mm (72.8 in), and sports a 53-mm (2.1-in) lower roofline than its predecessor. 

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Volvo now provides one of the most luxurious interiors in the compact luxury D-segment. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Of course, the longer wheelbase aids rear legroom, which some criticized as a shortcoming on the previous car, although the real reason for an elongated S60 probably comes down to the Chinese market and their love of limousine-like rear quarters. The outgoing S60 was already available in China as the long-wheelbase S60L (with a 79-mm/3.1-inch wheelbase stretch and 76 mm/3.0 inches more rear legroom) in order to cater to regional tastes (the Chinese-made model was also offered in the U.S. with Inscription trim). Competitive luxury brands provide long-wheelbase variants of their D-segment offerings in China too, but only Volvo has Chinese parentage (Geely) and will therefore probably sell more S60s in its second home market than in North America, or possibly even Europe, so they might as well make one elongated S60 to serve all. 

2019 Volvo S60 R-Design T6 AWD
The optional Bowers & Wilkins audio system includes these beautiful metal speaker grilles. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Speaking as one who resides in Richmond, BC, made up of 53-percent Chinese-descent Canadians that continue to enjoy most of the same personal and collective tastes originated in the Sinosphere, what works in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and the rest of China’s largest and wealthiest cities, not to mention those hailing from the “Special Administrative Region” of Hong Kong, will likely work here, or for that matter in Richmond Hill, Ontario, Richmond, Virginia, Richmond upon Thames, London, UK, etcetera (Richmond is the most common place name in the world, or so claims British author and toponymist Barclay Simpson who lives in the original Yorkshire, England town). 

2019 Volvo S60 R-Design T6 AWD
We’ll go into detail about the S60’s cabin as part of our full road test review. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The S60 is far from common, however, and I’m not just commenting on how few you’ll find on the road compared to segment leaders like the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and Audi A4. Despite the second-generation S60’s length of tenure it’s still fared pretty well, but this new model should excite longtime fans of the model and may even cause some bored with things Swabian to contemplate a Swedish way of life. And by that we don’t mean simplistic minimalism, as has often been Scandinavian design dogma, but rather lavish luxury, this especially true in aforementioned over-the-top Inscription trim. 

Unlike the V60 we spent time in over the holidays, the new 2019 S60 is available in more trims due to an expectedly higher take-rate. The V60 could only be had as a base Momentum or top-line Inscription, but the S60 provides both of these grades as well as sportier R-Design and sportiest Polestar Engineered guises, the latter boasting the brand’s hybridized plug-in powertrain that ups performance to 400 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque via the same turbocharged and supercharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder as offered with T6 powered models. 

2019 Volvo S60 R-Design T6 AWD
S60 R-Design and Inscription trims include a standard 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Along that stream of thought, most S60 buyers will opt for T5 FWD or T6 AWD powertrains, the former, which is only available in Momentum trim, featuring the same 2.0-litre four without the supercharger for 250 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, and as the three-letter acronym states drives the front wheels, while the latter, which is available with Momentum trim and comes standard with the R-Design and Inscription, makes a more soul-stirring 316 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque and turns all four wheels. 

Both engines come standard with auto engine start/stop that helps to reduce emissions and fuel consumption by shutting the engine down when it would otherwise be idling, this aiding the base T5 FWD to achieve a claimed five-cycle rating of 10.2 L/100km in the city and 6.8 on the highway, while the new T6 AWD is good for an estimated 10.9 city and 7.7 highway, and plug-in T8 Polestar is rated at 9.1 city and 9.1 highway. 

2019 Volvo S60 R-Design T6 AWD
The Bowers & Wilkins audio system also includes this cool metal-grilled centre dash speaker. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The 2019 S60 Momentum T5 FWD starts at $42,400 plus freight and fees, which is only $250 more than last year’s version despite its all-new design and upgraded everything, and comes standard with those aforementioned LED headlamps, 17-inch alloy wheels, metal door sill treadplates, rain-sensing wipers, an eight-inch driver display, Road Sign Information (RSI), a powered panoramic glass sunroof, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a three-spoke leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control with a Clean Zone Air Quality system and a humidity sensor, rear parking sensors, a backup camera with dynamic guidelines, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, voice activation, two USB ports, Bluetooth phone connectivity with streaming audio, Volvo On-Call with remote start and vehicle tracking, 170-watt 10-speaker audio, satellite radio, leatherette upholstery, power-adjustable heated front seats with two-way powered lumbar support and driver’s memory, a 120-volt household-style power outlet in the rear console, power-folding rear seat headrests, dual chromed tailpipes, and more. 

2019 Volvo S60 R-Design T6 AWD
Does the award-winning Volvo Sensus infotainment touchscreen still measure up to new and improved competitors? (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

This being a Volvo means plenty of safety gear comes standard too, so therefore all 2019 S60 trims get City Safety automatic front collision warning with full low- and high-speed autonomous emergency braking, plus Driver Alert Control, steering support, Run-Off Road Mitigation, Lane Keeping Aid and Oncoming Lane Mitigation, as well as all the usual active and passive safety features including an airbag for the driver’s knees, front seat whiplash protection, and pyrotechnical seatbelt pretensioners in all positions front to rear. 

Of special note, if sensing an imminent head-on collision the new oncoming braking system will automatically activate maximum braking force two-tenths of a second before impact. Volvo claims this feature reduces vehicle speed by 10 km/h ahead of an impact, which could potentially be a lifesaver and certainly help to minimize life-altering injury. 

2019 Volvo S60 R-Design T6 AWD
How’s that for an overhead parking monitor? (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Of course, all of the above are included with our $52,400 R-Design tester too, as is a unique R-Design front grille, full LED headlamps with auto high beams and active bending, fog lamps with active bending, high-gloss black exterior trim including the side mirror caps, door handle puddle lamps, 18-inch alloy wheels, a lowered sport suspension with firmer shock absorbers, proximity-sensing keyless access, special R-Design metal sill mouldings, R-Design carpeted floor mats, a three-spoke R-design leather-wrapped steering wheel, R-Design metal pedals, a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, paddle shifters for the eight-speed automatic gearbox, driver selectable low, medium and high personal power steering settings, Comfort, Eco or Dynamic adjustable drive mode settings, four-zone automatic climate control with rear controls, navigation, Metal Mesh decor inlays, a black headliner, Fine Nappa leather upholstery with contrast stitching, six-way powered front contoured sport seats with four-way powered lumbar support, and two-way memory, a power extendable lower cushion for the driver, and more. 

2019 Volvo S60 R-Design T6 AWD
The S60’s 8-speed automatic’s shift lever is totally conventional, which will be welcomed by those who find some of today’s electronic gear selector’s overly complicated. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The new S60 sits atop the same Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) chassis architecture that underpins the larger S90 luxury sedan and everything else in today’s Volvo lineup other than the compact XC40 crossover that utilizes the brand’s new Compact Modular Architecture (CMA) platform. SPA and the Volvo models built upon it have been widely praised by auto scribes like us, as well as Volvo customers. 

The S60’s chassis is comprised of aluminum double wishbones up front and an exclusive integral link rear suspension design featuring a transverse lightweight composite leaf spring, Volvo promising both a comfortable ride and sporty handling from this fully independent setup that we’ll report on in our upcoming review. 

2019 Volvo S60 R-Design T6 AWD
Some of Volvo’s switchgear, like the rotating ignition controller (right) and scrolling drive mode selector (left), look like bright metal jewellery. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Our tester looks good in its $900 optional Fusion Red Metallic paintwork, one of five optional colours plus no-cost standard Black Stone, while the R-Design’s interior is Charcoal black. Those choosing base Momentum trim can allow for seven exterior colours and a variety of interior motifs, while Inscription buyers get the choice of eight colours albeit fewer cabin combinations, but the Momentum’s upgradable upholsteries are no-cost options in the Inscription. 

Our R-Design tester also features a set of $1,000 19-inch alloy wheels, while available individual options include a $1,150 graphical head-up display unit and a $3,750 15-speaker, 1,100-watt Bowers & Wilkins audio system, both of which are included as well. 

2019 Volvo S60 R-Design T6 AWD
S60 R-Design T6 AWD trim includes these heavily sculpted, multi-adjustable sport seats. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Also included is a $1,250 Climate Package that includes heated Aquablades windshield wipers, a heatable steering wheel, and heated rear seats; a $1,500 Convenience Package with Volvo’s advanced Pilot Assist semi-autonomous drive system featuring Adaptive Cruise Control, plus a Homelink garage door opener and a compass integrated into the rearview mirror; and an $1,800 Vision Package with a 360-degree surround parking camera, Park Assist Pilot semi-autonomous self parking, front parking sensors, auto-dimming power-retractable side mirrors, and blindspot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert. 

By the way, the $53,900 S60 Inscription includes most of the features found in the slightly less expensive R-Design trim, other than sportier items such as the suspension upgrade, metal pedals and paddle shifters, while swapping out the special R-Design grille for a chromed waterfall design and gloss black window trim from chrome on the outside and the Metal Mesh Decor inlays for beautiful matte Driftwood Decor inside, plus adding unique 10-spoke 18-inch alloys, a tailored instrument panel with stitched soft-touch detailing, perforated Nappa leather upholstery, ventilated front seats, and more. 

2019 Volvo S60 R-Design T6 AWD
Roomy enough in back? Return soon to check out our full road test review and we’ll let you know what we think. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

And incidentally, all 2019 Volvo S60 pricing was sourced from CarCostCanada, where you can find detailed pricing on trims, packages and standalone options for every other new vehicle sold in Canada too, plus otherwise hard to get rebate information and dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands. 

Of course, in our upcoming road test review we’ll go into detail about how the majority of these features work as well as the S60 R-Design’s driving dynamics, plus the usual commentary on the quality of materials inside, fit and finish, etcetera. Make sure to come back soon for all the details…