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REVIEW: 2016 Volvo S60 Cross Country T5 AWD – Last of the Go-Anywhere Sedans

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2016-05-13 10.32.18

The 2016 Volvo S60 Cross Country T5 AWD has a unique look to take on a common mission.

What is it? 

The 2016 Volvo S60 Cross Country T5 AWD is a compact sedan with a raised up suspension and all-wheel drive (AWD).  With 7.9″ of ground clearance and some added trim pieces to make it look tougher, the S60 Cross Country T5 AWD is marketed as an all-road, all-weather vehicle.  Just like the huge variety of crossovers now on the market.

Why the sedan body instead of the more practical crossover-style 5-door shape?  Hard to say, but there must be some folks who are willing to trade functionality for style.  That may be a reasonable trade.  Everyone I showed the S60 Cross Country T5 AWD to loved the look.  Even my two teen boys.

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Pricing and trims

The basic Volvo S60 front-wheel drive sedan starts at $34,150, but the AWD, raised up Cross Country starts at $43,700.  With options, our test vehicle had a price of $48,390 including destination.

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Being a specialty vehicle targeted at snowy regions, it was a surprise that the “Climate Package” was not part of the Cross Country trim.  The $1,550 package adds heated everything including the windshield, which is heated by small wires visible when one drives the car in the right light.   The heated steering wheel was a welcome feature too many premium vehicles omit.


Volvo’s mission is safety.  Our Volvo S60 Cross Country T5 AWD test vehicle came with all manner of active and passive safety apparatus.  The active bending lights were the most active of any vehicle we can remember.  They swing side to side at night when turning and the effect is very cool.  That safety groups say they help reduce accidents is even better.

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Surprisingly, many of the safety systems on this Volvo were optional and cost $925 more than MSRP.  Blind spot monitoring, cross traffic alerts, parking assist and lane change merge aid are not part of the S60’s base safety package.

The Volvo S60 sedan has been tested by IIHS and is a Top Safety Pick Plus.  But so too are all this car’s main competitors like the Subaru Legacy and Forester.  What the Volvo has that many vehicles do not is a feeling of solidity.  Knock your knuckles against the B-pillar.  It is as solid as a rock.  We did the same with a Subaru Forester, and the tone is noticeably more hollow.  The Volvo’s doors also seem heavier, look thicker, and seem more solid.


Our test vehicle had an in-line five-cylinder turbocharged engine Volvo has used for a long time.  With a respectable 250 HP and peak torque at just 1,800 RPM, this is an engine that is more than competitive in this class.  It always feels strong, and the torque feels like a diesel (that is a compliment).  It sounds tough.

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We mention the age of this drivetrain because a little over two years ago Volvo’s VP of Powertrain engineering announced to the world that Volvo was moving to only four-cylinder engines.  He said in part, “We will create smaller, more intelligent engines with so much power that they will turn V8s into dinosaurs. Our four-cylinder engines will offer higher performance than today’s six-cylinder units and lower fuel consumption than the current four-cylinder generation.”  While we trust Volvo’s new engines and transmissions will be good, this combination is so great we fear we will miss it when it’s gone.

This Volvo is an AWD vehicle, and it returns a reasonable 23 EPA miles-per-gallon combined.  That beats cars like the six-cylinder Lexus IS 300AWD.   Further to its credit, the Volvo uses regular gasoline.

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The six-speed automatic transmission in the Volvo S60 Cross Country T5 AWD is smooth and always seems to have the car in the right gear.  Many modern cars have too many gears and always seem to have to downshift to get to the torque.

Putting the Volvo S60 Cross Country T5 AWD into Sport mode with the shifter is as easy tapping it to the side, and the added power is excellent.

Ride and handling

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This vehicle being of Scandinavian design, we took the Volvo S60 Cross Country T5 AWD on the perfect test ride, or so we thought.

We ventured to Marblehead Mass., a wealthy town on the Atlantic cooled by a deep-water harbor smack dab in the snow belt of New England.  It proved to be the car’s undoing.

The rough ride of this car was too much for my date.  Herself the owner of a European all-wheel drive vehicle in this same price range, the jostling and “wham, bang, thump” of the suspension over frost heaves, patched potholes and any other pavement imperfection had her asking me “What are they thinking!?”  I couldn’t offer her any excuse for why this car, which is designed specifically for snowy areas with broken up roads, is so firm.  By the end of our trip, we were both exhausted from being banged around.

The 45-series, 19-inch tires on attractive alloy rims in conjunction with the speed sensitive steering do offer confident turning and road carving, but this Volvo’s ride is just too firm for its mission.


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The seats of the 2016 S60 Cross Country T5 AWD are attractive and comfortable.  With heat and memory, but not ventilation, the power-operated seats fall short of the top trims in the affordable car category.

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The rear seats of the S60 Cross Country T5 AWD are very tight.  More so than a Toyota Corolla.  For teens to sit in back, the front passengers need to move their seats forward.


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There is something very odd about the small trunk of the S60 Cross Country T5 AWD.  There is a compact spare in the bottom (yeah!), but the middle of the floor of the trunk is raised up about six inches.  This cuts cargo capacity down in a space-challenged vehicle.  Already an obvious car to compare to a crossover, this is hard to ignore.

The trunk also does not lift when the fob unlocks it, and there is no power closure.  At this price point, we would expect both.

Infotainment and controls

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The infotainment screen in our test car was smaller than most affordable compact models come with.  This S60’s screen is recessed into the dash deeply, which keeps it out of the glare and easy to see.  The controls on the “waterfall” center stack are outdated and difficult to operate.

We did appreciate the preview mode in the satellite radio menus which allows one to see what artists are playing on the other stations.

The navigation system is adequate, but the tone of the spoken voice sounds terse, and the screen never seems to be in the right field of view.  To be fair, the S60 has been on the market a long time and will be refreshed soon.


Plusses of the 2016 Volvo S60 Cross Country T5 AWD include an excellent drivetrain, comfortable seats, and safety that can be equaled, but not exceeded.

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The unique sedan shape of the 2016 S60 Cross Country T5 AWD needs to be very important to the buyer of this specific Volvo.  Crossovers now fill the all-road and all-weather role so perfectly that it is hard to imagine settling for so little cargo capacity in this car.

Modern crossovers also package the interior better, and the small glass area of the S60 does it no favors.

The 2016 S60 line is now in its seventh model year, and it is overdue for a full refresh or replacement.  With critics raving about the all-new XC90, we look forward to what Volvo will bring next.

2016 Volvo S60 Cross Country T5 AWD

Base price: $43,700

Price as tested, $48,390 including $940 destination charge:  


Climate Package: $1,550
Adds Heated Everything

Blind Spot Information System Package: $925

Adds BLIS, Cross traffic alert, Front and rear park assist, Lane change merge aid.

Speed Sensitive Steering: $325

Urbane Wood Inlays $ 400

19″ BOR Black Matte Wheels $ 750


  • Drivetrain
  • Feeling of Safety
  • Comfortable Seats


  • Overly Firm Ride
  • Visible Wires In Windshield
  • Lack of Cargo Capacity

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John Goreham

John Goreham