For a brand that’s known more for safety than performance, it might surprise you to learn that the Volvo S60 Recharge has more power than almost any other car in its class. With a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four driving the front wheels and an electric motor in back, this humble sedan makes a prodigious 455 horsepower and 523 pound-feet of torque, beating out the BMW M340i and Mercedes-AMG C43 handily.
While that’s a lot of grunt for a small luxury sedan, the S60’s plug-in hybrid powertrain and its attendant 18.8-kilowatt-hour battery add weight, putting the Volvo at 4,452 pounds. That heft is plainly apparent at brisk speeds, but if your priorities lie in cabin comfort, smooth thrust, and 40 miles of all-electric driving, then the S60 Recharge is a compelling option.
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|2023 Volvo S60 Recharge Ultimate
|Turbocharged 2.0-Liter I4 Plug-In Hybrid
|455 Horsepower / 523 Pound-Feet
|Price As Tested
Gallery: 2023 Volvo S60 Recharge Review
Released for the 2019 model year and featuring a downsized version of the S90 design, the current Volvo S60 has become a familiar sight, but don’t believe the saying – there’s no contempt here. The minimalist sedan has excellent proportions, and details like the Thor’s-hammer LED headlights and C-shaped tails provide some techno-pizzazz. My tester’s Black Edition package adds a gloss black grille, badging, wheels, and window surrounds, contrasting well with the luminescent Crystal White Metallic paint.
Inside, the S60 looks and feels high-end, with excellent soft-touch materials on nearly every surface of the cabin. The Black Edition adds attractive sport seats trimmed in leather and cloth, providing a modern, upscale feel. As with the exterior, the dashboard is simple and mostly unadorned, with a beveled sweep of aluminum brightwork catching your eyes. Some might find it to be a bit uninteresting, but the S60 will almost assuredly age better than trendier, more daring designs.
Scandinavians sure know how to build comfortable chairs, that’s for sure. The S60’s front buckets are among the most supportive automotive seats I’ve ever enjoyed, made all the better with power-adjustable thigh and side bolsters. Unfortunately, not even the flagship S60 Ultimate trim level comes with ventilation, although the cloth seat accents don’t retain as much sunny-day scorch as leather would.
Space inside is decent, and at 6 feet tall with a 32-inch inseam, I was able to find a comfortable seating position in both the front and rear seats. The ride is also smooth, and road noise is well controlled. The gas engine can sound a bit thrashy when given the boot, though in less aggressive driving, it’s well-integrated with the electric motor.
The Volvo S60 received an Android Automotive operating system for the 2023 model year, bringing built-in Google Maps and access to the Google Play store. The S60 also includes in-car apps for Spotify, Pandora, and other streaming and connectivity services if you’d prefer not to use the wired Apple CarPlay or Android Auto integration. The system now features over-the-air updates, so it should improve over time.
Smartphone mirroring and those aforementioned built-in apps work well enough, but some of the Volvo’s native functions are a bit laggy. For example, adjusting the climate controls is a two-tap affair, minimum, and those inputs can sometimes take a moment to register. If you’re the impatient type – like me – you might be tempted to touch the screen again, only to find the system catch up to your taps and overshoot your intended function.
For 2023, the Volvo S60 Recharge ditches its old turbo- and supercharged 2.0-liter inline-four (and its somewhat lumpy power delivery) in favor of a smoother turbocharged engine. The electric part of the equation has also been updated, with an 18.8-kilowatt-hour battery living in the driveshaft tunnel replacing an 11.6-kWh unit. With the gas engine powering the front wheels via an eight-speed automatic gearbox and the rear-mounted electric motor pushing hard, the Volvo S60 Recharge will hit 60 miles per hour in just 4.3 seconds.
But the weight of the hybrid powertrain rears its head when it’s time to corner. While the M340i and Lexus IS 500 feel lithe and agile, the S60 is far more deliberate, with lots of terminal understeer if I entered a corner too quickly. Adopting a slow-in, fast-out mentality helps improve performance, but adjusting the cornering attitude of the car is still a challenge. Luckily, stout brake regeneration is well integrated with the friction stoppers, adding confidence and efficiency.
Every S60 comes with active safety features like lane departure prevention and automatic emergency braking, but the base S60 Core trim level does without Pilot Assist adaptive cruise control and lane centering technology. For that, you must option up to either the Plus or Ultimate model. So equipped, the Volvo sedan handles the freeway slog reasonably well, although there was more side-to-side adjustment than I’d like.
|EPA Fuel Economy
|2023 Volvo S60 Recharge
|31 Combined / 74 MPGe Combined
|2023 BMW M340i xDrive
|23 City / 32 Highway / 26 Combined
|2023 Lexus IS500 F Sport Performance
|17 City / 25 Highway / 20 Combined
|2023 Mercedes-AMG C43 4Matic
|19 City / 26 Highway / 22 Combined
With a fully charged battery giving it 40 miles of all-electric range, the EPA rates the S60 Recharge at 74 mpge combined. Driving solely on a discharged battery in hybrid mode, it still achieves a best-in-class 31 mpg combined.
While its competitors consider their highest engine options a specific model in and of itself, Volvo offers its owners a choice of both powertrain and trim level. That means a base S60 Recharge starts at a reasonable $53,045 for the Core, rising to $58,995 for the flagship Ultimate trim. My tester rang a $63,690 bell due to the excellent $3,200 Bowers & Wilkins audio system; $750 climate package that adds a heated steering wheel, rear seats, and windshield washers; and $695 metallic paint.
A comparably equipped M340i xDrive costs more than $65,000, while a C43 is a bit more palatable at $64,400 and the IS 500 is $64,420. Any of those options are more involving to drive on a curvy road than the S60, although none can match its PHEV efficiency. And if price is a priority, only Volvo offers its flagship powertrain on a lesser trim – 455 hp and 40 miles of range for just over 54 grand is a hell of a bargain.
S60 Recharge Competitors