2016 Volvo S60 Inscription Platinum (FWD)
Class: Premium Midsize Car
Miles Driven: 171
Fuel Used: 8.0 gallons
Real-world fuel economy: 21.4 mpg
Driving mix: 75% city, 25% highway
|CG Report Card|
|Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. "Big" rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, "Tall" rating based on 6'6"-tall male tester.|
|Room and Comfort||B+|
|Power and Performance||B|
|Fit and Finish||B+|
|Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide's impressions of the entire model lineup.|
|Big & Tall Comfort|
EPA-estimated fuel economy: 25/37/25 (city/highway/combined)
Base price: $38,700 (not including $940 destination charge)
Options on test car: Platinum Package ($3000), Climate Package ($1300), Park Assist w/Bliss Package ($1425), metallic paint ($560)
Price as tested: $45,925
The great: Interior materials, ride/handling
The good: Power, generous rear-seat legroom
The not so good: Engine feels and sounds unrefined for the class
We have China to thank for the Volvo S60 Inscription. Because Chinese consumers place a high value on rear-seat space (since many car owners are given to employing chauffeurs), Volvo’s Chinese unit began building a special long-wheelbase variant of the S60 just for that market.
Here’s where the story gets interesting. With only two sedans in the lineup–the midsize S60 and the full-size S80–Volvo’s U.S. showroom inventory was looking a little thin. While the S60 was selling reasonable well, the slightly larger and ostensibly upmarket S80 hasn’t been significantly updated since its freshening for 2006.
With only the aging S80 positioned above the S60, Volvo saw the S60 Inscription as nice “tweener” vehicle to slot between the conventional-length S60 and S80. Because the long-wheelbase version of the S60 is built only in China, it becomes the first-ever Chinese-built new automobile ever sold in the United States.
There’s nothing especially Chinese about the S60 Inscription, however. It looks, feels, drives, and even smells like a Volvo should—a very nice Volvo at that.
Option choices are limited to front- or all-wheel drive, and casting yes or no votes on the Platinum package, the Climate Package, the Park Assist w/BLIS Package, and metallic paint. Folks opting against ordering the Climate Package will find that heated seats are a stand-alone option.
Though Volvo has made a big deal of its new 4-cylinder Drive-E engines, the Inscription can only be had with the maker’s long running 2.5-liter 240-horsepower turbocharged 5-cylinder mill. The 2.5 is satisfyingly strong, though gives up a fair amount of refinement when compared to 4- and 6-cylinder engines from the likes of Audi, Acura, and Lexus.
Once underway, the S60 Inscription rides and handles well, and feels fairly sporty when pushed. The steering is especially engaging, feeling both taut and direct. Ride quality ranks as above average, though there’s a nervous jittery element to the ride that suggests that the S60 isn’t fully a luxury vehicle.
That feeling goes away when examining the cabin. Materials and assembly quality are top notch, and the distinctly Volvo design feels elegantly fresh to most of our editors.
And while the S60 Inscription’s drivetrain refinement and ride quality trail other midsize luxury sedans, so does its price. Consumer Guide’s loaded test vehicle came in just under $46,000, which happens to be the approximate base price of a front-drive Audi A6.
While back-to-back test drives would reveal the A6 as the roomier, more refined car, the Volvo is not without its charms, chief among them being its relative rarity and arguably handsome design. Also, some fans feel the 5-cylinder’s unique sound and exhaust rumble adds character to the Volvo driving experience.
Note that while the first China-built car sold in the U.S. is of Swedish extraction, the second China-built vehicle–the Buick Envision midsize crossover–goes on sale soon. Like the S60 Inscription, the Envision will likely look and feel just like any other vehicle its maker sells here. As for a Chinese-brand Chinese-built vehicle being sold in the U.S.? There’s nothing obvious on the horizon.
Big & Tall Note:
The S60 Inscription feels fairly roomy once front-seat occupants have entered the vehicle, but like many European luxury sedans, the front-door openings are fairly narrow. This complicates entry and exit, especially for the broad shouldered.