2023 Volvo S60 Recharge AWD Ultimate review by Ben Lewis

We have to admit, we are slowly changing our opinion about electrification of vehicles. Take our recent test of the Kia EV6 GT, with 576 horsepower and 0-60 mph in 3.2 seconds. Oh yes, that was fun. But we’ll also point out that it wasn’t always easy finding a charging station and a range of 208 miles or so did fire up the occasional range anxiety.

We think hybrids are the best way to go right now – the joy of EV combined with the reliability of a gas-powered engine. Well for Volvo the times they are a changing – for 2023 they announced every single vehicle will be either a light hybrid, plug-in hybrid or EV.

We were concerned that this would mean a dramatic shift in the way Volvo’s go, but we’ve just tested the S60 sedan with plug-in hybrid, and with a combined 455 horsepower it’s got a smiling about a bright future for drivers.

Could this swift Swede be right for you? Let’s take a look.

Sensibly Sexy

The S60 is Volvo’s BMW 3-series fighter, and has always walked the line between sporty and 4-door family-car sensible. That said, our Black Edition sedan is one of the sexiest versions we’ve seen.

Up front, the lines are clean and modern. You get a nice large black grille that is not oversized like BMW, with LED headlights with the signature “Thor’s Hammer” design for the full Swedish Effect. Lower blacked out grilles and nacelles for the fog lights make for a simple but aggressive vibe.  

The profile is typical sport sedan, with 4-doors, a coupe-like roof line and a bit of fender muscle to imply athleticism. We loved the blacked-out 19-inch, diamond cut alloy wheels and blacked-out mirrors. This is one mean looking S60! Those in the know will also notice the access flap for the charging port on the driver’s front fender.

The rear is equally sporty with U-shaped LED taillights, blacked-out rear badging and a sporty blacked out lower fascia. Helping to sell all the dark trim, our tester was painted a tasteful Crystal White Metal. Handsome, refined and tasteful, our S60 was a looker, and we got lots of compliments on the overall design.

Sport Luxe Accommodations

Volvo interiors – like Audi – always seem to push the envelope on good design and quality, and here the S60 once again excels.

Open the door and you’re greeted by the Black Edition’s charcoal leather and leatherette combo front sport seats with deep bolsters and pull-out lower cushion. Swedish leather has a unique lush smell, and with the design and contrasting white piping, the front seats are extra-inviting. And once you sit in them, the excellent support and firm cushioning make this the seat of choice whether you’re doing a long trip or tearing up your favorite twisty road.

Partner to that is a nice chunky leather-wrapped steering wheel, and a somewhat amusing Orrefors Crystal shift knob. OK, it’s neat to look at, but ultimately, we’d probably rather just have a leather lever.

Information is served up by a handsome 12.3-inch Progressive Digital Driver Display that gives you digital gauges and call also pull up maps and more on the display for a quick look. There’s also a large Tesla-like info tablet in the center console. For 2023, Volvo has updated the system to be Google driven, and that includes built-in Google Maps, Google Assistant and Google Play Store.

This is a major plus, since the previous system was a quite laggy, but now the S60 is state of the art, quick to start up, and of course Apple CarPlay and Android Auto work effortlessly.

Sporty Swede

If the fact that all Volvos are going hybrid or EV makes you think they’re boring, you’re in for a great surprise.

For 2023 Volvo has given the plug-in hybrid a serous power boost. With a turbo 2-liter, plus a rear electric motor, the numbers frankly are stunning – 455 horsepower and 523 lb.-ft. of torque. The carmaker proudly says that makes this the most powerful Volvo ever! Holy lingonberry pancakes

And it’s a sweet package, too. Combined with an 8-speed automatic in Normal mood the little 4 is quiet or absent – S60 is happy to run in pure EV mode – but that big hit of torque just lets you ride a wave of power to pass slower traffic, dust unsuspecting muscle cars, or what have you.

Shifting over to Power mode enhance the delivery, and 0-60 mph comes in just over 4 seconds. That’s fast in anyone’s book! And since the plug-in hybrid can go up to 41 miles in pure EV mode, it’s also very frugal.

This is a swift sport sedan with an equal serving of refinement. The ride can be dialed up to firm, but in the day-to-day it’s smooth and comfortable. The response to the steering is lightning quick, for slicing and dicing lane changes in traffic, with plenty of grip from those big tires and the standard AWD.

With all this goodness, the S60 never goads you into looking for those twisty roads, it has a more palpable relaxed vibe that just eats up miles and distance with exceptional ease, but it’s happy being your mellow, yet startling fast family sedan.

Orrefors or IKEA price?

Another nice surprise is Swedish sensibility in pricing. You can get into the S60 light hybrid sedan starting at just $41,000. With 247 horsepower, that tasteful style and lovely interior it’s a Euro-bargain.

Step up to our Recharge Ultimate AWD Black Edition and you start at $57,950. Add in the Climate Package ($750), Metallic Paint ($695) Bowers and Wilkins Premium Sound ($3,200) and Destination ($1,095) and we range the bill at $63,690.

It’s a small field of PHEV sedans, but competitors include the BMW 330e at $53,000. While it’s sporty, it can’t even come close to the Volvo’s performance – The BMW’s EV range is a paltry 22 miles, and 288 horsepower will mean that it’s eating the Swede’s dust.

If you want to match the Volvo’s power in a European PHEV, that will be the Porsche Panamera 4 E-hybrid. But starting at $109,000 it’s out of the ballpark on price. The Volvo’s performance and balance make it a bit of bargain, even at $60k plus.

Stylish, luxurious and incredibly powerful, the Volvo S60 Recharge shows the future of performance – and Volvo – is very bright indeed!

Ben Lewis grew up in Chicago, and after spending his formative years driving sideways in the winter – often intentionally – moved to sunny Southern California. He now enjoys sunny weather year-round — whether it is autocross driving, aerobatics, and learning to surf.

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