Configuration: Electric Silver Exterior, Nubtex Interior
Platinum Trim Level, Enhanced BLIS Package, Technology Package, Heated Front Seats
18" Ixion Wheels with Continental ExtremeContact DWS 06 in 235/45 R18, Standard Size (Prev: Pirelli P7 Cinturato A/S)
Last Updated: 12/02/2016 @ ~39,000 miles
Important: At this point, I am repurposing this review as info for people considering a 3.0L V60 R-Design as a pre-owned vehicle. The tone of the review has therefore changed.
Photo Album (Link Updated 1/23/16)
12/27/2013 - Order Placed
01/30/2014 - Vehicle Left Sweden
02/13/2014 - Vehicle Visited Nova Scotia, I was not invited.
02/15/2014 - Vehicle Arrived at Port
02/22/2014 - Dealer ETA
03/01/2014 - Vehicle Arrived at Dealership, Delivery Taken
10/20/2014 - 10,000 Mile Service - No problems
5/12/2015 - Rear Brakes Replaced @ 17K, wear likely due to heavy use of torque vectoring under "spirited" driving
7/13/2015 - 20,000 Mile Service, Alignment Done, Continental ExtremeContact DWS 06 Tires Installed - Steering Response Greatly Improved
3/11/2016 - 30,000 Mile Service, Tires Rotated, AC Piping Replaced to fix groan, Fuel Pump ordered to fix rough start issue, Injector Service needed for carbon buildup
5/25/2016 - Rear and Front Brakes Replaced @ 31.6K, front rotors covered under warranty. Battery replaced under warranty because it was "below specs"
11/28/2016 - 40,000 Mile Service, Tires Rotated, Brake Fluid Flushed, Alignment done, rear passenger side found to have uncorrectable camber .2° out of spec.
TL;DR Long-Term Review
I have never loved any of my other Volvo's as much as I love this one. 32 months and about 40,000 miles in, this car really puts a smile on my face every day and I have no regrets about purchasing it. It's very dynamic and can feel comfortable and relaxing to drive with its natural chassis setup, though bumps will be felt. When you push it hard, the AWD system and stability system work hard and really bring it to a new level, allowing it to perform far better than you'd expect if you only ever drove it casually. I feel that this car is highly underrated by the auto media which hasn't spent enough time behind it's wheel. A V60 Polestar or Tesla Model S (electric car wouldn't work for me right now) might be the only cars on the road I'd prefer over this car right now.
Long-Term Review - 40K Edition
I originally leased this car because I expected I would want to replace it in three years. I knew the auto market would change rapidly during that time. Semi-autonomous drive is better than ever and is becoming more and more prevalent. Infotainment tech has marched on with big new touch screens, cloud connectivity, and integration of apps like Spotify and Apple Car Play. What I didn't realize would happen are the changes to how newer cars feel to drive. Electric power steering has replaced hydraulic systems in almost every new or refreshed model. While this does improve fuel economy, it completely kills steering feel. Manufacturers are working hard to recreate the connected feeling we once got from hydraulic power steering by electronically adjusting the level of assistance the power steering motor gives based on factors like lateral force and current tire slip, but it's just not the same. Furthermore, Volvo has downsized to 2.0L engines only, leaving us with a selection of powertrains which simply are not as satisfying. And so I am not unsure whether or not I will part with this car at the end of my lease. My priorities have changed and then they recently changed again. So as I reconsider parting with this vehicle, I figured I would rewrite this review and direct it at those considering it as a CPO vehicle in the next years or so.
Part One: The 3.0L Experience
From a real world "useful" acceleration perspective, the 3.0L offers similar passing power to what you can get from a 2.0L Turbo in a lighter vehicle with more gears. You may have a few tenths of a second advantage with the 3.0L, but it's the kind of advantage that goes away completely when you can just step on the gas that many tenths of a second early to compensate. In fact, if you race a 2.0L Turbo VW, Audi, or whatever from a roll from x to 20 miles per hour above x, the outcome will almost always depend on who had the better reaction time. Even if you have an extra 100 horsepower. From an enthusiast's standpoint, however, the additional two cylinders and liter of displacement bring a level of thrust the 2.0L (non-Polestar, non-AMG, non-Subaru STI, etc.) simply does not possess. And then there is the aural experience. The 3.0L T6 sounds amazing. At low speeds with a little enthusiasm put into the throttle, the exhaust creates a hushed tone that perfectly captures this wagon's sleeper status while still drawing just the right amount of attention. You won't hear it from the driver's seat unless it's reflected back to you by a wall or in a tunnel or underpass, but it's there and it's fantastic. But it's the intake and spooly turbo that really emit the sense of power with this engine when throttle is applied. And when throttle is let off, the release of exhaust pressure lets everyone nearby with a trained ear hear that yes, that was the sound of a high-pressure turbocharger spooling up. And when you do invoke the full power of this engine, it lets out a howl that causes some vehicles in the next lane to overreact and move as far from you as the safely can. And it is beautiful. Hands down, the 3.0L T6 is a better engine. Test drive both ways and decide what you want, but I doubt anyone will ever lust after the 2.0L T6 the same way.
In my testing (starting in first and letting the automatic shift) this car consistently hits 60 miles per hour in less than the advertised time of 5.3 seconds when new. It's easily faster once broken in. Even at close to 40,000 miles, I'm still frequently seeing times a hair under 5.0 seconds. Quarter mile is still in the low 13.0's using mobile apps. Trap speeds are approaching 110mph.
Let me stop there, though. This is not a BMW M. This is not a Mercedes AMG. This is not even an Audi S. This, my friends, is a sleeper. It may not be as unassuming as a boxy 850 wagon, but people are still getting behind the minivan instead of the Volvo wagon hoping it will go faster. Enthusiasts love seeing a Volvo wagon that can take off like a bat out of hell. This is where the 3.0L R-Design excels. If you want something more overtly sporty and about 15% more athletic, there is now the Polestar. If you're outside the US and you're okay with 10% less, there was the T6 AWD without the R-Design treatment. Add the 19" Sport Package and Polestar tune - now you have all the performance of the R-Design with even more sleeper status. But the point here is there are a few varying degrees of Volvo wagon sleeper, and what you're getting does Volvo wagon sleeper very well. It's great for what it is, but if you're looking for that "look at my race car" experience, try the Polestar. If that doesn't do it for you, you'll have to give up the wagon or get the insensible E63 AMG from Mercedes or do some extensive tuning. Polestar got 508hp out of an S60 R-Design, and if you have the skill set to do the same I hope you have the funds and time because it's something I would love to see someday at a meet up.
Part Two: 2.0L Models, Other Differences
The 3.0L's 6-speed automatic transmission performs well, but is not as fast as the newest generation of 8-speed automatics. Twisting roads and slippery slopes aside, there is no reason to shift gears manually. The experience in drive is mostly tame and you will need to step vigorously to make the car really move. If you really want to go, go, go, throwing the shift lever to the left activates Sport Mode. In Sport, the throttle is much more sensitive and the car will make better use of the powerband. Throttle may seem overly sensitive at low speeds, but the advantage of putting a large portion of the throttle in the first inch of pedal travel is that it leaves the rest of the pedal's travel distance for finer control at speed. This is very important at high speeds, as you get much finer control over the vehicle's weight transfer when cornering. Fortunately, you can shift between sport and drive whenever you want with a flick of your wrist. The SPA models don't offer this, and I think that sucks. Fortunately, Drive-E P3 models retained this feature.
The 3.0L R-Designs do not have fully electric power steering and therefore have much better steering feel and feedback than the 2.0L model range. This also means the 3.0L cars cannot use Lane Keeping Assist (which actively helps keep you in your lane instead of just warning you that you're about to go over a line). The 3.0L R-Designs do, however, have electric power steering assistance which allows you to choose between high, medium, or low steering force. Low means you have to apply less force to turn the wheel at speed, and I find this tends to result in a bit more body roll. Medium and Heavy are both great for sporty driving, depending on your environment.
Part Three: Chassis and Drivetrain
Torque is quickly transferred between wheels, and the car never feels like it is FWD. While Torque vectoring helps with maneuvering, it doesn't always play nicely when the wheels start to slip. Especially in DSTC Sport mode, the artificial oversteer can lead to disruptive intervention by stability control once things start to go sideways (literally) - the kind that kills all power to the wheels, leaves you pointed in the wrong direction, and ensures embarrassment and a feeling that you were driving beyond your capabilities. The reality is that torque vectoring and stability control can only do so much to improve the handling of a front-heavy car. Because DSTC will re-engage yaw control when you begin to lift off the throttle, you don't get much of an opportunity to correct before stability control takes steps to slow you down and keep you safe. When you approach this car's electronically-enhanced handling limits, you don't want to cross them. That said, the limits are set quite high for such a heavy vehicle. There is a bit more body roll than I would like, but the car manages to stay planted if not neutral. There was a bug in the DEM software which caused AWD degradation over time. Less power would be transferred to the rear over time due to some adaptation. This was fixed on my car in March 2016. This reduced understeer in curves under throttle.
I would not describe the V60 R-Design's ride as harsh, but when you hit a big bump you will feel it. When you hit a pothole you will hear it and it may fill you dread, but it will be relatively well absorbed despite the ride height and suspension stiffness.
Road holding and braking traction is adequate with the stock Pirelli P7 A/S tires, as the body roll and weight are a much more limiting factor in this car's handling. Tire performance improved with the Continental ExtremeContact DWS 06 tires installed.
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The interior is darker than Ozzy Osbourne, but the beautiful full-color LCD instrument display makes up for this and makes driving very pleasant. The sports seats are more comfortable than any other seat I had ever sat in, car or not, until the 2016 XC90 launched. The steering wheel has a soft luxurious feel, but the leather is also delicate and easy to scratch. The rest of the materials used in the cabin are also nice to touch, while my favorite is the faux Nubuck textile used on the seats. The seat design may provide plenty of support, but this surface adds some friction which doesn't hurt when you want to drive it like you stole it.
The window controls feel solid, but they don't always respond as expected with regard to whether the automatic raising/lower is activated or not. I may pull up on both rear switches together, but only one window rolls all the way up automatically. The turn signal and wiper stalks also came with some rough edges which I no longer notice, perhaps because they have been filed down over time.
Climate Control works very well and I rarely need to adjust anything, but I do wish I had the Interior Air Quality System to keep some of the smells out. I also wish the passenger-side climate control zone was disabled when it was unoccupied so I didn't have to use two dials to adjust the temperature - not a major issue since adjustment is rarely needed. It would be nice if the passenger seat heater was also automatically disabled in this case or if the temperature had risen considerably since the car was last driven.
The vehicle originally had a whiny AC compressor, which was irritating when going block to block in Manhattan traffic. This was fixed per a tech journal after I complained prior to 30k mile service. That aside, the ride is very quiet. There is no noticeable or irritating wind noise, and I did not experience any distracting creaks or groans from the interior or chassis for about 20k miles. At that time, I had some door seal noise which was easily fixed with very light lubrication and has not returned. At 28k miles I had to lubricate some seals I had missed. At 29k miles, I started to notice some creaking when the chassis flexed. You can hear another person in the car even if they are barely whispering, and considering how fast this car is that is very impressive to me. Step on the gas, and the exhaust emits a pleasant sophisticated throaty growl very fitting to the vehicles character. People will take notice and hear you begin to pass them if you push it hard. A limo driver at one point felt it necessary to yell profanities at me because he was startled by the sudden noise from the exhaust and turbo bypass valve when a little throttle was applied, even under casual driving, but for the most part the car doesn't draw any unwanted attention. The car has received a fair bit of positive attention despite its unassuming styling.
While I am excited for the possible tech improvements coming in the next generation of this car, I am generally satisfied by the tech this car has.
As I said above, the digital instrument cluster looks great. Integration of the technology package and navigation system are fantastic, though I wish the Performance theme had a function for showing the speed of the vehicle in front of me while using Adaptive Cruise Control (all of the other themes do). If It did, I would use Performance all the time. Instead, I'm using Eco with the Contrast mode setting to get a dark gray theme. It's nice to be able to choose a theme, but I wish I could switch between the Eco and Power gauges without changing the style. If these side "blades" functioned as part of the trip computer instead of moving aside to show that data it would be amazing. For instance, if the Eco gauge showed along with current MPG and average MPG "widgets" overlaying it (rather than pushing it away) and only showing up when fuel economy was being displayed. The system could also be driven by a faster processor or perhaps have a faster input bus, as the responsiveness when buttons are pressed is a little slow. It makes the car feel dated compared to... well, any other consumer computing device less than 10 years old.
I've found the Sensus infotainment system functional and intuitive. Occasionally, I need to disconnect and reconnect my phone from USB because things aren't syncing up properly. This may be an Apple problem. Coming from a more traditional stereo in my previous vehicle, I'm very satisfied. But scrolling through the list of music on my iPhone can be slow, and the search function doesn't seem to work all the time. There should be a traditional bluetooth button to activate Siri, though being able to say "Hey Siri" in iOS 8 has made this a non-issue.
The attention to detail in the Nav system is high, and it's very clear where it wants me to go and when. Unfortunately, the traffic data is not crowd-sourced like Waze and so it is inferior. I do not feel I can use it instead of Waze for my commute. I also often use Google Maps for non-commuting trips because it has features that make it easier to use. Input is clunky and slow to respond, routing isn't perfect… but it's okay. A built-in Waze or Google Maps app with the same integration would be preferable. OEM Nav as it is now is a waste of consumers' money. Someday manufacturers will realize this. If those apps could provide the same integration with the instrument cluster, HUD (no, not on this car), and use the full screen on an XC90-like Sensus "tablet," I would be 100% satisfied. These OEM systems will never, ever get there.
The Technology and Blind Spot packages provide a great deal of convenience and make the car feel more luxurious. I will not opt out of these systems in future Volvo cars. They really improve the driving experience at times. I have more details about this system in this post: LINK.
These systems all work as described, but there are some areas for improvement. I will be focusing on those here.
(A) Collision Warning doesn't recognize upcoming curves in the road, and I sometimes get warnings about a pedestrian on the sidewalk or a car in the opposite lane when approaching a curve while the steering wheel is still straight. I also get false warnings when there is a sudden change in incline or a dark shadow is on the road, such as from an overpass. It seems the car thinks I'm about to crash into a wall. I should also be able to adjust the volume of the lane departure warning system. Collision Alert should not completely cut off the stereo as it does, as it causes popping when the audio system comes back on.
(B) Active High Beam could better discern between street lights, driveway lanterns, and headlamps, but it works very well on a road with no street lighting.
(C) Road Sign Information could do a better job recognizing and displaying school zones (including "End School Zone" signs). It should ignore bus/truck speed limit signs.
(D) BLIS and Lane Departure Warning should work together to automatically give early alerts if a vehicle is in the encroached lane.
(E) Distance Alert and ACC should probably automatically increase or recommend increasing distance by one second when the rain sensor is enabled or slippery conditions are detected.
I'll keep this thread in my signature and update it over the 39 months of my lease with any problems, complaints, or praises I have.