2005 Volvo S60 T5 review: Big on Volvo

2005 Volvo S60 T5

2005 Volvo S60 T5

The 2005 Volvo S60 T5 is a big car. Not a huge car, but a big one, and bold, a square-jawed Swede with shoulders, the distinctive contour that’s part of Volvo’s current identity theme. One knows it’s a Volvo from either end, whether by its upright but aero grille, correct down to the diagonal crossbar with the traditional Volvo badge, unchanged since the company made its first cars back in 1927. Or by its more recent chair-shaped taillights, now clear-lensed on the S60.

The traditional theme—the Volvo as box was just a phase the company was going through for twenty-five years or so—is continued inside. The nacelle over the instrument panel and top of the center stack together form something of the chair shape. The four instruments have black faces with white numbers and red needles, classic as herring in Sweden. The center stack is Scandinavian design, spare and clean, with little touches like white rings around the radio knobs, plus high-quality plastic.

The radio, for all the clean look of the interior, has that typically complex algorithm to which Swedish designers seem wedded. Please, do what you will with the minor audio controls, but two knobs, one of volume and the other for tuning, would be appreciated. We’ll figure out the rest from there.

Volvo has long prided itself on its orthopedically-approved seats, and the pride is well deserved for the 2005 Volvo S60. The seats are well-bolstered, if biased to the wide side, but there’s a smorgasbord of adjustment. A design coup for the interior is the ball-and-socket arrangement of the shifter, instead of the usual leather or, not so much lately, the accordioned rubber boot. It’s all rather IKEA, in matte silver with numbers on the bezel and another schematic decal on the center console. Cupholders, big enough of Americans, inhabit the console as well. Tall cups will interfere with shifting, requiring a reach around, but those are the sacrifices one must make. The cup holders have a roll-top cover, and under the central armrest is a deep but small storage bin.

Much attention went into touch surfaces of the 2005 Volvo S60 T5. Everything feels solid. Door handles and pulls, door panels are completely without flex. Nothing rattles on rough roads.

The backlight of the S60 has the semi-fastback shape in current vogue, requiring a short bow to the front seat when getting into the back. Knee room behind the front seats is close but toe pockets under the front seat give adequate legroom. The seats have bun pockets for the outer two positions, but with the high driveshaft tunnel, plus negative camber to both sides of the middle seat, makes the center position as desirable as the middle seat on an airplane.

A novel detail is rear seat headrests that flip forward with the push of a button on the dash. The driver can’t do anything about stern seat passengers’ head blocking the view out the back, but he can drop the headrests from the line of sight when no one is there.

What the designers have done for the interior the engineers have done under the hood. The S60 T5 has the five cylinder version of the four-five-six cylinder modular Volvo engine. The T5, as the model designation suggests, is turbocharged, as is the 2.4T, a light pressure turbo. The base 2.4i makes do with a naturally aspirated five-cylinder. There’s also a S60 R, another turbo five but tweaked to 300 hp. Our test T5 is rated at 257 hp with 258 lb-ft of torque.

The odd-firing five-cylinder engine has a slight tingle at idle but smoothes out as revs pick up. Whoop 2005 Volvo S60 T5 through the gears and the distinctive siren sound endemic to five cylinder engines comes through. It has the feel of a turbo boosted engine, but it doesn’t feel soggy at low revs as turbo motors often do. There a turbo rush, but it comes on more as an extra bonus at higher revs. Nail the throttle and get pulled along by the reins. Yehaa!

The T5’s manual transmission holds no truck with fast shifting, however, and the clutch has enough grab to make smooth engagement a challenge going up gears or down. It’s light enough, however, that getting caught in slow traffic isn’t a death sentence for one’s left leg.

The S60 has a good dead pedal as a bracing place for the driver, and the brake and throttle pedal are close enough to heel-and-toe, which matters, of course, only if one knows how to do it.

With the front drive layout there’s just a blush of torque steer. The overall karma of the S60 T5, however, is not one that inspires boy racers shenanigans, so that’s not as critical as it might otherwise be. The front suspension is softish, and though the T5 is competent on gollytwisting roads, there’s a sense that the car doesn’t particularly relish them.

In the parking lot, the S60 has a large turning circle which makes lining up for spaces in a parking lot a matter of calculating trajectories. Swing wide.

After adding taxes, the T5 tops $40,000 as equipped, that starting at a base of $33,285. $3,800 of that comes in leather seating, moonroof and the six CD in-dash audio with surround sound. Heated seats, metallic paint, safety laminated side glass (like the windshield and rain sensor wipers make up most of the rest. That’s a long way up from the base price of the base 2.4 at $ 27,235. Let one not be misled by the old “priced from” gambit.

But if you can avoid the laying on of options, the S60 T5 is a well-equipped low-mid-range luxury sedan. And it’s big. Just like we’re big on the 2005 Volvo S60 T5.

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