Both the 2015 Volvo S60 luxury sedan and 2015 Volvo XC60 compact luxury SUV are the heart and soul of this Swedish automaker’s vehicle line-up as they make up a large portion of their annual sales, so it’s no wonder they are both treated regularly to the best of 2015 Volvo Infotainment systems known as Sensus. Let’s see what Volvo has equipped its latest 2015 ½ model year (their words not mine) S60 sedans and XC60 crossovers in so far as on board infotainment, hi-tech safety and the latest audio goes. Will it all add up to make Volvo a luxury nameplate to keep on your shortlist? First, let’s talk audio.
Harmon Kardon Audio Upgrade
The Harmon Kardon Audio system upgrade is something I highly recommend when picking out your new 2015 Volvo S60 even if it means having to choose an option bundle adding other features as well. What good is a Volvo without gadgets? Well, Harmon Kardon went all out in the 2015 Volvo S60 and XC60 affording them a 12-Speaker with 650-watt amplifier audio system that can play CD’s, DVD’s (when parked) or via the USB port or Bluetooth audio streaming which I found suffered from zero sound quality loss which is rare with this feature. Usually CD’s and an i-Pod plugged into a USB port sound much clearer and louder.
And that is one thing this Harmon Kardon system does very well—it knows just how loud it can get before the music it is playing starts to sound muddy, tinny or the fate worse than death known as speaker buzz. Too many audio upgrades nowadays can only handle 80% of their full power when playing various types of music from bass heavy to something with a powerful midrange. Harmon Kardon covers all the bases here so this system gets a perfect score.
(Note: I refuse to knock down Volvo for making so many of its knobs and dashboard controls work differently and often times at obvious cross purposes compared to those of its German competition. If you buy a Volvo, you want different and you get it. Along with the most comfortable front seats on Earth.)
Sensus Connect Infotainment
In addition to introducing a new infotainment interface called Sensus connect, Volvo also began offering a new range of simpler, smaller and more fuel efficient engines they call Drive-e. They aren’t available on any all-wheel drive variants but they pack a surprising amount of refined turbo and supercharged power from a tiny 2.0 liter 4-cylinder putting out anywhere from 240 to 302 horsepower while returning 31 miles per gallon highway in the XC60 and up to 37 miles per gallon highway in the 2015 Volvo S60. It manages to do this while running on regular unleaded gas which is rare among premium brands.
Sensus Connect is the infotainment system standard across the Volvo range and with it you can download apps you love like Pandora, Stitcher, Tune-in, Yelp as well as get weather reports and have the ability to connect to 3G Wi-Fi hotspots. Volvo also offers Volvo on Call which is much like GM’s On-Star and navigation equipped models now have truly advanced looking 3D imagery to help you get where you are going. And then there is the Volvo on Call Smartphone app which is one of the best we have seen yet we could easily see it causing people some trouble.
This app allows owners who register the system to not only keep track of the location of their car, whether the windows are closed and doors locked, your current fuel level and mileage average, that status of a roadside assistance request, remote engine start to heat or cool the vehicle as well as the ability to remotely honk the horn and flash the lights as well as keep a detailed record of where exactly your Volvo has been going during recent trips. We are not suggesting anything but that last feature is perfect for any spouse who suspects they are being cheated on and that could lead to trouble. Thankfully, the Volvo has so many safety features with autonomous braking we doubt a cheating spouse could ever be run over by the car that told on them.
And one time I may have honked the horn at a rude valet who laughed at me when I tripped after carrying the luggage of three colleagues up three flights of stairs with zero help and tripped as I walked into the lobby. The app definitely worked fine from 12 stories up. Not that this happened. I am just saying, Volvos have a bit of naughty in them.
And of course, Safety…
Every new Volvo comes with a host of safety features called Intellisafe which Volvo hopes will help it reach its goal of a zero death rate for all of its models. They are well under way as Intellisafe comes with the usual back-up camera, cross traffic alert, a lane keeping assist system that helps veer you into the lane instead of beeping at you like a pest, it has CitySafe which can fully stop the car if it detects a pedestrian of bicyclist in your path as well as offering a hood that pops up with an airbag that pops out from under the back of the hood by the windshield so if you do hit someone they will land on a pillow with impact forces lessened as the hood elevates itself.
So if you are a pedestrian, you want to get hit by a 2015 ½ Volvo. That is, you want to get hit in Europe as this feature is not yet available in the United States like many advanced safety features due simply to outdated Government laws from the 1960’s. Write a letter to your congressperson.
Other features include blind spot warning assist, a special back-up camera with two angle front camera view, a speed limit display in the dash, a self-parking system for those who need drivers, a 360 degree overhead view camera, automatic high beam control for dark roads and an adaptive cruise system which will bring your Volvo to a stop then reaccelerate to your predetermined speed and then slow again in stop and go traffic. You would be surprised how many brands do not brake the car fully but rather cut out without warning at 25 miles per hour. They aren’t the only brand but I had it happen in a Lexus and it was terrifying.
Not only are the latest 2015 Volvo S60 and XC60 unique luxury choices in a crowded field, they also make a lot of sense (including a warranty package that covers maintenance including wear items, tires and brakes for 5 years/60,000 miles) if you are thinking logically. But having spent a week with both, it was the combination of all of their idiosyncrasies that made me desperately sad to see them go. And after 650 cars tested, that rarely happens. Check out the new model range at volvocars.com.