2006 Volvo S60 R review:

2006 Volvo S60 R

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Our car's optional 18-inch wheels and Pirelli P-Zero tires gave excellent grip and feel through the variable-assist steering. But they contributed to a sometimes jarring ride, and pairing them with the Sport Body Package's chin spoiler gives every speed bump or driveway entrance the potential to require a trip to the body shop. The chassis doesn't offer any ride-height adjustment, but the three electronically adjustable modes--Comfort, Sport, and Advanced--are suitably different. The Advanced mode dictates sharper throttle response and minimal shock-absorber movement for reduced body sway, and it would make a track day in the Volvo a lot of fun.

Braking is done via four-piston Brembo calipers proudly on display through the five-spoke wheels, clamping on big ventilated discs all around. ABS is naturally standard, as is electronic brake distribution for panic stops.

Fuel economy is EPA rated at 18mpg in the city and 25mpg on the highway, which is not unreasonable in a sedan capable of 155mph.

Perhaps secondary to buyers of this particular Volvo, safety is nonetheless taken as seriously in the 2006 S60 R as with the rest of the lineup. Dual-stage front driver and passenger air bags, along with side-curtain air bags, line the passenger compartment, which itself has a host of safety-cage elements intended to transfer or dissipate the energy of a collision from any direction.

The Side Impact Protection System includes a carefully reinforced body structure and transverse tubes under the front seats to transfer force to the other side of the body. Energy-absorbing materials are used for door panels and trim. The car also includes Volvo's antiwhiplash system, which allows seat backs to both move and tilt backward, giving more gently in two stages should a relatively low-speed (up to 20mph) rear-end collision occur. The steering column is designed to collapse telescopically in two places in a head-on collision.

An interesting environmental touch Volvo has been offering on production vehicles since 2000 is PremAir, a catalytic coating on the radiator that converts ozone in the air passing over it into oxygen. Another unexpected feature--this one optional--was power-folding rear headrests, presumably for easier folding of the rear seat backs but with the added benefit of being able to improve rear visibility from the front seat.

Volvo's standard comprehensive warranty is good for a period of four years/50,000 miles, and a four-year membership in Volvo's roadside-assistance program is also standard. For 2006 models, the 7,500-mile diagnostic check and oil/filter change is free of charge at any U.S. Volvo dealer.

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