Welcome to Depreciation Appreciation! Every month, your pals at autoTRADER.ca dig up an instance of how depreciation can make for an extraordinary used car deal.
Winter has arrived in full, and with snow and ice and treacherous driving on the brain, I figured we’d look at one of the best sedans I’ve ever driven in the snow: the Volvo S60.
We’ll look at the last-generation machine, which launched for model year 2011 to plenty of glowing reviews and fanfare. Below, we’ll be sticking to earlier copies of this machine with the 3.0-litre, 300 hp straight-six turbo engine, because it’s one of the finer things in life.
“Oh man, when did Volvos get sexy?”
You may want to have an answer to that question ready, as you’ll hear it a lot.
This generation S60 was big on understated styling, a uniquely elegant and tidy cabin, and safety, safety, and more safety. The unique “waterfall” centre console is angled in the driver’s direction for a cockpit-like effect, and a chunky leather steering wheel teams up with a dense and deliberate action to the switchgear and controls for a solid, quality feel.
Further, the S60’s seats rank among the best in the business, and will make you happy to have a bum.
Volvo’s marketing folks called this one the “Naughty Volvo”, thanks in no small part to the available 3.0-litre straight-six turbo engine, complete with a potent 300 horsepower. Look for an automatic transmission on all models, and a slick, virtually invisible, and very smart AWD system that knows what it’s doing.
The worse the winter weather, the more you’ll feel like you’re getting your money’s worth out of driving this car. The heavy steering adds confidence in slippery conditions, the stability control system is tuned expertly, and xenon headlights with washers ensure consistently powerful visibility up the way. Various drive modes and chassis modes enabled at a button press allow drivers to dial in their perfect set of attributes on the fly.
All said, this under-the-radar luxury sedan never shouts for attention, and instead aims to wow your pants off with how nicely it tackles horrible winter weather – as well as long-distance voyages in any sort of condition – with comfort and safety to spare.
Approximate New Value
At launch, this generation of S60 was priced from the mid-forties, before any optional equipment packages or accessories were added. Higher grade models saw pricing climb towards the $60,000 mark, especially in high-kit units like the T6 R-Design Platinum with its extended range of luxury touches and sporty upgrades. For all intents and purposes, lets call this one a $50,000 car.
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Approximate Used Value
Today, and typically with highly reasonable mileage after just a few years of use, you can find yourself a copy of this swanky Swede for half its original value with ease. Here’s a 2015 unit with several optional packages on offer for under $28,000, and with just 40,000 kilometres of use at less than four years old. And here’s a gorgeous 2015 S60 R-Design, finished in one of the most lustrous red paint jobs to ever grace my peepers, for under $30,000.
This five-year-old S60 T6 AWD is a little higher in mileage than some will like, but you can pick it up for under $19,000. We also like this unit, with less than 100,000 kilometres on the dial, on offer for under $12,000. If you’ve got a smaller budget and a smaller aversion to high-mileage used cars, you can find units like this on offer for under $9,000, all day long.
Selection is fairly strong in the used market, with autoTRADER.ca listings showing relatively strong availability of affordable, higher-mileage units.
Test Drive Tips
Read the following sentence several times: the way the S60 you’re considering was cared for and maintained by past owners is a far better indicator of its long-term reliability than the badge on its hood. So, for maximum peace of mind and minimized likelihood of buying someone else’s upcoming repair bills, plan to buy a used S60 only once you’ve had a factory-trained Volvo technician assess the vehicle as part of a pre-purchase inspection (PPI), which includes both a physical and electronics system checkup. More than (literally) anything else, this is your number-one defence against buying a headache.
Check for signs of a water leak from the sunroof, which may include water staining or dampness in the ceiling liner or carpeting, or leather seating surfaces that look crispy and wrinkly and dried out, almost like beef jerky. This can often be a sign that the leather has been very wet, and dried out, possibly more than once. You’ll also want to check for proper operation of anything that runs on a ceiling mounted switch (dome lights, sunroof), as well as the operation of all centre console controls, which could also be exposed to water in the event of a sunroof leak.
If it takes a few seconds of holding the “Engine Start” button to fire the S60 up, plan to recycle its battery and replace it, especially if the unit is more than a few years old. Remember that a weak battery in a complex modern car like this can cause a multitude of annoying problems that will literally ruin your life.
Hard or clumsy shifting from the transmission is typically remedied via a software update by a dealer technician if detected, and you’ll also want to make sure the windshield is in perfect shape, as cracks and pits, especially near the top centre, can impede the operation of various safety systems.
Our recommendation? If we were us, and you were you, and we were all heading off to buy a used Volvo S60, we’d be looking for something in the 50,000–80,000 kilometre range, and budgeting a few thousand extra for a set of decent winter tires, and a good extended warranty, just to be safe.
Buying a used S60 from a Volvo Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) program is also ideal for maximum peace of mind, specifically because this requires the vehicle to meet a higher quality standard, and means the vehicle has already been inspected by a Volvo technician.
If the used S60 you’re considering gets a solid thumbs-up after a PPI inspection, you’re well on your way to driving one of the best winter-ready sports sedans on the road for about the same price as a new Hyundai Elantra.