If I say the words to you "30 mile per gallon Volvo sedan", what do you picture?
I'm betting that whatever it is, it doesn't look as sleek and sinister as our test vehicle---the 2023 Volvo S60 Recharge Ultimate AWD Black Edition.
I'm also betting that you're not picturing a 455-horsepower monster capable of 0-60 runs in 4.3 seconds. But that's what the Volvo S60 Recharge is. None of this will come as a surprise to those who read last month's review of the 2023 Volvo XC60 Recharge AWD Ultimate, the S60's SUV sibling. Or our review of the larger XC90 Recharge SUV in September. Volvo has taken a performance-oriented approach to its plug-in hybrids, using the electricity in hybrid mode to produce horsepower. The gasoline engine in the hybrid by itself makes 227 horsepower. The mad scientists at Volvo use the electrics to zap another 228 horsepower of life into the system as a whole---doubling the output plus one horsepower.
In a race to 60 from a standing stop, the S60 beats the Genesis G70 3.3T by 4/10ths of a second, beats the Lexus IS 500 F SPORT Performance by one-tenth, and is only 2/10ths behind a Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing with a manual transmission (if the Blackwing's an automatic, the Volvo trails by 4/10ths). The penalty for this is fuel economy. In hybrid mode, the Volvo S60 Recharge gets the same EPA fuel economy estimate (30 mpg city/highway combined) as a 227-horsepower gasoline-powered S60.
Which makes it all the more important to plug in and recharge the....um....Recharge. There's 35 miles of pure electric range on a full charge. If your commute is the average American commute of 41 miles roundtrip and your S60 Recharge is charged every night at home or every day at the office, you'll use gasoline (and emit from the car's tailpipe) for only six of those miles. Some fast math: The Volvo has a 15.9 gallon fuel tank. If you keep it charged, and only use it for that commute, at the EPA 30 mile per gallon estimate, six miles a day, it will take 79.5 days to get to an empty tank. And that's figuring seven days a week, so if you only commute five, those extra 82 miles might approximate your non-commuting regular around-town driving. That works out to 4.59 times a year you'd need to go to the gas station on an almost-empty tank, which I don't recommend, so let's just boost that to six tanks of gas a year. Even though the national average gasoline price as I write this is $3.14 a gallon, we know that can change, so let's figure $4.00. Four bucks a gallon times 15.9 gallons times six times a year is a total fuel cost of $381.60. Don't recharge it (research shows there is a non-zero percentage of PHEV owners who NEVER charge and just drive them as hybrids) and you will use gasoline for all of your 41 miles a day at 30 mpg. That works out to a fill-up every 11.63 days, which is 31.3 trips to the gas station at $4.00 a gallon and that's---$1,990.68 in fuel costs---more than $1,600 that wouldn't have been spent if the car had been recharged daily. That fuel savings would pay for the difference between a gasoline-powered, 227-horsepower S60 and the Recharge in 4.78 years.
It's not just hauling....um....going fast where the Volvo S60 Recharge shines. Those other three sedans mentioned in the 0-60 runs have smaller trunks and less rear legroom than the S60.
The base price (including destination) of the 2023 Volvo S60 Recharge AWD Ultimate Black Edition is $59,045. That includes standard equipment like 19-inch black alloy wheels and black exterior trim, a huge touchscreen with a Harman-Kardon premium audio system, a complete suite of active safety features, a laminated panoramic moonroof with sunshade, dual-zone climate control, and a head-up display.
Our tester did have extra-cost options---a Bowers & Wilkins premium audio system ($3,200), the climate package with high-pressure headlight cleaning, heated rear seats and a heated steering wheel ($750) and Onyx Black Metallic paint ($695), making the as-tested price $63,690.
That price, while by no means cheap, is in line with the Lexus IS 500 F SPORT Performance and the Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing (the Genesis can be had for several thousand less, which has been a key to Korean automakers' success from the beginning). I'd probably skip the Black Edition, which is available only on black or white cars. To my eye, all that black obscures character lines in the body. And I think (though I haven't seen one) that it would be too much contrast with a white S60. Past that, though, the S60 Recharge is a pretty compelling vehicle---a sport sedan that can save you big money on gasoline, and help save the planet, too.