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The 2021 Volvo S60 is small but mighty, embodying the height of Swedish engineering. In the luxury sedan segment, the S60 is a hard one to best. From its superb acceleration and secure braking performance to its lengthy list of highly effective Pilot Assist driver aids, the S60 has just about everything you could desire from a sedan.
There are quite a few different trim levels and engine options that can help you really personalize the Volvo S60. You have the four trim levels: the base Momentum, the Inscription, the R-Design, and the Polestar Engineered. Then you have four different engine options. The T5 engine is a 2.0-L 4-cylinder turbocharged engine that generates 250 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. Front-wheel-drive and an 8-speed automatic transmission are standard equipment with the T5.
Up from that is the turbo- and super-charged T6 version of the T5, which gets boosted to a power output of 316 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. Then you have the T8 hybrid, which matches the engine from the T6 to a battery and motor for a combined output of 400 hp and 472 lb-ft of torque. Like the T6, the T8 gets standard all-wheel-drive. It also gives you about 21 miles of pure electric range before the gas-powered engine will kick into gear.
On top of all that, you have the T8 on the Polestar Engineered, which is its own unique creature. This tweaked version of the T8 gives the total power output a boost to 415 hp and 494 lb-ft of torque.
As far as changes from the 2020 line-up goes, don't expect too many new things this year. Last year saw a few important alterations, such as the standardization of steering collision avoiding with the blind spot monitoring system, upgrades to the R-Design (ranging from a newly styled dashboard to 4-zone automatic climate control), and the virtual cockpit coming standard on all trim levels. The third generation of the S60 was introduced back in 2019, so even 2020's changes were quite significant for such a newly redesigned vehicle.
So, how should you configure the 2021 Volvo S60 (assuming you have your heart set on this high-powered luxury sedan)? The possibilities can make your head spin. To make the process a bit easier on you, we will use this trim level comparison review to break down the four trim levels and go over the features that they offer. In the end, we will let you know which trim level - with which accompanying engine - we think is going to best meet the needs of the average buyer in this segment.
Compare the 2021 Volvo S60 Momentum vs Inscription - What is the Difference?
Let us start things off by examining the 2021 Volvo S60's base Momentum trim level and the next one up from it, the Inscription. They can each be equipped with the T5 or T6 engine. The standard suspension is a 4-wheel independent suspension, and there is a front anti-roll bar. Other standard mechanical features include rack and pinion steering, front coil springs, rear shocks that are gas-pressurized, and corner traction control with a brake-actuated limited slip differential.
Black Stone exterior paint comes standard on the Momentum. Regardless, if you want to switch it up, there are seven metallic paint options that can be swapped in for a slight upcharge. Standard 18-inch 5-double spoke wheels done in Matt Graphite Diamond Cut alloy can be swapped out for some cool optional 19-inch 5-V spoke Tinted Silver Diamond Cut alloys.
Other exterior features that you will find on the body include heated folding side mirrors with a tilt-down feature and integrated turn signals, a black front grille with a chrome surround, body-colored door handles, front and rear bumpers that are also body-colored, a colored rub slip for the front bumper, and a fully galvanized steel body design. Optional features include a roof rack and auto-dimming functionality on the side mirrors.
How does the Momentum look - and, more importantly, feel - on the inside? Well, it is definitely plush with comfort. Creature comforts abound. You get standard power cargo access via remote release, a power sunshade for the rear, a proximity key, a key fob, power windows with one-touch auto-up/down on the front windows, dual sun visors up front, and remote keyless entry. Additionally, the Momentum features hands-on steering-assisted cruise control, illumination on the vanity mirrors, three memory settings on the front seats, a covered box with the full floor console, retained accessory power, a day-night rear-view mirror, and a panoramic sunroof.
2 USB ports come standard, as do seatback storage pockets on the backs of each front seat. You also get cup holders for the front and rear seats, automatic temperature control, remote engine start, a power tilting and telescoping steering wheel, a valet function, a locking glove box that comes with illumination inside of it, an air filter, and multiple controls for the audio system and cruise control mounted on top of the steering wheel. Audio media storage comes standard as well. Kick your foot up on the driver's foot rest and relax as you drive.
The rear seats have a center arm rest with pass-through storage. Also, the door panels have standard leatherette trim on them. There is power cushion tilting for both front seats, a center arm rest up front, tie-downs in the cargo area, chic metallic interior accents, and 8-way power adjustability on the driver's seat. The leather-wrapped steering wheel has shiny metallic accents on it as well. The front seats are both power-reclining, and they have 2-way power lumbar support. The console, door panels, and instrument panel all have aluminum inserts. Leatherette upholstery comes equipped, and the front seats are bucket style. Other seating features include a leather/aluminum gear shift knob to match the steering wheel, a cargo light, floor mats, and a full cloth headliner.
As far as infotainment features and driver aids go, the base Momentum trim level packs a lot in. AM/FM Radio, HD Radio, and SiriusXM Satellite Radio all come standard, and you can also use wireless phone connectivity. A 10-speaker sound system comes standard, but a 14-speaker Harman Kardon premium sound system is optional. Smartphone app integration via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto comes on all trim levels. The front LED headlights are adaptive, and there is a reverse sensing system with front and rear sensors. Reading lights and fading dome lights come inside of the cabin. Blind spot monitoring is optional on this trim level, as is interior ambient lighting, a headlight washer, and a rear-view camera system. Pedestrian detection is standard, as is lane departure warning, rear collision warning with automatic braking and rear cross traffic alert, and drive alert control.
The Inscription takes much of what the Momentum equips as standard and adds a few fairly important features. It gives you LED fog lights chic leather upholstery inside of the cabin, brown walnut wood interior trim, 4-way power lumbar support on the 10-way power-adjustable front seats, and memory settings for the front passenger seat.
On top of that, the Inscription gives you the option for adding the Luxury Seating package. This package equips the seats with premium leather upholstery. The front seats have heating and ventilating functions, and the front seats have power side bolsters and even a massaging function.
You can also choose to equip any trim level with the Premium package, which adorns the S60 with parking sensors for the front and rear, a hands-free trunk lid, blind spot monitoring, keyless entry, and an automatic parallel and perpendicular parking system. The navigation system can be added with the Multimedia package. With these two packages equipped, you can also opt for the Advanced package. This particular package adds on the LED fog lights, automatic high beams, a head-up display, headlight washers, Pilot Assist with adaptive cruise control, and a 360-degree surround-view camera system instead of just the rear-view camera.
Compare the 2021 Volvo S60 Inscription vs R-Design. What is the Difference?
Of course, if you are looking for power, you might want something kind of sporty. And the R-Design is Volvo's answer to this demand. The R-Design has its own unique exterior styling elements. On this trim level, LED fog lights come standard. You also get the benefit of having paddle shifters with the sport steering wheel. 4-zone climate control is equipped on this trim as well.
In terms of comfort, expect to enjoy the 10-way power adjustable front seats and premium fabric/leather combo upholstery. Otherwise, the R-Design is basically the sportier version of the base Momentum without a few of the Inscription's more luxury-oriented features.
Compare the 2021 Volvo S60 R-Design vs Polestar Engineered Trim. What is the Difference?
The T8 Polestar Engineered trim level is the plug-in hybrid model that offers 21 miles of pure electric range, which should be a fairly big selling point for this trim level. But what else makes it so attractive?
The Polestar Engineered is a packed-to-the-brim line-topping trim level. It sees upgrades aplenty, including Ohlins dampers with the sport-tuned suspension, 19-inch wheels, a beautiful crystal gear shift knob designed by the super high-end Swedish glasswares manufacturer Orrefors, and performance-oriented Brembo brakes.
There are some features that exclusively remain labeled as optional. These through-and-through options include an adaptive air suspension, a heated steering wheel, a premium audio system from Bowers & Wilkins, and heating on the rear outboard seats.
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Which Trim to Choose?
There are clearly a lot of things for buyers to love about the new 2021 Volvo S60. Of course, it is a very high-tech vehicle with some controls that can be confusing to learn at first. You also do not get USB ports for the rear seats' occupants, and the optional sport suspension comes off as being a bit too rough for something in the luxury segment.
Still, we like the S60 and think it is a strong competitor in the luxury sedan segment. Volvo knows how to make a solid automobile that can last for years, and the S60 should be no exception to this rule. Its powerful performance is hard to beat, and it is all about customization.
If we had to pick one trim level to buy, we would go for the base Momentum and equip it with the T6 engine instead of the T5. The T5 feels a little too under-powered, but the T6 hits the spot. You get a ton of standard infotainment features, enough driver aids, and the option to add more of what you want (and not have to deal with features you do not want or need).
To be fair, though, if you are dead-set on getting a plug-in hybrid, the T8 Polestar Engineered is a solid choice for a hybrid sedan, period.
• Compare the 2020 Volvo S60 Trim Levels