2021 Volvo S60 Recharge T8 PHEV – Bottom Line Review

2020 Volvo S60 T8 AWD PHEV: renamed S60 Recharge for 2021 MY, this plug-in hybrid gas electric is the swiftest among the Swedish prestige brand's sedans. As tested, priced at $60,255

POWER PLUGGED INTO SWEDISH VOLTAGE: rather quietly, as things are done in Gothenburg, Volvo Cars, owned by Geely of Beijing, and partner to all-electric Polestar Motors, is the first volume luxury automaker to deliver on a promise of cost reducing shared platforms which provide every single model with a plug-in gas-electric hybrid version.

RECHARGING IN RIDGEVILLE: As a testament to the enduring appeal which the Nordic sport executive saloon, beginning with the 122 Amazon [followed by 164, 264, 740, 850, S70 series] has held for Americans who preferred their European executive sport sedan to Zag away from Teuton Zig, the latest Mark 3 Volvo S60 executive sport sedan is exclusively made in South Carolina. At the time of its 2019 debut the Roadblazing.com tested S60 T6 R-Design was the “…steadfastly snappy…” performance pinnacle of the model line. However in the new plug-in hybrid electrified hierarchy, with T8 (now “Recharge T8”) outranking T6, a sampling of the 2021 Volvo S60 Recharge T8 has been called for.

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WHAT: 2021 Volvo S60 Recharge T8 AWD PHEV Inscription, compact executive sport sedan, succeeding a Ford global P3 based 2nd generation S60 (2011-2018). Note that for model year 2021, “Recharge” precedes “T8” nomenclature for the entire Volvo PHEV line.

Included Power: transverse intercooled supercharged, turbocharged 2.0L DOHC 16V DI gas I-4 = 313 hp/ 295 lb-ft @ 2200 rpm + 8-spd. Aisin torque converter planetary transmission + Haldex IV all-wheel drive; Net Hybrid Power: 400 hp/ 472 lb-ft @ 2200 rpm parallel to:

    • 1 x 360V synchronous AC traction / regenerative charging motor: 64 kW (87 hp) / 177 lb-ft @ 50 rpm,
    • 1 x 240V synchronous AC Hybrid Starter Generator: 8 kW
    • electric supply battery: 96 Lithium Ion Polymer cells, 360V, 25 amp hr, 11.6 kWh
    • onboard charging port: Type 2 SAE J1772 3.7 kWh, 16 amperes
2020 Volvo S60 T8 AWD PHEV: 400 hp / 472 lb-ft, 30 combined MPG and 22 miles plug-in battery electric range from the 11.6 kWh LiIon battery
    • Level 1 110V AC 6 ampere charge = 9.0 hours from 80% discharge
    • Level 2 240V AC 6 ampere charge = 3.25 hours from 80% discharge

(A) STYLING DIFFERENCE: The 4th Volvo model to sit atop the joint Geely Volvo Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) modular platform, and the second sedan after the flagship Volvo S90.

Tidier Thor: Lacking the extra hood side crease, dark slatting replaces S90’s low rise concave vertical slats in a hexagonal grille which draws the four front corners together. The body color framed, dark straked front fascia corners, flare out from the lower lattice intake for more assertiveness.

2020 Volvo S60 T8 AWD PHEV: Crystal White Pearl shimmers on the sleek Coke bottle profile

The notably high beltline, Coke bottle fuselage runs a rising lower crease tandeming an Hofmeister C-pillar kink. Rear quarter panels, equally as muscular as the fenders, which gently flare, + taller backlight slope = Sporty Fastback.

Moving the “VOLVO” lettering up to an enhanced uplifted integral spoiler, fills in the S90’s notably barren center lower trunk deck lid with a license plate affixation, and pronounce the “C” taillamps. It also allows a more cohesive bumper cover with integrated reflectors and dark accents in the lower fascia which span the the dual trapezoid chrome exhaust outlets. The menacing R-Design treatment also drapes dark over door pillars.

2020 Volvo S60 T8 AWD PHEV: Inboard boomerang LED taillamps and darkened lower rear diffuser sharpen this sporty prestige sedan

IT COULDN’T BE A MODERN VOLVO without Thors Hammer alternating white DRLs/ amber flashers laterally bisecting the wrap-around LED headlamps.

WHY: Thor’s Hammer issues more potent bolt of sport sedan lightning when electrified.

WHEN: On-Sale (in the U.S.) since Autumn 2020

WHERE: Volvo new vehicle dealers

WHERE MADE: Ridgeville, South Carolina, U.S.A. (with 50% of production allocated for export).

HOW ROAD TRAMPLING: Firmly depressing the Volvo S60 Recharge T8 PHEV  throttle prompts the arrival of a super brisk mile per minute mark by any performance executive sedan metric. The rush is a placid whisking rather than the more dramatic hammered lunges by an un-electrified, S60 T6 R-Design lapped by Roadblazing.com last year. Thinking about manumatically paddle stirring the conservatively geared 8-speed Aisin automatic transaxle? Conspicuously, there aren’t any flippers pasted dorsally on the S60 Recharge T8‘s handsome helm. It announces the powertrain mission of motivating nearly a quarter ton added hybrid component weight with serene and harmonious rapidity.

– Haldex 4 viscous clutch all-wheel drive network slips up to 90% of torque aft and is capable of E-differential locking out one side entirely. Despite forward weight bias and lack of front wheel limited slip there is no torque steer or rear wheel tramp.

– Being a T8 Inscription earns an illuminated Orrefors Swedish crystal ingot shift lever handle implying that the center console lever is the “never quite getting used to it” stubby kind.

HOW ROAD TENACIOUS All the extra battery electric heft overtaxes the body & wheel control underpinnings. There is plenty of taut in-road compliance as is expected of any European luxury sedan. However, responsiveness is excessively relaxed. Dive is notable. Laudably hefted steering plays a winds languidly with a dead spot on center. A middling integration of regenerative charging slowing with brake hardware produces slightly more tepid slowing and an early hard termination. A surely satisfying grand tourer, the Volvo S60 Recharge T8 Inscription sorely searches for the nimble body responses of the previously tested S60 T6 R-Design.

  • Pilot Assist 2, persists as a leader among Level 2 driving autonomy. It’s adaptive cruise is an apt pupil to lane discipline miscreants without the abruptness of some systems. Driving in poorly laned summer construction zones really cut down the lane keep assistance experience.

HOW FAR: 30 combined miles per gallon fuel economy; 528 highway miles.

ELECTRICALLY: 22 miles of pure battery electric range

    • Lithium Ion battery charges from 20% to full capacity on either 240V AC or 110 V AC circuits.
    • -1 No DC high speed charging capability
2020 Volvo S60 T8 AWD PHEV: 3.7 kWh, 16 A Type 2 plug in charging on either 110 VAC / 220 VAC


HOW BIG/ LITTLE: The 2021 Volvo S60 Recharge T8 qualifies as a genuine compact executive for 2 bucketed adults fore, 2 median adults bucketed aft and no more than a tyke aft midships.

2020 Volvo S60 T8 AWD PHEV: Row 2 seating limited to 2 adults

-1 PHEV hardware raised the 2nd Row driveshaft hump rules out any middle position occupant larger than toddler.

Wheelbase: 113.5″ = 2.9″ > BMW 3-series; 2.5″ > Audi A4; 1.3″ > Infiniti Q50

Row 2 legroom: 35.2″ = 0.1″ > BMW 3-series; 0.1″ > Infiniti Q50; 0.5″ < Audi A4

HOW USEFUL: Trunk center pass-through; Wide trunk load aperture; Cargo tie-down net; Load-floor spare-tire cover latching hook cord; Trunk 12V outlet; Proximity power trunk lid open; Mouse-fur lined, damped action glove box; +1 Low cowl and and power folding rear outboard headrests aid outward view; +/- 13.8 cubic foot trunk; 1 No overhead console retracting sunglass bin; 1 Petite forward center console key fob storage; non-folding 2nd Row seatbacks

2020 Volvo S60 T8 AWD PHEV: decent sized trunk compromised by higher load sill and lack of folding rear seatbacks

HOW SAFE: 9 airbags; IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus ; Surround view rear camera; sonar front & rear Park Distance Control, Blind spot, rear cross traffic & lane departure warning; Auto parking brake hold; Auto high beam headlamps; Heads-Up display

2019 Volvo S60 T6 R-Design: Park Pilot Pro autonomous perpendicular and parallel parking; BLIS blind spot warning, braking, perimeter surround camera warning.

Partial Autonomous Driving: Pilot Assist 2; Full-adaptive cruise control; Lane Keep Assist, Forward Collision, Pedestrian and adjacent traffic avoidance braking. +1 Permits 23 seconds of hands/ foot free driving.

2020 Volvo S60 T8 AWD PHEV: HUD, navigation guidance and SMS communications in the Sensus variable TFT instrument cluster

HOW PEOPLE FRIENDLY:  Any current Volvo cabin exemplifies how minimalist functional Scandinavian living quarters can turn out to be rather sublime. Finish details inside the Volvo S60 Recharge T8 such as panel flow, wrap and trim bezels, esoteric shaped, precision action switchgear define the state of Nordic artfulness.

2020 Volvo S60 T8 AWD PHEV: driver entry boasts stainless steel Bowers & Wilkins door speaker plate


Heated, cooled, 12-way power front seats, including torso bolsters & knee extenders, 2-setting driver’s memory; 4 power windows w/ full up/ down express; 4-Zone auto climate control w/ auto front seat heating/ cooling, steering wheel heating; Power retracting rear headrests; Door puddle lamps x 4; Panoramic power moon-roof; Heads Up Display w/ road sign recognition; -1 Manual tilt/ telescoping steering wheel.

Cool Gizmo(s): 12.3″-inch Sensus LCD virtual dual gauge flanking data and navigation map driver’s instruments;   Variable massaging front seats

2020 Volvo S60 T8 AWD PHEV: genuine ash wood inlays and aluminum trim

Details Done Right: Aluminum inlays & switch-gear; Hammered stainless steel console twist keyless ignition & barrel drive mode wheel; Linear open-pore walnut wood veneers & center console bin shades; Tandem contrast stitched saddle tan Nappa leather + ballistic nylon bolster seating & upper door panels & dash-top; Full dashboard & door panel ambient LEDs; B&W Nautilus dash top aluminum bullet tweeter speaker – Yellow Kevlar door speakers glare through aluminum covers.

It Wouldn’t Be Svensk Without: Swedish flag seat back tags.

Nearly Non-Descript: -1 Dark mesh ballistic cloth rear deck, pillar & headliner; Flimsy rear parcel shelf speaker grilles; Lacks non-PHEV S60’s aft center console Row 2 haptic LCD display climate control.

HOW “APP” -LICABLE: 9″ Sensus vertical tablet-style, pane-swipe, touch LCD infotainment screen; Touch script text entry; Rotary audio volume dial, selection, defroster & home screen switches; Voice recognition command hands-free communications, SMS, MMS, Email; 3-D HDD GPS navigation w/ voice guidance, real-time traffic; Sparkling sibilant, taut 19 speaker, 1400 Watt Bower & Wilkins HD radio audio; Android Auto + Apple CarPlay; USB x 4, 12V x 3, 120V AC x 1.

2020 Volvo S60 T8 AWD PHEV: Sensus displays duplicate portrait navigation map in instrument cluster

+1: Sensus Connected Apps wireless device Apps (incl.) = Pandora, Google Destination, Weather, Park & Pay, Spotify, TuneIn, Glympse, Yelp, Voice record;

2020 Volvo S60 T8 AWD PHEV: Sensus infotainment menus

+/-: Vertical infotainment tablets will make perfect sense for generations that exclusively E-Read.

-1: Compromised wireless device sub center armrest storage space

Subscription based: Sirius XM radio (90 days trial); Volvo On Call telematics : 4 years trial concierge, remote start, Amazon in-car delivery XM Travel Link; AT&T hot spot (6 mo. / 3 GB trial).

HOW MUCH: $64,190 = 2021 Volvo S60 Recharge T8 AWD PHEV Inscription as tested retail price, less up to $5419 federal income tax credits plus state rebates. * *Also available w/ $760 per month, 24 month Care By Volvo subscription fee.

WHAT’S MISSING: Steering road feel, limited slip front differential, folding 2nd Row seatbacks

ANY COMPETITION: PHEV: BMW 330e: same e-range, much lower on gas engine power, lesser in price. NON-PHEV: BMW M340i xDrive; Audi S4; Mercedes Benz AMG C43; Infiniti Q50 Red Sport; Cadillac CT-4 V-Sport

FINAL WORD: Thor’s Hammer issues more potent bolt of sport sedan lightning when electrified.

An automotive enthusiast since an orange toy VW Beetle ended up in his playpen and following him everywhere, George Straton has been chief editor at ChicagoNow.com/Drive-He-Said automotive lifestyle blog since 2010. In 2017 George established Roadblazing.com, dedicated to accurate automotive reviews, news and road trip stories. George is a member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association and the Phoenix Automotive Press Association. George also happens to be an attorney and Loyola University of Chicago Ramblers fan. Present ride: 2022 Mazda 3 Turbo AWD Hatchback.

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