Thoughts on the 2020 Volvo S60 after a 5 week, 5000 mile roadtrip

So we just got back from a 5 week, 5000 mile roadtrip in a 2020 Volvo S60 AWD (highly recommend Sixt for car rentals, BTW–the cost was reasonable and there was no mileage cap).  I thought I’d share my thoughts on the car with my gigantic readership.

Overall, we enjoyed the car as an extended rental, but I’d hesitate to buy one because of some quirks.  Let’s start with the good:

  • The car is peppy with smooth power delivery–there were some times that I stepped on the gas and was surprised to be in the 90s–not surprising with 316hp and 4000lbs.  Took it up to 120mph without issue.
  • The car is generally comfy for a 6′ 215lb driver (all legs, short torso).
  • I liked the ability to customize so many of the car’s features–e.g. should the rearview mirrors tilt down while reversing (and if so, passenger side, driver side, or both).

And some of the not-so-good:

  • The car’s B-pillar is like 8″ wide–it completely obscures your peripheral vision.
  • Either the steering assist or steering geometry is too aggressive–I’d prefer a firmer, more stable feel.
  • The transmission response is slow–even in the sporty “dynamic” mode.  Downshifts were notably delayed at times.
  • The car suffers from a lot of poor user interface.  For example:
    • Only 1 of the 2 USB ports can be used for CarPlay.  The usable port is indicated with a white box around it–not really that intuitive.
    • Something as simple as washing the windshield is a PITA.  You cannot lift the wipers while they are in their default (lower) position–you have to navigate through a tree of menus on the display to find the “service windshield wipers” option–this raises the wipers so that you can lift them off of the windshield.
    • The lumbar support controls are on a round, knob-like protrusion.  Good user interface design tells you that you to turn knobs, but the actual lumbar support control buttons are located on the top of the knob.
    • Despite having a giant touchscreen display, the CarPlay portion is relegated to the bottom half of the display.  Switching from CarPlay to other parts of the UI is not intuitive at all.
    • Changing the drive mode brings up 3-4 options in a tiny font on the giant touch screen–why not make good use of that screen real estate?  And there’s no way to dismiss the screen–you just have to wait for it to go away.
    • The location of the physical driver mode control is dangerously close to the e-brake control–I accidentally deactivated the e-brake when I was trying to switch the driver mode.
    • There’s no tactile feedback on the steering wheel controls–the buttons are smooth plastic with no bumps, and you have little idea which button you are pushing unless you see it with your eyes.
  • Not a major deal, but it’s odd that the steering wheel is round, but it does not rotate around the center.
  • The car features a sign-recognition system that displays representations of street signs that are captured by the camera–cool feature, but it’s not terribly reliable.  It once read a 65mph sign as 85mph, and it often missed signs that were in clear view.
  • The cruise control doesn’t deactivate until you press the brake pedal by a good amount–I’d guess at least 3/4″.  I wonder if the brake lights have the same trigger.

Overall, it’s a good enough car, but for nearly $50k, these user interface issues are pretty annoying.