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Volvo embarks on new course with advanced engines

by: JOHN M. VINCENT - The design of the Volvo S60 (left) was refreshed for 2014. It's joined by the V60 wagon (right) for 2015.While most think of Volvo as a Swedish automaker, from 1999 to 2010 its car division was owned by Ford. In 2010, Ford sold the company to China’s Geely automotive group. Now Volvo is charting a new course, independent of the Ford empire, but also its wealth of resources.

Volvo, and its new benefactors are spending as much as $11 billion to create new technologies, vehicles, and engines of their own. The first signs of the renaissance include a family of high-tech engines and a scalable vehicle architecture that will form the basis of the all-new XC-90, which is to be introduced later this year.

The new engines are advanced, modular, lightweight 4-cylinder designs that promise the power of larger engines with the efficiency of smaller models. They can be configured with a variety of power outputs, and fitted with hybrid electric components in future products (including an expected XC90 plug-in hybrid).

Fresh off a design refresh for the 2014 model year, the 2015 S60 sedan and XC60 crossovers will integrate Volvo’s new Drive-E engine family. The updated models have new front end designs, improved interiors, and an available state of the art Sensus Connect infotainment system. Joining them will be the all-new 2015 V60 wagon which is arriving at dealers now. The S60 has a base price of $33,300, while the V60 is based at $35,300, and the XC60 at $35,750.

by: JOHN M. VINCENT - The Volvo Drive-E T5 engine is a 4-cylinder turbo that cranks out 240-horsepower.The base engine in front-wheel drive models will be a Drive-E 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder that produces 240 horsepower and 258 ft-lbs. of torque. It earns EPA mileage estimates of 25 in the city and 37 on the highway in the S60 and V60 models, and 24/31 in the XC60. An 8-speed transmission driving the front wheels is a major contributor to the impressive highway mileage. In a recent test drive of a V60 wagon, this motor showed plenty of refined power, with very little harshness or performance lag from the turbo. The car’s equipped with auto stop-start, which seamlessly shuts the motor off when the car is stopped, restarting instantly and automatically when you release the brake.

For drivers wanting a bit more performance, without a significant hit on mileage, Volvo will offer a second Drive-E engine in its 60s models. This one has the same 2.0-liter displacement, but employs both a turbocharger and a supercharger to produce 302-horsepower and 295 ft-lbs. of torque. The supercharger does an admirable job of boosting power off the line, while the turbo takes care of the top end. It scores mileage numbers of 24/city and 35/highway in the sedan and wagon, with 22/30 in the XC60 crossover. In a test S60 sedan, the engine pulled quietly, effortlessly and very quickly to speeds certain to get you into trouble if you’re not careful.

by: JOHN M. VINCENT - New surfaces and a state of the art Sensus infotainment system grace the interior of the Volvo S60 sedan.Like many manufacturers, Volvo is struggling with how to name these new smaller-displacement engines that actually have more power than the larger legacy engines that they replace. The path they’ve chosen gets confusing, as the first two to enter the market will be badged T5 and T6, but will not the be turbocharged 5- and 6-cylinder models as engines with those monikers have been in the past — they will be 4-cylinders. To confuse matters even more, the new engines will not be available in all-wheel drive models, which will continue to carry 5- (T5) and 6-cylinder (T6) motors and badges.