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2003 Entry Level Luxury Buyer's Guide
by Steve Siler

Volvo S60/V70
2003 Volvo S60

Volvo has really come into its own as an automaker in recent years. And its bread-and-butter cars, the S60 sedan (and V70 wagon), represent perhaps the best blend of value, style and safety of any Volvo in history.

The sharply styled S60 features sleek and distinctly European styling that's lead down the road by a forward-thrusting grille, behind which the rest of the car's styling follows. Handsome lighting fixtures, a steeply sloped roofline and a chiseled tail are among the Sedan's other styling highlights. The wagon gets sassy, too, with slim windows (through which visibility is excellent, by the way) and floor-to-ceiling taillights.

Interiors of these mid-sized Volvos feature very cleanly styled and beautifully rendered dashboards, door panels and seats. Those seats rival those of Saab in terms of pure derriere delight. Ergonomics are unusual in that they are surprisingly clear, with a pictogram to facilitate vent selection and a sensible mix of dials and differently shaped buttons for everything else.

There are four five-cylinder engine choices for the S60/V70 duo with 168 hp in the 2.4 model, 197 hp in the 2.4T, 247 hp in the T5 and a full 300 hp in the high-performance "R" models. All-wheel drive is optional on the 2.4T and standard on the Rs. Automatic transmissions are available on all models, while manual transmissions are available on all but the 2.4T.

Steering, brakes and suspensions are responsive and communicative-perfectly in character with what Volvo is all about (ie: safety). Speaking of safety, these Volvos feature standard front, side and curtain air bags, active head restraints and ABS, and offer dynamic stability control as an option.