2020 BMW 3 Series Sedan vs. 2019 Volvo S60

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

Both the 3 Series Sedan and the S60 have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, lane departure warning systems, rearview cameras, available all wheel drive, blind spot warning systems, around view monitors and rear cross-path warning.

For its top level performance in IIHS driver and passenger-side small overlap frontal, moderate overlap frontal, side impact, roof strength and head restraint tests, its standard front crash prevention system, and its headlight’s “Good” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the 3 Series Sedan its highest rating: “Top Pick Plus” for 2019, a rating granted to only 46 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The S60 has not been tested, yet.

Warranty

There are over 15 percent more BMW dealers than there are Volvo dealers, which makes it easier should you ever need service under the 3 Series Sedan’s warranty.

Reliability

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that BMW vehicles are better in initial quality than Volvo vehicles. J.D. Power ranks BMW 20th in initial quality. With 12 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volvo is ranked 28th.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that BMW vehicles are more reliable than Volvo vehicles. J.D. Power ranks BMW 7th in reliability, above the industry average. With 82 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volvo is ranked 29th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that BMW vehicles are more reliable than Volvo vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks BMW 21 places higher in reliability than Volvo.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the 3 Series Sedan gets better fuel mileage than the S60:

MPG

3 Series Sedan

RWD

330i 2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

26 city/36 hwy

AWD

330i 2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

25 city/34 hwy

S60

FWD

T5 2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

25 city/36 hwy

AWD

T6 2.0 turbo/supercharged 4-cyl.

21 city/32 hwy

Regardless of its engine, regenerative brakes improve the 3 Series Sedan’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. Volvo only offers a regenerative brake system on the S60 T8.

The 3 Series Sedan has 1.1 gallons more fuel capacity than the S60 FWD’s standard fuel tank (15.6 vs. 14.5 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

Transmission

The 3 Series Sedan’s launch control uses engine electronics to hold engine RPM’s precisely in order to provide the most stable and rapid acceleration possible, using all of the available traction. The S60 doesn’t offer launch control.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the 3 Series Sedan’s standard brake rotors are larger than those on the S60:

3 Series

S60

Front Rotors

13 inches

12.7 inches

Rear Rotors

13 inches

11.9 inches

The 3 Series Sedan stops shorter than the S60:

3 Series

S60

70 to 0 MPH

165 feet

166 feet

Car and Driver

Tires and Wheels

The 3 Series Sedan’s optional 225/35R20 front and 255/30R20 rear tires provide better handling because they have a lower 35 series front and 30 series rear profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the S60’s optional 40 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the 3 Series Sedan offers optional 20-inch wheels. The S60’s largest wheels are only 19-inches.

Changing a flat tire near traffic can be dangerous and inconvenient. The run-flat tires standard on the 3 Series Sedan can be driven up to 50 miles without any air pressure, allowing you to drive to a service station for a repair. The S60 doesn’t offer run-flat tires.

Suspension and Handling

The 3 Series Sedan has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The S60’s suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.

The front and rear suspension of the 3 Series Sedan uses coil springs for better ride, handling and control than the S60, which uses transverse leafs springs in the rear. Coil springs compress more progressively and offer more suspension travel for a smoother ride with less bottoming out.

The 3 Series Sedan’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (51.5% to 48.5%) than the S60’s (55% to 45%). This gives the 3 Series Sedan more stable handling and braking.

Chassis

The front grille of the 3 Series Sedan uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The S60 doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

Passenger Space

The 3 Series Sedan has 1.3 inches more front headroom, .4 inches more rear headroom and .1 inches more rear shoulder room than the S60.

Cargo Capacity

The 3 Series Sedan has a much larger trunk than the S60 (13 vs. 11.6 cubic feet).

Servicing Ease

The engine in the 3 Series Sedan is mounted longitudinally (North-South), instead of sideways, as in the S60. This makes it easier to service and maintain, because the accessory belts are in front.

Ergonomics

To quickly and conveniently keep personal devices charged without cables tangling and wearing out, the BMW 3 Series offers an optional wireless phone charging system (Qi) in the center console. The S60 doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.

Model Availability

The BMW 3 Series comes in sedan, four door hatchback and station wagon bodystyles; the Volvo S60 isn’t available as a four door hatchback or station wagon.

Recommendations

The BMW 3 Series outsold the Volvo 60 Series by almost four to one during 2018.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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