2021 Volvo S60 vs. 2020 Volkswagen Passat

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/10/21

For enhanced safety, the front and rear seat shoulder belts of the Volvo S60 have pretensioners to tighten the seatbelts and eliminate dangerous slack in the event of a collision and force limiters to limit the pressure the belts will exert on the passengers. The Volkswagen Passat doesn’t offer pretensioners for the rear seat belts.

The S60’s pre-crash front seatbelts will tighten automatically in the event the vehicle detects an impending crash, improving protection against injury significantly. The Passat doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.

Both the S60 and Passat have child safety locks to prevent children from opening the rear doors. The S60 has power child safety locks, allowing the driver to activate and deactivate them from the driver's seat and to know when they're engaged. The Passat’s child locks have to be individually engaged at each rear door with a manual switch. The driver can’t know the status of the locks without opening the doors and checking them.

The S60 has a standard Whiplash Protection System (WHIPS), which use a specially designed seat to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the WHIPS allows the backrest to travel backwards to cushion the occupants and the headrests move forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. At the same time the pretensioning seatbelts fire, removing slack from the belts. The Passat doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tests front crash prevention systems. With a score of 5 points, IIHS rates the City Safety in the S60 as “Superior.” The Passat scores only 3 points and is rated only “Advanced.”

Over 200 people are killed each year when backed over by motor vehicles. The S60 offers optional CTA Auto Brake that uses rear sensors to monitor and automatically apply the brakes to prevent a rear collision. The Passat doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.

The S60 offers all-wheel drive to maximize traction under poor conditions, especially in ice and snow. The Passat doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.

The S60 offers an optional 360° Camera to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The Passat only offers a rear monitor and front and rear parking sensors that beep or flash a light. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the sides.

The S60’s driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The Passat doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the S60 and the Passat have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front wheel drive, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, post-collision automatic braking systems, daytime running lights, blind spot warning systems, rearview cameras 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 vehicle-to-vehicle front crash prevention system, with its optional vehicle-to-pedestrian front crash prevention system, and its available headlight’s “Good” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the S60 the rating of “Top Pick” for 2020, a rating granted to only 32 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Passat has not been fully tested, yet.

Warranty

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The S60’s corrosion warranty is 5 years and unlimited miles longer than the Passat’s (12/unlimited vs. 7/100,000).

Volvo pays for scheduled maintenance on the S60 for 1 year and 16000 miles longer than Volkswagen pays for maintenance for the Passat (3/36,000 vs. 2/20,000).

Reliability

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To reliably power the ignition and other systems and to recharge the battery, the S60 has a standard 210-amp alternator. The Passat’s 140-amp alternator isn’t as powerful.

To reliably start during all conditions and help handle large electrical loads, the S60 has a standard 800-amp battery. The Passat’s 480-amp battery isn’t as powerful.

The battery on the S60 is in the trunk, which protects it from hot underhood temperatures that can degrade battery life. By keeping the S60’s battery 20 to 30 degrees cooler, its life is increased by years. The Passat’s battery is in the hot engine compartment.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2019 Auto Issue reports that Volvo vehicles are more reliable than Volkswagen vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Volvo 3 places higher in reliability than Volkswagen.

Engine

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/10/21

The S60 T5’s standard 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder produces 76 more horsepower (250 vs. 174) and 52 lbs.-ft. more torque (258 vs. 206) than the Passat’s 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder. The S60 T6’s standard 2.0 turbo/supercharged 4-cylinder produces 142 more horsepower (316 vs. 174) and 89 lbs.-ft. more torque (295 vs. 206) than the Passat’s 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder. The S60 Recharge’s standard 2.0 turbo/supercharged 4-cylinder hybrid produces 226 more horsepower (400 vs. 174) and 266 lbs.-ft. more torque (472 vs. 206) than the Passat’s 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder.

As tested in Car and Driver the Volvo S60 is faster than the Volkswagen Passat:

S60 T5

S60 T6

Passat

Zero to 60 MPH

6.1 sec

5.2 sec

8.3 sec

5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start

7 sec

6.1 sec

9 sec

Passing 30 to 50 MPH

3.5 sec

3.2 sec

4.4 sec

Passing 50 to 70 MPH

4.7 sec

4.2 sec

6.3 sec

Quarter Mile

14.6 sec

13.8 sec

16.2 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

98 MPH

103 MPH

88 MPH

Top Speed

131 MPH

131 MPH

116 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

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On the EPA test cycle the S60 Recharge running on electricity gets better fuel mileage than the Passat (70 city/68 hwy MPGe vs. 23 city/34 hwy).

On the EPA test cycle the S60 Recharge running its gasoline engine gets better fuel mileage than the Passat (28 city/33 hwy vs. 23 city/34 hwy).

The S60 Recharge can drive on battery power alone for up to 22 miles. The Passat must run its internal combustion engine to move.

Regenerative brakes improve the S60 T8’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The Passat doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the S60’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The Passat doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

The S60 has a standard cap-less fueling system. The fuel filler is automatically opened when the fuel nozzle is inserted and automatically closed when it’s removed. This eliminates the need to unscrew and replace the cap and it reduces fuel evaporation, which causes pollution. The Passat doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Transmission

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An eight-speed automatic is standard on the Volvo S60, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a six-speed automatic is available for the Passat.

Brakes and Stopping

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For better stopping power the S60’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Passat:

S60 T5

S60 Polestar

Passat

Front Rotors

12.7 inches

14.6 inches

12.3 inches

Rear Rotors

11.9 inches

12.6 inches

10.7 inches

The S60’s standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the Passat are solid, not vented.

The S60 stops much shorter than the Passat:

S60

Passat

70 to 0 MPH

163 feet

191 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

110 feet

130 feet

Motor Trend

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

139 feet

147 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/10/21

For better traction, the S60 has larger tires than the Passat (235/45R18 vs. 215/55R17).

The S60’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 45 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Passat’s standard 55 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the S60 has standard 18-inch wheels. Smaller 17-inch wheels are standard on the Passat.

Suspension and Handling

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For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the S60’s wheelbase is 2.7 inches longer than on the Passat (113.1 inches vs. 110.4 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the S60 is .9 inches wider in the front and 2 inches wider in the rear than on the Passat.

The S60 R-Design AWD handles at .94 G’s, while the Passat pulls only .79 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The S60 Polestar executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 2.7 seconds quicker than the Passat R-Line (25.4 seconds @ .75 average G’s vs. 28.1 seconds @ .59 average G’s).

Chassis

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The S60 is 6.2 inches shorter than the Passat, making the S60 easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

The design of the Volvo S60 amounts to more than styling. The S60 has an aerodynamic coefficient of drag of .27 Cd. That is lower than the Passat (.29) and many sports cars. A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the S60 get better fuel mileage.

Cargo Capacity

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A low lift-over trunk design makes loading and unloading the S60 easier. The S60’s trunk lift-over height is 26 inches, while the Passat’s liftover is 28.2 inches.

To allow full utilization of available cargo room, the S60’s trunk lid uses concealed beam hinges that don’t intrude into the trunk. The Passat’s useful trunk space is reduced by its intrusive beam hinge.

Pressing a switch automatically lowers the S60’s optional rear seats, to make changing between passengers and cargo easier. The Passat doesn’t offer automatic folding seats.

To make loading and unloading groceries and cargo easier, especially for short adults, the S60 has a standard power trunk, which opens and closes automatically by pressing a button or just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, completely leaving your hands free. The Passat doesn’t offer a power trunk, so its trunk has to be closed manually.

Towing

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The S60’s standard towing capacity is much higher than the Passat’s (2000 vs. 1000 pounds).

Ergonomics

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Unlike the driver-only memory seat and mirrors in the Passat SEL, the S60 R-Design/Inscription has a passenger memory, so that when drivers switch, the memory setting adjusts the driver’s seat and outside mirror angle and the front passenger seat also adjusts to the new passenger’s preset preferences.

The S60 offers an optional heads-up display that projects speed and navigation instruction readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The Passat doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

The S60’s power parking brake sets with one touch and releases with one touch or automatically. The Passat has a lever-type parking brake that has to be strenuously raised to engage properly. It has to be lifted up more and a button depressed to release it.

If the windows are left open on the S60 the driver can close them all at the outside door handle or from a distance using the remote. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the Passat can’t use the remote to operate the windows.

The S60’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The Passat’s standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

In poor weather, headlights can lose their effectiveness as grime builds up on their lenses. This can reduce visibility without the driver realizing. The S60 offers available headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The Passat doesn’t offer headlight washers.

When the S60 is put in reverse, both rearview mirrors tilt from their original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirrors into their original positions. The Passat’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.

The S60’s standard rear and side view mirrors have an automatic dimming feature. These mirrors can be set to automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Passat offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

Optional air-conditioned seats in the S60 Inscription keep the driver and front passenger comfortable and take the sting out of hot seats in Summer. The Passat doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

On extremely cold winter days, the S60’s optional heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the car heater warms up. The Passat doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.

The S60 Inscription offers optional massaging front seats in order to maximize comfort and eliminate fatigue on long trips. Massaging seats aren’t available in the Passat.

The S60 has a standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. Dual zone air conditioning is only available on the Passat SE/R-Line/SEL.

Both the S60 and the Passat offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the S60 has available rear air conditioning vents to keep rear occupants cool in summer or warm in winter. The Passat doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.

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

Economic Advantages

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According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the S60 is less expensive to operate than the Passat because it costs $9 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the S60 than the Passat, including $49 less for a muffler, $229 less for a starter, $158 less for front struts, $460 less for a timing belt/chain and $107 less for a power steering pump.

Recommendations

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/10/21

J.D. Power and Associates rated the S60 second among compact premium cars in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The Passat isn’t in the top three in its category.

The Volvo 60 Series outsold the Volkswagen Passat by 43% during 2019.

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

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