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VOL. 46 | NO. 25 | Friday, June 24, 2022

Step up to luxury with Audi A3 or Volvo S60

By Michael Cantu | Edmunds

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If you’re in the market for a new midsize sedan like a Honda Accord and have the budget for a fully loaded trim, then there’s a good chance you can afford an entry-level luxury sedan. Luxury models typically offer more power, comfort, refinement and, of course, brand-name prestige. Two options to consider this year are the Audi A3 and Volvo S60.

Newly redesigned for the 2022 model year, the Audi A3 stands out by way of its enjoyable performance, comfortable ride and top-notch technology features. The current Volvo S60 has been around longer, but its distinctive design, standard driver aids and optional plug-in hybrid model have made it one of Edmunds’ highly rated luxury sedans. Which one is the better buy? Edmunds’ experts compared them to find out.

Value and features

The 2022 Audi A3 has a starting price of $35,895, including destination, making it one of the most affordable luxury sedans. But don’t let the price tag fool you. The A3 looks and feels much like larger Audis, and it’s in no way a cut-rate model.

It also packs impressive standard features such as heated front seats, a 10.1-inch touch-screen display and a panoramic sunroof. Notable optional features include several advanced driver aids, a digital instrument panel and a Bang & Olufsen audio system.

The 2022 Volvo S60’s starting price is considerably higher at $40,295, mostly because it’s a slightly larger and more powerful sedan. It offers similar standard features and a full suite of advanced driver aids, something that’s optional on the A3. The S60’s optional features are also comparable.

Thanks to the A3’s redesign, it provides some of Audi’s latest tech including a modern-looking and easy-to-use touch-screen entertainment system. The S60 has a 9-inch center touch screen, but in our experience, its user interface had a steep learning curve and wasn’t as intuitive as the A3’s. When it comes to advanced driver aids, such as adaptive cruise control, we’ve found that the Audi’s aids operated more unobtrusively.

If you have the budget for it, you can upgrade to either the sportier Audi S3 or the Volvo S60 Recharge plug-in hybrid. Of the two, the S3 is less powerful and less efficient but it does have a lower starting price.

Winner: Audi A3

Engines, fuel economy

Luxury sedans should provide plenty of power, and fuel efficiency is more important than ever with today’s sky-high fuel prices. The A3’s turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine is both powerful and efficient. It produces 201 horsepower and 221 lb-ft of torque and gets up to an EPA-estimated 32 mpg in combined city/highway driving. The A3 comes standard with front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive, which can enhance traction in slippery or icy conditions, is optional.

The S60 also has a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that’s labeled B5. It makes 247 horsepower and 258 lb-ft, so it’s a bit more powerful than the A3’s base engine. However, its EPA-estimated 30 mpg combined makes it slightly less fuel-efficient. And that’s with front-wheel drive. Go with all-wheel drive in the Volvo and you’re looking at 28 mpg combined.

There are other options if you want more power. Audi offers the sport-tuned S3, which is similar to the A3 but has a 306-horsepower engine. Volvo, for its part, has the S60 Recharge. The Recharge has a plug-in hybrid powertrain that creates a whopping 455 horsepower. Even better, it can also travel about 40 miles on all-electric power from a fully charged battery and then get an estimated 31 mpg combined when operating as a regular hybrid.

Winner: Volvo S60

Driving and comfort

Audi and Volvo cite very similar acceleration for the base engines with front-wheel drive, which is around 6.5 seconds. The optional engines also have similar acceleration; Audi cites a 4.5-second 0-60 mph sprint for the S3, and Volvo says the S60 Recharge can do it in 4.3 seconds.

Comfort is similar in both cars. They have smooth rides and supportive front seats that are great for daily commutes or long highway trips. The S60 is a slightly bigger car, however, and that pays dividends by way of its roomier back seat and trunk.

The A3 pulls back into contention in this category by being the better car for driving enjoyment. It feels small and nimble and can tackle a curvy road with ease. The bigger and heavier S60 is competent around turns but isn’t as engaging or fun.

Winner: Tie

Edmunds says

The A3 wins with a narrow victory. It delivers everything an entry-level luxury sedan should and does so at an agreeable price. Volvo’s S60 isn’t quite as well rounded, but it’s still an excellent choice, particularly if you’re interested in a plug-in hybrid.

Michael Cantu is a contributor at Edmunds and is also on Instagram.

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