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August 15, 2012

Volvo’s ‘Midsommar’ Drive Part II: The 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD Takes Residence at Park City’s Stein Eriksen Lodge

P1010142Part II:  Our Drive

The 2013 Volvo S60 appears to be a lot of things that Volvo never used to be; you might say it's a brawny, sporty, and handsome model reflecting what Volvo is becoming. As such, the S60 lineup is design-centric inside and out, with handling and performance that keeps up with some top sport sedans--even if it isn't quite as sharply honed. And, underneath it all, of course, there are still the leading-edge safety features that have differentiated this Scandinavian brand since its start more than eight decades ago. "Cars are driven by people. The guiding principle behind everything we make at Volvo, therefore, is and must remain, safety", proclaimed Assar Gabrielsson and Gustav Larson, in 1927, the duo that started the Scandinavian car company with a goal of building autos that were designed to hold strong in the Swedish climate and terrain. These ethics continues today, as Volvos are known for safety and good handling around the globe.


P1010149Our car had a shimmering Ice White exterior, with stunning Beechwood/Off Black leather gracing the interior. From the outside, you’ll notice smooth contours and swooping lines matched up with a low, wedgy front end, a pert tail, and beset underneath by large flashy alloy wheels; it is indeed expressive in a way that shy, boxy Volvo never was in the past. Inside, Scandinavian design comes together with a little extra flamboyance in a cabin that's quietly attractive and functional. Textures, materials, and design are far from ordinary, and the 'floating' center stack of controls- with a clever stowage area tucked behind for stashing small purses and cell phones--pushes the Swedish design ethos into a hipper direction. Volvo says the interior is larger than the Mercedes-Benz C-Class and the Lexus IS and has more legroom in the rear.


Now in the S60's third year, Volvo makes its AWD traction-enhancing system available with all of its engines. Made by another Swedish manufacturer, the Haldex AWD system is now smaller and lighter and it gets new gearing, which allows for up to 95 percent of its torque to the front axle and 5 percent to the rear, when needed. It also gets a retuned version of the base turbocharged five-cylinder (T5) engine that achieves 250 hp. and 266 lb.-ft. of torque. The engine has new parts, a higher compression ratio and its peak turbo boost raised by 15 percent, which gives it an improved 0-60 mph time of 6.4 seconds, a tick faster than the previous generation engine. The transmission upshifts faster, as well, and the new AWD model, which is priced starting at $33, 750, is just as fuel efficient as the front-drive version (the T5 AWD gets 23 mpg city/30 highway as compared to the T6 and R-Design versions which get 18/25). Performance-wise, Volvo’s S60 has its sights set somewhere between the likes of the Acura TSX, the Audi A4, and the BMW 3-Series, especially with its higher-priced and higher-horsepower S60 R-Design version.

In addition to all the expected safety features--such as front, side, and side-curtain airbags; anti-lock brakes; and stability and traction control--what sets the S60 apart is its safety technology. And there's a lot of it. Corner Traction Control directs torque across the car to enhance grip in aggressive cornering maneuvers; a radar-based Pedestrian Detection with Full Auto Brake can identify and brake for pedestrians or other objects in the road if the driver doesn't give the system indication they're trying to avoid it (this works at speeds up to 22 mph.); and there's even a new Road Sign Information system for 2013.

We drove a course of 225 miles in the new S60 model, motoring on bustling freeways and traveling along two-lane, windy roads that snaked over the Wasatch Mountains and took us on a north easterly track to Evanston, Wyoming and back to Park City. The highlight of the drive was the view from the top of Big Mountain Pass, where the Mormon Trail, or Mormon Pioneer Historic Trail, intersects with the Great Western Trail. It was from here that Brigham Young and his Latter Day Saints’ followers first saw the Great Salt Lake Basin, which was then outside the boundaries of the U. S. and went on to become their new home, and later became Utah. As we read of the emigrants’ history and their travels across the country with handcarts and wagons, we were delighted for our good fortune at being able to see this view, after ascending the twisty pavement with turbocharged-power and an automatic transmission that also allows more sporty manual shifting and a “Sport” setting. This setting changes the transmission mapping to elongated shift points and makes for more spirited driving.


At the end of our drive, we were appreciative for the great scenery in this quadrant of the west and our ride in the comfortable and safe new S60 T5 AWD model, even though we experienced no inclement weather to test the AWD traction. From a base front-wheel-drive T5 model priced starting at $31,750 to a full-loaded S60 R-Design Platinum, which can approach $55k, the 2013 S60 spans a wide range, appealing as a safe, comfortable, tech-oriented sedan to some shoppers or a more powerful sport sedan with some of the latest infotainment, convenience, and active-safety features to others. The 2013 Volvo S60s come in T5, T6, and R-Design models, with Premier, Premier Plus, and Platinum guises that determine the level of extras, and a few standalone options, as well.


Midsommar’ Celebration

P1010187So, how about the Swedes' celebration called Midsommar Day? We learned it was originally celebrated on June 24th to commemorate John the Baptist, although many today date it to agrarian times, when midsummer celebrations were held to welcome summer and the season of fertility. Some celebrants dressed up as ‘green men’, clad in ferns and decorated their houses and farm tools with foliage; and raised tall, leafy maypoles to dance around; this was as early as the 16th century and actually modeled on a German tradition. While primarily an occasion for young people, it was also celebrated in the industrial communities of central Sweden, where all mill employees were given a feast of pickled herring, beer and schnapps. It was not until the 20th century, however, that this became the most Swedish of all traditional festivities.

On our final night with Volvo, Phebe and I enjoyed a festive Midsommar meal and true celebration, complete with a maypole and fern-garlanded ornamentation. Renowned Chef Zane Holmquist and his staff prepared traditional Swedish foods, including herring dishes and Swedish meatballs. When Phebe and I lifted our glasses of the traditional spirit known as Aquavit to honor the Swedes and Volvo, we toasted to each other and this trip—for us, it was a midsummer dream come true!

Stein Eriksen:


P1010083Born in Oslo, Norway, Eriksen was considered skiing’s “first superstar”. Eriksen won the gold medal in the Giant Slalom event at the 1952 Winter Olympics, held in Oslo and went on to win a silver medal in the slalom race. He was the first skier from outside the Alps to win an Olympic men's alpine gold medal; he also won three gold medals at the 1954 World Championships in Åre, Sweden, and a bronze medal at the 1950 World Championships in Aspen, Colorado. Among his many accomplishments, Eriksen is credited with devising "aerials", a freestyle skiing event, and revolutionizing the world of alpine skiing, especially in America, where he served as a ski instructor at many different ski schools. He is currently director of skiing at the Deer Valley Resort in Utah, and also serves as host of the Stein Eriksen Lodge that was named in honor of him.


If You Go: Stein Eriksen Lodge: Utah's only Forbes Five Star, AAA Five Diamond hotel, Stein Eriksen Lodge claims it has been the premier resort destination for both leisure and business travelers alike. Guests will enjoy ski-in/out access to Deer Valley Resort. Conveniently located mid-mountain at Deer Valley Resort, the lodge is one of the most accessible, year-round hotel destinations in North America. The European-style Lodge was named for Stein Eriksen the Olympic Gold Medalist from Norway. Eriksen dreamt of a luxury ski hotel nestled in the slopes of the Wasatch Mountain range in Park City. Aesthetics are only a part of the Stein Eriksen Lodge experience; the Lodge has also become a sanctuary for those seeking the ultimate in luxury, hospitality, accommodations, fine dining, spa services and year-round recreation.


Amenities include:

*Four Star rated Glitretind Restaurant in the elegant slopeside setting with Regional American cuisine.

*For the wine connoisseurs, four sommeliers can conduct a personalized wine seminar in the 10,000-bottle wine cellar.

* a luxury spa with 16 treatment rooms, year-round outdoor heated pool and hot tub, fitness center, full-service concierge and 24-hour room service. Ski-in/out access to the Deer Valley slopes and ski valet services.

Contact:; 7700 Stein Way Park City, Utah 84060 · Telephone 435.649.3700

Sue Mead


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