Self-driving cars are undoubtedly the hottest topic in the auto industry right now, and for good reason: removing human error from driving promises safer roads for all. Mercedes Benz, Google and Audi have all released their own version of an autonomous car, and even rumors surrounding Apple’s Project Titan seem to be coming true. Yet, Volvo, a car manufacturer that—with its Vision 2020—has brought roadway safety to the forefront of its brand identity, has yet to release anything completely self-driving. Instead, the Gothenburg-based automaker has set their focus on enhancing the driving experience itself, adopting semi-autonomous technologies to make driving easier—not extinct.
The most recent manifestation of this vision comes in the form of the S60 Inscription, Volvo’s latest model to adopt the “Inscription” insignia. On top of upgrading its interior with nappa leather upholstery, walnut wood inlays and chrome accents, the trimline adds an additional three inches of space to the rear seats, resulting in the most legroom of any luxury sedan in its class. Pair that with an additional Platinum package—which provides adaptive cruise control, blindspot warnings, lane-keeping assist, pedestrian detection and more for an extra $3000—and you’ve got an easy weekend cruiser made for long road trips; one we were fortunate enough to take on a recent drive up the California coastline.
Beginning in Sausalito, California, we squeezed through some stoplights before emerging atop the highways perched just above the Pacific. The Inscription’s 240 HP FWD engine pushed it through the hilly roadway with ease, while its surprisingly smooth brakes kept us from taking an accidental dip in the ocean. And while its instinctive road-scanning capabilities were of no need here (it was just a two-lane road), Volvo’s reputation for safety gave us the confidence to leave our gaze upon the jaw-dropping views just a half-second longer.
On the return trip home, the Inscription proved its smarts while driving through four lanes of bumper-to-bumper traffic. Engaging the adaptive cruise control provides a foot-free and (almost) hands-free experience, ensuring that the vehicle stays set distance behind the car in front. And as the road opened up, driver alerts became a sixth sense, lighting up when any rogue vehicles swerved into our lane while blindspot warnings made changing lanes head-check free.
Ultimately, the S60 Inscription is a practical and comfortable weekend driver that provides all the benefits of a self-driving vehicle without actually taking the driver out of the equation. And while it might not be one of the first option to pop into mind when car-shopping, it very well could end up that way—especially when shopping for a loved one. The 2016 S60 Inscription is available at Volvo dealerships nationwide, with prices starting $38,700.
Images by Kevin Serai