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With its distinctive styling, luxurious interior and excellent reputation for safety, the often-overlooked S80 deserves consideration.
Loaded with outstanding safety innovations and features, impressively fast in T6 trim, spacious backseat.
Confusing interior control markings, suspension and steering systems that aren't up to the task of matching the T6's engine performance level.
Available S80 Sedan Models
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Volvo has added a new trim level, the luxurious S80 T6 Executive. Additional standard content for all trim levels comes in the form of leather seating, a luggage holder, remote retractable rear head restraints, memory position mirrors and Homelink. The 2.9 gets new 16-inch wheels and an auto-dimming rearview mirror as standard. All S80s get dual-stage airbags. The available Security Package for the S80 2.9 and T6 will now include the Interior Air Quality System (IAQS) which keeps the passenger cabin free from odors and pollutants.
Are you looking to buy a well-appointed luxury sedan with enough horsepower to humble most of today's sporty coupes? Volvo's flagship sedan, the S80, might just be your car.
Volvo offers the S80 in three trim levels -- the S80 2.9, the S80 T6 and the S80 T6 Executive. The S80 2.9 is equipped with a 2.9-liter inline six-cylinder engine. It generates a respectable 197 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 207 foot-pounds of torque at 4,200 rpm. For the T6 models, Volvo takes the 2.9's engine and bolts on two small turbochargers. Even with slightly less displacement (2.8 liters), the T6's engine belts out 268 horsepower at 5,400 rpm and a tree stump-pulling 280 foot-pounds of torque at 2,000 rpm.
As you might expect, the T6's acceleration is very impressive, but the front-wheel-drive layout often conspires to create a lot of torque steer when the throttle is mashed to the carpet. Both engines are mated to four-speed automatic transmissions. The S80 T6 also provides a Geartronic feature, allowing for manual shifting if the driver desires.
The S80 does handle adequately for a front-drive car. A MacPherson strut suspension handles duties up front, while a fully independent multi-link setup keeps the rear planted. Front and rear antiroll bars help the S80 maintain a flat attitude in corners. The suspension's limits quickly become apparent in the T6, however. A dynamic stability control system is optional.
Comfort is a Volvo hallmark, and the S80 boasts one of the better interiors we've encountered. The rear seat is exceptionally roomy, and there are heating and air conditioning vents in the B-pillar to keep the rear passengers at the perfect temperature. Making their return for 2001 are remote retractable rear head restraints for all S80s.
If that still isn't good enough, order the T6 Executive. New for 2001, this model adds 2 more inches of legroom by pushing the rear seat farther back into the rear deck and by removing the folding seat mechanism. It also features wider rear door openings, heated rear seats, extra padding in the rear seat and bottom cushion, a multi-functional rear center armrest/console, an electric rear window sun shade, a small refrigerator, and a DVD player connected to a video screen mounted in the rear console.
Control layout is decent, though deciphering some of the markings will require the assistance of the owner's manual. An astounding Dolby Pro Logic sound system is offered as optional equipment, as is a CD-based navigation system. As with all Volvo cars, safety is paramount, with whiplash-reducing front seats and extensive side-impact collision protection.
There is little wrong with the S80. This isn't the car to get if you are looking for a driver's car, a styling pacesetter, or a value leader. But as a luxury car with cutting-edge safety and technology, the S80 is unmatched.
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