Full 2006 Volvo S80 Review
What's New for 2006
For 2006, the Volvo S80's T6 and T6 Premier trims have been deleted, as has their twin-turbo engine. Leather seats, a power moonroof, wood trim, a power passenger seat, 17-inch alloy wheels, T6-style "watch dial" instrumentation and sport seats are now standard on 2.5T models. Models equipped with all-wheel drive get a new electronically controlled all-wheel-drive system.
Boring and boxy, but safe. That's how most Americans view Volvo cars. This Swedish carmaker has been churning out thousands of remarkably sturdy sedans and wagons for more than half a century, each dedicated to preserving the life of occupants, seemingly at the expense of attractive lines and passionate performance. The cubist design theme reached its peak in the early 1980s, when the Volvo 740 debuted. All sharp angles from top to bottom, it was easy to imagine that Volvo stylists had little more than a T-square and a level at their disposal while toiling in the design studio.
When the Volvo S80 debuted in 1998, it left behind the straight edges of the past and replaced them with soft lines that created a new design direction for the brand. Along with the new look came increased luxury as well, pushing Volvo into competition with Europe's most prestigious brands. Although the S80's design has aged well, intense competition in the luxury sedan segment demands the latest in technology and features. Volvo's flagship still has all the requisite amenities, but it's no longer an innovator among premium sedans.
The 2006 Volvo S80 looks and feels refined inside and out. It also has plenty of room for four adults and a quiet cabin, which make it a great long-distance touring car. Unfortunately, with the retirement of the T6 model and its twin-turbo engine, the S80 is now at a serious disadvantage when it comes to power. Its five-cylinder engine makes just 208 hp, and this, combined with its soft handling, makes it one of the least engaging luxury sedans on the market when it comes to the driving experience. The Volvo's optional all-wheel drive is a plus, but the similarly priced, similarly sized Infiniti M35 and Volkswagen Passat offer it as well, along with more power and sharper handling. A completely redesigned, more powerful Volvo S80 is on the way for 2007, but until then, you should explore the other options in this price range.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The four-door Volvo S80 sedan is available in one trim -- 2.5T. This model comes with 17-inch alloy wheels, traction control, leather upholstery, a moonroof, burled walnut trim, dual-zone automatic climate control, a dual power-adjustable front seats with driver-seat memory, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel with audio controls, and an eight-speaker CD stereo. Options on the Volvo car include a DVD navigation system, the Four-C adjustable suspension, run-flat tires, HID headlights, a premium 10-speaker Dolby audio system and heated seats.
Powertrains and Performance
The Volvo S80 is powered by a 2.5-liter turbocharged five-cylinder with 208 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque. Both front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive configurations are available. A five-speed automatic transmission is standard.
Four-wheel antilock brakes with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution and emergency braking assist are standard, and stability control is optional. Every S80 comes with side airbags for front passengers, head curtain airbags for front and rear passengers, and whiplash-reducing head restraints. The Volvo S80 received perfect marks in all government crash tests, as well as a "Good" score, the highest possible, in IIHS frontal-offset testing.
Interior Design and Special Features
Comfort is a Volvo hallmark, and the S80 boasts soft, supportive seats and plenty of room to stretch out. The rear seat is exceptionally roomy, and there are heating and air conditioning vents in the B-pillars to keep the rear passengers at the perfect temperature. The control layout in the S80 could be better, but once you learn where everything is, it works well. Whether you're going on a long road trip or just heading across town, the 2006 Volvo S80 will deliver you in perfect comfort.
With just 208 hp on tap in this 3,600-pound sedan, acceleration is merely adequate, and similarly priced competitors offer considerably more power. Overall, the Volvo S80 handles adequately for a large front-wheel-drive car, while the all-wheel-drive is well-suited for harsh climates. The optional Four-C adjustable suspension tightens up the handling a bit on twisty roads, but the S80 is no sport sedan. Ride quality, at least, is smooth and comfortable.