What's New for 2013
The 2013 Volvo S80 is a sensible alternative to flashier luxury sedans, but its anonymous looks and largely forgettable driving experience dull the car's appeal.
Introduced in 2006 and updated in 2011, the Volvo S80 soldiers on as a sensible and safe alternative to the luxury sedan establishment. Its sedately attractive exterior and interior offer the same kind of pampering as others in its class, but what separates the S80 from the rest of the flashy pack are its understated visage and value.
Compared to other luxury sedans also available with all-wheel drive, a fully loaded 2013 Volvo S80 T6's price tag seems appropriate for the amount of standard and available equipment it buys. That said, its dynamic performance and fuel economy are slightly behind the curve and there is no V8 engine available.
However, as with every Volvo, the S80's real strength is the extra peace of mind that comes with knowing that you and your passengers are protected by a suite of the most advanced safety features on the road. These include the now-standard City Safety system that can detect and warn of impending collisions and then apply the brakes to minimize the severity of the impact, or hopefully, avoid it entirely. The system is fully operational at speeds below 31 mph.
That said, shoppers should also check out a few comparably priced luxury sedans, including the 2013 Acura TL, 2013 Cadillac XTS and 2013 Hyundai Genesis sedan. The Audi A6, BMW 5 Series, Infiniti M and Mercedes-Benz E-Class all offer more power, better handling, greater prestige or some combination thereof, albeit with considerably higher price tags.
So ultimately the decision comes down to what you're really looking for in a luxury sedan. If it's comfort, safety and advanced technology in a more understated wrapper, we think you'll find the 2013 Volvo S80 a perfectly sensible choice.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Volvo S80 is the company's flagship four-door, five-passenger sedan available in two models: 3.2 and T6 AWD.
The 3.2 base model comes standard with a six-cylinder engine, 17-inch alloy wheels, headlight washers, foglights, heated mirrors, keyless entry/ignition, dual-zone automatic climate control, automatic wipers, leather upholstery, power front seats with driver memory settings, a split-folding rear seat with trunk pass-through, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a trip computer, full power accessories, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming and an eight-speaker sound system with a six-CD changer, satellite radio, HD radio, an iPod/USB interface and an auxiliary audio jack. To mitigate collisions with other vehicles or pedestrians, Volvo's City Safety technology is also standard. To this the T6 AWD adds all-wheel drive, 18-inch alloy wheels and a sunroof. The latter two features are optional for the 3.2.
The Climate package adds heated front and rear seats, heated windshield washer nozzles and an interior air quality system. The Premier Plus package includes front and rear parking sensors and an iPod cable. The Platinum package includes the Premier Plus items and adds active bi-xenon headlamps, a rearview camera, a premium 12-speaker surround-sound audio system, a navigation system and voice controls.
The Technology package nets auto high beams, adaptive cruise control, a collision-warning and pedestrian-detection system with automatic braking, lane departure warning and a road-sign-reading technology that displays the most current speed limit in the instrument panel.
T6 models are available with two additional packaged options. Only the T6 can be ordered with an Inscription package that yields premium leather seating surfaces with "Inscription" embossed logo, a leather-covered dashboard and center armrest and genuine wood trim on the steering wheel and shift knob, ventilated front seats and "Inscription"-branded aluminum tread plates and floor mats.
The T6 Dynamic package contains unique 18-inch alloy wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, sport seats, a Sport mode for the transmission, a three-spoke steering wheel and unique aluminum interior trim.
A blind-spot monitoring system is a stand-alone option for all S80 sedans.
Powertrains and Performance
The front-wheel-drive 2013 Volvo S80 3.2 is powered by a 3.2-liter inline-6 engine that produces 240 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque. Mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, the S80 3.2 accelerates to 60 mph in under 8 seconds. This engine returns EPA fuel economy estimates of 19 mpg city/28 mpg highway and 23 mpg combined.
The S80 T6 gets a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 producing 300 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed automatic is standard here as well. Acceleration to 60 mph takes about 6 seconds. EPA estimates for this powertrain are 18 mpg city/25 mpg highway and 21 mpg combined.
The 2013 Volvo S80 comes standard with antilock disc brakes, front-seat side airbags (featuring separate chambers for chest and hip protection), side curtain airbags and active front head restraints.
There are a host of other safety-related features available, including a blind-spot monitor and lane-departure warning. More novel safety technology here includes a collision and pedestrian warning system with automatic braking, and a driver-fatigue monitor that tracks a variety of factors including the driver's face to determine whether he or she is dozing off behind the wheel.
In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash tests, the S80 earned the top rating of "Good" for both frontal-offset and side collision protection.
Interior Design and Special Features
The interior of the aging Volvo S80 might not be as extravagant as some of its rivals (or even as current as the more recently updated Volvo S60), but it's a fine place to spend time just the same. Front seats are especially comfortable and the backseat, while not exactly spacious, can handle a couple of average-size adults with few complaints.
Gauges and buttons are visually clear, logically placed and simple to use, especially Volvo's signature climate controls. One notable improvement is a scroll wheel that allows the driver to select among telephone, media source and destination inputs from the steering wheel.
The S80's trunk offers 14.9 cubic feet of cargo room. While this capacity is not huge, the fold-down rear seatbacks and trunk pass-through give it some additional flexibility when the need to carry longer items arises.
The 2013 Volvo S80's 3.2-liter base engine is perfectly serviceable, but its relative lack of personality makes it hard to recommend. The turbocharged engine of the T6 is another matter entirely, as it delivers the kind of lively acceleration you'd expect from an upscale sedan, and the wave of torque it produces is noticeable.
When equipped with the standard suspension, the S80 has a plush, isolated ride quality, though its light effort and slow-ratio steering plus mediocre handling abilities leave something to be desired. Buyers looking for a sharper driving experience will find the firmer suspension that comes with the T6 Dynamic package to be a worthwhile investment.