Full 2014 Volvo S80 Review
What's New for 2014
The 2014 Volvo S80 receives a slight refresh that includes a revised grille, headlights and bumpers as well as a driver-configurable instrument display, a new steering wheel, added metallic cabin accents, some added package features and, for the T6, quicker gearchanges from its automatic transmission.
For a long time, Volvo's chief strength lay in building vehicles like the S80 sedan that offered the latest in automotive safety. That distinction is pretty much gone now, as many other carmakers now provide similar levels of accident avoidance and occupant protection technologies. As such, the 2014 Volvo S80 finds itself in a tough battle against newer luxury sedans, most of which surpass its performance and are far more enjoyable to drive overall.
This is not to say the 2014 S80 is undesirable, but there's no denying the current car is showing its age. This is especially evident in the cabin, where the control layout looks dated and the available navigation system lags behind competitors' systems in its graphics, processing power and outright functionality. On the other hand, Volvo's flagship luxury sedan still provides clean, understated styling, exceptionally comfortable seats, plenty of standard features and, of course, the latest safety advances. There is also the notion of value, as a loaded, all-wheel-drive S80 is typically a lot less expensive than other similarly equipped, premium-brand sedans.
But given the desirability of the competition, shoppers would do well to consider at least a few other luxury sedans, including the 2014 Acura TL, Buick Lacrosse, 2014 Cadillac CTS and Hyundai Genesis, all of which handle better and return superior fuel economy. The 2014 Audi A6, BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class are also worth thinking about: They offer not only better performance but also greater prestige -- albeit with considerably higher price tags.
Although a 2014 Volvo S80 purchase could still make sense if you like the idea of driving a truly below-the-radar luxury car, consumers should be aware that Volvo's top sedan is several steps behind the competition in most other areas.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2014 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 17-inch alloy wheels, 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 configurable instrument display, full power accessories, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a low-speed frontal-collision mitigation system, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, a 7-inch display screen and an eight-speaker sound system with a six-CD changer, satellite radio, HD radio, an iPod/USB interface and an auxiliary audio jack.
The T6 AWD comes with all of the above and 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, a heated steering wheel, a heated windshield, heated windshield washer nozzles and an interior air quality system.
The Premier Plus package adds front and rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, quick-fold front passenger seat and a grocery bag holder.
The Platinum package includes the Premier Plus items and adds interior accent lighting, a premium 12-speaker surround-sound audio system, a navigation system and voice controls.
The Technology package fits the S80 with automatic high-beam control, adaptive cruise control, expanded functionality for the frontal-collision mitigation system (with pedestrian and cyclist detection), a lane-departure warning system and speed-limit information.
T6 models are also available with the Inscription package that provides premium leather upholstery, a leather-covered dashboard and center armrest, and upgraded interior trim.
Individual option highlights include 19-inch wheels that come with a lowered sport chassis (T6 only), a blind-spot monitoring system and adaptive bi-xenon headlights.
Powertrains and Performance
The front-wheel-drive 2014 Volvo S80 3.2 is powered by a 3.2-liter, inline six-cylinder engine that produces 240 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque. Those S80 3.2 models sold with PZEV tailpipe emissions certification are rated slightly lower at 236 hp. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard. Acceleration to 60 mph takes around 8 seconds, which is slow for this class of car. This engine returns an EPA fuel economy estimate of 23 mpg combined (20 mpg city/29 mpg highway), which is average for a six-cylinder car. Keep in mind, though, that competitors now offer powerful four-cylinder engines that offer better performance and efficiency.
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, as is all-wheel drive. Acceleration to 60 mph takes about 6 seconds. The EPA says to expect 21 mpg in combined driving (18 city/25 highway), which is average for an AWD six-cylinder luxury sedan.
The 2014 Volvo S80 comes standard with antilock disc brakes, front-seat side airbags (featuring separate chambers for chest and hip protection), side curtain airbags, a low-speed frontal-collision mitigation system (Volvo's City Safety system) and active front head restraints.
Optional safety features include a rearview camera, front and rear parking sensors, a blind-spot monitoring system and a lane-departure warning system. Also optional is expanded functionality for the frontal-collision mitigation system (with pedestrian and cyclist detection) plus a driver-fatigue monitor.
In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash tests, the S80 earned the top rating of "Good" in the moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact, roof strength and head restraint/seat tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
The interior of the aging Volvo S80 might not be as extravagant as some of its rivals (or even its newer S60 sibling), but it's a fine place to spend time just the same. The 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 easily read, logically placed and simple to use, especially Volvo's signature climate controls. The audio system is fairly easy to use, too, though the array of small audio buttons looks somewhat dated. The navigation system display is on the small side, and its software is a few years behind rivals' systems, whether you're talking graphics or processing power.
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 you need to carry longer items.
The 2014 Volvo S80's 3.2-liter base engine is adequate, but its relative lack of power and 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. However, the steering is overly light and noticeably slow to respond when going around turns, and the sedan's overall handling abilities leave plenty to be desired. Committed Volvo S80 buyers will find the T6 version's available 19-inch wheels and sport chassis option a worthwhile investment, as it noticeably sharpens the car's handling.