Among luxury sedans, the Volvo S80 has always been something of an alternative choice. Through two generations, Volvo's largest sedan has spurned outright luxury and serious performance in favor of cutting-edge safety features and in-cabin technology. And, in a class dominated by rear-drive sedans, Volvo continues to tout the virtues of front-wheel drive, while offering all-wheel drive as an option.
There are plenty of premium-brand sedans that feel more upscale than the S80. There are just as many that surpass its balance and grip on a winding back road. Yet the Volvo S80 is certainly one of the safest cars money can buy. It also boasts some of the industry's most supportive seats.
For luxury sedan buyers whose tastes diverge from the mainstream, the Volvo S80 is an interesting car to consider. And with a price tag that undercuts many European and Japanese-brand competitors, it can be a sensible option as well.
Current Volvo S80
Despite its appearance, the Volvo S80 is only midsize in dimensions, which means it can seat four adults comfortably but doesn't have yards of legroom to spare. It's about the same size as the Acura RL, the competitor it most closely resembles in personality and performance.
There are two versions of the S80. The entry-level S80 3.2 is front-wheel drive and is adequately motivated by a 3.2-liter inline six-cylinder with 240 horsepower. Buyers seeking performance more befitting a luxury car will undoubtedly prefer the S80 T6, which uses a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 good for 300 hp. It uses the same six-speed transmission as the base S80, but power goes to all four wheels via a standard all-wheel-drive system.
Both Volvo S80s come standard with the usual luxury amenities, including leather upholstery, wood trim, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, power-adjustable seats and dual-zone automatic climate control. Major options include front/rear park assist, heated front and rear seats, an excellent 12-speaker sound system, a navigation system, a rearview camera, a dual-screen rear entertainment system and (T6 only) a sport-tuned suspension.
On the safety front, the blind spot warning system and collision warning system (bundled with adaptive cruise control) are worthwhile options for long-distance commuters to consider. The City Safety system -- which can detect an impending low-speed collision and then automatically apply the brakes to avoid or minimize it -- is standard. Although the Personal Car Communicator (PCC) is basically a glorified security system, its transponder has a heartbeat sensor to let you know if someone is still in your Volvo after the alarm has been activated.
Useful features like these are the main reasons someone might want to buy a Volvo S80. The utter comfort of the front seats and a reasonable price tag are additional points in the car's favor. In other respects, though, the Volvo S80 comes across as tepid compared to its luxury sedan rivals. It rides comfortably, handles predictably and stops short, but otherwise does little to engage its driver. And although its cabin has all the expected amenities, it lacks the unrestrained elegance and exacting quality of competitors' interiors.
Read the most recent 2014 Volvo S80 review.
If you are looking for older years, visit our used Volvo S80 page.