Used 2015 Volvo S80 Review
The 2015 Volvo S80 is a sensible alternative to flashier, more expensive luxury sedans, but its anonymous looks and mundane driving experience dull its appeal.
Doing it just like everybody else never has been a Volvo calling card. The Swedish automaker made its name on safe, solid cars that weren't slaves to trend or fashion, and the 2015 S80 sedan certainly stands as a solid example of that legacy.
Many of Volvo's traditional traits can be found on the S80 luxury sedan, such as outstanding front seats, good outward visibility and a supple ride quality. Safety factors in, too, as the S80 can be equipped with plenty of the latest technology to help you avoid an accident. This year's S80 also comes with a new turbocharged four-cylinder engine and eight-speed automatic in the base model, which has been rechristened the T5 Drive-E. This new powertrain produces a respectable 240 horsepower plus some of the best fuel economy numbers you'll find in this segment.
In some other areas, however, the S80 might have you thinking that Volvo's playing it a little too conservative. The 2015 S80 is part of the car's second generation, which debuted way back in 2007. That dated design particularly shows up in the car's dowdy styling. What seems like detached driver involvement and lackluster fuel economy from the more powerful T6's engine are other demerits.
The S80 also comes pretty well equipped and is typically less expensive than many other midsize luxury cars, but if such a value proposition is appealing, we think you should also check out the 2015 Acura TLX or 2015 Hyundai Genesis. Both are roomy and comfortable cars that are also more involving to drive and boast fresher, more compelling designs. Of course, any model from the admittedly pricier German contingent -- the Audi A6, BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class -- will be a great choice as well. Overall, we think the S80 is likable enough, but you'll want to shop around some before making a final decision.
trim levels & features
The 2015 Volvo S80 is the company's largest four-door, five-passenger sedan available in two models: T5 Drive-E and T6. Depending on when your S80 was built however, it may receive the "2015.5" designation. See the end of this section for full details on the changes to 2015.5 S80 models.
Standard equipment on all S80s includes 17-inch alloy wheels, LED running lights, foglights, heated mirrors, keyless ignition and entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, eight-way power front seats, driver memory settings, a split-folding rear seat with trunk pass-through, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a configurable digital instrument display, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a low-speed frontal collision mitigation system, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, 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.
Available on T5 E-Drive and T6 models, the Premier Plus package adds front and rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, a folding front passenger seat and a grocery bag holder in the trunk. The Platinum package comes with all of the previous equipment, plus special interior accent lighting, a premium 12-speaker Volvo surround-sound audio system, a navigation system and voice controls.
All T6 models also get a more powerful six-cylinder engine, all-wheel drive, 18-inch alloy wheels and a sunroof.
The Technology package adds 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. The Climate package comes with heated front and rear seats, a heated steering wheel, a heated windshield, heated windshield washer nozzles and an interior air quality system.
T6 models are also available with the Inscription package, which provides premium leather upholstery, ventilated front seats, a leather-covered dashboard and center armrest and upgraded interior trim.
Individual option highlights include 19-inch wheels that come with a lowered sport-tuned suspension (T6 only), active xenon headlights, a sunroof (T5) and a blind-spot monitoring system.
For the 2015.5 models (built after June 2014), the S60 has some additional changes. Both trim levels get Sensus Connect, Sensus navigation and Volvo's On Call telematics system as standard. Sensus Connect and the new Sensus navigation add updated graphics for the touchscreen, improved voice commands and in-car apps such as Yelp and Pandora. The Volvo On Call system adds an in-car WiFi hotspot, emergency roadside assistance and automatic crash notification.
As for optional equipment, 2015.5 S80s are very similar to what's listed above, but the Premium Plus package has essentially been renamed as the Convenience package, while the Platinum package gets the addition of adaptive xenon headlights, a Harman Kardon premium sound system and the contents of the Technology and Convenience packages. The Harman Kardon sound system is also available as a stand-alone option.
performance & mpg
The front-wheel-drive 2015 S80 T5 Drive-E trim level is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine good for 240 hp and 258 pound-feet of torque. It comes standard with stop-start functionality, which automatically shuts down the engine during brief periods of rest, such as at a stoplight. This, in addition to an equally new standard eight-speed transmission, results in an EPA fuel economy rating of 29 mpg combined (25 city/37 highway), which is excellent for this class of car.
As a power upgrade, S80 T6 models get a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 engine producing 300 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed automatic is standard, as is all-wheel drive. Acceleration to 60 mph takes about 6 seconds. The EPA says to expect 22 mpg combined (19 city/28 highway), which is about typical for an AWD six-cylinder luxury sedan.
The 2015 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 small-overlap frontal-offset, moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength tests. Its head restraints and seats also earned a "Good" rating for their whiplash protection in rear impacts. The IIHS has also tested the S80's frontal collision warning and mitigation system and gave it a top rating of "Superior."
The new turbocharged four-cylinder engine and its sophisticated automatic transmission should be a big improvement for the S80, as the previous base engine was neither particularly strong nor particularly fuel-efficient. Car shoppers living in the snow belt may wish Volvo had chosen to couple this engine with the all-wheel-drive system available with the S80 T6, though.
The 300-hp S80 T6 accelerates with real vigor, and the AWD assures that you seldom feel the tires struggling for traction, even when you ask for full power. This engine goes about its work in almost complete silence.
For many, the 2015 S80's ride will stand out: The compliant suspension smoothes potholes and speed bumps with ease. But the S80s too-light steering and stubborn preference for pointing straight ahead make for vague driver confidence when going around turns. The T6 model's optional 19-inch wheels and sport chassis noticeably sharpen handling, although this setup isn't available for the T5 and its new engine.
The interior of the aging Volvo S80 might not be as extravagant as those of some of its rivals (or even its newer S60 sibling), but it's a fine place to spend time just the same. Volvo has an outstanding reputation for excellent seats, and the S80 upholds that honor, with upright and supremely supportive front seats that do a great job of keeping you comfortable on long trips. Rear passengers will find adequate room as long as there's no need to seat three, but in general many competitors offer roomier rear seats.
Also per Volvo's tendency, there's nothing tricky or gimmicky about the gauges and major controls. The straightforward dual-temperature adjustment dials and "mode man" pictogram make climate control adjustments simple and intuitive. The audio system is fairly easy to use, too, and with the functionality updates for the 2015.5 infotainment systems, things will likely get even easier. We haven't tested the updated touchscreen and telematics but we'll update this review once we have.
The S80's trunk has 14.9 cubic feet of cargo capacity, which is pretty typical for this class of car. The S80's folding rear seatbacks, trunk pass-through and available folding front passenger seat provide extra flexibility and utility.
edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.