Used 2016 Volvo S80 Sedan Review

The 2016 Volvo S80 is a sensible alternative to flashier, more expensive luxury sedans, but its anonymous looks, mundane driving experience and lackluster power dull its appeal.




what's new

Volvo drops the S80's T6 six-cylinder engine and all-wheel-drive model. Otherwise, the 2016 Volvo S80 is a carryover from the 2015 model year.

vehicle overview

Every car in the luxury sedan segment has at least a little appeal, what with all that supple leather, high-tech infotainment, and fancy wheels and interior woodwork. The Volvo S80, with its aging design and only minor updates for the 2016 model year, might not have enough of it, though.

The 2016 S80's big boast is its fuel economy and, of course, its full array of Volvo's superb safety systems. But Volvo seems to be concentrating on other parts of its lineup these days, and the S80 has been left to wither. It got a new turbocharged four-cylinder engine in mid-2015 for a nice boost in performance and efficiency, but Volvo has dropped the six-cylinder T6 models, depriving shoppers of an all-wheel-drive option.

Additionally, the S80's design, while fresh in 2007, has had only an occasional mild cosmetic freshening since then, while the driving experience borders on stodgy. In today's luxury car market, that makes it about as appealing as a pair of sensible beige flats in a closet full of Manolo Blahnik stilettos.

The S80 does come pretty well equipped and is typically less expensive than many other midsize luxury cars, but if it's a value proposition that appeals, we think you should also check out the Acura TLX, Buick LaCrosse, Cadillac XTS, Chrysler 300, Lexus ES 350 and Hyundai Genesis. All are roomy and comfortable cars that are also more involving to drive and boast fresher, more compelling designs. And any model from the admittedly pricier German contingent -- the 2016 Audi A6, BMW 5 Series and 2016 Mercedes-Benz E-Class -- will be a great choice as well. While the S80 is likable enough, the reality is that it's simply outclassed for 2016.

trim levels & features

The 2016 Volvo S80 is the company's largest four-door, five-passenger sedan available in one model, the T5 Drive-E, and two trim levels, Premier and Platinum.

Standard equipment for the Premier includes 17-inch alloy wheels, LED running lights, foglights, heated mirrors, keyless ignition and entry, a sunroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, eight-way power front seats, driver memory settings, heated front seats, a split-folding rear seat with trunk pass-through, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a configurable digital instrument display and a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel. Tech features include a low-speed frontal collision warning and mitigation system, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a navigation system, Sensus Connect (includes smartphone integration), a 7-inch display screen and an eight-speaker sound system with a six-CD changer, satellite radio, HD radio, a USB port and an auxiliary audio jack.

The Platinum package adds adaptive xenon headlights, power-retractable side mirrors, a folding front passenger seat, a grocery bag holder in the trunk, special interior accent lighting and a premium 12-speaker Harman Kardon surround-sound audio system and the Technology package, which includes front and rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, automatic high-beam headlight control, adaptive cruise control, an expanded frontal collision mitigation system with pedestrian and cyclist detection, a lane-departure warning system, blind spot monitoring and speed-limit information.

The Technology package is available as an option for the Premier trim, as is the Convenience package, which includes the grocery bag holder and a quick-fold front passenger seat.

Available for either trim are the Inscription package, which provides premium leather upholstery, ventilated front seats, a leather-covered dashboard and center armrest and upgraded interior trim. A Climate package adds heated rear seats and a heated steering wheel, windshield and windshield washer nozzles.

Stand-alone options include a wood-trimmed steering wheel and a lowered, sport-tuned suspension with 19-inch alloy wheels.

performance & mpg

A 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine good for 240 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque powers the front-wheel-drive 2016 S80 T5 Drive-E. It comes standard with stop-start functionality, which automatically shuts down the engine when idling, such as at a stoplight. This, in addition to a standard eight-speed automatic transmission, results in an EPA fuel economy rating of 29 mpg combined (25 city/37 highway), which is excellent for this class of car. Volvo estimates 0-60-mph acceleration at 6.6 seconds. It's an acceptable time, but most rival sedans are quicker and also offer more powerful engine upgrades.

safety

The 2016 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 warning and 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 a 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 given it a top rating of "Superior."

driving

The turbocharged four-cylinder engine and its eight-speed automatic transmission has been a nice improvement for the S80, as the previous base engine was neither particularly strong nor particularly fuel-efficient. But since there's no longer an engine upgrade offered, the S80's 240 hp is the most you can get. Acceleration is acceptable, but other similarly priced sedans are notably quicker.

For many, it's the 2016 S80's ride that will stand out: The compliant suspension smooths potholes and speed bumps with ease. But the S80's too-light steering and stubborn preference for pointing straight ahead make for vague driver confidence when going around turns. The optional 19-inch wheels and sport chassis noticeably sharpen handling, but not enough to move the car anywhere near sport sedan status.

interior

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 standard Sensus system is also fairly easy to use, though the multipurpose knob's location on the dash (rather than the center console) is not ideal, and it lacks a touchpad input like some rival systems.

The S80's trunk has 14.9 cubic feet of cargo capacity, 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.