June 20, 2013
Written by Steven Macoy
Thursday, 08 November 2012 13:37
Volvo’s full-sized S80 has the unfortunate distinction of being the slowest seller (save for the quirky C30) in the Volvo line for 2012. For those considering buying this under-the-radar luxury car from Sweden, the contents of Volvo’s website (www.volvocars.com) are instructive. The “News & Awards” section has just three items: one dealing with value, the other two with safety. Of course.
In appearance, the S80 is a wider, longer version of the much more popular S60, a midsize four-door sedan. It’s one of the quietest cars we’ve driven, and the front seats are among the most comfortable in the industry. Response from the 6-speed shiftable automatic transmission and 300-horsepower, turbocharged inline Six is faultless. Handling is secure and predictable, the ride uncommonly smooth. What’s not to like?
Well, two or three things. The audio system delivers superb sound quality, but the controls are confusing enough that we were still missing the target occasionally after a week with the S80. When a tall driver takes over from a short driver, the power seat’s slow passage to the back of the track taxes one’s patience. A full-sized luxury car should have more rear knee room than the S80 provides. And the highly derivative styling seems to lack the inspiration and daring found in competing models.
On the other hand, the S60 is a very nice-looking, well-proportioned car, and so is the S80. And let’s face it, people buy Volvos for a reason, and the S80 embodies everything Volvo is, and was: reliable, durable, safe. Really safe.
Our S80 had a sticker price of $51,445. One can get into an S80 for as little as $38,950 for models equipped with front-wheel drive and a 3.2-liter, 240-horsepower inline Six. But our dark blue test car had two expensive option packages, all-wheel drive and the powerful turbo engine.
It’s not surprising that the S80 has been rated a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. On top of that, all S80s come with Volvo’s City Safety feature as standard equipment. The air bags, crumple zones, active headrests and safety-cage design protect drivers and passengers in a collision; City Safety strives to prevent a collision from happening in the first place. It can stop the car in low-speed crash situations when sensors detect an obstacle and the driver makes no move to avoid it.
The base S80 delivers an impressive 28 mpg on the highway. We managed a little more than 25 mpg, also impressive on a big, heavy, high-powered car with all-wheel drive. The S80 consumes regular unleaded gasoline.
Apart from its advanced safety equipment, the S80 may not stack up against its more aggressively styled, slick-handling, hotter-selling competitors from Japan, South Korea and the United States. So what’s the attraction? It’s simple: The S80 has an air of familiarity that makes it easy to get comfortable and stay that way over the long run.
Engine: 3.0-liter turbocharged inline Six, 300 horsepower, 325 lb.-ft. torque
Transmission: 6-speed Geartronic automatic with sport mode
Weight: 4,053 lb.
Suspension: MacPherson strut front, multi-link rear
Wheels: 18-in. alloy
Tires: P245/40VR18.0 all-season
Seating capacity: 5
Luggage capacity: 14.9 cu. ft.
Fuel capacity: 18.5 gallons
Fuel economy: 18 mpg city, 25 mpg highway
Fuel type: Regular
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