By KBB.com Editors
Once upon a time, Volvos were relatively uninspiring boxes with a reputation for safety and ruggedness but their only "style" was the very lack of style. Then, less than decade ago, the brand began a life-altering transformation, converting from rear- to front-wheel drive and from boxy to stylish, inside and out. Then came upscale elements of performance, luxury and athletic handling. Today's entire Volvo line, small to large, reflects these qualities, in addition to the marque's continuing signature obsession with safety. Though pricier than comparable domestic and Japanese sedans, Volvos offer lower price tags than those of German competitors.You'll Like This Car If...
If you're looking for a more functional, Swedish-style take on luxury than is offered by the German or Japanese luxury models, the Volvo S80 delivers.You May Not Like This Car If...
If the leading edge performance of a European sports sedan tops your wish list, you might find the S80 to be just off the pace, while if roominess is your thing several domestic and Japanese nameplates offer more for less.What's Significant About This Car?
Volvo's all-new second-generation S80 flagship sedan offers everything fans of European cars expect, plus a couple of key safety features Whiplash Protection System (WHIPS) and Blind Spot Information system (BLIS) that some competitors lack. Also new is an industry-first Personal Car Communicator (PCC).Driving It Driving Impressions
The top-of-the-line V8-equipped all-wheel-drive S80 with the optional Sport Package offers a satisfying solidity but does not feel quite as light-footed or agile as the best of its competitors. The surprisingly throaty exhaust note accompanies a surge of forward motion each time we massaged the accelerator pedal, while its speed-sensitive power steering is precise, but a bit lacking in feel. We appreciate the grip from its big (18-inch) performance tires, and, as you might expect, its ABS brakes sucks it down from speed almost like an aircraft-carrier arresting wire. The six-cylinder version, while certainly adequate, offers neither the power nor the torque of the top engines in the segment. Where the S80 really shines is in its the firmly supportive seats, its elegant, understated interior and such features as the optional Blind Spot Information system, adaptive cruise control that maintained a preset interval behind a vehicle ahead and active headlamps that peered around corners. Only the rear seat legroom, relatively meager for a car this size, disappoints.Favorite Features
Blind Spot Information System (BLIS)
BLIS is not ignorant. TV cameras near both outside mirrors trigger the illumination of orange lights on the interior A-pillars when a vehicle is detected in a blind spot.
Personal Car Communicator (PCC)
Some might call it a key fob, but this highly intelligent key accessory can determine if the car is locked, if the alarm has been activated and even if someone (or some animal) is in the car, all from a distance.
Volvo says the S80's interior "epitomizes the tradition of Scandinavian design," which means a more functional, less ostentatious ethic. The S80's interior emphasizes rounded rectangular shapes (in the control buttons and vents) and a combination of straight and gently curving lines complemented by upscale materials and real wood trim. Its most striking feature is the super-slim vertical center dash area, which houses entertainment and climate system controls, hides an open storage bin and flows into the angled console. There's a 12-volt outlet in a small covered bin and another on the console's rear surface (but none on the dash), and an auxiliary audio jack inside the large covered storage box.Exterior
While nearly the same length (191 inches) as the model it replaces, the new S80 is slightly taller and wider and rides on a longer wheelbase with a wider track. Its gently rounded shape conforms to Volvo's recent design themes and builds so much on the heritage of the first-generation S80 that some might complain it is too similar. Only when the two cars sit side-by-side does one realize how different the new-generation model is. The most distinctive exterior elements are a rounded rectangular blackout grille under a more pedestrian-friendly domed, V-shaped hood and a broad shoulder line beginning between the grille and headlamps and extending full-length along the hood, beltline and flanks to define the taillamps' outer edges.Notable Standard Equipment
As part of its "Scandinavian Luxury" theme, the standard six-cylinder S80 features premium leather and wood trim, power front seats, a power moonroof, front fog lamps, 17-inch alloy wheels, a programmable HomeLink transmitter, 160-watt eight-speaker audio with CD, AUX input and MP3 capability. Additional standard safety features include Dynamic Stability Traction Control (DSTC), Volvo's WHIPS whiplash mitigation system and new Side Impact Protection System (SIPS) side air bags with separate chambers to help protect front occupants' chests and hips. The V8 model adds standard all-wheel drive, aggressive-sounding dual exhausts, an Interior Air Quality System (IAQS) and more.Notable Optional Equipment
Three option packages are available: A Climate Package (heated front seats, heated windshield washer nozzles, rain-sensing wipers and high-pressure headlamp cleaners), an Audio Package (650-watt 12-speaker Dolby Surround Sound with Sirius Satellite Radio) and a Sport Package ("Four-C" Continuously Controlled Chassis Concept, speed-sensitive steering, 18-inch performance tires and wheels, ventilated front seats and active bi-xenon headlamps that swivel up to 15 degrees with the steering). Notable stand-alone options include DVD navigation, dual-screen rear DVD entertainment, adaptive cruise control (with collision warning and brake support), front and rear park assist, run-flat tires and Blind Spot Information System (BLIS.) The world-first Personal Car Communicator (PCC) includes Keyless Drive, and it can tell from a distance whether someone is lurking in the car via a heartbeat sensor.Under the Hood
The S80 is not only the first Volvo sedan powered by the company's new 235-horsepower 3.2-liter in-line six (replacing the previous in-line five), it is also the first offering the optional 311-horsepower 4.4-liter V8 that debuted in the 2006 XC90 SUV. Both are compact, relatively lightweight, transverse-mounted engines featuring double overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder, and both drive through a new six-speed "Geartronic" automatic transmission with manual shift control.
3.2-liter in-line 6
235 horsepower @ 6200 rpm
236 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/28 (FWD)
311 horsepower @ 5950 rpm
325 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3950 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/25 (AWD)
The 2007 six-cylinder front-drive S80 starts at a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $39,400. The all-wheel-drive V8 model lists for $48,045. That positions it roughly $4,000 over the aging turbo four-cylinder Saab 9-5, about $4,000 under the (rear-drive) BMW 525i and $3,000 under the Audi A6, which may be its closest competitor. While Volvo expects the resale value of the new S80 to improve upon that of the previous model, its projected five-year residual value is 28 percent versus 33, 36 and 43 percent for the Saab, Audi and BMW, respectively. Our test car's Sport Package added $2,495, the Premium Sound Package $1,550, the Climate Package $725, Adaptive Cruise Control $1,495, the BLIS $595 and the PCC $495. Be sure to check Fair Purchase Prices to see what buyers are actually paying in your area.