KBB Editors' Overview
By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 6/20/2012
The 2012 Volvo S80 may not have the cachet of a Lexus GS, Audi A6 or BMW 5 Series, but it merits attention among premium brands nonetheless. Not surprisingly, Volvo's largest sedan isn't known for the most modern styling or thrilling performance, but rather the safety pedigree and understated elegance long associated with its Swedish maker. The S80 offers a choice of two robust 6-cylinder engines, front- or all-wheel drive and a luxurious interior that's among the most comfortable in its class. For those who need to tow, the S80 is rated to pull up to 3,300 pounds, more than some small SUVs.
You'll Like This Car If...
If comfort, safety and versatility in a premium sedan are more important to you than image and style, check out the 2012 Volvo S80. Opt for the turbocharged, all-wheel drive turbo version, and you'll also get surprising performance from what would appear to be a rather mild-mannered sedan.
You May Not Like This Car If...
If a luxury nameplate, blazing performance or the latest techno wizardry matter more to you, check out the Audi A6, BMW 5 Series or Acura TL.
What's New for 2012
2012 Volvo S80 models benefit from a new interior panel that houses Volvo's Sensus system, which acts as a command center for audio, navigation and other functions and displays information on a 7-inch color screen. The other big news for 2012 S80 models is that they now come standard with City Safety, an ingenious system that automatically stops the car at lower speeds if it senses the driver is distracted and fails to brake ahead of a potential frontal collision.
The S80 offers two distinct experiences depending upon which engine is under the hood. Cars with the 3.2-liter 6-cylinder favor comfort over performance, while those with the more powerful 3.0-liter turbocharged 6-cylinder easily deliver both those traits. Whichever power plant you choose, the Volvo S80 feels confident and capable. Those seeking more gusto in all-wheel-drive T6 versions of the S80 can opt for the Dynamic Package, which lowers the ride height and features firmer springs and anti-roll bars. But beware: Adding such features for the sake of performance also means diminished comfort when it comes to ride quality.
While the best way to prevent an accident due to distracted driving is by not being distracted in the first place, this system, optimized for stop-and-go traffic and other low-speed situations, can prevent a crash or lessen damage due to one. At speeds of 19 mph or less, if the car senses it will collide with a vehicle ahead and the driver does not apply the brakes, the car will stop itself.
3.0-LITER TURBOCHARGED ENGINE
Pairing impressive output with a fat, flat torque curve, the 2012 S80 T6 AWD's optional, up-level engine puts out nearly as much power as the V8 offered just a couple of years ago.
While the 2012 Volvo S80's exterior may border on plain, its 5-passenger interior could be a template for all luxury sedans. As one may expect of a Swedish-designed car, the S80's cabin is straightforward and highly functional. Want to direct ventilation to your head or torso, for instance? Just press the corresponding area on the human-shaped controls. Other information, such as audio and navigation functions, now benefit from a high-resolution 7-inch color display that replaces the rather staid setup of past models. Leather covers the seats, steering wheel and gearshift knob, and can also be had on the dash and armrests. Then there are those front bucket seats; they are ultra-supportive and feature 8-way power for both driver and passenger. The rear seats, meanwhile, can fold to accommodate cargo and power-folding head restraints can be lowered for better visibility. Trunk space, though, is rather small for this size of car.
The 2012 Volvo S80 isn't exactly an exercise in design, but it's still a handsome car and one that may better stand the test of time than some peers. It has a sweeping roofline and strong shoulders, an angular hood in front and twin tailpipes in back imbue some athleticism and Volvo's signature flowing tail lights continue to make a statement of elegance. Base models ride on 17-inch wheels, and turbocharged versions get larger 18-inch alloys.
Notable Standard Equipment
All 2012 Volvo S80 models are equipped with the City Safety automatic braking feature, leather seating, walnut wood inlays, 7-inch color display, dual-zone climate control, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, Bluetooth and pollen filter. The standard audio system is good for 160 watts through eight speakers and includes an AM/FM/HD Radio receiver and CD player with iPod/USB/auxiliary inputs.
Notable Optional Equipment
Major options are now bundled into two up-level trims – Premier Plus and Platinum – on S80s with either naturally-aspirated or turbocharged engines. Premier Plus adds front and rear park assist and a built-in Homelink garage door opener. The Platinum trim adds a 12-speaker, 650-watt premium audio system and voice-controlled navigation system with rear-view camera. Additional options can further spruce up the S80 and include a Dynamic package for a more sporting ride; Climate Package with heated front and rear seats and rain-sensing wipers; Inscription Package that adds loads of fine leather and a wood steering wheel; and the Technology Package that includes adaptive cruise control and lane-departure and collision warning alerts.
Under the Hood
Since dropping the V8 option after 2010, Volvo S80 models are now propelled solely by inline 6-cylinder engines. The base engine is a 3.2-liter that produces 240 horsepower and is available only with front-drive; it is plenty adequate to move this midsize sedan. Drivers who relish more excitement behind the wheel or simply want the security of effortless acceleration will prefer the turbocharged 3.0-liter engine that makes a stout 300 horsepower and an even more impressive 325 lb-ft of torque; the turbo engine is standard with all-wheel drive, which offers superior grip for slippery surfaces. Both engines are connected to 6-speed automatic transmissions that can be manually shifted if desired. We applaud that both engines can run on less-expensive regular unleaded gasoline. And here's another surprise: The S80 is rated to tow up to 3,300 pounds.
240 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm
236 lb-ft of torque @ 3,200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/29 mpg
3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6
300 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm
325 lb-ft of torque @ 1,500-4,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/26 mpg
The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) on a base 2012 Volvo S80 3.2 is just under $39,000. A turbocharged, all-wheel-drive version adds $4,000 to that price, and a fully-loaded S80 T6 can reach over $54,000. At these prices, the 2012 Volvo S80 starts above the Acura TL, Lexus ES, Lincoln MKZ and Buick LaCrosse, and under the BMW 5 Series, Audi A6 and Cadillac CTS. Be sure to check the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are actually paying for the Volvo S80. Down the road, the S80's resale value is not nearly as good as those for the BMW 5 Series, Audi A6 or Acura TL.