By Keith Buglewicz
2015 Volvo S80 sits atop the Swedish carmaker's
sedan heap, yet many overlook it when cross-shopping against Lexus, Audi and BMW.
Too bad for them, because they're missing out on a sedan brimming with world-class luxury and safety features, and some of the most comfortable seats in the business, all available at a very reasonable price. Its subdued styling appeals to those who speak softly, rather than wield big sticks. This year, an all-new 4-cylinder powerplant finds its way under the hood of front-wheel drive-models, offering more power and better fuel economy than its predecessor. All-wheel drive (AWD) versions of the S80 still sport a turbocharged 6-cylinder. It can even tow up to 3,300 pounds, remarkable considering it's not even an SUV.
If you want a roomy interior, comfortable seats and first-rate safety, all wrapped in a classy-but-subdued sedan, then you need look no further than the 2015 Volvo S80. The new engine helps fuel economy, too.
While the 2015 Volvo S80 is a handsome car, it's not particularly dynamic. If you want a roaring V8 engine, or if you want the latest in high-tech gadgetry glowing at you on your dash, then you should keep shopping.
After receiving a visual and technology upgrade last year, the 2015 Volvo S80's biggest change is at the bottom of the lineup. Front-wheel-drive S80 models get a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder connected to a new 8-speed automatic transmission. Offering better fuel economy and more power, it's a win-win.
For 2015, the Volvo S80 gets a change at the low end of the lineup. Replacing the dated 3.2-liter 6-cylinder, the new Drive-E turbocharged 4-cylinder is a smooth, refined and...
... powerful engine.
It has no problem moving the heavier XC60 SUV to 60 mph in less than seven seconds, and we expect at least the same from the lighter S80 sedan, but without sacrificing the smooth character the S80's known for. If you need more power, there's the turbocharged T6 AWD. The top-line model accelerates to 60 mph in just over six seconds, and it's confident and poised in corners. The transmission shifts quickly, and responds rapidly to throttle inputs. A Sport Chassis package is available, offering bigger wheels and a stiffer, lower suspension, but it brings a much stiffer ride.
At city-street speeds, if the system senses impending contact with a vehicle or other object, and the driver does not apply the brakes, the car will stop itself. While it's best for drivers to not be distracted in the first place, the City Safety system really can help.
We fell in love with this turbocharged 4-cylinder engine when we drove the new 2015 Volvo S60, V60 and XC60, and we expect the same in the S80. It combines power, fuel efficiency and refined smoothness in a way we usually associate with more expensive German brands.
As you'd expect of a Swedish-designed car, the 2015 Volvo S80 offers up a straightforward and functional 5-passenger cabin. It's mostly carryover from last year, with the exception of Dark Walnut wood inlays on the Insignia trim. The configurable display screen takes center stage on the dash. Drivers can opt for a traditional center speedometer, or an eco-friendly display backlit in green or a red-backlit performance mode with center-mounted tachometer and digital speed readout. The S80's supportive front bucket seats feature 8-way power for both driver and passenger, while the rear seats fold down to expand the meager trunkspace.
Unlike some rivals, with flavor-of-the-month styling, the 2015 Volvo S80 has classically handsome lines that will doubtless withstand the test of time. It has a graceful, sweeping roofline, and its strong shoulders, angular hood and twin tailpipes suggest some athleticism. New this year is wider chrome trunk molding, plus a new optional silver color and 18-inch "Magni" alloy wheels. Otherwise, it's mostly carryover, with elegant highlights like Volvo's signature flowing taillight design. Base models ride on 17-inch wheels, and turbocharged versions get 18-inch alloy wheels, with optional 19-inch wheels as part of the Sport Chassis suspension upgrade.
All 2015 Volvo S80 models are equipped with the City Safety automatic braking feature, leather seating, walnut wood inlays, a 7-inch color display, dual-zone climate control, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, rain-sensing windshield wipers, Sensus information-management system, Bluetooth, and a pollen filter. The standard audio system puts out 160 watts through eight speakers and includes an AM/FM/CD/HD Radio receiver with iPod, USB and auxiliary inputs.
Two step-up trims are available on both S80 models: Premier Plus includes front and rear park assist and a built-in Homelink garage door opener, while Platinum adds a 12-speaker, 650-watt premium audio system and voice-controlled navigation system with a rear-view camera. Also available on all S80s are the Climate Package with heated steering wheel, windshield and front and rear seats, and a Technology Package that includes adaptive cruise control and lane-departure and collision warning systems. The T6 AWD model offers a Sport Chassis for a more sporting ride, while the Inscription Package adds fine leather and a wood steering wheel.
The biggest change to the 2015 Volvo S80 is under the hood of front-wheel-drive models with the addition of the Drive-E engine.
This 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 packs 240 horsepower, plus technology to raise fuel economy and lower emissions at the same time. An Eco mode shuts it off at stop lights, while a Sport mode improves throttle response. The new 8-speed automatic transmission is also part of the equation, with a quick-responding manual mode. The AWD T6 model continues with a 300-hp turbocharged 3.0-liter 6-cylinder. All-wheel drive offers superior grip on slippery surfaces, and the 6-speed automatic on the T6 can also be manually shifted. The T6 also has one spec you don't normally see on a luxury sedan: a towing capacity of 3,300 pounds.
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 (T5)
240 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm
258 lb-ft of torque @ 1,500-4,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 25/37 mpg
3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6 (T6)
300 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm
325 lb-ft of torque @ 2,100-4,200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/25 mpg
The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) on a base 2015 Volvo S80 T5 with the new Drive-E engine starts around $41,500, including the destination charge. The turbocharged, all-wheel-drive T6 version starts at about $45,000.
If you start checking all the options boxes, you can quickly load your S80 up to more than $56,000. That puts it higher than some tough competition, such as the Acura TL, Lexus ES, Lincoln MKZ and Buick LaCrosse. On the other hand, it's less than cars like the and under the BMW 5 Series, Audi A6 and Cadillac CTS. Be sure to check KBB.com's Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are actually paying for the Volvo S80. Over several years, the S80 is not expected to retain its value as well as the BMW 5 Series, Audi A6 or Acura TL.