Volvo’s largest sedan, available with either front-drive or all-wheel drive, is fast, smooth and luxurious. The S80 accelerates with authority and tracks straight as an arrow at high speeds. This sedan is at its best hurtling down the highway, taking advantage of its stable, comfortable platform.
In any form, the S80 handles winding roads well for a large luxury car. Inside is a sumptuous cabin with comfortable seats, sophisticated audio, and an available navigation system. The S80 is comparable in size to the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Cadillac CTS, and Lexus GS and is a good alternative.
For 2014, Volvo S80 gets a new look, most notable up front, led by a revised grille with larger iron mark. A redesigned lower front intake incorporates new LED daytime running lights at the ends. Bumpers are new, front and rear, and taillights now have LED graphics. New 17-inch Rex alloy wheels are standard on the base model. A new adaptive digital TFT display instrument cluster includes driver-selectable Elegance, Eco and Performance themes. The three-spoke, leather-trimmed steering wheels has decor inlays.
Premium Plus trim adds a rear park assist camera, quick-fold front passenger seat, and grocery bag holder. Platinum gains enhanced interior accent lighting. The Technology Package adds Cyclist Detection to its Pedestrian Detection, while the Climate Package adds a heated steering wheel and windshield.
In the T6 AWD, Advanced Quick Shift includes revised shift management software for quicker gear changes. The Inscription Package gets new Chestnut color upholstery. New stand-alone options include 19-inch Bor diamond-cut alloy wheels, with the Sport Chassis. The T6’s Climate Package gains heated front/rear seats. The Technology Package now has Adaptive Cruise Control with Queue Assist; Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake; Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection; Distance Alert; Driver Alert; Lane Departure Warning; Road Sign Information; and Active High Beam. The T6’s Inscription Package features Sovereign Hide full soft leather seating, ventilated front seats, and a leather-covered dashboard.
Two six-cylinder engines are available. The Volvo S80 3.2 comes with a 3.2-liter engine and front-wheel drive. Volvo has said it can sprint from 0 to 60 mph in a respectable 7.4 seconds, while the federal government gives an estimate of 19/28 mpg City/Highway.
The Volvo S80 T6 AWD comes with a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6 and all-wheel drive. Making with 300 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque, the AWD edition can reach 60 mph from a standstill in a very quick 6.3 seconds (6.0 when using Advanced Quick Shift). The S80 T6 is EPA-rated at 18/25 mpg City/Highway.
Optional adaptive cruise control allows the driver to maintain set following distances with the cars ahead: the system will accelerate or slow the car as needed. The S80 is loaded with safety equipment, from its protective structure to its state-of-the-art active and passive safety features.
All S80 sedans contain Sensus, a menu-driven system to control audio, navigation, and other functions. The Volvo difference is that all Sensus functions can be operated via buttons built into the steering wheel or located below the seven-inch color screen. Volvo’s intent is to minimize distraction from the road, while still allowing drivers to explore the high-tech features of the car and personalize them to suit their needs. A new Sensus Connected Touch accessory for 2014 permits connection to the Internet.
Volvo S80 models also offer standard City Safety, a system that uses a laser beam to monitor closing speed with cars ahead and, if the driver fails to respond, automatically brakes to lessen the severity of a collision.
The Volvo S80 is a handsome sedan with distinctive styling; though it’s getting a bit long in the tooth, especially when viewed next to Volvo’s smaller, but more recently restyled, S60. The two models do maintain a family resemblance, especially in their semi-fastback profiles. The S80 is comparable in size to the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Cadillac CTS, and Lexus GS.
Substantial freshening for 2014 concentrates on the front end, starting with a new grille design that incorporates a larger Volvo iron mark. Below the grille, a redesigned lower front intake stretches wide, to enhance the car’s horizontal stance. New LED daytime running lights sit at the ends of the intake. At the rear, new taillights use LED graphics.
The wheels on the 2014 Volvo S80 3.2 are a 17-inch design Volvo calls Rex. The 2014 T6 AWD comes with an 18-inch wheel Volvo calls Magni: nine curved spokes seem to flow tangentially from the hub and expand as they reach the rim, a dizzying illusion of motion even when they’re standing still. The S80’s premium wheel is a Bor diamond-cut design with 235/40R19 tires, coupled with the Sport chassis.
The Personal Car Communicator is an electronic key fob that can lock or unlock the S80 from distances up to 110 yards, and can tell you what state the locks are in. It can activate the alarm, and can sense the presence of a human heartbeat inside the car.
The sumptuous surroundings in the S80 are amplified by the wonderfully comfortable seats, as well as the generous front and rear legroom that helps to put the S80 squarely in the luxury class. Seats are available plain, heated, or heated and cooled. Volvo also offers a nice selection of leather colors, including two-tone combinations, some bold, others oh-so-subtle.
The upper instrument panel accommodates the standard-equipment Sensus system, which manages the audio unit, navigation system (if so equipped) and other functions, while displaying information on a seven-inch high-definition color monitor. While Volvo’s old navigation systems popped up out of the top of the dashboard, Sensus is housed in a fixed center binnacle that stands higher than the rest of the dash panel. Volvo says the screen is positioned high to make it easier for drivers to keep their eyes on the road.
Pressing the My Car button in the center stack offers access to a range of settings for the City Safety, Collision Warning, Pedestrian/Cyclist Detection, Driver Alert System, and Active Cruise Control functions. It also covers lighting, door mirrors, climate, central locking and audio. In fact, all Sensus functions can be operated via buttons on the steering wheel or located just below the screen.
The remaining switches, controls and instruments follow traditional Volvo themes, but everything is contemporary. Volvo’s watch-dial instrument faces are standard on all S80 models.
The freestanding center stack that connects the dashboard to the console is a key design element, with silk metal framing the standard Classic Walnut Wood inlays. Ambient lighting from behind the console emphasizes the free-floating illusion.
The standard 160-watt, eight-speaker sound system will play MP3 files and has an auxiliary input for iPods and other players. Satellite Radio is standard. A USB port is provided. Standard on the flagship T6 AWD Platinum is a five-channel, 12-speaker Dolby Pro Logic II surround-sound system developed with Dynaudio.
The Volvo S80 is a rock-solid European-made sedan: a wonderful steed for covering large swaths of highway quickly and comfortably. At cruising speeds, we found the cabin quiet, with just a bit of wind noise and a touch of tire noise coming in.
The Volvo chassis system underneath the S80 is an evolution of the earlier Four-C chassis, with adaptive shock absorbers changing second by second according to inputs from the road and the car itself. The system offers three different settings: Comfort, Sport, and Advanced. The Dynamic chassis promises crisper response via shorter and firmer springs, modified shock damping, firmer anti-roll bars and stiffer subframe bushings.
Fuel economy for the base S80 with the 3.2-liter six-cylinder engine with front-wheel drive is an EPA-rated 19/28 mpg City/Highway. The turbocharged T6 is rated 18/25 miles per gallon. Maximum torque with the turbo is on tap from just 2100 rpm and remains available all the way up the rev range.
We experienced the adaptive cruise control system, which worked as advertised to maintain our preset distance to the car ahead. We also heard and saw the collision warning system in action, but preferred to turn it off when on crowded two-lane roads. Brakes are powerful, quick-acting and positive when used hard from high speeds.
The Volvo S80 is a good choice among luxury sedans, presenting an understated grace. It comes with Volvo’s well-deserved reputation for safety engineering, so it’s also a very safe car. On the road, an S80 is quick and powerful, surefooted and solid. The all-wheel-drive system that comes standard on the T6 enhances safety in slippery conditions.
NewCarTestDrive.com correspondent Jim McCraw reported from Sweden, with Mitch McCullough reporting from Charlottesville, Virginia.