Overview & Reviews
Among luxury sedans, the Volvo S80 has always been something of an alternative choice. Through two generations, Volvo's largest sedan has spurned outright luxury and serious performance in favor of cutting-edge safety features and in-cabin technology. And, in a class dominated by rear-drive sedans, Volvo continues to tout the virtues of front-wheel drive, while offering all-wheel drive as an option.
There are plenty of premium-brand sedans that feel more upscale than the S80. There are just as many that surpass its balance and grip on a winding back road. Yet the Volvo S80 is certainly one of the safest cars money can buy. It also boasts some of the industry's most supportive seats.
For luxury sedan buyers whose tastes diverge from the mainstream, the Volvo S80 is an interesting car to consider. And with a price tag that undercuts many European and Japanese-brand competitors, it can be a sensible option as well.
Current Volvo S80
Despite its appearance, the Volvo S80 is only midsize in dimensions, which means it can seat four adults comfortably but doesn't have yards of legroom to spare. It's about the same size as the Acura RL, the competitor it most closely resembles in personality and performance.
There are two versions of the S80. The entry-level S80 3.2 is front-wheel drive and is adequately motivated by a 3.2-liter inline six-cylinder with 240 horsepower. Buyers seeking performance more befitting a luxury car will undoubtedly prefer the S80 T6, which uses a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 good for 300 hp. It uses the same six-speed transmission as the base S80, but power goes to all four wheels via a standard all-wheel-drive system.
Both Volvo S80s come standard with the usual luxury amenities, including leather upholstery, wood trim, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, power-adjustable seats and dual-zone automatic climate control. Major options include front/rear park assist, heated front and rear seats, an excellent 12-speaker sound system, a navigation system, a rearview camera, a dual-screen rear entertainment system and (T6 only) a sport-tuned suspension.
On the safety front, the blind spot warning system and collision warning system (bundled with adaptive cruise control) are worthwhile options for long-distance commuters to consider. The City Safety system -- which can detect an impending low-speed collision and then automatically apply the brakes to avoid or minimize it -- is standard. Although the Personal Car Communicator (PCC) is basically a glorified security system, its transponder has a heartbeat sensor to let you know if someone is still in your Volvo after the alarm has been activated.
Useful features like these are the main reasons someone might want to buy a Volvo S80. The utter comfort of the front seats and a reasonable price tag are additional points in the car's favor. In other respects, though, the Volvo S80 comes across as tepid compared to its luxury sedan rivals. It rides comfortably, handles predictably and stops short, but otherwise does little to engage its driver. And although its cabin has all the expected amenities, it lacks the unrestrained elegance and exacting quality of competitors' interiors.
Used Volvo S80 Models
The current S80 represents the second-generation Volvo S80 that debuted for the 2007 model year. Although it didn't change drastically in size or appearance compared to the first-generation model, this newer S80 moved to an all-new platform and adopted a new pair of engines -- the base inline-6 and the V8 -- not to mention an impressive array of safety technology. At the time, the available 4.4-liter V8 produced 311 hp.
The following year saw the addition of the turbocharged inline-6, then rated at 281 hp. Strangely for a luxury sedan, the S80 didn't offer standard Bluetooth or xenon headlamps prior to '09. A mild face-lift with a revised grille (sporting a much larger Volvo logo) and chrome accents took place for '10, which would also be the last year for the V8 model. For 2011, the remaining two versions got slight power increases (the base version from 235 to 240 hp and the T6 from 281 to 300 hp). Not much has changed since, apart from those earlier S80s lacking the current version's newly standard Bluetooth audio, multifunction color monitor and City Safety system.
Driving enthusiasts should also know that the S80 V8 could originally be equipped with a Sport package, which provided 18-inch wheels, Volvo's sport-tuned "Four-C" adaptive suspension, speed-sensitive power steering and ventilated front seats. These items became stand-alone options on the V8 for 2010, while the sport suspension could be had on the T6 via a new Dynamic package.
Prior to this, Volvo sold the first-generation S80 from 1999-2006. This car was similar in dimensions and focus to today's S80. It heralded a new styling direction for Volvo's sedans, as its curvy body lines were a dramatic break from the company's boxy designs of the '80s and '90s. Even today, the original S80 has a Scandinavian coolness that keeps it from looking dated. However, significant concerns about reliability have driven down its resale value -- good for bargain hunters, but not so much for owners.
Volvo offered the S80 with three different engines, two of them turbocharged. The most interesting of these was the T6, a twin-turbo inline six-cylinder rated for 268 horsepower. (Initially, the T6 displaced 2.8 liters; in 2002, Volvo enlarged it to 2.9 liters with no change in output.) Volvo claimed a 6.8-second 0-60 time for the S80 T6, but even with a standard four-speed automatic transmission driving the front wheels, the car felt quicker than that. Serious torque steer was the major knock against the T6 model. Volvo discontinued it after 2005.
From 1999-2004, a naturally aspirated 2.9-liter inline six-cylinder good for 197 hp motivated the base Volvo S80. It, too, was available only with a four-speed automatic and only with front-wheel drive. In 2004, a turbocharged 2.5-liter inline five-cylinder known as the 2.5T joined the lineup. Rated for 208 hp, it offered significantly more torque than the 2.9-liter, while engaging the services of a more sophisticated five-speed automatic transmission. The 2.5T was the only engine that could be had with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. And in '06, it was the only engine you could get on the S80.
Acceleration was modest with either of the lesser engines, but otherwise the driving experience was agreeable in the S80, with a comfortable ride and sure-footed handling. Those seeking added control should look for an S80 with the Four-C adaptive suspension, which was offered as an option on 2004 and later models. Dual-zone automatic climate control, a CD audio system and a telescoping steering wheel were standard throughout the run. Options ran the gamut in the first-gen Volvo S80. In addition to expected items like a navigation system (DVD-based from '02 onward), a high-quality Dolby sound system and xenon headlamps ('02 and up), Volvo offered a rear-seat refrigerator, a dual-screen entertainment system and even a fax machine ('01 only) in certain high-line T6 models, which were called Executive, Elite or Premier depending on the model year.
Still, the best reason to consider buying a used Volvo S80 is its high level of safety. It earned five stars in all government-administered front- and side-impact crash tests, as well as a "Good" rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Additionally, a full menu of side airbags and dynamic front head restraints were standard throughout its eight-year run. The one feature to pay attention to is stability control: It was standard on T6 models but optional on all other S80s.
User Reviews:Showing 1 through 10 of 633.00
Very disappointed - 2004 Volvo S80
By Ken - December 29 - 11:03 am
After extensive research, we picked the 2004 Volvo S80 cause it seemed reliable and comfortable for my height - 6'6". Only the 2004-2006 models could I fit in. Since we bought the car from dealership, we've had it in for service 5 times and after the last service where they couldnt fix the acclerating problem when braking, we've decided to cut our losses and find another vehicle. Other problems included seat belt squeaking, windshield wiper timer, headlight adjustment, brakes, and more. Disappointed the car turned out to be lemon.
Nice car but has a very rough ride - 2008 Volvo S80
By Dave M - December 23 - 10:23 pm
My S80 is a well built car, but after owning it a couple of weeks, I'm extremely disappointed in how rough the ride is. I called the dealership to see if they had could order shocks that aren't as stiff but they tell me that none are available. Their recommendation was to decrease the tire pressure; not much of response if you ask me. Next time, I'll be sure to test drive a car on something other than the dealer's recommended route.
High Maintenance - 1999 Volvo S80
By William North - December 15 - 6:46 am
Volvo T6 is generally a great car, but... The maintenance required, frequency of failures, and quality (and high price) of parts means I would never have bought it "if I had known." Examples: replaced the computer chip regulating gas flow 3 times (at $600 parts plus labor), replaced the fuel pump twice, same prices.
Have a Bad Back, Finally Comfortable - 2008 Volvo S80
By Randy - December 5 - 6:43 pm
The Volvo S80 might be the most comfortable and supportive car on the market. My wife has had a bad back all of her life and many surgeries. This car has seats designed by chiropractors and orthopedic specialists and it beats all of the luxury cars out their for comfort, 3-level heated seats front and rear with power adjustments that make it perfect for any sized person. Combine that with whiplash protective seats, the best safety features available and you have a comfortable car that if in a collision will also protect you. I do a lot of research when buying a car and this is the car for the issues I have identified. Combine the price, build quality, engineering, comfort wow!
What a car!!!! - 2000 Volvo S80
By Nicolena - November 28 - 10:00 am
Love it, Love it, Love It!
Wake Up People! - 1999 Volvo S80
By love2golf - November 28 - 10:00 am
I've read through so many of the comments here an I really have something to say! First of all, the S80 T6 is just unbeatable for the price. It tears apart everything in it class, not to mention.... out runs them all too. So many people here complaining and whining about problems. GET YOUR SOFTWARE UPGRADED! It's free from Volvo... what more do you want. It fixes every know issue with this car. Without a multiplex system, which this car has, it wouldn't be possible. After the upgrade it will be more reliable for life over any car out there. Do some research people instead of whining so much. You have an amazing vehicle. I love mine!
Never more comfortable - 2010 Volvo S80
By Anonymous - November 19 - 2:00 am
Bought the S80 V8 AWD with the executive package. Never have I been happier with a car, and I've had 25 in the past 26 years. The ride rivals my old Mercedes 420SEL. Massaging seats a nice bonus. Awesome power, good enough handling, and hours of comfort on 5 hour drives every weekend. I have a bad back, and BMW/Audi/Mercedes are too stiff. Cadillac/Lincoln are to "glitzy". Love the understated beauty of the car. Most comfortable seats in the world.
Didn't know how bad - 2000 Volvo S80
By murfslaw - November 16 - 11:40 am
This car has been a maintanence nightmare. A lot of warranty repairs to suspension and drive train. 12K mile interval between brake jobs. My cost of maintainence has been $187/month since I bought the car...not including gas.
Great Car - 1999 Volvo S80
By Beck - November 2 - 2:00 am
Purchased as recertified in 10/01. Awesome car! I guess any problems with this model were fixed by previous owner. Sounds like the first buyers got screwed big time. Anyway, 13k miles later (now at 38k), not a problem since day 1. Incredible comfort, reliability, acceleration is something else. To sum it up, this car is power and luxury. Anyone driving with me is stunned by the performance and comfort. I hope I never need to know how it is safety wise.
My best car ever! - 1999 Volvo S80
By autotech - November 2 - 2:00 am
I've owned several vehicles in the past and no vehicle has ever been anywhere near as enjoyable as my 1999 Volvo S80 T6. I have absolutely no complaints with this car at all. The car did have one repair right after I bought it and of course it was covered by the warranty. They also updated the cars computer software free of charge. The software upgrade takes care of just about every issue with this car. I am nearing the 80,000 mile mark on my S80 and love the car more and more. Just try an S80 T6. You'll be happily amazed!