Review: 2007 Volvo S80
This 2007 review is representative of model years 2007 to 2013.
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
The new Volvo S80 not only is nicely redesigned, it's also the first Volvo auto model offered with a V8.
Volvos have had engines with four, six and five cylinders, with the five-cylnder unit seeming peculiar to many Americans. "Where's the sixth cylinder?" they've wondered.
But never mind. People who bought Volvos in this country readily accepted the fact that Volvo went its own way, building cars that for more than a decade were slow and boxy, with marginal 4-cylinder power.
However, Volvos also were practical and generally regarded as the safest autos, although accident studies in Sweden showed that rugged Saabs were just as safe, if not safer, than Volvos.
Volvos were sold to generally upscale Americans who just wanted an auto that would take them safely to destinations. They felt that such things as styling and power were fine for other cars, but not needed for Volvos. As with some Volkswagen Beetle owners, there were those who regarded Volvos as "anti-cars"—just necessary if you didn't want to take public transportation.
As competitors began adding safety features to cars, Volvo started making sexier models in the 1990s with turbocharged 6-cylinder engines. (We're not forgetting the 1980s Volvo turbocharged 4-cylinder models, but only Volvo fans regard them as anything special.)
V8 Finally Arrives
The 2006 Volvo S80 had a turbocharged inline 5-cylinder with 208 horsepower. It provided lively performance, but stiffer competition called for a Volvo auto with a V8.
Ford Motor Cop. owns Volvo and Jaguar, so Volvo first tried installing a Jaguar V8 in the redesigned 2007 S80. But the engine didn't fit, so Volvo used its smooth V8 from the XC90 in the new S80.
No Safety Compromises
The 4.4-liter V8 produces 311 horsepower. Acceleration is strong in town and in fast freeway/highway traffic, and Volvo says it's among the lowest-emission V8s.
The V8 delivers an estimated 17 mpg in the city and 25 on highways, while the six-cylinder provides 19 and 28. Volvo recommends premium gasoline for both.
Although sleeker, the new S80 looks much the same as its predecessor and is easily recognizable as a Volvo. Dimensions aren't changed much, inside or out.
Not a Sports Sedan
The S80 is priced at $38,705 with the 6-cylinder engine and at $47,350 with the V8. That major price difference may make some wonder if the V8 version is worth the extra money, even though it has all-wheel drive. After all, the 6-cylinder version is loaded with comfort, convenience, safety and luxury items, including leather upholstery and real wood inlay trim. However, the S80 V8 price undercuts the prices of rivals with V8s.
Continuity is fine for an automaker, but one wonders why Volvo didn't give the significantly changed S80 a new model designation, such as "S90."
Advanced Safety Items
The system uses cameras near the outside mirrors to activate small warning lights on the inside windshield posts when vehicles that might be in a driver's blind spot are detected. I didn't find the lights distracting, but they can be turned off. (I first saw a BLIS system in an experimental safety car at Ford headquarters several years ago.)
Another unique safety feature is a world-first "heartbeat sensor." It's a pocket-sized control module that warns within about 300 feet of the car if an unwanted person is hiding in the S80 and is part of a $495 Personal Car Communicator, which includes keyless access and starting.
Other noteworthy optional safety features are $995 run-flat tires with a tire-pressure-monitoring system and $1,495 Adaptive Cruise Control, which automatically keeps the S80 a safe distance from vehicles ahead.
Standard safety features include front- and side-curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes and traction/anti-skid control.
The quiet interior looks upscale in a subdued manner. The supportive front seats are comfortable, and the back seat is roomy, with a large fold-down armrest containing dual cupholders.
The large trunk has a low, wide opening and a lid that moves well up and out of the way. Rear seatbacks flip forward to enlarge the cargo area, but don't sit completely flat.
The S80 is a major improvement over its predecessor and should be a hit, as long as buyers of the V8 version don't expect it to be a substitute BMW sports sedan. However, it's doubtful that many folks shopping for a Volvo would want a car that resembled anything else.