2007 Volvo S80 Road Test Review
Judging this car strictly by its cover, its easy to believe that theres not a lot new about the redesigned 2007 Volvo S80 luxury sedan.
The styling update is so conservative that a side-by-side comparison is necessary to differentiate the new from the old.
But, as they say, looks can be deceiving. This is a Volvo with attitude.
Thats because its available with a 4.4-liter powerplant that produces 311 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque. Supplied by Yamaha and first used in the heavy Volvo XC90 sport-utility vehicle, it can push you back in your seat as you rip from a stop to 60 mph in less than 6 seconds. Along the way, youll even detect a snappy snarl instead of the soulful sigh that has been more typical of Volvos five-cylinder engines.\
It handles fairly well, too, thanks to an adjustable independent suspension. Press a button on the instrument panel and you change the settings from Comfort to Sport or even to Advanced. Then, grab the handle of the six-speed automatic transmission, slip it into manual mode and take over the shifting chores.
When the back roads beckon, youll also appreciate the responsive, speed-sensitive rack-and-pinion steering, the meaty antilock disc brakes and the all-wheel-drive system that is standard on V-8 models.
But, just because this Volvo can play a little harder than many of the other relatives in its garage, dont get the idea that the Swedish subsidiary of Ford is straying away from its conservative, safety-based heritage.
At heart, this Volvo, like all the others, is a solidly built automobile that likes nothing more than to protect its occupants. It is also happier coolly cruising the interstates than it is working up a sweat on some challenging mountain switchbacks.
Thats because nothing has really altered its basic DNA. Like its predecessor, it is a front-heavy, front-wheel-drive sedan that gets an assist from the rear wheels mostly to help out in bad weather.
The stiffer suspension settings can firm up the ride and straighten up some curves, but they wont put the Volvo in the winners circle at the local gymkhana. To me, the mid-range sport setting offered the best ride/handling compromise, so thats where I left it.
And, knowing more than a few Volvo fans in my time, Im willing to wager that a large percentage of buyers actually will choose an S80 powered by Volvos standard engine, an all-new, 3.2-liter, 235-horsepower, in-line six-cylinder powerplant.
This sedan does not come with all-wheel drive, but it does come with two of its own special features. At a base price of $38,705, it is about $9,000 cheaper than the S80 V-8. And with an EPA rating of 19 miles per gallon of gasoline in the city and 28 on the highway, it will still be on the move when the V-8 (17 mpg city/25 highway) runs out of fuel.
So, lets take a look at what makes all the Volvophiles really care about - passenger protection.
Dual-stage airbags for front-seat passengers, stability control, traction control, collapsible steering wheel and pedals, side impact beams, inflatable side curtains, tire pressure monitors, whiplash protection they are all standard equipment on every new S80. And, theres more.
The front body structure has been divided into zones and uses four different grades of steel to better absorb impacts and channel collision forces away from the passengers.
New side airbags have two chambers -one for the hips, one for the chest to enhance the effectiveness of Volvos side-impact protection system.
Rear impact protection has been enhanced to further reduce whiplash injuries.
The hood has been raised and the front of the car contains energy absorbing features, both to lessen the severity of injuries should the Volvo strike a pedestrian.
And then there are the extra-cost safety features.
A blind-side warning system ($595) uses cameras to detect when another vehicle is entering the drivers blind spot on either side of the car and then triggers a warning light that is flashed onto the inside of the appropriate front pillar.
Bi-xenon headlights (part of a $2,495 package) will swivel 15 degrees to help the driver see around curves at night and they have a self-adjusting feature to avoid blinding oncoming drivers.
Adaptive cruise control ($1,495) slows the Volvo to the speed of the vehicle in front, then brings the S80 back to the set cruising speed when the road ahead is clear.
To improve personal security, a pocket-size Personal Communicator ($495) can communicate with the car to tell the approaching driver if it is locked or unlocked, if the alarm is activated and if someone is in the car.
Of course, the Volvo flagship is not short on creature comforts, either. The S80 has sumptuous leather upholstery, real wood trim, room for up to five and a long list of available convenience features that approach or match the level of luxury in the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, BMW 5 Series and Audi A6 sedans the Volvo is meant to compete with.
Base price of the S80 V-8 is $47,350. But if you want Volvos newfound power, it will probably carry a price that is more like the one on the car I drove. The bottom line was $56,075.
Yes, its a Volvo like all the others safe, solid and substantial. But now you can add another s snappy.