Expert review written by the Kelley Blue Book vehicle review editorial team.
You'll Like The 2009 Volvo S80 If...
Buyers who believe that functional luxury and state-of-the-art safety systems outweigh the inherent status appeal of a traditional prestige nameplate can expect to find their transportation and aspirational needs well met by any member of the S80 lineup.
You May Not Like The 2009 Volvo S80 If...
Those seeking a sedan with overtly sporty handling characteristics would be better served by a BMW 5 Series or Infiniti G35. If maximum trunk space is a priority, you’d be happier with an Audi A6 or Mercedes-Benz E-Class.
The exclusive Executive Package is made standard on the V8 and a lesser-contented version is made optional on the T6 AWD. The package includes ventilated front seats with massage, power front passenger seat adjuster accessible from the rear seat and heated front and rear seats. An optional rear refrigerator can also be had, complete with two crystal glasses.
The S80’s well-appointed cabin reflects a Swedish-modern mentality, with limited flash but lots of function. All versions match leather, wood and brushed aluminum trim with legible analog gauges, well-placed controls and Volvo’s elegant slim-line center stack that houses the audio and climate control switchgear. The S80’s somewhat firm front seats feature eight-way power assist and "ortho-posture" design to provide long-range comfort, while its 60/40 split-folding rear bench has sufficient head and leg room to take on a pair of average-sized adults or a trio of kids, or it can be dropped to reveal a large pass-through opening that significantly increases the cargo-carrying capability over that of the somewhat modestly-scaled 14.9 cubic-foot trunk.
Classically understated but with detail refinements that reflect a new interpretation of traditional Volvo styling cues, the S80 has a lean, well-tailored appearance. Its subtle wedge shape is effectively reinforced by a sweeping roofline and prominent shoulder ridges. At the rear, the S80’s short deck is framed by large taillamps and accented with chrome exhaust tips. The standard tire sizes are 225/50R17 on the S80 3.2 and T6 AWD and 245/45R17 on the V8 AWD, with alloy wheels on all models. Both six-cylinder models also can be ordered with the same sizes of run-flat alternatives, and all three S80s offer optional 245/40 tires on 18-inch alloy wheels as an option.
All three S80 variants have a solid and confident handling character, although the emphasis leans more towards ride comfort than sheer agility. The driver-selectable Dynamic Stability and Traction Control (DTSC) permits modestly energetic cornering before making its presence known and the all-wheel-drive package on the T6 AWD and V8 AWD does an impressive job of instantly rebalancing the front-to-rear power equation as traction conditions change. While the S80’s naturally-aspirated in-line six-cylinder engine makes the 3.2 fully capable of dealing with daily commutes and cross-country cruises, the engines in both the T6 AWD and V8 AWD make them demonstrably quicker, more responsive and far more engaging.
The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) on the 2009 Volvo S80 lineup opens at just over $40,000 for the 3.2, nudges $43,000 for the T6 AWD and closes in on $52,000 for the V8 AWD. That puts them in a fairly attractive position, particularly when benchmarked against their prime German competitors from Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz. However, adding the full range of option packages, Dynaudio premium sound system, navigation and the rear-seat DVD entertainment can bump any of those baseline numbers by another $10,000 or more. Given its enthusiastic performance and impressive list of features, the new T6 AWD delivers the most up-front bang for the buck. As a group, the S80s stay on par with the anticipated residuals of their various German sedan rivals but do fall somewhat behind long-term expectations for the Acura TL, Cadillac CTS, and Lexus GS.
Highlighting the S80’s standard features are numerous power assists, including eight-way adjustment for the front seats, a tilt and telescopic steering column, dual-zone climate control, Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity, rain sensing wipers, 160-watt/eight-speaker AM/FM/CD audio system with an auxiliary input and MP3 capability, power sunroof, Volvo’s anti-whiplash (WHIPS) and side-impact protection (SIPS) systems, Dynamic Traction and Stability Control, anti-lock disc brakes with Electronic Brake Assistance and front, front-side and side-curtain airbags. The T6 and V8 models include all-wheel drive while the top-line S80 also gets the Interior Air Quality System (IAQS) and the Personal Car Communicator (PCC) with keyless starting that notifies you if the vehicle has been tampered with or if an intruder is inside.
The S80’s options start with three key groups: The Climate Package (heated front and rear seats, heated washer nozzles and high-pressure headlamp washers), the Technology Package (navigation, active bi-xenon headlamps, Dynaudio 650-watt/12-speaker Dolby Surround Sound system with six-disc CD changer, SIRIUS Satellite Radio and rear-seat audio controls sound system and speed sensitive steering), and the Collision Avoidance Package (Adaptive Cruise Control with Distance and Driver Alerts, Lane Departure Warning and Collision Warning with Auto Brake). Single options include HDD-based navigation, dual-screen rear-seat DVD entertainment system, front and rear Park Assist, Blind Spot Information System and a rear seat refrigerator.
3.0-liter Turbocharged EnginePairing impressive output with a fat, flat torque curve, Volvo’s turbocharged six is a brilliant piece of work that literally rivals the V8 for enthusiastic real-world performance and establishes the new T6 AWD as the most desirable member of the S80 line. Executive PackageFinding amenities that transform a luxury sedan into a mini-limo is uncommon in this price range, as is the optional rear seat refrigerator.
Under the Hood
The S80 engine lineup includes three distinct choices for 2009. Anchoring the mix, the front-drive 3.2 model has a naturally-aspirated 3.2-liter in-line six-cylinder that makes 235 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque. The S80 T6 AWD uses a 3.0-liter turbocharged variation that develops 281 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, while the S80 V8 AWD’s 4.4-liter packs a 311-horsepower punch and makes 325 pound-feet of torque. All three engines are backed by an electronically controlled six-speed Geartronic automatic transmission with a manual-style Sportshift mode. Although the 3.2 marginally bests the T6 AWD and V8 AWD in formal EPA mileage ratings and offers performance that is more than capable of merely keeping up with traffic, it cannot match the two more powerful models in acceleration.3.2-liter in-line 6235 horsepower @ 6200 rpm236 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3200 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/253.0-liter in-line 6 Turbocharged281 horsepower @ 5600 rpm295 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1500-4800 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/23 (AWD)4.4-liter V8311 horsepower @ 5950 rpm325 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3950 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/22 (AWD)
Despite relatively modest overall production numbers, Volvo has mounted an ambitious program to raise its profile among the world’s premium automakers. The S80 typifies the scope of that ongoing effort. The flagship of Volvo’s sedan fleet embodies a Swedish approach to style, creature comforts and leading-edge safety features while offering multiple powertrain configurations and solid value pricing. The 2009 lineup includes the front-drive S80 3.2, the turbocharged S80 T6 AWD and the S80 V8 AWD. While the Audi A6, BMW 5 Series, Mercedes-Benz E-Class and Saab 9-5 are the S80’s closest rivals, potential buyers also might consider up-line mid-size sedans like the Acura TL, Lincoln MKS and Lexus GS series.