Editor’s note: If you’re looking for information on a newer Volvo S80, we’ve published an updated review: 2016 Volvo S80 Review.
The 2015 Volvo S80 is Volvo’s flagship sedan, yet it keeps a low profile. Although the S80 is attractive, it doesn’t scream "look at me!" like some flashier rivals. If you spend time with it, you’ll likely come to appreciate its smooth, refined character. For folks who just want a car that quietly does most things well, the S80 could hit the spot.
Volvo has adopted an aggressive strategy with the S80, offering its top-of-the-line sedan at prices you’d expect to pay for a new BMW 3 Series. Notably, the S80 also faces internal competition from Volvo’s own S60 sport-luxury sedan, a newer model that has been met with more acclaim. So what value does the S80 add? For one thing, it has a bigger back seat. It also conveys more elegance in that understated Swedish way. There’s maturity to the S80 that sets it apart from certain offerings at the same price.
On the other hand, the S80 is getting on in years, and its performance and technology are correspondingly behind the curve. This isn’t a car that’s going to win a comparison test against its rivals, but the S80 deserves more consideration than it gets. If you find its looks appealing, take one for a spin; you may be pleasantly surprised by Volvo’s flagship that isn’t priced like one. See the 2015 Volvo S80 models for sale near you
What’s New for 2015?
The 2015 S80 receives a frugal turbocharged 4-cylinder base engine that has replaced the relatively thirsty 3.2-liter 6-cylinder engine. A new 8-speed automatic transmission is included with the turbo 4-cylinder. Otherwise, the aging S80 sees only modest equipment changes, including a revised trim-level structure.
What We Like
Surprisingly affordable; great 4-cylinder fuel economy; strong optional 6-cylinder engine; high-quality cabin; stellar seat comfort
What We Don’t
Generally feels outclassed by newer rivals
The S80 T6 AWD (all-wheel drive) model steps up to a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline 6-cylinder engine that’s rated at 300 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque. All-wheel drive is standard, and the transmission is a 6-speed automatic.
The Environmental Protection Agency rates the T5 Drive-E at an impressive 25 miles per gallon in the city and 37 mpg on the highway, while the T6 gets 19 mpg city/28 mpg hwy.
Standard Features & Options
The 2015 Volvo S80 is offered in either T5 Drive-E or T6 AWD specification, each of which comes in Premier and Platinum trim levels.
Note that the following information applies specifically to 2015.5 models. If you find an early-production S80 that’s simply identified as a 2015, it will lack a few items described below, including the standard Sensus Connect system (with improved screen resolution) and the Harman Kardon audio system. These early models also offered an additional Premier Plus trim level that was discontinued for 2015.5 models.
Standard features on the base T5 Drive-E Premier ($42,375) include 17-inch wheels, leather upholstery, power front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, an 8-speaker audio system with USB/Bluetooth connectivity and the Sensus Connect infotainment system with a 7-in display screen, voice controls, a navigation system and mobile-app integration.
The T5 Drive-E Platinum ($46,575) adds active bi-xenon headlights, adaptive cruise control, extra safety features (see the safety section below), front and rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, keyless entry/ignition, a quick-fold front passenger seat, a grocery-bag holder in the trunk and a Harman Kardon audio system.
The T6 AWD Premier ($45,775) and T6 AWD Platinum ($49,975) follow the same general equipment strategy as their T5 counterparts. They add a sunroof (optional on the T5) and 18-in wheels and can be equipped with a sport chassis that includes special 19-in wheels.
Some of the Platinum’s standard features are optional on Premier trim via bundled packages. Optional on all S80s is a Climate package that includes a heated windshield, heated windshield-washer nozzles, a heated steering wheel, heated front and rear seats, and an interior air-quality system. Also offered is a fancy Inscription appearance package with upscale interior touches such as upgraded leather upholstery, a leather-covered dashboard and softer leather seats with ventilation.
Trunk capacity is 14.9 cu ft., which is about average for a luxury sedan of this size.
Volvo is famous for its safety, so it’s fitting that the S80 is a safety superstar. It has standard stability control, six airbags and an extensive suite of computer-driven safety features that are standard on Platinum and optional on Premier (via the Technology package). These high-tech features include lane-departure warning, a driver-drowsiness monitor, active high beams and a collision/pedestrian-avoidance system that can bring the car to a full stop if an impact is deemed imminent.
The government hasn’t crash-tested an S80 using its current methodology, but the independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the S80 its top rating of Good in every crash-test category, not surprisingly.
Behind the Wheel
The S80’s interior is understated and classy. It has quality materials all around, a sleek center panel with sensible controls (including Volvo’s unique humanoid diagram for airflow control) and a generally luxurious vibe. The thin-film-transistor instrument cluster includes driver-selectable Elegance, Eco and Performance themes for a custom feel. The front seats are wonderful, providing drive-all-day comfort to a degree that few others can match. While the back seat isn’t huge like those of other flagship sedans, there’s considerably more rear passenger space than in the S60 and its rivals.
Under the hood, the 2.0-liter turbo 4-cylinder engine provides reasonably spirited acceleration, but the fuel economy is the real story. If you want performance that’s more befitting of a flagship, you’ll want the T6’s twin-turbo 3.0-liter inline 6-cylinder engine, which delivers authoritative power on demand.
On the road, the S80 has a nose for the fast lane, hunkering down at high speeds the way a good European luxury sedan should. Otherwise, it drives like a big luxury sedan, which means it’s well isolated from the elements but not particularly engaging. If you’re looking for a comfortable commuter with room for four adults, you could do much worse than the S80; just don’t expect much in the way of driver involvement. This Volvo is a throwback to the days when luxury meant soft, smooth and straight ahead, and we can see the appeal in that.
Other Cars to Consider
2015 BMW 3 Series — The S80’s pricing is so moderate that the 5 Series is generally too expensive to compare, so if you’re interested in a BMW, see if you find the 3 Series suitably sized. It certainly spanks the S80 in performance, fuel economy and tech, but what about styling and quality? Those are tough ones.
2015 Cadillac CTS — The CTS is a lot like the S80. It’s the brand’s de facto flagship because there’s nothing above it. Expect engaging performance but a firmer ride.
2015 Infiniti Q50 — The Q can’t touch the Volvo for stateliness, but it adds a healthy dose of sportiness, courtesy of its rowdy V6 and its 370Z-derived platform. If the S80 puts you to sleep, the Q50 is guaranteed to snap you out of it.
Used Mercedes-Benz S-Class — Believe it or not, you can find a low-mileage, previous-generation S550 with a certified pre-owned warranty for the price of a brand-new S80 T6 Platinum. We’d be pretty tempted by the S550’s prestige and character, not to mention its 382-hp V8.
The Platinum trim level offers a lot of value for a modest premium. It’s worth the stretch. Find a Volvo S80 for sale