Although the 2016 Volvo S80 is attractive, it doesn’t call much attention to itself, unlike some flashier rivals. This is the company’s flagship sedan (until the S90 comes along in 2017), but it keeps a low profile. To spend time with it, though, is to discover its subtle and refined character. For those who want a car that does most things well but does them quietly, the S80 could be ideal.
Volvo has adopted an aggressive strategy with the S80, offering it at prices in line with a new BMW 3 Series. The S80 also faces competition from Volvo’s own S60 sport-luxury sedan, a fresher model that has met with greater acclaim.
But there’s a maturity to the S80 that sets it apart from other products at the same price. It conveys elegance in an understated way, and it has a bigger back seat. On the other hand, the sedan is getting on in years, with performance and technology that are correspondingly behind the curve.
While the S80 won’t win a comparison test against its competition, it deserves more consideration than it usually receives. You may be pleasantly surprised by this flagship that isn’t priced like one.
What’s New for 2016?
Heated front seats join the inventory of standard equipment, and the Platinum trim level now has a blind spot monitoring system as standard. New options include a wood-trimmed steering wheel and a new design of 19-inch alloy wheels accompanying an optional sport suspension. The T6 with all-wheel drive has been discontinued. See the 2016 Volvo S80 models for sale near you
What We Like
Relatively affordable; great 4-cylinder fuel economy; high-quality cabin; stellar seat comfort
What We Don’t
Generally feels outclassed by newer rivals
The S80 T5 Drive-E comes with a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine making 240 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. Front-wheel drive and an 8-speed automatic are standard, and the engine has a stop/start feature to conserve fuel when at a standstill.
The Environmental Protection Agency estimates fuel consumption at an impressive 25 miles per gallon in the city, 37 mpg on the highway and 29 mpg combined.
Standard Features & Options
The 2016 Volvo S80 T5 Drive-E is offered in Premier and Platinum trim levels.
Standard features for the Premier ($44,480) include 17-in wheels, leather upholstery, 8-way power adjustable and heated front seats with driver’s-side memory settings, heated mirrors, keyless entry/ignition, LED running lights, fog lights, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, dual-zone automatic climate control, a sunroof, low-speed forward-collision warning and mitigation, an 8-speaker audio system with USB/Bluetooth connectivity and the Sensus Connect infotainment system with a 7-in display, voice control, navigation, satellite radio and HD Radio, an auxiliary input and mobile-app integration.
The T5 Drive-E Platinum ($49,315) adds active bi-xenon headlights, adaptive cruise control, extra safety features (see the Safety section below), front and rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, a quick-folding front passenger seat, a grocery-bag holder in the trunk and a Harman Kardon 12-speaker surround-sound system.
Some of the Platinum’s standard features are optional on the Premier trim via bundled packages. A Climate package is available for all models, bringing a heated windshield, heated windshield-washer nozzles, a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats and a cabin air-quality system. A fancy Inscription appearance package is also offered, with upgraded leather upholstery, a leather-covered dashboard and softer leather seats with ventilation.
Trunk capacity is 14.9 cu ft., about average for a luxury sedan of this size but still quite spacious.
Volvo is renowned for safety, so the S80 is appropriately a superstar in this department. It has standard stability control, six airbags and an extensive suite of computerized protection features that are standard on Platinum models and optional on Premier versions via the Technology package. These high-tech additions 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 imminent impact is detected.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration hasn’t crash-tested the S80 using its current methodology, but the independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the S80 its top rating of Good in every category and named it a Top Safety Pick+.
Behind the Wheel
The interior is understated and classy, with quality materials throughout, a sleek center panel with sensible controls (including Volvo’s unique humanoid diagram for airflow control) and a generally luxurious air. The thin-film-transistor instrument cluster includes driver-selectable Elegance, Eco and Performance themes. The front seats are wonderful, providing drive-all-day comfort to a degree few others can match. Although the back seat isn’t huge like those of other flagship sedans, there’s considerably more rear passenger space than in the smaller S60 and its rivals.
The 2.0-liter turbo 4-cylinder engine provides reasonably spirited acceleration, but fuel economy is the real asset here. Even so, the S80 has a nose for the fast lane, hunkering down at high speeds the way a good European car should. Otherwise, it drives like a big luxury sedan, meaning it’s well isolated from the elements, though not particularly engaging. This Volvo is a throwback to the days when luxury meant soft, smooth and straight ahead — there’s an undeniable appeal in that.
Other Cars to Consider
2016 BMW 3 Series — The S80’s pricing is so reasonable that the 5 Series is generally too expensive to compare. So if you’re interested in a BMW, see if the 3 Series could fit. It certainly spanks the S80 in performance, fuel economy and available tech.
2016 Buick LaCrosse — Plusher than mainstream but not too lavish, the spacious LaCrosse is all new for 2016 and has already earned rave reviews.
2016 Cadillac XTS — The XTS is big, soft, roomy, protective and more powerful than the S80.
2016 Hyundai Genesis — With a fresh generation having just debuted for the 2016 model year, the Genesis is spacious and well equipped, with a quality build and a keen price.
Used Mercedes-Benz E-Class — A new generation was just released for 2016, but a certified pre-owned example of the outgoing model will still have lots of great technology, both in terms of safety and convenience.
It’s probably worth paying the extra $4,835 and going for the Platinum trim. Unless you absolutely must have 19-in alloy wheels, the firmer sport suspension doesn’t seem like the right choice, since comfort is such a selling point for the regular S80. Find a Volvo S80 for sale