Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book
KBB.com 2004 Volvo S80 Overview
Luxury, Speed and Safety
The S80 is Volvo's largest sedan. It has been a strong seller for the company since its introduction in 1998 and after six years, gets a series of updates designed to keep it fresh and competitive. Among the more notable additions are a new, turbo-charged five-cylinder all-wheel-drive model and the addition of the performance-oriented FOUR-C suspension.
If you're not well versed in the intricacies of the S80, you are in for a litany of pleasant surprises. The lesson begins when you first gaze at the S80; you'll soon discover that pictures don't do this car justice, as its muscular stance and beautifully sculpted hood and trunk cannot be fully appreciated in a two-dimensional photo. Its attractive aluminum wheels reinforce the S80's strong appearance, specifically those found on the sporty T6 and T6 Premier models. You'll find that the S80 fosters a feeling of stability and safety, an image reinforced by the thick doors and the solid "thunk" they emit as you slam them shut.
Once inside, you'll discover a driver-oriented cockpit with all the controls and instruments aimed or angled toward the driver. Though this design clearly is aimed towards the driver, the climate and audio systems are by no means out of reach of the passenger. You will likely agree that the dash layout is well designed, yet like us, you may find that the vast majority of the dash shares the same light gray color as the knobs and switchgear, creating a monotone backdrop that sometimes makes it difficult to discern what operates what.
The S80's spacious cabin can easily accommodate five persons, though some might find the deeply-contoured seat bottoms to be a rather snug fit. Supple leather covers all the seating surfaces and simulated walnut trim is tastefully applied to the doors, center console and shift knob. Thoughtful touches abound, including dual-zone climate control, one-touch up/down power windows for the driver and passenger and an optional in-dash navigation screen that rises up from inside the dashboard. Around back, the S80 touts one very impressive trunk, with a deep flat floor, low liftover lip and gas-charged struts that hold the trunk lid open but don't intrude on the luggage area when it's closed.
For those who spend more time in the back seat than behind the wheel, Volvo offers the T6 Premier. Premier models feature more rear-seat leg room, specially hinged rear doors that open wider and a number of amenities aimed at the business traveler, including two 12-volt outlets, dual rear cup holders and a DVD video system with two 7-inch video screens built into the front seat headrests. Power for the big Volvo is sourced from a single engine with two personalities. The base S80 is motivated by a 2.9-liter six-cylinder that churns out a healthy 194 horsepower. When teamed to Volvo's smooth-shifting four-speed automatic, the base S80 can move quite comfortably both around town and on the highway. If you're the type that really appreciates power, you'll probably want to upgrade to the T6, which adds two big turbos to either side of the 2.9-liter engine and bumps horsepower up to 268. The T6 also gets the Geartronic transmission that allows the driver to shift gears without the use of a clutch pedal. Though this system works just fine, we found that the automatic does just as good a job of choosing the appropriate shift points.
On the road, you'll find the S80 feels absolutely grounded to the pavement below. Its front-wheel drive layout provides excellent traction and its standard stability control systems keep the car from oversteering when pressed hard into corners. In the S80, you feel separated from the outside world, but not isolated from it. There is good feedback via the steering wheel and the power steering does not over-assist you while making course corrections. On the powerful T6, a more advanced Dynamic Stability Control system is installed to compensate for the power surge that gets sent to the front wheels every time you stomp on the gas (and you will find the temptation to do so overwhelming). You'll also find a much firmer ride due to the sport suspension setup and larger wheels and tires. We'd be remiss if we failed to mention some of the S80's advanced safety features. The front-seat head restraints feature a unique system designed to minimize the chance of whiplash and rear-seat head restraints can be retracted with the touch of a button, minimizing rear-view obstruction. Other safety features include front side-impact airbags and an airbag curtain that runs the length of the passenger compartment.