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2007 Volvo S80

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San Francisco:  Like many of the world’s smaller automakers, Volvo is struggling to find a balance between filling a niche and being a full-line vehicle producer. Volvo has long been a favorite of the Birkenstock, safety conscious group but that market is shrinking too, and Volvo, like everyone else, is trying to expand beyond their traditional baseline.

Volvo keeps trying to break out of the "safe, but boring" label, at times adding luxury, and at other times performance. Both areas have been welcome, but they just have not seemed to allow Volvo to break out of the crowd. So Volvo has turned inward, looking to what is their true spirit, is it Common Sense, or Swedish sensibility?

The answer to that question is the S80 and what Volvo calls, “European Luxury,” which means it is not about overstuffed cushions and pillow-soft suspensions. European Luxury is about providing excellent materials and workmanship, all the creature comforts needed, wrapped in a container that looks smart but won’t be quickly dated, and making sure the performance, which includes the road handling, meets the needs of those who like to drive.

I would say that Volvo has met all of those goals with the S80, whether it is the base 3.2-litre inline six or with the V8 engine.

But let’s start at the exterior: The S80, a four-door sedan, is just shy of 16 feet long and rides on a wheelbase of 111.6 in. Five people will fit comfortably inside and there is 14.9 cu. ft. of luggage room in the trunk. You will not mistake the S80 for anything other than a Volvo; it is not a radical design, it just looks good, like a well-tailored suit.

The S80 is a front-wheel-drive vehicle in its base version, with All-Wheel-Drive standard on the two up-graded versions. The base is equipped with the 3.2-litre 6-cylinder, which makes a very decent 235-hp. The next version is the T6, which comes with a turbocharged, 3.0-liter, inline 6 and makes 281-hp.  The 6-cylinders of today are actually shorter than the previous inline 5-cylinder engines. 

The ultimate power plant is the 4.4-litre, DOHC, narrow-angle V8 (the Vee of most V8s is set at 90-degrees, the Volvo engine is set at 60-degrees) that makes 311-hp and 325 lbs-ft. of torque. There is no manual transmission available in the S80; it uses a very good, crisp-shifting, 6-speed automatic transmission in all versions.

Like all Volvos, the S80 is chock-a-block full of safety items; including an optional package Volvo calls “Blind Spot Information System.” You know that annoying blind spot on either side of your car where you cannot see another car in any mirror, or even when you turn your head? This system electronically monitors the sides of your vehicle and warns you when anything is in that blind spot.

Editor’s note: This BSIS is a feature that should be a standard accessory on every car, truck and SUV sold in the US. This is a fantastic option that Volvo has pioneered and is a solid and practical safety item that needs to be made available on all vehicles in the very near future. This is a good one.

There is also a braking system called, “Collision Warning with Auto Brake,” that helps avoid rear end collisions.  When you get too close to a vehicle in front of you a red warning light flashes in a heads up display and a warning alarm is sounded. At the same time the brakes are “pre-charged” (light pressure moves the brake pads so they lightly contact the brake rotors). All of this not only helps avoid an impact, it also will lessen the impact speed should a collision be unavoidable. 

I had a chance to try out this system in a controlled demonstration and I will say it definitely works. For today’s multitasking drivers, who may not be fully focused on the road ahead, it will be a godsend.

Other than the demo I never had an opportunity to use any of Volvo’s safety gear. I did get to test the European Luxury. Volvos have always felt safe and solid; the S80 is no different. There is a feeling of invincibility in the S80. I almost wished for some really foul weather – almost. 

Although there are three engines available they all return just about the same fuel economy. The base 3.2-litre six is rated at 16-city and 25-highway, the other two engines are one mpg less in both categories.

The V8 is strong, smooth, and torquey. It has a wonderful sound that does not intrude but reassures you that there is enough oomph under your right foot to get you out of trouble. Between the ample engine power, the superb braking system and the chassis handling setup, the Volvo S80 acted as much as a sports sedan as a luxury sedan.

As for the cost there is a large span in the MSRP price; the base S80 lists at $39,450 including the destination charge. A V8 S80 starts at $49,955. That is a huge difference but you do get much more than just the V8. It is a much more complete package including AWD. Plus you can add just about another $10,000 to the cost of a V8 S80 with all of the available options. Now we’re talking almost $60 Grand for a Volvo.

That price puts Volvo into a class that is relatively new for it, and one where the competition is tough. No one has a better reputation for safety than Volvo, and if you are looking for an upscale European car, but don’t want to give up the security of a Volvo, you now have a choice, buy the S80.  By Bruce Hotchkiss  © AutoWire.Net - San Francisco

Volvo Home Page

Byline:  Syndicated content provided by Tony Leopardo © AutoWire.Net
Column Name: The S80 is what Volvo calls European Luxury
Topic: The 2007 Volvo S80 V8
Word Count:  1021
Photo Caption: The 2007 Volvo S80 V8
Photo Credits: Volvo S80 Internet Media
Series #:  2007 - 65

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