- Rip-roaring V-8
- Strong brakes
- Emphasis on safety
- Muted steering feel
- Stark interior
- Conservative exterior
The 2009 Volvo S80 shines in the realm of safety, and for those who want performance but not the edgy feel of a sport sedan, the S80 might be a good pick.
The 2009 Volvo S80 is the automaker’s conservatively styled flagship sedan; though it ranks as more of a luxury car than a sport sedan, it has much more performance character with the available V-8 engine. Across the line, there’s an overwhelming package of standard and optional safety features.
The rather staid exterior style of the current S80 first appeared for the 2007 model year. Inside, the Volvo S80's interior is a little more overt, borrowing the thin center stack from the smaller S40; that part of the instrument panel is styled like a high-end audio system, and behind the thin panel of audio and climate controls, there's storage for smaller items.
The base Volvo S80 is powered by a 235-horsepower, 3.2-liter six-cylinder model with front-wheel drive. It's peppy, with plenty of power and a nice, slightly sporty sound, but it's not the jolt of java that the V-8 is. The ultimate power, for now, in the 2009 Volvo S80 is a 311-hp V-8. With it and a six-speed automatic, the 2009 Volvo S80 accelerates to 60 mph in about 6.5 seconds and sounds great in the process. Later in the model year, a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six engine will push out 281 hp and 295 pound-feet of torque. The existing six-cylinder gets 16 mpg city, 24 highway; the V-8, 15/23 mpg.
An all-wheel-drive system is standard on the 2009 Volvo S80 V-8 and available with the six-cylinder engine. The Volvo S80 offers a Four-C active-suspension system that continually adjusts the S80's shocks from Comfort, Sport, and Advanced. It sends nearly all torque to the front wheels during normal driving but can reapportion up to 50 percent to the rear wheels as needed. There's also available variable-assist power steering, which ranges from light to firm steering.
TheCarConnection.com's editors strongly prefer the V-8 version, which brings thrilling acceleration, but it’s hard to get excited about the S80’s handling, which feels safe but too disconnected for a sport sedan. Throughout the line, ride comfort is great, but the suspension in the V-8 could be firmer yet; even in Advanced mode, the Volvo S80 could use tighter suspension.
Seating is still a strong point in the 2009 Volvo S80. The nicely contoured backseat is large enough for three petite folks or two American-sized adults, and the climate-control system has vents built into the B-pillars for better comfort in back. The front seats have been reapportioned, with perforated, heated and cooled, fan-driven ventilated upholstery now optional.
Safety is outstanding in the 2009 Volvo S80. The 2009 Volvo S80 gets "good" ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and is named a Top Safety Pick. Front, side, and curtain airbags, as well as anti-lock brakes and stability control, are standard. Among the options, a new system primes the brakes before an accident; blind-spot detectors send audible alerts; and a keyfob connected to an in-car sensor lets the driver know if the security system has been breached—and if it senses a heartbeat in the car.
In 2009 comes a fully revised list of features. Base and V-8 models of the Volvo S8 offer a good list of features, and a Climate Package, Convenience Package, Collision Avoidance Package, Technology Package, and Executive Package provide plenty of opportunities for add-ons.