- Extensive tech and lux options
- World-class active safety
- Superb seats
- Stark, daring interior trims
- Firm yet comfortable ride
- Stodgy exterior
- Lifeless steering
- Drives heavy
- Smallish trunk
The 2014 Volvo S80 isn't at all about performance, but what it does–and does well–is offer a safe, stylish, supremely comfortable sedan for fashion-conscious families.
The 2014 Volvo S80 is the flagship model for the brand, and while it wears a more curvaceous suit of armor than the boxy Volvos of yore, it does so in a more subtle, almost stately, fashion.
That's especially true from the exterior. Although it has the distinctive Volvo look from the front, and slick, rakish lines from the profile, there are some angles that age the S80's appearance. Sit it next to its more modern, more flamboyant S60 sport sedan sibling, and the S80 starts to look a little boring. That's not the case inside, though. The S80's Swedish interior keeps things simple, and–dare we say–cool, with contrasting materials and the 'floating' center stack, which houses the high-end audio system and climate controls. For 2014, the S80 gets new front and rear bumpers, LED day-time running lights, and a larger badge in the middle of the grille.
All the usual luxury-sedan features are offered here, but it's safety—and especially active safety—that's central to the S80 package. Add the available Technology Package, and you get a suite of radar- and camera-related active-safety features including Pedestrian Detection with Full Auto Brake, Adaptive Cruise Control, Distance Alert, and a Lane Departure Warning system. This year that package also includes a Road Sign Information system as well. Rain-sensor wipers and headlight washers are now included in all 2014 Volvo S80s, and the Personal Car Communicator, a special keyfob system that can report the security status of your vehicle remotely—including the capability to detect an intruder in your vehicle—have been standard since last year.
The performance-oriented 300-hp, 3.0-liter turbocharged six in the all-wheel-drive T6 is an impressive powertrain that can move the S80 quickly; but even with it the S80's just not that much fun to drive. Factor in a lack of steering feel, and the sense that you're carrying a lot of heft, and this is a car that definitely feels more agreeable on the highway. Go with the base straight-six and front-wheel drive, and you'll have a car that feels a little more nimble, if you don't need the all-weather ability. Again, highway trips are its forte; with the comfortable suspension settings and quiet interior, the S80 devours the miles.
There's one front-page story for the 2014 Volvo S80 that can't bear enough emphasis: It has great seats. Whether you're tall or short, thin or thick, we can't imagine much better than these front perches. Those in back will be happy, too. Adults fit quite well, thanks to smart contouring—although don't expect limo-like space—and you can fit three across if your passengers are more petite. The leather upholstery doesn't let you down either; it's a good mid-point between plush and durable enough for family use. Also, with real wood finishes, metallic touches, and contrasting hues, the materials stray from the typical luxury-car convention, yet the interior will never strike you as ordinary or mass-market.
Ride quality on standard S80 models is perhaps firmer than some will expect; but out on the open road, it makes more sense as the S80's stoic ride character translates to excellent stability and none of the queasy, bouncy character that some other softer luxury cars possess.