Performance » 7
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PERFORMANCE | 7 out of 10
the six-speed automatic can be lazy on the downshifts
the S80 excels at cruising in a straight line, but if you gravitate toward roads with the twists of a small intestine, there are other choices in the segment that are more satisfying
Car and Driver
The 3.2's smooth 6-cylinder provides adequate power but lacks punch compared to V6-powered class rivals and even cars costing thousands less.
Each setting changes the steering response, suspension tightness, and gearbox shift points.
The all-wheel drive does a great job of getting the power to the road and helping to keep the car on-track regardless of conditions.
The 2013 Volvo S80 can be equipped, in T6 versions, with the same 300-horsepower, 3.0-liter turbocharged in-line six-cylinder engine that's under the hood of the S60 T6 sport sedan. It definitely feels a little more under the reins in the S80; but at the same time, the S80 is a respectable performer up against luxury sedans its own size.
That said, the S80 can move quickly, and safely carve its way along canyon roads quite rapidly; but it's never all that much fun from behind the wheel. The S80's dull steering feel is part of the problem, but there's also the ever-present feeling that this is a big, heavy front-wheel-drive (or in T6 form, all-wheel-drive) sedan. With the T6, you also get an active suspension system with Comfort, Sport, and Advanced modes; it's a pretty sophisticated system and ties in with the variable-assist power steering, which varies its assist from quite light to very firm. Again, it all feels very artificial, though.
The all-wheel drive system that's offered in the S80 can send up to 50 percent to the rear wheels when needed, but it's more a system for inclement weather than it is one for high-performance driving.
On base models, you instead get a 240-hp straight-six and front-wheel drive. This is a combination we actually like for its straightforward presentation as a well-equipped luxury car; and as that, it's surprisingly nimble, maneuverable, and economical.
In any of its forms, what the S80 really does well—even against recently updated models like the BMW 5-Series or Audi A6—is on the open road. With a ride that's firm yet comfortable, a very quiet interior, superb seats, and a combination of confident tracking and strong passing power, and the S80 is the way to do long road trips in style.
The 2013 Volv S80 models are competent and confident, but not even the higher-performance T6 feels like a sport sedan.