In its T6 versions, the 2014 Volvo S80 comes with a 3.0-liter turbocharged in-line six that produces 300 horsepower, much like the sportier S60 sport sedan. Granted, that engine feels a little tamer under the hood of the S80, but it still feels like a decent performer in a segment of refined luxury sedans.
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.
Choose the T6 model, and the S80 moves rapidly down the road, and is surprisingly nimble on mountain roads, though it's never too thrilling behind the wheel. That's due at least in part to the S80's dull steering and the car's overall weight, which is especially noticeable in front-wheel-drive models. 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.
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, the S80 is the way to do long road trips in style.