2009 Volvo S80

Consumer Reviews
1 Review
The Car Connection
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Trevor Wild Trevor Wild Author
March 20, 2009

Buying tip

The available Dynaudio premium sound system is well worth the added money, in the opinion of TheCarConnection.com editors; the system doesn’t overwhelm with bass and treble, and it doesn’t sound overprocessed.

features & specs

4-Door Sedan I6 FWD
4-Door Sedan I6 Turbo AWD
4-Door Sedan V8 AWD
16 city / 25 hwy
15 city / 23 hwy
15 city / 22 hwy

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.

TheCarConnection.com has read a wide range of reviews of the 2009 Volvo S80, selecting highlights that might be especially useful to luxury sedan shoppers. The editors of TheCarConnection.com match this with their own road-test observations to create the most comprehensive overview of the S80.

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.

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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.


2009 Volvo S80


The 2009 Volvo S80 has a rounded, aerodynamic profile that will please most drivers.

Editors at TheCarConnection.com find that the 2009 Volvo S80 offers basic, unexciting styling. Most drivers will deem it acceptable.

According to Edmunds, the "2007 model year brought a full redesign for the S80," but it "didn't change drastically in size or appearance" of the four-door Volvo S80 sedan. Automotive.com shares that the '07 redesign brought a "much larger grille opening, a sporty bumper and under-grille treatment, larger headlamps ... and body sides that are free of moldings." These changes live on in the 2009 Volvo S80. Kelley Blue Book praises the outside appearance of the Volvo S80, reporting that the "subtle wedge shape is effectively reinforced by a sweeping roofline and prominent shoulder ridges." Cars.com says that although with the S80 "Volvo has shaken the boxy look it made famous, the S80 is still unmistakably Volvo." Another reviewer at Cars.com is less impressed with the rear of this 2009 Volvo model, however, describing it as "dull as a doornail."

On the interior, the 2009 Volvo S80 has lines that are "clean...and the understated wood trim has the look of paneling versus the usual shiny veneer," according to Edmunds. This is more or less in agreement with Kelley Blue Book's assessment of the 2009 Volvo's "well-appointed cabin," which "reflects a Swedish-modern mentality." They and other reviewers consulted by TheCarConnection.com especially like the Volvo S80's "elegant slim-line center stack that houses the audio and climate control switchgear."

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2009 Volvo S80


The 2009 Volvo S80 has the credentials, yet it clearly doesn’t favor performance over comfort.

Editors at TheCarConnection.com find that the 2009 Volvo S80 performs well overall. There is a big difference in engines, however, so if it really matters to you, go for one of the upgrades.

According to ConsumerGuide, the 2009 Volvo S80 comes in three trims: "the front-wheel drive 3.2; the new-for-2009 all-wheel drive T6; and the AWD V8." In terms of powerplants, the base model has "a 235-hp 3.2-liter inline 6-cylinder engine," the T6 offers "a turbocharged 281-hp 3.0-liter inline six," and the top-of-the-line V-8 sports a "311-hp 4.4-liter engine." Automotive.com is "very impressed with the overall behavior of the V8 engine, which sounds quite a lot like a Corvette V8 when first fired up in the morning, then settles down to a nice, smooth idle." Kelley Blue Book is satisfied with the standard engines, which it reports are "fully capable of dealing with daily commutes and cross-country cruises," but points out that both the "T6 AWD and V8 AWD [are] demonstrably quicker, more responsive and far more engaging." Car and Driver, however, reports that even when "equipped in its most expensive guise with the sculptural and guttural Yamaha-built 311-hp, 4.4-liter V-8," the Volvo S80 has "all the flavor of Wasa crisp bread, which is like eating particle board."

ConsumerGuide notes that "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." When it comes to the turbocharged inline-six and V-8 trims, these "are a bit docile from a start but deliver willing power appropriate for the class." Edmunds isn't a fan of the smallest engine, saying it "doesn't really get the juices flowing" and "acceleration was modest with either of the lesser engines"; they suggest that "buyers seeking a more authentic luxury experience will undoubtedly prefer either the midrange S80 T6 or the high-line S80 V8." Otherwise, "the Volvo S80 comes across as tepid for a luxury sedan in this class...[and] does little to engage its driver." However, according to Cars.com, "from a driving-thrills standpoint, there's no reason for anyone to move up to the V-8...not only is the T6 $7,000 less than the V-8, it's just a better-driving car."

The 2009 Volvo S80 has just a single transmission option, which Cars.com reports is a "six-speed automatic...with Geartronic sequential shifting." ForbesAutos notes that it "allows manual gear selection."

Fuel economy isn't fabulous in the 2009 Volvo S80. Official EPA estimates, as cited by Kelley Blue Book, are just 16 mpg city, 24 highway for the 3.2-liter and 15/23 mpg for the both the T6 and the V-8. Car and Driver reports 13-15 mpg in the city and 23-24 mpg on the open road—not outstanding by any means.

Cars.com praises the smooth steering of the 2009 Volvo S80, saying that while it's "not as pinpoint precise as a BMW's," it is "a safe car that can pass on demand and has a comfortable ride. The S80 delivers an almost perfect blend of comfort and performance."

Most reviewers are fans of how well the 2009 Volvo S80 rides, though it’s clear that some crisp handling responses are sacrificed in the process. Kelley Blue Book points out that the Volvo S80's "emphasis leans more towards ride comfort than sheer agility. The...three-way adjustable shock absorbers, speed-sensitive power steering and a more aggressive wheel and tire pairing...won't transform an S80 into an Audi A6 or BMW 5 Series, but it will enhance both ride and handling at the touch of a button." ConsumerGuide praises the brake system for being "worry-free" but reports that their test model "suffered from a slightly mushy pedal." This source also discloses that in terms of handling, the Volvo S80 "never feels sporty, but handles with controlled competence."

Review continues below

2009 Volvo S80

Comfort & Quality

The 2009 Volvo S80 offers an outstandingly comfortable interior—though the appointments might not meet everyone’s tastes.

Editors at TheCarConnection.com find that comfort and quality are excellent in the 2009 Volvo S80.

Cars.com says that "it could have a bit more room in the backseat, but the space isn't what you'd call confining"; Kelley Blue Book reports the Volvo S80's "60/40 split-folding rear bench has sufficient head and leg room to take on a pair of average-sized adults or a trio of kids." ForbesAutos observes that the 2009 Volvo S80 has an abundance of interior room: "the cabin is spacious and comfortable."

The 2009 Volvo S80 gets high marks for quality inside. Cars.com sums it up pretty well: "The materials are all soft to the touch, the leather is plush and the seats are ultra comfortable. What's left to want?" ForbesAutos especially likes the "slim center console and easily operated controls." ConsumerGuide, however, says that "materials aren't especially rich for a premium car," but even they admit the "cabin is decently appointed overall." They also report that noise levels aboard the Volvo S80 are "subdued, but not as quiet as many luxury-class competitors...both 6-cylinder engines growl under acceleration." Edmunds is a bit more critical of this 2009 Volvo model, however. While acknowledging that the Volvo S80 interior has the auto industry's "most supportive seats [and] its cabin has all the expected amenities, it lacks the unrestrained elegance and exacting quality of competitors' interiors."

Automotive.com says its reviewer "found the steering wheel controls a bit fussy at first, and hard to use, but owners will figure them out quickly." The reviewer at Automotive.com is a fan of the fact that "a menu system tailors the seats, rearview mirrors, climate control, audio, navigation, and the amount of steering wheel feel in the car's speed-dependent power steering system."

According to Kelley Blue Book, "the somewhat modestly-scaled 14.9 cubic-foot trunk" can be expanded by dropping the backseats, providing a pass-through opening. Cars.com, however, isn't pleased with the storage space in the 2009 S80, declaring that "the small trunk was a bit of a surprise" and noting that "it's not exactly deep or tall, so large suitcases have to be wedged in tightly."

Review continues below

2009 Volvo S80


The 2009 Volvo S80 absolutely shines when it comes to safety. Its list of available safety features simply can't be beat.

The 2009 Volvo S80 gets a perfect 10 for safety from editors at TheCarConnection.com, a tribute to its excellent safety pedigree.

Safety has been a high priority with Volvo since it started building automobiles—and the 2009 Volvo S80 definitely benefits. Cars.com reports that the Volvo S80 continues this tradition with "breakthrough safety gizmos we hadn't seen until very recently." MotherProof explains that "since the early 1970s, a Volvo Traffic Accident Research Team has been on call 24 hours a day to immediately respond to the site of Volvos involved in an accident within their immediate vicinity." The reviewer appreciates the importance placed on collecting "data on how the vehicles performed in real-world crashes, including researching police and medical records in conjunction with the accident."

This year's Volvo S80 receives the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's Top Safety Pick, scoring the highest ratings in front, side, and rear crash tests, while the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives this 2009 Volvo five stars in every crash test. Cars.com points out that "no other luxury cars in the segment managed that feat."

Kelley Blue Book reports the Volvo S80 has, as standard safety features, "anti-whiplash (WHIPS) and side-impact protection (SIPS) systems, Dynamic Traction and Stability Control, anti-lock disc brakes with Electronic Brake Assistance and front, front-side and side-curtain airbags." J.D. Power notes that the 2009 Volvo S80 offers additional protection for occupants in the event of a collision with "a transversely mounted inline-6 powerplant—an uncommon engine arrangement, but a necessary contributor to the high safety ratings the S80 earned." ConsumerGuide is impressed by the optional adaptive cruise control with radar assist that "can ready maximum braking force if a collision is imminent."

Edmunds praises the 2009 Volvo's optional Blind Spot Information System (BLIS), which "uses warning lights mounted on the A-pillars to alert the driver when another vehicle pulls up in the S80's blind spot."


2009 Volvo S80


For drivers who want plenty of high-tech gadgetry, the 2009 Volvo S80 is a great choice.

Editors at TheCarConnection.com report that the 2009 Volvo S80 offers an incredible array of features that are practical and user-friendly—which earns the S80 its perfect-10 status.

In terms of standard features, Kelley Blue Book reports that the Volvo S80 has a lengthy list, such as "numerous power assists, including eight-way adjustment for the front seats, a tilt and telescopic steering column, dual-zone climate control, 160-watt/eight-speaker AM/FM/CD audio system with an auxiliary input and MP3 capability, [and] power sunroof." Also standard is a Bluetooth hands-free phone interface, a tinted windshield, Rainsensor windshield wipers, and 17-inch alloy wheels.

Edmunds notes that buyers of the 2009 Volvo's V-8 trim get "higher-grade leather upholstery, additional wood trim, an interior air quality system and Volvo's Personal Car Communicator (PCC) system," which "combines keyless startup with a security system that uses two-way radio technology to monitor the car's security status." The V-8 adds standard heated front and rear seats, heated windshield washer nozzles, high-pressure headlamp washers, and an inner door-opener light.

Kelley Blue Book reports that the Volvo S80's optional Climate Package includes "heated front and rear seats," as well as a Dynaudio Package, which adds "650-watt/12-speaker Dolby Surround Sound system with six-disc CD changer, SIRIUS Satellite Radio and rear-seat audio controls." Edmunds is enthusiastic about the 2009 Volvo's seats and sound system as well: "Dual-zone automatic climate control, an eight-speaker stereo with an in-dash CD changer and an MP3 player jack, Bluetooth and one-touch power windows are also included."

Other options available for this year's Volvo S80, according to J.D. Power, include heated windshield wash nozzles, rain-sensor wipers, and headlamp cleaning, along with a dual-screen rear-seat entertainment system. The Convenience Package includes the PCC system with Keyless Drive, front and rear park assist, and rear seat headphone jacks. The Technology Package includes the Volvo Navigation System with DVD map data and remote control, as well as speed-sensitive power steering. The top-of-the-line Executive Package offers a leather front center armrest, massage front seats, and chrome lower-door molding.

ConsumerGuide reassures prospective buyers for this 2009 Volvo that "the gauges are easy to read. While the abundance of buttons can seem complicated, the controls are actually very easy to use." Those who have experienced the rather complicated features of similar Audi and BMW vehicles will appreciate the simplicity of the 2009 Volvo S80. When first confronted by the various devices available on the Volvo S80, Cars.com reports that you'll notice "buttons...lots of them." However, these "allow you to turn on the air, stereo, safety features and more with a simple push; there are no complicated menus for simple tasks, just buttons."

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April 10, 2015
For 2009 Volvo S80

Iron-solid understatement

  • Overall Rating
  • Styling
  • Performance
  • Comfort & Quality
  • Safety
  • Features
  • Fuel Economy
  • Reliability
This is a 4-door sedan with a 5-cylinder 210 HP turbo engine fitted with a 6-speed manual gearbox. Its trim level is "summum" including leather interior. While it seats five people, it really offers quite... + More »
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Styling 7
Performance 8
Comfort & Quality 9
Safety 10
Features 10
Fuel Economy N/A
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