Introduced for the 1999 model year, Volvos front-drive flagship sedan carries on with little change for 2002. The S80 was the first model to mix traditional Volvo styling cues with rounded corners and sharp creases, in an attempt to create a more modern image for the Swedish automaker. The S80 2.9 model comes with a 2.9-liter inline-six-cylinder engine, while the T-6 has a 2.8-liter inline-six with twin turbochargers. Volvo uses the same basic platform for its smaller midsize S60 sedan.
A satellite-based communication service that uses an integrated cellular phone to summon emergency services after an accident is optional.
Partly because it was designed specifically as a four-door sedan, the S80 looks dramatically different than its squared-off predecessors. In the past, Volvo designed its boxlike wagons first and then changed the rear sheet metal to create a sedan.
The S80s compact grille reaches forward and is accented by a prominent V shape molded into the hood; this is a Volvo styling signature. A sharply raked back window has nearly the same steep angle as the windshield. Large taillights and crisp creases give the rear end a sharp contrast to the trimly rounded front of the car. Riding a 109.9-inch wheelbase, the S80 measures 189.8 inches long overall and stands 57.2 inches tall. In contrast, Volvos S60 sedans length is 9.6 inches shorter and has a wheelbase that is 3 inches shorter than the S80.
Though the S80 is midsize in exterior dimensions, it features a spacious interior that makes some other luxury sedans look small inside. Even with an optional sunroof, the S80s headroom is ample for tall passengers. Rear-seat occupants enjoy generous legroom, with useful space for their feet under the front seats. Large side windows provide an excellent view to the front and sides.
Although the trunk lid opens more than 90 degrees, the opening is not particularly large; however, the cargo floor is long, wide and flat. Split, rear seatbacks release from inside the trunk and fold flat without removing the headrests. The rear headrests fold down with the push of a dashboard button so the driver has a clear view directly rearward, which is a handy feature.
Under the Hood
Volvos S80 2.9 holds a 197-horsepower, 2.9-liter inline-six-cylinder engine. The high-performance T-6 model gets a 268-hp, 2.8-liter inline-six with twin turbochargers. Both engines are mounted transversely, and they team with a four-speed-automatic transmission only. The Geartronic transmission on the T-6 permits manual gear changes by pushing the shift lever fore and aft.
Safety has been a byword at Volvo for decades. For starters, antilock brakes, traction control and side-impact airbags for the front seats are standard. All five seating positions have three-point shoulder belts with pretensioners. Curtain-type airbags extend from the front roof pillar to the rear pillar, and they drop down from above the side windows in a collision. A standard Whiplash Protection System (WHIPS) moves the front seatbacks and headrests rearward in a rear-end collision to help minimize whiplash.