in 2010 Luxury Large Cars

Avg. Price Paid: $15,979 - $21,014
Original MSRP: $39,200 - $50,950
MPG: 18 City / 27 Hwy
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2010 Volvo S80 Performance

This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

Volvo is content to let the S80 compete with its peers on safety and comfort, leaving sporty handling and pulse-pounding acceleration to other cars. The S80 is a competent handler, reviewers say, but one of the most unexciting drives in the large luxury car class. Most auto writers advise buyers to stick with its mid-level engine, because there is no point in trying to buy a powerful, sporty S80. Those interested in safety but still craving some athleticism should consider the new Mercedes-Benz E-Class instead.

  • "Dull to drive." -- Car and Driver
  • "Unimpressive base engine, forgettable driving experience.” -- Edmunds

Acceleration and Power

The 2010 Volvo S80 is offered with three engines. The base model comes with a 3.2-liter inline six-cylinder making 235 horsepower. Reviewers say it is underpowered, even when compares to six-cylinder engines in some smaller cars, like the Audi A4 or Lexus ES. A slightly more powerful 3.0-liter T6 turbocharged six-cylinder engine is available. It makes a more class-competitive 281 horsepower. Finally, Volvo offers a V8 with the S80.  However, it's relatively weak as V8s go, making just 311 horsepower. Few reviewers think the V8 is a worthwhile investment, since it costs thousands more for a relatively small increase in power. The value sweet spot seems to be the T6, which offers power that is class-competitive without an unreasonable price increase.

All S80s use a six-speed automatic transmission, which Volvo has re-engineered for 2010 in order to boost gas mileage. The EPA estimates that the most efficient S80, the FWD six-cylinder model, should get 18/27 mpg, while the least-efficient AWD V8 versions should get 15/22 mpg.

  • "The 2010 Volvo S80 3.2 provides adequate power for most situations, though it sounds a bit coarse. We'd recommend opting for the T6 or V8, as the 3.2 just doesn't have the premium character we expect in a midsize luxury sedan." -- Edmunds
  • "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. T6 versions are a bit docile from a start but deliver willing power appropriate for the class." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Sure, the true enthusiast's Volvo S80 may be the one with the big V8 under the hood. But this turbo six is up to the job. It's not going to slam you back in the seat and make your eyeballs bleed, but it packs enough punch to get this two-ton sedan smartly and silently up to speed in a few seconds." -- AutoWeek
  • "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." -- Cars.com

Handling and Braking

The Volvo S80 is one of the most sedate handlers in the large luxury car class. Reviewers say it will do fine as a daily commuter. But in a class filled with athletic cars like the Infiniti M and BMW 5-Series, the Volvo can’t compete. 

It does, however, offer strong brakes – as one would expect, with Volvo’s reputation for safety.

  • “Isn't up to class ride-and-handling standards.” -- Car and Driver
  • “S80 never feels sporty, but handles with controlled competence. Nice, tight turning radius. AWD adds a measure of security in slippery conditions but isn't available on 3.2 models. Braking is worry-free, but one test model suffered from a slightly mushy pedal." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The S80's ride is appropriately supple and isolated, but handling is rather ponderous unless you opt for the sport-tuned suspension." -- Edmunds
  • "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." -- AutoWeek
  • "Like most Volvos, the S80's steering is still floaty compared to almost every other luxury car on the market, and even with all-wheel drive this thing doesn't take tightly curved off-ramps like a sports sedan." -- Cars.com