in 2011 Luxury Large Cars

Avg. Price Paid: $19,051 - $21,383
Original MSRP: $37,150 - $40,900
MPG: 19 City / 27 Hwy
Search Used Listings:

2011 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. Those interested in safety but still craving some athleticism should consider the  Infiniti M. Just know that you’re going to have to pay for that performance.  It costs about $6,000 more than the S80.

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

Acceleration and Power

For 2011, Volvo has tweaked the engine lineup in the S80. The base engine is a 3.2-liter six-cylinder that makes 240 horsepower. Though the engine is the same, it makes five more horsepower than it did in 2010. The next engine up is a 3.0-liter turbocharged six making 300 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque.  This year, the V8 engine in the S80 is discontinued, but Volvo says that the T6 engine creates the same amount of torque and scoots to 60 mph just .3 seconds slower than the V8 did – so the bigger powerplant may not be missed much. Still, reviewers complain that the 3.2-liter engine is underpowered for the class. If you want as much driving excitement as the Volvo S80 can be expected to give, go for the 3.0-liter turbocharged engine.

All S80s use a six-speed automatic transmission, with manual shift mode. The EPA estimates that the most efficient S80, the 3.2 liter engine with front-wheel drive, should get 19/27 mpg.

  • "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

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. 

The S80 does, however, offer strong brakes – which you’d expect, given 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