What are Volvo cars most renowned for? Most people would say their safety, especially crash safety. When you think of a Volvo, you think of tank-like strength, but also in a pleasing design. Volvo have made many models over the years, but one of their best-known models was the Volvo S80, which was manufactured from 1998 to 2016.
The Volvo S80 was a long-running executive sedan created by Volvo Cars, the first ones rolling off the production line back in 1998, and the final ones in 2016. In that 18-year production run, it was lauded by groups such as the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) for its performance in their crash testing. It was eventually replaced in late 2016 with the S90 sedan.
We take an in-depth look at the Volvo S80, and in particular the first models from its second generation manufactured in 2007 and 2008. Let’s start with some basic background information.
Background: Volvo S80 Development
First and Second Generations - Overview
There were two generations of Volvo S80 cars, the first produced from 1998 to 2006, and the second from 2006 to 2016. It was marketed as an executive sedan with each generation being built on a different Volvo “P” platform, the first generation on P2, and the second generation on P3.
The second generation of S80 cars was in particular thrust into the public eye when it became the top safety pick for the IIHS in 2007. The 280 managed to score the highest “good” rating in its IIHS crash test for frontal, side and rear impacts. It was named “Top Safety Pick” as a result of these scores.
The first generation of S80 cars totaled 10 different gasoline models from 1998 to 2006, as well as 3 diesel models, with engine displacement ranging from 2.0L to 2.9L. The second generation included 17 gasoline models and 9 diesel models, with engine displacement ranging from 1.6L to 4.4L.
Over its long production history, both generations of Volvo S80 cars received certain upgrades, facelifts and minor modifications to develop the model further. These included new engine options in the first generation, as well as standard AWD being added in 2000, and some significant changes made to the front grille styling.
On the second generation models, major facelifts were carried out for 2010, 2013 and 214, but there were other new features added almost every year, especially after 2010. Added features included near infotainment systems, new turn signals, headlight washers, rain-sensing wipers, xenon headlamps and many more.
It’s less of a surprise that this seemingly quite humble luxury sedan won such high accolades with the IIHS in its second generation when you know about how poorly it did during the EuroNCAP tests in its first generation. The overall safety rating for the adult occupant was rated at 4-stars and 29 points, but the pedestrian rating was only 2 stars and 14 points when it was judged that pedestrians being hit by the Volvo S80 were “facing a very aggressive front end.”
Despite that minor blip, the car was still regarded as safe overall, especially for the driver and passengers within the car. The first-generation test model was from the 2000 model year and included front seatbelt pretensioners, seatbelt load limiters and multiple airbags. Volvo has a reputation for implementing new safety technologies quickly into their cars. They did invent the 3-point safety belt as we know it, after all.
Second-Generation Volvo S80 (2006-2016): What the Reviews Said
Next, we’ll take a closer look at the second-generation S80 models, before moving on to look at 2 specific examples from 2007 and 2008. What were reviewers at the time saying about the S80? We’ve put together a composite look at some of the positive and negative aspects.
On the Good Side - Volvo S80 Strengths:
Unsurprisingly, the Volvo S80 received its highest review scores in relation to its safety and reliability ratings. It was fitted with great features which at the time were not necessarily common or standard in many other cars, such as traction control, stability control, as many as 6 airbags, and anti-whiplash head restraints. Service intervals were spaced at 18,000 miles, which means you didn’t have to worry about spending so much money on car services.
Other positive areas in which it received solid scores --- not the highest praise, but solid --- were in fuel economy, utility and comfort. The official mile-per-gallon rating for the S80 DRIVe 1.6L diesel was rated at 68.9mpg with emissions as low as 109g/km. This makes it one of the cleanest and most fuel-efficient sedans anywhere on the market. It did have limited horsepower at 114-hp though. The car itself was large and spacious inside with plenty of main storage, but the trunk left quite a bit to be desired (see below for more).
On the Negative Side - Volvo S80 Weaknesses:
The most negative comments tended to be leveled at both exterior and interior design. The exterior was obviously strong, and that safety attracted many buyers, especially those looking for safe family cars, but other executive buyers were more interested in BMW models with a sportier, more appealing aesthetic. It did undergo a number of facelifts in its final years to try and raise its visual appeal, but it remained a car that people tended to buy in spite of its looks rather than because of it.
Another area of weakness was that despite its size, the engine choices didn’t deliver a lot of power. As we touched on above, the fuel-efficient diesel option was only 1.6L displacement and only managed 114-hp. One more disappointing factor was the trunk. For such a sedan car with such a large exterior, it was unusual for it to have only 14.9 cubic feet of trunk space. Rivalo BMW 5 Series models at the time were offering 18.4 cubic feet. This lack of upmarket feel, engine power and rear storage all counted against the S80 in its second generation.
One more negative thing was depreciation, but in the longer term it helped some of the popular models become sought after as pre-owned vehicles.
Volvo S80 2007 and Volvo S80 2008 - A Closer Look
In this section, we will take a look in particular at two of the most important model years in the second generation, and they are from 2007 and 2008. These were the years after transitioning from the first generation. Users of the 2007/2008 models have praised them highly, especially after buying them as used cars in the years from 2011 to 2016.
The Volvo S80 2007 was available either with a 3.2L straight-six engine, or as a 4.4L V8 engine, the latter of which also featured 4WD. It had a set of 17” alloy wheels as standard, which could be upgraded to 18” with the Sport Package available on both trim levels. The Volvo S80 2008 offered the same options, but with an additional T6 4-dr Sedan AWD model with a 3.0L 6-cylinder turbo engine .
Safety features were the biggest attraction and the 2007-2008 models included the following, then high tech, items as standard:
- Anti-lock disc brakes
- Front-seat side airbags
- Full-length side curtain airbags
- Anti-whiplash front head restraints
- Seat belt pre-tensioner system in all 5 seating positions
- Tire pressure monitoring system
They also offered blind spot monitoring on these models, which was quite early for this technology. In addition, there was a heartbeat monitor that could detect if someone was still in your car after the alarm had gone off. In all, the safety and security on the second-generation was the main attraction point.
Volvo S80 2007; Volvo S80 2008 - Prices
For the 2007 S80 model, according to Edmunds estimates, you can expect to pay anywhere from $2,522 to $5,135.
For the 2008 S80 model, according to Edmunds estimates, you can expect to pay anywhere from $3,121 to $6,148. The addition of the turbocharged 6-cylinder engine for the 2008 model year made a difference in desirability, even though overall the design improvements were still never enough to make either this or the 2007 model --- or models that came later on --- aesthetically competitive with the likes of BMW, for instance.
Summing Up: Volvo S80 - A Safe Set of Wheels, If Nothing Else
When it comes down to it, those who might still be looking at used models now are mostly attracted by the many safety features on the car. It makes a great, affordable family car, especially when you factor in the depreciation. With heavy depreciation, models from as recently as 2016 can be snapped up for $20,000. Back in 2016 when it was new, the MSRP was at least $43,450 for the most basic model. That’s a lot of depreciation in just 5 years.
In essence, it remained a safe set of wheels for those who want a reliable and safe bargain. If you’re chasing something with a little more visual appeal, then you might look elsewhere like the BMW 5 Series.