By Matt/Bob Hagin
SPECIFICATIONS Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price $ 35,820 Price As Tested $ 39,240 Engine Type VVT* DOHC 24-valve 2.9 Liter I6 w/SMFI** Engine Size 2922 cc Horsepower 201 @ 6000 RPM Torque (lb-ft) 243 @ 4200 RPM Wheelbase/Width/Length 109.9"/72.1"/189.8" Transmission Four-speed automatic Curb Weight 3697 pounds Fuel Capacity 20.1 gallons Tires (F/R) 215/55/16 all-season Brakes (F/R) Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS) Drive Train Front-engine/front-wheel-drive Vehicle Type Five-passenger/four-door Domestic Content N/A Coefficient of Drag (Cd.) 0.28 PERFORMANCE EPA Economy, miles per gallon city/highway/average 19/27/23 0-60 MPH 9.0 seconds Top speed 140 mph * Variable valve timing ** Sequential Multi-point fuel injection
(Bob Hagin notes that Volvo has been in the car-making business for over 70 years while his son Matt remembers some the early "practical" Volvos owned by his parents and their friends.)
MATT - Like all other old-line auto makers, Volvo has progressed a long way since the '40s and'50s when it only made those practical two-door sedans and wagons with their unsophisticated four cylinder engines and stick-shift transmissions. The latest Volvo, the S80, is the company's largest luxury model. In typical Swedish logic, the "S" signifies "sedan" and if it came as a station wagon, it would be the V80, the "V" signifying "versatile." This new Volvo is as curvaceous as the previous cars were boxy and it was designed at the Volvo Monitoring and Concept Center in California. Ford owns Volvo now and has added it to Ford's "Premiere Group" of luxury cars which also includes Lincoln, Aston Martin and Jaguar.
BOB - For as long as I can remember, Volvos were always rear-wheel- drive, but the company has dropped that driveline configuration and now all the 2000 Volvos are front-wheel driven. The new S80 uses a 2.9 liter in-line six cylinder engine with double overhead cams and four valves per cylinder - the same motor found in the top-of-the-line 940 Volvo of a few years ago. With front-wheel-drive, however, the engine in this car is mounted transversely. For those Volvo buyers who are "closet racers," the S80 can also be had with T-6 trim which includes a pair of turbochargers. Neither version is offered with a manual transmission, but it would be nice to have one available in the T-6. The T-6 has a slightly smaller engine, but it has around 70 more ponies.
MATT - People in the U.S. think the tern "Safe Car" when they think of Volvo and this S80 incorporates all the Volvo safety bells-and- whistles. Standard on all S80s are six air bags: two frontals and two side bags in the seats along with a "curtain" side bag that drops out of the headliner to protect both the front and rear passengers. Volvo also has safety "gizmos" in the front seats. In a rear collision, they slip back a bit, then forward a little to compensate for the impact. Also, Volvo puts fog lamps in the rear as well as the front, so drivers coming from behind can see a Volvo on foggy nights.
BOB - The S80 also has a traction control system that has two separate functions. One operates at under 25 mph and it adds a little brake pressure to slow down the spinning wheel and to get torque to the wheel with the most bite. The high side takes over from 25 mph on and operates up to top speed. It limits the amount of fuel injected into the cylinders when wheelspin is detected. All S80s have four-wheel discs brakes with an anti-lock system and traction control is standard equipment. Volvo uses traditional MacPherson struts up front and a very complex multi-link suspension in back.
MATT - Inside, Volvo has more cup holders than seat belts and the front seat occupants can have a hot drink as well as a cold one. Mom noticed right away that our car didn't have seat heaters up front, but I found that they're offered as an option. I liked the pass-through rear seat for transporting long items and there's no problem finding a comfortable seating position since the driver's seat has an eight-way power adjustment system with three memory settings.
BOB - You know I'm not hot on leather seats, so if I was a Volvo buyer, I could do without the $1195 leather option. I did like the power sunroof which was $1200 extra. Your artistic mom liked the three-button control for the ventilation system because it features a small caricature of a little man that indicates if air is going to your face, body or feet. It's the only whimsical thing on this otherwise no-nonsense Volvo. One item that wasn't on our test car was a navigation system, a device that comes in handy in unfamiliar areas. I don't have any trouble getting around town, but out on the road or cruising through outer metropolitan areas, I need all the help I can get.
MATT - I know, Dad, and Mom still complains about the fact that you've always hated to stop and ask for directions.