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New Car/Review


Volvo S80 SR Sedan (2001)

SEE ALSO: Volvo Buyer's Guide

By Tom Hagin


     Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 38,100
     Price As Tested                                    $ 42,225
     Engine Type              DOHC 24-valve 2.9 Liter I6 w/SMFI*
     Engine Size                                 170 cid/2783 cc
     Horsepower                                   268 @ 5400 RPM
     Torque (lb-ft)                               280 @ 2100 RPM
     Wheelbase/Width/Length                  109.9"/72.1"/189.8"
     Transmission                           Four-speed automatic
     Curb Weight                                     3680 pounds
     Fuel Capacity                                  21.1 gallons
     Tires  (F/R)                          225/50VR17 all-season
     Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS)
     Drive Train                  Front-engine/front-wheel-drive
     Vehicle Type                       Five-passenger/four-door
     Domestic Content                                 10 percent
     Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                               N/A


     EPA Economy, miles per gallon
        city/highway/average                            18/25/22
     0-60 MPH                                        7.0 seconds
     1/4 (E.T.)                          15.5 seconds @ 91.0 mph
     Top-speed                                (Governed) 132 mph
                 * Sequential multi-port fuel injection

Volvo dates back to the '20s but decided two years ago to accept an offer from Ford for the whole store but it wasn't a panic sale. Volvo was enjoying record sales as Ford bought this 'going' concern.

Volvo's new S80 sedan is a luxury car that's part of the new Ford Premier Group that includes Lincoln, Jaguar and Aston Martin.

OUTSIDE - For several years Volvo has been trying to shed its boxy image, but it's a hard act to follow. With three-box styling abandoned, the replacements show that serious planning went into the changeover. Where there were sharp creases and flat planes, there are now sculpted, smooth-flowing character lines and dramatic angles. Where the previous car's lower body met the roof line was a chiseled corner, it now looks like Volvo routed a notch from end-to-end, and integrated it nicely with the slightly rounded roof line. The nose is equally daring, protruding proboscis-like, with a stylized Volvo grille wrapped in a thin strip of chrome. Matte-black inserts surround the headlights and side windows, and wrap the entire vehicle at knee-level. Our car's optional 17-inch alloy wheels and performance tires gave it the hot-rod of the its muscular stablemate, the S80 T6 Turbo.

INSIDE - Both the driver and front passenger seats are eight-ways powered, with the driver's side utilizing a three-position memory feature. They are large and supportive, and covered in leather in all S80 models. In back is a split-folding seat, with a pass-through to the trunk that is easy to use and ample in space. A handy pull-out package partition in the trunk keeps loose items contained while there are storage nooks and cubbies throughout the cabin. A standard tilt and telescoping steering column, along with massive seat adjustments means almost anyone, big or small, will find a comfortable position behind the wheel. Just a few of the major standard features include cruise control, dual zone climate control, premium sound system, power windows, door locks and outside mirrors, HomeLink universal remote, power sunroof, auto-dimming rearview mirror and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with built-in stereo and speed controls.

ON THE ROAD - The front-wheel drive S80 is powered by a 2.9-liter inline six-cylinder engine. And while the T-6 and Executive models enjoy a twin-turbocharged, 268-horse version, our SR version had the standard engine that produces 197 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque. This power is more than adequate, given the S80 weighs a modest 3900 pounds. It uses dual overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder and electronic sequential-port fuel injection. Acceleration is good, and passing power at freeway speed is above-average. Our 24-miles per gallon average was about halfway between the official city-highway estimates. But with five aboard, we needed a heavy foot to squeeze passing power from the engine. That's when we wished for the T6 Turbo. Mated to this is a smooth-shifting four-speed automatic transmission. Traction control, a system designed to limit wheelspin on slippery roads, is standard.

BEHIND THE WHEEL - The S80 rides on a unibody platform with front MacPherson strut suspension and a multilink rear setup. The overall feel it somewhat stiff, but well-controlled, tuned just right and very predictable. There are anti-roll bars front and rear to keep the car flat in corners, and ample shock damping so a full load inside doesn't affect the ride much. And as with most front-drive cars, it tends to plow in tight corners due to its heavy front weight bias. It uses rack- and-pinion steering with power assist and has speed sensitivity that is neither too light nor too stiff, and standard four-wheel disc brakes with an anti-lock braking system (ABS). An optional stability control system interacts with the ABS and traction control in bad weather.

SAFETY - Dual dashboard airbags, side-impact airbags, side curtain airbags, seat belt pretensioners, front seat belt force limiters, whiplash protection system in the front seats.

OPTIONS - Stability control, $1100; uplevel stereo, $1000; Security Package, $500; Cold Weather Package, (heated seats, headlamp washer/wiper) $450; 17-inch wheels w/speed-sensitive steering, $500.