December 11, 2003
BY MARK PHELAN
FREE PRESS COLUMNIST
The 2004 Volvo S80 2.5T AWD.
If you're Volvo, how do you make your cars even safer?
You could armor-plate them, but that would hurt fuel economy, and Volvo owners are a thrifty bunch.
Volvo pioneered just about every type of car safety device, and it has the patents to prove it.
Other automakers have begun to catch up, however, so Volvo has taken the next step, combining its traditional emphasis on safety with all-wheel drive and more power.
The idea is to help Volvo owners avoid accidents, as well as keeping them safe when one happens.
The S80 2.5T AWD sedan I tested recently melds Volvo's traditional virtues with full-time all-wheel drive.
Like all the best new AWD models, the S80's system is transparent to the driver: You'd never know it's there until you need it.
The car is comfortable, quiet and well balanced, with smooth, direct power steering and excellent brakes. The lovely interior, which featured leather seats and attractive wood trim, remained quiet over bumpy roads and at highway speeds.
However, the sedan's emphasis on comfort showed up when its soft ride met hard driving and quick changes of direction. The body tended to wallow a bit as it recovered from such maneuvers, producing a soft, floating feeling that discouraged aggressive driving.
Like all Volvos, the S80 sedan provides a spacious and comfortable interior, with excellent seats that remain comfortable through long stints at the wheel. Volvo sculpted the car's curvaceous exterior while maintaining room for five passengers and their luggage.
Don't let the turbocharged engine and racy looks fool you into thinking the S80 2.5T AWD is a sport sedan, but it is a comfortable and stylish family car.
The S80 2.5T AWD I tested cost $41,840, excluding destination charges. That strikes me as high, but it's not out of line with other AWD European sedans.
2004 Volvo S80 2.5T AWD
Vehicle Type: All-wheel-drive five-seat midsize sedan
Base Price: $37,200 (excluding destination charges)
As Tested: $41,840
Standard equipment: Antilock brakes; traction control, 16-inch alloy wheels with all-season radials, side-curtain air bags, front-seat side-impact air bags, whiplash protection front seats, perimeter lighting, security system, daytime running lamps, child safety locks in rear, power adjustable eight-way driver seat, dual-zone climate control, tilt-telescope steering wheel, 60-40 split folding rear seat, keyless entry, power windows and locks, heated outside windows, interior dust and pollen filter; front armrest and storage bin; rear air vents; simulated wood trim, headlamp washers, heated front seats, rain-sensing wipers, AM-FM-CD stereo; illuminated steering wheel controls.
Options: Metallic paint; leather seats; power sunroof; power passenger seat; 17-inch wheels; stability control; bi-xenon headlights.
Specifications as tested
Engine: 2.5-liter light-pressure turbocharged I-5
Power: 208 horsepower at 5,000 r.p.m., 236 pound-feet of torque at 1,500-4,500 r.p.m.
Transmission: Five-speed automatic
Fuel economy: 20 m.p.g city, 27 m.p.g highway
Wheelbase: 109.0 inches
Length: 189.9 inches
Width: 72.1 inches
Height: 57.2 inches
Curb Weight: 3,691 pounds
Where assembled: Goteborg, Sweden
Comparative base prices
(not including shipping charges):
Mercedes-Benz C240 $32,760
BMW 330Xi $36,550
Volkswagen Passat W8 $38,660
Audi A6 $39,450