I was recently driving on Interstate 5 about an hour south of Sacramento. The traffic flow was smooth and fast, and my cruise control was set slightly above 75 mph. A vehicle in the lane to my right moved ahead, the driver singled, adeptly moved into my lane and steadily advanced. My car, however, a 2007 Volvo S80, suddenly slowed.
The adaptive cruise control, one of several new safety features for Volvo, determined the driver of the vehicle now perhaps 50 yards in front of me had changed lanes without the proper minimum distance. As such, my cruise control automatically disengaged.
It’s an alarming feeling at first, but it’s one more reason why Volvo owners think they’re getting among the safest cars on the road. The Swedish manufacturer offers some of the more popular vehicles in areas where inclement weather rules, like Sweden.
But for drivers in non-mountainous areas or when the weather’s often ideal, the new Volvo safety features only further complement the already hard-to-rattle Volvo reputation.
Further, the S80 4-door sedan is offered at a competitive price as a luxury vehicle matched against such rivals as the Acura RL, Audi A6, BMW 5 Series, Infiniti M35/45 and the Lexus GS350, among others.
My test vehicle featured a 3.2-liter, 235-horsepower V6 with a 6-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive. And like every Volvo, the S80, newly designed for 2007, is heavy on safety features and cool Scandinavian styling.
The new styling included ergodynamic seats that give the driver and all passengers superior comfort. The slick styling includes Volvo’s new signature feature — a narrow, contoured, reach-through console panel. The rest of the interior features a clean, minimalist approach with logical instrumentation dials and gauges. It’s similar to the 2006 offering, and that means more than sufficient head and leg room for four adults as well as plenty of comfort.
While many of its competitors offer more refined luxury, the S80 is no slacker. Standard features include: 17-inch alloy wheels, a sunroof, leather upholstery, wood trim and eight-way power front seats (with memory for the driver). And then there’s dual-zone automatic climate control, an eight-speaker stereo with an in-dash CD changer and an MP3 player jack, Bluetooth and one-touch power windows.
New for 2007 is a V8 option with standard all-wheel drive, a wider set of 17-inch wheels and tires, an electronic parking brake, upgraded instrumentation and an interior air quality system (It monitors incoming air for contaminants and switches to recirculate if required.)
In addition to the aforementioned adaptive cruise control, the Volvo S80 also features two other new safety features, BLIS (Blind Spot Information System) and PCC (Personal Car Communicator). The BLIS system is actually two cameras located under each exterior mirror. If the system senses an object in a blind spot, an amber-colored lamp light just inside the exterior mirror illuminates. The PCC is a combined keyless entry and security status system.
Driving the new S80 is not particularly different than driving any Volvo. With the S80’s standard six-cylinder, acceleration is satisfactory. It’s the steering, handling and braking, the manufacturer’s well-documented qualities that again don’t disappoint.
With the new S80, Volvo simply offers a nicely designed, technologically advanced luxury vehicle at a reasonable price. More elegant luxury vehicles are available. But if a buyer’s purchase priorities are comfort, performance and safety, Volvo is worthwhile competitor for all of its higher-priced brethren.
2007 Volvo S80: The Weekly Driver
Safety Features — Driver and passenger dual front and front-side curtain impact airbags
Fuel Mileage (estimates) — 19 mpg (city) 28 mpg (highway).
Warranty — Bumper-to-bumper, 4 years/50,000 miles; Free schedule maintenance, 3 years/30,00 miles; Corrosion, 8 years/unlimited mileage; roadside assistance, 4 years/unlimited miles.
Base Price — $38,705.00.