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2005 Luxury  Buyer's Guide

by Martha Hindes

2005 Volvo S80
2005 Volvo S80

About the only thing reminiscent of the "old school" Volvo on the flagship S80 luxury sedan is the front grille logo that, as in years past, angles from top left to lower right. That, and the nearly sacrosanct adherence to issues of built-in safety that have been the Swedish car's mantra for decades.

Beyond that, you have to blink to catch the subtle reminders of traditional styling. For S80 now bears the bold new look shared with other Volvo offerings. It's evident immediately in such family traits as the tilted, rather heart-shaped tail lamps bordering the raised, blunt-end trunk, or the raised hood wedge that flows aft to merge with side panels.

Volvo has been transforming the appearance of its vehicles for several years away from a solid, yet rather matronly past to a whistle-bait vehicle present. For '05, in the second year of its newest, contemporary update, the S80's clean. Inviting appearance hides yet another tradition -- an almost religious attention to anything "safety."

Inflatable air curtains, side impact protection system, whiplash protection seating system,
"anti-submarine" seats to inhibit forward slide in a crash and Volvo's rigid passenger cage are all state-of-the-art safety features that helped it earn double five star governmental crash test ratings plus a "best pick" nod from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety watchdog.

New for '05 are real burled wood trim, optional HU-850 in-dash 6 CD changer with surround sound and stand-alone optional satellite radio prep, plus wheel upgrades and Run-flat tires.

Upscale touches include power heated side mirrors and power rear sunshade. The T6 premier edition lavishes rear seat passengers with a refrigerator complete with crystal glasses plus twin DVD monitors in front seatbacks.

With prices from a $35,900 base to $48.5K top, the S80 comes in four variants. A turbocharged 5-cylinder powers the front-drive 2.5T and 2.5T AWD. The T6 and T6 Premier (AWD) get Volvo's spunky 2.9-liter twin turbocharged 6-cylinder.

One promising safety feature expected for '05 for all models will have to wait a bit longer. Called BLIS, for Blind Spot Information System, it takes rapid, side mirror-based photos to alert that something's moving in the inevitable vehicle blind spot. That intro's been rescheduled for '06 models.


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