S80 features a new approach to styling

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Volvo's big news has finally arrived: the all-new S80 luxury sedan.

Probably the first thing you'll notice is that the look of the car is fairly similar to the existing model -- as well as to other models in the Volvo lineup.

I hope that Volvo's evolutionary approach to styling won't hurt the company's sales, but I suspect it will prove to be something of a challenge because many of the S80's competitors take a more aggressive approach to styling. There also may be an issue with consumers because the S80 looks almost exactly like the smaller, less expensive S60.

The 2007 Volvo.
Click image for larger version.

Still, perceptive buyers will see that the S80 manages to look racier and sportier than its predecessor, with a profile that appears to be hugging the ground.

Styling aside, the S80 makes huge strides in both equipment content and technology.

For instance, there's a crash avoidance system with brake assist -- something you won't find in its competitors. And its key fob can tell you whether somebody's in the car without your knowledge as well as whether you locked it when you left it.

The S80 is equipped with Volvo's first V-8, a 311 horsepower, 4.4 liter engine, or an equally new 3.2 liter, 235 horsepower in-line six. Look for other good stuff like an adaptive cruise control and the "Four C" -- or " Continuously Controlled Chassis Concept" -- in which four driver's modes can be selected by the driver depending on the style of driving desired, from comfort to sport.

Prices and fuel ratings are not yet available.

For the most part, the rest of the Volvo lineup gets new color schemes and some added options and packages. In addition, dynamic stability traction control is standard across the model lineup now.

In addition, the S40 gets MP3 audio capability, a more elaborate overhead console, a new body styling package and a few other odds and end; the S60 gets a new grille and bumper design and active bi-xenon headlamps; the V50 gets a standard five-speed Geartronic automatic in its T5 variant and an optional satellite radio; and the V70 and the XC70 "Cross Country" wagons lose their optional third-row seats -- a move that may come back to haunt the Swedish firm given so many other car companies do offer such an option.

One thing we definitely will see is an infinitely blue sky in Volvo's other newest model, the C70 hardtop convertible. It's a four-seat dream machine that is equipped with a 2.5 liter, 218 horsepower five-cylinder engine. Mileage is rated at 21 city/29 highway with the automatic transmission.

Standard equipment for the C70 includes full power accessories, air conditioning, rain sensor wipers, rear parking assist, front-wheel drive, fog lights, cruise control, four reading lamps, stability and traction control, side impact air bags, and inflatable, front door-mounted side-curtain air bags.

Prices, at least for the 2006 version, start at $38,710, and I don't expect much price difference for 2007.



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