Last fall I had the honor of traveling to Sweden to be among the first auto writers in the world to test drive the all-new Volvo S80 flagship sedan during its global debut.

At the time, I was extremely impressed with not only the number of new and innovative safety features available on the S80, with but its performance and luxurious appointments as well.

This week I had my first chance to drive the new S80 on my home turf.

I wasn’t disappointed. This is one incredible vehicle.

There are so many safety features on this vehicle — including the new Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) that alerts the driver when there is a car traveling in either the right or left blind spot via a light next to the corresponding rearview mirror — you almost forget this this is a luxury-performance sedan.

In addition to being one of the safest vehicles on the road, the S80 is very luxurious. It also has a lot of get up and go.

Buyers have their choice of two engines. I’ve driven both, and have nothing but praise for each one.

The base model is powered by a 3.2-liter I-6 rated at 235 horsepower and 236 lb.-ft. torque. You can also opt for the all-wheel drive S80 powered by a 4.4-liter V-8 that delivers 311 horsepower and 325 lb.-ft. torque.

Both engines are mated to a six-speed “Geartronic” driver-adaptive automatic transmission.

Braking is handled by a four-wheel ABS system with hydraulic brake assist, optimized hydraulic brakes, ready alert brakes and fading brake support.

Loosely translated, braking is not a problem with this system which is designed to provide the driver with as much assistance as possible in helping avoid accidents.

Another innovative new safety feature is the optional personal car communicator that includes a heartbeat sensor in the remote keyfob. The system is designed to alert the driver someone is inside the vehicle.

Initially designed to help alert parents of a child inadvertently left in the vehicle, the system likewise detects intruders who may be hiding inside a parked vehicle as the driver returns to the car — providing ample time to flee and contact police.

Again, I keep forgetting to talk about S80 luxury. Inside and out, the Scandinavian design provides a sense of elegance and motion — sophisticated, yet not over the top.

Standard features include power memory leather seats, wood inlays, power moonroof, front fog lights, auto-dimming rearview mirror and high performance sound system to name just a few.

With a base price starting below $39,000, I highly recommend the 2007 Volvo S80 for consumers in the market for a luxury sedan. It’s not only an incredibly safe vehicle, it’s also an absolute blast to drive.

Neal White has been covering the automotive industry for more than 15 years and is affiliated with the Texas Auto Writers Association and the Midwest Automotive Media Association. Comments may be sent to Neal at neal.white@waxahachiedailylight.com.