Vehicle Type: Sedan / Wagon
History/Description: Volvo’s compact sedan and wagon twins were called the S40 and V50, respectively, and shared the same mechanical bits while offering safety-minded shoppers the choice between a traditional compact four-door and a small station wagon with extra room and versatility. An eye for Scandinavian style and upscale driving comfort was built right in.
2007 Volvo S40 & 2008 Volvo V50. Click image to enlarge
Available from 2005 until 2011 inclusive, look for the pair with naturally aspirated or turbocharged power, front- or all-wheel drive and automatic or manual transmissions, depending on the model selected.
Features included power seats, a driver computer, a sunroof, automatic climate control, iPod connectivity and premium audio – depending on the model.
Engines / Trim: When shopping a used S40 or V50, note that the designation after the model name references its engine and driveline. For instance, a V50 2.4i is the station wagon model with the 2.4L five-cylinder engine. This engine came with 168 horsepower and a five-speed manual transmission, and drove the front wheels. A five-speed automatic was available.
Conversely, an S40 T5 AWD would be the sedan model, with 2.4L five-cylinder turbo engine and all-wheel drive. This powerplant produced 227 horsepower but could only be had with an automatic transmission. Some models got a T5 designation, indicating the presence of the turbo engine but no AWD.
2009 Volvo V50 (top) & 2008 Volvo V50. Click image to enlarge
In 2009, Volvo made a sporty ‘R-Design’ variant of their wagon available. It got the turbo engine and AWD, and also featured various cosmetic upgrades to the wheels and bumpers, new colour schemes and a sports-tuned suspension that geared it towards family or activity-minded driving enthusiasts.
Note that after 2010, models with manual transmissions and AWD were discontinued.
What Owners Like: Owners tend to rate refinement, engine performance (with T5 powerplant), ride and handling, interior styling and a feeling of safety and confidence the most highly on their S40s and V50s. Al-wheel drive (AWD) traction during winter months is also highly rated, especially when the model in question is wearing winter tires. The rain-sensing wipers are typically enjoyed, as is what some owners call a ‘just-right’ size that balances interior space, agility and maneuverability.
In all, many owners seem to be benefiting from an upscale, confident and comfortable car. The simplistic Scandinavian interior design is, apparently, pleasant and user friendly. Many owners report satisfaction with the fuel mileage from the 2.4L non-turbo engine, too.
What Owners Dislike: Limited cabin storage, fuel mileage and blind spots are among the most common owner-stated complaints. Some owners also dislike the S40 and V50’s desire for premium gasoline, and stiff (sporty) ride on models with the sports suspension, too. Several owners also wish for higher performance from the up-level ‘premium’ stereo option, and several more admit that there are sportier and more prestigious premium models in the price range.
When test driving a used S40 or V50, check for proper operation of the external temperature readout, climate control system and all door-mounted controls, including the power locks, mirrors and windows. Some owners have reported door-mounted controls going dead at random, which could be pricey to repair. Other electrical glitches include failure of the power outlets and seat warmers. Plan to spend a few minutes double-checking proper operation of everything inside the S40 or V50 that runs on electricity.