By KBB.com Editors
The S40 is a fantastic way to enjoy the perks of owning a premium brand automobile without having to pay a premium price. For about the same money as a Honda Accord EX, customers can pick up an S40 complete with a frugal yet peppy five-cylinder engine, sporty ride and handling and legendary Volvo safety. For a bit more cash, the S40 T5 ups the ante with a powerful turbocharged engine, the availability of all-wheel drive and a long list of luxury features. While not as sophisticated or adept as an Audi A4 or BMW 3 Series, the S40 nonetheless plays well in this field, offering a nice balance of performance, economy and affordability.
If you like to get the most bang for your buck, the S40 will impress you with its style, content and price. Long known for its emphasis on safety, Volvo carries on the tradition with side-impact and side-curtain airbags, Whiplash Protection Seating System and other safety features.
If you regularly need room for four adults, the S40's cramped rear seat and moderate headroom are a negative. Power in the base car is far from exhilarating and all-wheel drive is available only with the pricier T5.
The 2.4i model receives stability control and a new overhead console, while the front-wheel-drive T5 models now feature a five-speed Geartronic automatic transmission. Optional audio units feature an MP3-compatible CD player and an audio input jack.
Driving Impressions Despite the moderate size, the S40 is one serious automobile, well suited for both the highway and twisting back roads. Stable and solid on the road, the S40 T5's steering...yields sharp, reasonably quick responses. Quiet and refined, the T5 is a spirited performer with its easy-action six-speed manual gearshift and courteous clutch. Except for appropriate engine sounds when accelerating, little noise is heard. The T5's suspension is noticeably stiffer than usual for Volvos, but discomfort occurs only on rougher bumps. On satisfactory surfaces, the ride is smooth enough. Though easy to load, the trunk's size is modest.
Even if required only occasionally, all-wheel drive enhances the Volvo's feeling of security. Most of the time, you don't even realize all-wheel drive is present.
Dynamic Sport Suspension
Standard on the T5 all-wheel drive and optional for the regular T5 sedan, Volvo's stiffer suspension boosts handling capabilities without extracting a significant penalty in ride comfort.
Scandinavian in nature, the S40's interior and dashboard qualify as no-frills. Volvo claims the "ultra-slim" center console is the first of its kind on the market. While the console looks neat, its stylistic slimness would make it difficult to upgrade to an aftermarket audio unit. The company promotes the S40's "ergonomically designed" seats, and their comfort on long drives is undeniable. On the dashboard, temperature and fuel gauges are integrated into the speedometer, but are easy enough to read. Some controls on the vertical console aren't quite as logical as they look, and glovebox space is meager. Compact outside, the S40 is quite roomy in the front-seat area, though it lacks headroom.Exterior
The S40's design evolves from the more rounded shape Volvo started with the S80. Few traces of the old squared-off profiles are left on today's products from the Swedish-based automaker. What Volvo calls Intelligent Vehicle Architecture includes "extremely rigid" cross members for side-impact protection and a considerable amount of high-tensile steel in the structure. Manufactured in Belgium, the S40 bears a close resemblance to other Volvo models. Up front, at least, it's a virtual twin to the new V50 wagon.
Even in the base 2.4i trim, the S40 features air conditioning, anti-lock brakes (ABS), an engine immobilizer, traction control, rear fog lamps, keyless remote entry, heated power mirrors, a CD player and a tilt/telescoping steering wheel. Upgrading to the T5 adds a 2.5-liter turbocharged engine, automatic climate control and an eight-way power driver's seat.
Popular options are mostly bundled into packages. The base 2.4i offers a Climate Package with heated seats, headlamp washers and rain-sensing wipers. The Select Package adds a power glass moonroof, six-disc CD/MP3 player, upgraded speakers, trip computer and a power driver's seat. Stand-alone options include leather seating and SIRIUS Satellite Radio. The T5 offers bi-xenon headlamps, sport steering wheel, sport suspension, power passenger seat, navigation and Keyless Drive remote start.
The standard 2.4-liter engine is adequate for the casual driver, but lacks the low-end punch needed for quick bursts of speed when passing or merging. If you can swing the extra cash, opt for the T5its turbocharged engine brings the little S40 to life. The T5's six-speed manual is great fun for those who still enjoy shifting their own gears, but the five-speed Geartronic automatic won't disappoint you, either.
2.4-liter in-line 5
168 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
170 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/29 (manual), 22/31 (automatic)
2.5-liter in-line 5 Turbocharged
218 horsepower @ 5000 rpm
236 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/30 (FWD manual), 21/30 (FWD automatic), 20/28 (AWD manual), 20/28 (AWD automatic)
By Butch on Thursday, May 29, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 109,000overall rating 4 of 10rating details
Pros: "Looks Sporty"
Cons: "Too many annoying problems"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Things happen to these cars that don't happen to Toyotas and Honda's. Wheel bearing going out at 90,000 miles, leaking AC drain that caused two inches of water in the car twice a year, sunroof motor shot at 75000 miles. Headliner fell apart at 80,000 miles. Interior light console fell off at 90,000 miles. I won't buy a Volvo again."
16 people out of 22 found this review helpful
By Suzanna on Wednesday, May 28, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 40,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Very safe!"
Cons: "Sunroof leaks"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"Volvo is a great car. I would consider a Volvo for my next vehicle mainly due to its safety, but without the sunroof -it may leak. Repairs take up to two weeks. Visit all Volvo dealerships in your area prior to purchasing."
3 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By Johnnygee on Sunday, April 27, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 81,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "sporty, great looking, mint condition"
Cons: "Rear window passenger side does not operate."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"Love this car, it drives beautifully, brand new tires, A/c recently recharged and serviced, new brakes installed, mint condition. I have all the records of work/maintenance since I bought it in 2009. The only reason I am selling is because the family is growing. Need a larger vehicle"
1 person out of 4 found this review helpful
By Mitch on Monday, April 21, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 112,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive, great seats and reliable"
Cons: "Nothing major"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I bought this car new in 2005 and it has been solid, reliable transportation that has been fun to drive. The driving feel strikes a good balance between sports sedan and smooth road car. I get better than advertised highway mileage (about 31 to 32 mpg) and a fair 23 mpg in straight urban driving. The mileage at 112,000 is the same as when the car was new. Reliability has been good. Other than tires, brakes & oil changes, there have been only a couple of issues. A fuel sensor needed replacing at about 80K (cost about $500) and I had front struts and an engine mount replaced at about 110,000 miles which fully cured a minor rattle that had developed in the past 10,000 miles. The car now seems as solid & quiet as when new. The interior still looks good and the seats are super for long trips - much better than most cars. I've owned & driven a lot of cars, both US & foreign, over the past almost 50 years and this has been the among the best in terms of low maintenance cost while remaining as much fun to drive now as when new. The only pity is that the S40 is now discontinued and the S60 is much pricier as Volvo now spends more time chasing the upscale German & Japanese manufacturers. I haven't yet made up my mind if I want to pay what a Volvo now costs when it comes time to get a new car here in the next year or so, but the brand is sure on the short list."
7 people out of 8 found this review helpful
By Hanburger Hands on Sunday, March 02, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 125,000overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "powerful, responsive handling, comfortable"
Cons: "Fussy engineering, marginal components"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 4
"We bought this car with 99k on the clock, since then the Volvo has been laid up in our garage almost once a month for repairs. This model is about as simple a Volvo as one could buy these days, manual transmission and very few options however it seems nearly every part of the car is just disintegrating. Failed items include the head unit, alternator, front LCA's, front wheel bearings, c/v joint boot torn necessitating new half shaft, new set of ignition coils,headliner and shift cable.Items not long for this world include upholstery, VVT solenoid, exterior paint and various bits of plastic trim. The car is a pleasure to drive when it is working and my understanding is that many of the marginal components on this particular early production example have been upgraded. Servicing the S40 has been somewhat more difficult than most cars, the engine bay is particularly cramped."
6 people out of 8 found this review helpful
By greg on Sunday, February 23, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 46,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "looks great, fun to drive"
Cons: "maintenance cost"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I love this car. Drove on trip recently and it did great. I would definitely recommend this car to anyone who wants a luxury car with spunk. Gets up and goes when you need it to and also cruises nicely."
3 people out of 3 found this review helpful