By KBB.com Editors
The 2008 Volvo 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 2.4i 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, the Whiplash Protection 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, which doesn't offer a manual transmission option.
The V40 gets a slight freshening with a new front end and numerous interior improvements. An auxiliary audio input jack and a tire-pressure monitor are standard on all versions. T5 models get nearly 10 additional horsepower but lose their manual transmission option. SIRIUS Satellite Radio is standard on all T5 models.
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 smooth-shifting five-speed Geartronic automatic transmission adeptly handling the engine's power. Unfortunately, the Geartronic manual shift mode is not as quick nor as fun to drive as the discontinued six-speed manual. 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
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 good rear seat 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, side-curtain airbags, front seat side-impact airbags, anti-lock brakes (ABS), an engine immobilizer, traction control, rear fog lamp, keyless remote entry, heated power mirrors, 16-inch alloy wheels, a single CD player and a tilt/telescoping steering wheel. Upgrading to the T5 adds a 2.5-liter turbocharged engine, five-speed automatic transmission, automatic climate control, upgraded audio with six-disc in-dash CD changer, SIRIUS Satellite Radio 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 changer, upgraded speakers, trip computer and a power driver's seat. Stand-alone options include leather seating (2.4i), Blind Spot Information System and the five-speed Geartronic automatic transmission (2.4i). The T5 offers Active Bi-Xenon headlamps, sport steering wheel, sport suspension, 17-inch "Zaurak" wheels, navigation and Volvo's Keyless Drive remote start system.
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 five-speed Geartronic automatic is not as quick as Audi's DSG manual-shift transmission, but it's the only choice for those who prefer shifting their own gears.
2.4-liter in-line 5
168 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
170 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/28
2.5-liter in-line 5 Turbocharged
227 horsepower @ 5000 rpm
236 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1500-5000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/27 (automatic, FWD), 19/28 (manual, FWD), 18/26 (automatic, AWD), 17/25 (manual, AWD)
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."
2 people out of 3 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
By friar on Thursday, January 16, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 130,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Cons: "Repair cost"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"Like the Volvo S40. It has been reliable, has pretty good gas mileage and is comfortable and safe. Downside is the cost of maintenance and repair. You get what you pay for, but wish repairs didn't add more to the expense of maintaining a Volvo"
By LabMama on Tuesday, January 07, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 200,000overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive"
Cons: "Everything else!"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"We purchased this model new in 2007 because my husband drives a lot and we were sold on Volvo's legendary safety and reliability. I can't speak to the safety aspect because thankfully we haven't had an accident in it, but as far as reliability...well...it doesn't live up to the hype. We've repaired the AC three times and had to replace the engine and both front axels. The headlamps have to be replaced several times per year, the rear lamps less frequently. The vehicle is spry and fun to drive but the interior is pretty utilitarian and not the most comfortable car in the world. I would not recommend a Volvo to anyone and I will not be purchasing another. It is very expensive to do even routine maintenance much less repairs the Volvo mechanics at the dealer charge at $200/hr."
2 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By warnock on Tuesday, November 05, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 130,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "smooth drive!"
Cons: "repairs are costly because of the volvo name"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Love this car!, we've had ours for years and never had any problems, it is about 9 years old and has above 100,000 miles on it and drives better than new cars. Strong sturdy car. LOVE!"
2 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By JOP on Friday, October 04, 2013
I don't own this caroverall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Auto Check Vehicle History Report Available."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Terrific vehicle. Purchased after my daughters divorce and wanted a good vehicle for small grandsons safety. Has proved to meet all expectations. Safety, gas mileage, comfort, reliable, handles well in ALL weather."
2 people out of 2 found this review helpful