By KBB.com Editors
There are plenty of compact sport sedans on the market. Some try to win over customers by offering high-end features at a bargain price. Others entice buyers with a combination of European styling, handling and craftsmanship. One car that manages to do both is the 2011 Volvo S40. The 2011 Volvo S40 boasts a 227-horsepower turbocharged engine and long list of standard and available features. While not as polished as an Audi A3 or Lexus IS 250, the Volvo S40 is a viable competitor with either car, thanks to its balance of performance, economy and affordability.
If you're looking for a premium compact sedan loaded with features at a very modest price, spend some time behind the wheel of a 2011 Volvo S40. With its Whiplash Protection System and other safety features, the Volvo S40 will appeal to your need for security, as well.
If you need all-wheel drive, a backseat large enough to fit two adults or the hands-on driving experience that can only be had with a manual transmission, the 2011 Volvo S40 probably won't make your top 10 list.
For 2011, Volvo has discontinued the base S40 2.4i model and dropped the manual transmission and all-wheel-drive option. The T5 becomes the entry-level S40 while the R-Design remains the top-of-the-line offering.
Driving Impressions Despite being quiet and refined, the 2011 Volvo S40 T5 is a lively performer. While we found the smooth-shifting five-speed Geartronic automatic transmission adeptly handled the engine's power, the manual...shift mode is not as quick or as fun to drive as a manual transmission. The Volvo S40 T5 is as at home dashing through mountain curves as it is darting in and out of city traffic. The Volvo S40 T5's steering yields sharp, reasonably quick responses and the suspension strikes a comfortable blend of sporty and smooth. Those seeking a more-spirited driving experience should opt for the Volvo S40 R-Design, which has a stiffer suspension and a more-aggressive wheel and tire package.
Volvo's premium audio system sounds and looks fantastic. From the floating center console that houses the radio controls, to the hidden navigation screen that rises up from the dash, the Volvo S40's Multimedia package is well worth the $2,000 asking price.
Dynamic Sport Suspension
The Volvo S40's R-Design's sport suspension boosts handling capabilities without extracting a significant penalty in ride comfort.
True to the long-established school of Scandinavian design, the 2011 Volvo S40's interior is modern yet minimalistic. It includes Volvo's signature ultra-slim waterfall center stack, which is attractive but prohibits the installation of an aftermarket audio system. Volvo's ergonomically designed front seats provide plenty of comfort and support on long drives, but the rear seat is cramped for two adults, especially if the front seats are in their rear-most positions. T-Tec fabric seating is standard on the base Volvo S40 T5. The Volvo S40 R-Design's vividly contrasting white and black seats are striking. An all-black leather package is optional. We like the Volvo S40's easy-to-read gauges, but some of the smaller controls on the floating console are difficult to operate.Exterior
Once heralded as the new face of Volvo, the aging S40 design now looks a bit conservative, especially when compared to the newest members of the Volvo family, the sleek S60 Sedan and XC60 Crossover. Still, the 2011 Volvo S40 is a handsome vehicle. It's fitted with Volvo's signature grille design, V-shaped hood, and body-contouring tail lights. The S40's body follows what Volvo calls Intelligent Vehicle Architecture, which includes "extremely rigid" cross members for better side-impact protection.
Both the base 2011 Volvo S40 T5 and Volvo S40 R-Design feature a 227-horsepower, 2.5-liter, turbocharged, five-cylinder engine coupled to a five-speed automatic transmission. Other standards include fog lamps, eight-way power driver's seat, keyless remote entry, heated power mirrors and 17-inch alloy wheels. The audio system includes HD Radio, a single CD changer, a USB/iPod interface and Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity. Upgrading to the Volvo S40 R-Design adds a body and trim kit, sport suspension, leather seating surfaces, a power passenger seat and a power moonroof.
Popular options are mostly bundled into packages. The Climate Package provides heated seats, headlamp washers, an air filtration system, automatic climate control and rain-sensing wipers. The Multimedia Package adds a 650-watt Dynaudio 10-speaker Surround Sound system, HDD Navigation, Real Time Traffic and two map updates. A power moonroof, power passenger seat, and leather seating surfaces are part of the Preferred Package. The Blind Spot Information System and rear park assist are stand-alone options.
The Volvo S40's turbocharged 2.5-liter engine pumps out 227 horsepower, runs on regular gas and can go 30 miles on a single gallon of gasoline. The five-cylinder design transmits a bit of vibration and there is lack of low-end torque until the turbo kicks in. Enthusiasts will pine for more power, but they're unlikely to purchase a Volvo S40.
2.5-liter in-line 5 turbo
227 horsepower @ 5000 rpm
236 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1500-5000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/30
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"
1 person out of 2 found this review helpful
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."
3 people out of 3 found this review helpful