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 R on Thursday, March 05, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 110,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I just got my volvo this past summer. It is such an awesome car. Unfortunately I was involved in an accident recently and it is totaled. I CANNOT BELIEVE HOW SAFE I WAS DURING THE ACCIDENT. My airbag went off and the front took all the damage but I am a-okay. Very safe car, will definitely be getting another volvo soon."
3 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By Kynthiana on Saturday, February 21, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 90,200overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive, great price, low mileage when bought"
Cons: "Had to get fixed within two weeks"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"My hubby bought this for me for our anniversary (January 2015). It's a great car and he got it for a great deal. Under 10,000 and when he bought it it was 89,800 miles. Only issue I had with it was the steering lock column when out and had to get it towed and replaced within the second week (over $500) but I still love it. Best car ever, very luxury, very safe, best gift ever,"
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By SunshineFL on Friday, February 20, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 53,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "So much fun to drive and driver seat is comfortable"
Cons: "Stay up on the maintenance"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I've had two VW vehicles. Volvo has been much more reliable. Excellent driving dynamics, solid and safe car. Still enjoy driving this car eight years later after signing papers. Plan on buying another Volvo. Retains its value and still looks great. No one believes it is eight years old. If you buy one with cloth seats, you can install new custom leather for $1400-1800. Use synthetic oil Michelin tires and premium gas and this car runs so smooth. Change the cabin filter every 15k miles and change the transmission fluid every 30K for best results. Get the sunroof drains cleaned out periodically for $100 and There's a new better quality molding strip you can use around it to prevent leaks."
1 person out of 2 found this review helpful
By francie on Saturday, November 08, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 185,000overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5
"I love this car, but I had no idea how high maintenance costs were on a Volvo. So many issues with things that are normally rare. Love it, but it is a money pit"
11 people out of 15 found this review helpful
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."
29 people out of 43 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."
12 people out of 19 found this review helpful