By KBB.com Editors
The Volvo V50 is a compact premium wagon derived from the same chassis as the sporty S40 sedan. Although not large enough to provide a third-row seat, the V50's enclosed cargo area offers easy access when loading or retrieving items, as well as additional roof space on which to stow gear. With the rear seats folded down, the V50 can carry a fair bit of cargo or make room for the family dog. The V50 is far more fun to drive than a compact SUV, offers the added traction and stability provided by available all-wheel drive and is loaded with the latest Volvo safety and security technologies.
If passenger safety is a top priority, the V50's side-impact airbags, side-curtain airbags and Whiplash Protection Seating System should hold strong appeal. In addition to the cargo-hauling capabilities of a wagon and appealing gas-mileage estimates, Volvo promises a healthy dose of performance with the turbocharged T5.
If you need room for four adults plus luggage, the V50's cramped rear seat will prompt a move to the larger (and more expensive) V70. Unlike wagons from Subaru, the V50's all-wheel-drive option can be ordered only with the pricey, top-of-the-line trim.
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 Although the basic driving experience differs little from Volvo's S40 sedan, the V50 feels more serious and solid. Both are civilized, quiet and spirited compacts, especially with the more potent...turbocharged engine. On snow-packed and icy surfaces the all-wheel-drive V50 clings with confidence. Despite the V50's refinement, and due to the standard Sport Suspension, the ride in the all-wheel-drive T5 can get rough on harsher surfaces. Even rolling through moderate imperfections may feel a little jittery, particularly to people who value plush comfort over crisp handling. Nimble in urban settings and stable on the road, the V50 T5 reacts quickly to the steering wheel, perhaps more quickly than less-enthusiastic drivers might find comfortable.
Anyone in the snow belt or who drives frequently on wet or slippery surfaces should appreciate the merits of all-wheel drive. Too bad it isn't available in the non-turbocharged 2.4i model.
Turbocharged Engine in T5
Like the all-wheel-drive system, Volvo's turbocharged engine does its job eagerly and effortlessly, without attracting undue attention to itself.
Basic in nature, the V50's interior reflects the spartan themes popular in Scandinavian automobiles. The ultra-slim center console is claimed to be the first of its kind and is available with optional aluminum facing. One drawback to the design is the limitations it places on installing an aftermarket audio unit. Volvo promotes "ergonomically designed" seating, including 60/40-split folding rear seats. Some controls on the console aren't quite as logical as they first appear. Though roomy enough up front, the V50 conveys a cozy sensation. Cargo space totals 37.4 cubic feet with the rear seat up and 62.9 cubic feet with the seat folded.Exterior
Built in Belgium rather than Sweden, the V50 closely resembles other, larger Volvo models. Up front it's a virtual twin to the S40 sedan. Both Volvos are related to the European Ford Focus and the Mazda3. The V50 is an evolution of the sportswagon "design language" that began with the larger V70 family wagon, but brandishes some "aggressive lines." Certain design characteristics are borrowed from classic Volvos, including the sporty 1800ES of the 1960s. Intelligent Design Architecture includes eight "exceptionally rigid" cross members for enhanced side-impact protection.
In basic 2.4i form the V50 has a five-speed automatic transmission, air conditioning, alarm, immobilizer, remote keyless entry, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, rear wiper/washer, rear fog lamps, Dynamic Stability and Traction Control and single CD player. Side-impact and curtain-style airbags are standard. In addition to a turbocharged engine, the T5 adds a six-speed manual transmission (all-wheel-drive only) and eight-way power driver's seat. Alloy wheels hold standard 16-inch tires and the V50's anti-lock braking (ABS) incorporates electronic brake-force distribution and Brake Assist for more effective panic stops. A Dynamic Sport Suspension is standard on the all-wheel-drive T5.
Many of the V50's most desirable options are bundled into packages. The base 2.4i, for example, 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, 17-inch alloy wheels, power passenger seat, DVD navigation and Keyless Drive remote start.
The V50's 2.4-liter in-line five-cylinder engine provides solid, if unspectacular performance. The sports-minded T5 is equipped with a turbocharged version of the same engine, offering 50 additional horsepower and, more importantly, better torque for quicker acceleration.
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), 19/27 (AWD manual), 20/28 (AWD automatic)
By motherof3andavolvo on Wednesday, August 13, 2014
I owned and sold this car
Reason: wanted newer volvo
Pros: "fun to drive, reliable, and elegant"
Cons: "more expensive tires than usual, but its a volvo"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"The 2008 Volvo v50 was one of the better Volvos I've driven. I never really had any problems with the car, other than having to fix the oil pan because of these horrible pot holes in New Orleans. The only flaw is that the tires or more expensive because only premium tires fit on it."
7 people out of 12 found this review helpful
By Abby Dog on Thursday, June 05, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 22,500overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Lots to love with the great handling."
Cons: "I wish I could buy another one!"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"The skateboard for the normal people. Lots of juice. Been happy with it for 5 years. Been fortunate for having the 5 year bumper to bumper service included with the purchase and only needed it once with a leak in the AC."
10 people out of 16 found this review helpful
By Kathryn165 on Monday, May 26, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 65,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great handling, even at hi speeds on country roads"
Cons: "There are no cons; this car is perfect"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I did the research for 3 years, and when I saw the local Volvo dealer's newspaper ad for this retired service loaner, I jumped on it. It meets all my needs, has plenty of cargo space, and has been perfectly dependable. Because I am an avid gardener, my car has to be a work horse, not a show horse, and I have absolutely no complaints. It's now 10 years old and still looks brand new, handles remarkably, and performs beautifully."
3 people out of 8 found this review helpful
By Zeke on Saturday, April 12, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 72,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "looks, comfort, pep, owning cost"
Cons: "fuel mileage"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"This car just keeps on going; summer or winter, never a problem. Plenty of pep for highway on ramps and passing, fuel mileage a little low at about 22-25"
8 people out of 10 found this review helpful
By Sunnie on Thursday, February 06, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 85,365overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "Attractive car, eye catching, dependable"
Cons: "A.C. issues, economic, can load it up, info above"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6
"A new version of this yes, this car no, unknown to me it had been in a wreck. Yes, I received the CarFAX, it did not disclose it. I have paid for repairs every year I have owned it. Air Conditioner does not work well, and usually goes out when it is HOT outside! I have hauled a full size dishwasher in it, fullsize legal filing cabinet in it, large antique Curio Cabinet in it, it is a workhorse. I have had to replace several expensive items twice - full set of tires, battery, wheel bearing assembly, oil canister, etc. But it performs for me, has some interior and exterior woes, and the black decorative, seals around the windows are brittle and scaling off. The appearance at a distance is good. Interior panels on front doors is in shabby condition needs to be replaced."
7 people out of 10 found this review helpful
By Wagonman on Thursday, December 26, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 41,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Looks, drive (stability, etc.), general comfort,"
Cons: "Gas mileage; might not be for a large person."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I have always respected Volvo for its reputation as a safe and dependable car, and in the last few years as a leader in design. All models are attractive. I bought my V50 used 1 1/2 years ago, and I have really liked just about everything about it. The gas mileage is only about 21, but I do not drive a lot and mostly in-town. I would not have chosen the low-profile tires, though that feature might be giving me better traction, etc. But I am still discovering features that I like, and right from the first I liked the interior design; most current cars have a "control console" that looks like a '40s juke box slapped into a jerry-rigged dashboard. The V50 has a handsome practical, integrated dashboard with a simple understated but feature-rich console. The dealership has been excellent to deal with so far, though recently it was gobbled up by a mega-dealer, and things might change. I paid a little more than I intended for this car, but I don't regret it."
9 people out of 10 found this review helpful