2008 Volvo V50

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2008 Volvo V50 Review

By KBB.com Editors

The 2008 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.

You'll Like This Car If...

If passenger safety is a top priority, the V50's side-impact airbags, side-curtain airbags and Whiplash Protection 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.

You May Not Like This Car If...

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.

What's New for 2008

The V50 receives a slight front and rear freshening as well as numerous interior upgrades. T5 models see a bump in horsepower to 227 and feature standard SIRIUS Satellite Radio and an upgraded audio system. The manual transmission for both trims has been discontinued.

Driving the V50
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, the ride in the all-wheel-drive T5 can get rough on harsher surfaces, and even rolling over 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.

All-Wheel Drive
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.

2008 Volvo V50 Details

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.


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.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

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 lamp, 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 an eight-way power driver's seat, SIRUS Satellite Radio, automatic climate control, watch-dial instrumentation and a six-disc CD changer. 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.

Optional Equipment

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, rear booster cushions and the Blind Spot Information System (BLIS). The T5 offers Active Bi-Xenon headlamps, sport steering wheel, sport suspension, 17- and 18-inch alloy wheels, power passenger seat, DVD navigation and Keyless Drive remote start.

Under the Hood

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 59 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: 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)

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