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You'll Like The 2009 Volvo S40 If...

f you like to get the most bang for your buck, the 2009 Volvo 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.

You May Not Like The 2009 Volvo S40 If...

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 R-Design, and neither car offers a manual transmission option.

What's New

The V40 2.4i receives more standard equipment, including a five-speed automatic transmission (the manual option has been dropped), 17-inch wheels, upgraded sound system with six-disc CD/MP3 changer, a power moonroof, fog lights, power driver's seat and Bluetooth connectivity. The T5 R-Design receives additional R-inspired trim both inside and out, as well as leather seating with R embossed logo, memory functions for the driver's seat and heated front seats.

Interior Features

Scandinavian in nature, the S40's interior and dashboard qualify as no-frills. Volvo's "ultra-slim" center console is a prominent feature shared with the C30 and S80. 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 Features

The 2009 Volvo S40's design evolves from the more rounded shape that now defines Volvo cars. 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 V50 wagon.

Driving Impressions

Despite the moderate size, the 2009 Volvo 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 or as fun to drive as a manual transmission, somewhat souring the enthusiast experience. 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.

Pricing Notes

The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the 2009 Volvo S40 ranges from around $29,000 for the base 2.4i to just over $33,000 for the front-wheel-drive T5 R-Design. A loaded T5 with all-wheel drive tops out around $40,000. The S40 undercuts the base Audi A4, BMW 328i and Lexus IS by a good margin, but the pricing gap closes quickly once comparable features are added. A look at the Fair Purchase Price shows the actual transaction price customers are paying in your area, so be sure to check it out before you begin negotiations. Although the new S40 is projected to hold respectable values over a five-year period, it still trails the Subaru Impreza, Lexus IS and Audi A4 2.0 in expected long-term residual values.

Notable Equipment

Even in the base 2.4i trim, the S40 features air conditioning, side-curtain airbags, front seat side-impact airbags, anti-lock brakes (ABS), five-speed automatic transmission, an engine immobilizer, Dynamic Stability and Traction Control (DSTC), front and rear fog lamps, keyless remote entry, heated power mirrors, 17-inch alloy wheels, high-performance audio with six-disc CD changer and auxiliary audio input, a power moonroof, power driver's seat, Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity and a tilt and telescoping steering wheel. Upgrading to the T5 R-Design adds a 2.5-liter turbocharged engine, R-Design body and trim kit, automatic climate control, SIRIUS Satellite Radio, heated leather seats, auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass and an eight-way power driver's seat with memory feature.

Notable Options

Popular options are mostly bundled into packages. The base 2.4i offers a Climate Package with heated seats, headlamp washers and rain-sensing wipers. Stand-alone options include leather seating (2.4i), Blind Spot Information System and xenon adaptive headlights. The T5 R-Design offers all-wheel drive, an HDD navigation system with real-time traffic updates, Dynaudio 650-watt sound system, 18-inch "Midir" wheels and Volvo's Keyless Drive remote-start system.

Favorite Features

All-Wheel-Drive Availability

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 suspension boosts handling capabilities without extracting a significant penalty in ride comfort.

Under the Hood

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 T5 R-Design – its 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: 19/28 (FWD), 17/25 (manual, AWD), 18/26 (automatic, AWD)

Editors' Notes

The 2009 Volvo S40 is a fantastic way to enjoy the perks of owning a premium-brand automobile without having to pay a premium price. For around $30,000, 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 R-Design 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.

Road Test Video Reviews

2009 Volvo S40 Owner Reviews

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Elegant, young & reliable.

2009 Volvo S40 2.4L

So I originally purchased the car used at 160,000 miles and the engine performance was incredible. I commuted about 10 miles to work back and forth mon- Fri & it faired up very well. It is a very smooth ride when traveling long distances. The sound system in the vehicle is also probably one of the best sound systems I have ever experienced in a car. It seems to be a full surround sound system that has a lot of low end frequency. Which is great for music lovers. Everyone who has been a passenger in my car loves the wood detailing and trim. It adds a touch of elegance to the car. Overall, the only major problems I have experienced with the car is flat tires here and there & sometimes when I do not get the oil change when required the transmission begins to act a bit sluggish and the car's acceleration decreases. But I love my Volvo and do not plan on letting it go.

- Joe P

It is fun to drive - it handles like a more expensive car (it takes curves like a dream and the turbo means fast acceleration).

2009 Volvo S40

I LOVE my car. Love it. It is always fun to drive, handles like a sports car, but is practical enough to put two carseats in the back for my young children. I call it the "anti-mom" car - no minivan or oversized SUV for me. I want something that is responsive and fun to drive and my Volvo ticks all the boxes. My one complaint is the HVAC - you cannot have both heat and defrost at the same time, which is ridiculous.

- Allison F

I love my Volvo, but it has problems

2009 Volvo S40 2.4L w/Sunroof

I love my little Volvo however it has a leak in the sunroof. Another problem it has been having is overheating and an oil leak. I still live driving it but it is expensive to work on so in the future I may be switching to a more cost friendly option. It is really safe to drive through so that is always a plus!

- Madison R

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