You'll Like The 2009 Volvo V50 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 The 2009 Volvo V50 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.
The V50 2.4i receives more standard equipment, while the front-wheel drive T5 model has been discontinued. The all-wheel drive T5 receives R-Design styling enhancements (unique grille, body cladding and leather interior), as well as more standard equipment.
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.
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.
The front-wheel-drive 2.4i Sport Wagon has a Manufacturer's Suggest Retail Price (MSRP) starting around $31,000, while the front-drive T5 trim starts closer to $36,000 and when fully-loaded tops out around $42,000. The Audi A3 is similarly priced but offers a more powerful V6 engine option and more standard content, while the Subaru Impreza wagon is less expensive and features standard all-wheel drive. Before you begin negotiating price, be sure to check the Fair Purchase Price. It shows the typical transaction price being paid for the V50 in your area. As the V50 doesn't have many competitors, it holds a slightly better-than-average five-year resale value, but still well below the Audi A3 and Subaru Impreza Wagon.
In basic 2.4i form the V50 has a five-speed automatic transmission, air conditioning, alarm, immobilizer, remote keyless entry, power moonroof, power driver's seat, Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity, rear wiper/washer, front and rear fog lamps, Dynamic Stability and Traction Control, SIRIUS Satellite Radio and a high-performance audio system with six-disc in-dash CD/MP3 player and auxiliary audio input jack. Side-impact and curtain-style airbags are standard. In addition to a turbocharged engine, the T5 adds driver's seat memory, aluminum roof rails, leather seating surfaces, automatic climate control and heated front seats. Alloy wheels hold standard 17-inch tires and the V50's anti-lock braking (ABS) incorporates electronic brake-force distribution and Brake Assist for more effective panic stops.
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. Stand-alone options include leather seating, rear booster cushions and the Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) and active bi-xenon headlamps. The T5 offers an HDD navigation system with real-time traffic updates, the Dynaudio package that adds a 650-watt sound system with Dolby II Surround Sound and 12 speakers and Keyless Drive remote start.
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. It also runs quite happily on regular octane fuel.
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 @ 1500-4800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/26
The 2009 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.