The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

2005 Volvo S40 T5 AWD Review

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)


MODEL: 2005 Volvo S40 T5 AWD
ENGINE: 2.5-liter turbocharged 5-cylinder
HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 218 hp @ 5,000 rpm/236 lb.-ft. @ 1,500-4,800 rpm TRANSMISSION: 6-speed manual
WHEELBASE: 103.9 in.
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT: 175.9 x 69.7 x 57.2 in.
TIRES: 205/55R17 all-season
ECONOMY: 19 mpg city/27 mpg highway/21.5 mpg test
PRICE: $30,440

The cool new Volvo S40 is a compact sedan. Volvo would probably prefer that it be called something larger, but in reality it’s compact. Rear seat legroom, for example, is tight for anyone approaching six feet in height. There are indents in the backs of the front seats to accommodate knees, but if the front passengers want their seats back on the stops it would be tight. Dimensionally, the S40’s 103.9-inch wheelbase fits right in the middle of the compact car segment, while its overall length is somewhat shorter. The S40 is built on the same platform as the Mazda3. But Volvo makes a lot of larger sedans, so the compact S40 fits in nicely with the rest of the line. In fact, it fits in nicely with any other compact sedan that may happen to be on the road today. Styling, by an all-new Volvo designer, is in the modern Volvo idiom. It is rounded and aerodynamic, while still retaining Volvo styling cues. These include the “stepped” taillights and the classic Volvo grille. I’m always impressed when manufacturers such as Volvo and Mercedes-Benz can take what was originally an erect square grille and make it aerodynamic. The front seats are excellent. They are cloth with leather trim. And it’s not the cheezy velour cloth that many manufacturers use. The driver’s seat is powered; the passenger’s is manual. The Volvo S4 is among the most comfortable that I have had lately. The seats were not heated, much to the consternation of my wife. There were individual heat controls for the front passengers, however, which helped mitigate her fears about us liking different ambients. The instrument panel was basic with a speedometer and tachometer. Inside the speedometer dial was the fuel level gauge; inside the tach dial was the water temp gauge. In addition we had a digital readout that was a trip computer and told us we averaged 21.5 mpg. It was also an outside temperature thermometer readout and a digital clock. We had power windows, door locks and mirrors. The S40 did not have a sunroof, which to me was not an asset. It had a good trunk, listed at 14.3 cubic feet. It could have been larger, but the rear seat back folded to increase trunk capacity enormously. There was a flat floor to the trunk, under which was the spare tire and tools. Under the hood is a 2.5-liter turbocharged five-cylinder engine. Power reached the wheels through a six-speed manual gearbox. At 218 hp, there was more than enough power in the engine, and the gearbox was a dream to use. It always seemed to know exactly which gear I wanted. Translated that means I missed few shifts. I had been driving a high-performance car the week before. The Volvo’s gearbox was much easier to use. I have a favorite road test route that takes me over a mountain and has some tight twists and turns. There are also trees close to the road, so I don’t want to make any mistakes. The S40 loved this road. It handled the curves like a pro, yet had a soft enough suspension that it didn’t jar my dentures loose. I was impressed with the quality of the ride. There was none of the harshness of stiffer suspensions, yet there was all of the good handling. I recall driving the S40 at the car’s introduction in California. There we drove over some great mountain and canyon roads that are a good test for any car. What was nice to know, though, was that the S40 is as great on normal suburban roads as it is on the super road test byways of California. Several of the times I drove this road there was fog and/or rain. The S40’s all-wheel drive handled the slippery road surfaces with no problems. The AWD was invisible, in that I never knew when it was working. Among the features I liked were the turn signals on the outside rearview mirrors. I feel that the more information you can give other drivers on the road, the better. Our sound system was a Bose premium with an AM/Fm stereo and an in-dash six CD changer. The quality of sound was excellent for what I’m interested in. The center console consisted of a pair of consoles and a 12V outlet. The shape of the center stack of the console resembles a remote channel changer. It can be reconfigured relative to the positions of some of the switches and replaced if you want a different color. There’s also a small storage console in the center as well. If there was a complaint, it was that the headrests were almost too large at the outboard positions. However, the center seat in the rear had a smaller headrest so the driver could at least see something out there. Being a Volvo, the S40 has air bags and curtains all over the place, which is not a bad thing. The bottom line of the S40 is $30,440, with a base price of $27,710. The sound system added $850, traction control and dynamic stability added another $695, 1-inch alloy wheels another $500 and the destination charge was $685. 2005 The Auto Page Syndicate