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New Car/Review


Volvo V40 (2001)

SEE ALSO: Volvo Buyer's Guide

by Brendan Hagin and Mikele Schappell-Hagin


     Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 24,500
     Price As Tested                                    $ 29,325
     Engine Type        DOHC 16-valve 1.9 Liter turbo I4 w/SMFI*
     Engine Size                                 119 cid/1948 cc
     Horsepower                                   160 @ 5100 RPM
     Torque (lb-ft)                               170 @ 4500 RPM
     Wheelbase/Width/Length                  100.4"/67.7"/176.4"
     Transmission                           Five-speed automatic
     Curb Weight                                     3215 pounds
     Fuel Capacity                                  15.8 gallons
     Tires  (F/R)                           195/65R15 all-season
     Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS)
     Drive Train                   Front-engine/front wheel-drive
     Vehicle Type                       Five-passenger/five-door
     Domestic Content                                  2 percent
     Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                              0.34


     EPA Economy, miles per gallon
        city/highway/average                            22/32/28
     0-60 MPH                                        8.0 seconds
     1/4 (E.T.)                                  16.5 @ 87.0 mph
     Top-speed                                           120 mph
                 * Sequential multi-port fuel injection

BRENDAN - Recently, we've been evaluating a lot of Volvos, but the S80, C70 and S60 that we've tested are all mid-size luxury sedans. This time, we'll try the new V40 station wagon. Since its early days, Volvo has been popular with the station wagon set and lots of today's Generation X'ers spent their formative years in the back seats of those old four-door Volvo wagons of the last three decades. This new version of the genre is the typical modern Volvo: fast, svelte and still practical. It's actually a cross between a family wagon and a sports sedan. Its four-cylinder engine is the smallest powerplant in the current Volvo fleet at 1.9 liters, but with its low-pressure turbocharger, it boasts a healthy 160 horses and 170 pound-feet of torque. And like the rest of the Volvo lineup this year, our V40 is front-wheel drive and can only be had with a five-speed automatic transmission. Last year, one of the bigger Volvos was listed with a five-speed manual, but I understand that the public demand for the car was so low that the company dropped it.

MIKELE - I would have enjoyed a stick-shift on a quick car like this V40 in the past, but after commuting to San Francisco for a couple of years and then having to drive through its madcap city streets during the day, I've really come to appreciate shiftless driving. Even without the manual, it was fun to put the little wagon through its paces on the more twisting byways around home. I'm careful to read the press kits now so I know that the suspension is pretty conventional with MacPherson struts and that the sway bars on both ends help reduce body lean in turns. It has some sort of a sophisticated suspension in the rear, but I don't really understand how it works. The wagon has all the latest gizmos including a 4.5-gallon cooler that is electrically powered by an auxiliary outlet and is mounted in the rear cargo area. It also comes with an umbrella and holder. Volvo must think it rains a lot here in California. I like the fact that it has lots of storage capabilities and places to store stuff as well as the usual cavernous rear cargo area.

BRENDAN - Ours had an impressive sound system with a six-disc in-dash CD changer and an active bass speaker that carried an integrated amplifier. I think all new cars should have at least a single-disc CD player because cassette tapes are getting to be ancient history now. Using the power-operated glass sunroof was great when it wasn't raining, and it's part of an optional Sunroof/Audio Package which our tester had. Our car also had an optional Cold Weather Package that included a headlamp washer/wiper system, heated front seats and traction control. This equipment is almost essential if you live in cold-weather areas, but for us, they're really only handy in the winter when we go up into the ski resort area.

MIKELE - Don't rub it in Bren. Lots of people live where snow isn't just for recreation. But I loved those Volvo seat heaters. I freeze in the mornings and seat heaters warm me quick. The V40 does have a lot of interior features. Its removable cargo security cover is something all wagons and SUVs should come standard with, and the removable front and rear floor mats kept the carpets from getting dirty. The driver's seat has tilt, recline and adjustable lumbar systems, which are heaven-sent for people with fragile backs. The dash gauges are fairly easy to read despite their soft white-on-gray styling, and the AC and heater controls were close enough to keep from having to stretch to reach them. I only have two gripes about the V40. The window operating switches are on the center console, and the ignition switch is located too low on the column. Window controls should always be on the door panels and ignition switches should be high enough for easy access.

BRENDAN - Outside, the V40 was stylish but not too flashy. The 15-inch alloy wheels carry 195/65/15 all-season tires, which look good.

MIKELE - "Flashy" isn't traditional on a Volvo station wagon, Bren, but I realize that this is the 21st century and not the '60s.

BRENDAN - Right on, sister, but Volvo wagons are still pretty groovy.