1995 Volvo 850 S 2.5L 20-valve from Australia and New Zealand


Excellent build, ride, handling and safety, a little underpowered


LHS outer CV boot is perishing, will need replacement (~$200AUD)

Slight knocking sound in front suspension, mechanic informs me nothing damaging, just a bit of an annoyance.

Leather seats a little worn.

Boot light automatic function inoperative (i.e. light does not turn off when shut the boot)

Driver's side reading light switch faulty.

Heating fan can "hum" and vibrate at low speeds (1 and 2) from time to time.

Nothing major as yet.

General Comments:

After driving a manual Volvo 240 that belonged to my parents, it was time to get my own car. There wasn't much of a choice for me, I knew I wanted a Volvo from the fantastic impression the 240 left me with, but something a little more modern/safer. My family have since got two other 850s for themselves, a GLE and T-5 (which have been interesting in terms of comparison with mine).

I chose this 1996 (model year) Volvo 850 S that has ABS and four airbags (two front, two side) which is still not standard in many Australian cars yet. Managed to pick it up for $4500 from an engineer who was leaving for work in another country and had a quick sale.

Had the car for about a year now and put 20,000kms on the clock. Coming from a reasonably zippy manual to this fairly sedate automatic took a little getting used to, but I now love it. This car is certainly no speed freak (the turbo T-5 is a COMPLETELY different matter!), and manages 0-100kmh in about 11 seconds. The car likes to take off slowly, unless you really stick your foot on it, in which case it will give a fairly good take-off. I always drive with the transmission mode in ECONomy (as opposed to SPORT), which is geared, as the name suggests, for economical driving, and will shift up at lower revs more quickly than in sport mode. In sport mode, the transmission is much more aware of your foot movements on the pedal, anticipating and shifting down well when you want it to. It also has a winter mode, which locks out 1st/2nd and starts the car in 3rd, allowing you to accelerate on slippery surfaces such as ice without wheelspin. This is great when you park on a wet lawn on a slope or something without digging it up. Overtaking performance is good enough, although it can have trouble holding highway speeds on a slight climb in overdrive with A/C on. 5 cyl engine has a lovely sound.

Fantastically reassuring car to drive. Handling is great, one if its best qualities, a bit "squidgier" around bends than turbo models, but obviously a little more comfortable in terms of a smoother ride. Hugs bends like nothing else, never feel like you're losing it at all. Excellent tight turning radius makes it easy to park, although visibility out of the sedan when reversing is not great. A lot of mirror use necessary.

Fuel consumption around Hobart (lots of hills, only about 10 minutes of highway between my house/city, a lot of stopping and starting in city) is about varies between 11-12L/100km, depending on how much time I spend driving around the city. Exclusively on highways or long journeys will get down to around 8.5L/100km. Not too bad for a two-tonne car.

Interior build quality is excellent, hardly any rattles, and has an excellent sounding 6-speaker sound system. Leather is a little worn in mine as I don't believe previous owners looked after it much and the car spent most of its time basking in the Victorian sun. Paintwork is in excellent condition (apart from usual stone chips/scuffs etc). Excellent heater and air conditioner. Ergonomics are spot-on, as usual with Volvo. Not many buttons but everything is there and simple to use. Heaps of room and seats are exceptionally comfortable, with tilt/reach steering and seats that adjust in every possible way. Only thing I'd add would be an armrest for the inside arm of the passenger/driver.

Transmission can give a tiny jerk changing from 1st to 2nd under light acceleration, but I have been told this is normal for a car with this many ks.

In summary:

Beautiful, luxurious car to drive, reassuring handling, excellent build (still has that lovely Volvo door-shutting "thunk"), very safe and relatively economical. Non-turbos could do with a little more oomph though. Still a joy to drive.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 12th April, 2008

28th Apr 2010, 04:06

The knocking sound in the front suspension is probably coming from the ball joint at the bottom of the link rods. They have a tendency to wear. It's cheap and easy to fix.

3rd Mar 2011, 23:13

A great car with great comfort.. just bought from a dealer when the meter reads 194000 kms... everything is perfect, but the pick up power has gone down.. it's a 1995 Volvo.

When starting the car from stop mode, there's a jig jag feeling, as if it can't go any further, but once you move on, it flies like a bird in the sky... Just a bit depressed about the pick up, and everything else is perfect, although the car is 16 years old.

1995 Volvo 850 Turbo 2.3 turbo from North America


Great car if you plan on keeping it for a while and investing the money to keep it running


Control arm bushings, motor mounts and general issues with all other cars (bulbs, normal wear n' tear).

General Comments:

I got this car a week ago from someone I knew who took 'OK' care of the car. No leaks, minor dings and scratches along the road of life.

This is my second Volvo, and if I have learned one thing about these cars, it is that unless you plan on driving the car for a long time without intention of buying another car, then don't get one.

If it is something you plan on driving until it dies and you get another car, you're wasting your money. Volvo's cost money to keep up and running well. It is much cheaper to fix a Volvo than buy another car, and the reward from driving this car is worth it in my opinion.

I replaced the timing belt, all the seals and internals that go with it along with the water pump. I also had to replace the control arm bushings and the motor mounts, along with the shock tower mounts, which seems to be the weak spot on these cars.

Keep the oil changed, the recommended services kept up and this car will go to 300,000 miles no problem. Let it go and try to fix it later and you are in trouble.

Again, fixing this car and driving it is cheaper than a new car, and it runs better than most newer cars.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 22nd February, 2008