I am in the process of purchasing this car at this time. I am writing this because I took this car for a test drive and what I discovered might help someone else in their decision making process to purchase this model.
The test drive consisted of cruising through 3 states. It lasted for several hours and I logged about 150 miles. I put this car in many traffic situations from 60 mph to stop and go beltway traffic for miles. I traveled country back roads and city streets. In my travels, I felt at all times like I was sitting at home in my favorite chair listening to the stereo.
This model handles very well. It gives enough road feed back to keep you connected, but soaks up the miles while you drive. Steering is as if on rails. Wiggle the steering wheel a little at 55 and one can see how busy the car is maintaining its course.
Parking this vehicle is easy. Negotiating slim lanes in a parking garage and turning sharp corners was a breeze. This car appears to be narrow in a parking space. This helps other cars to not bang the sides with their doors. On the street is a different sensation as it maintains the presence of the space it occupies. It seems that others driving around me seem to give more respect than I am accustomed to when I need to change a lane.
Gas consumption was low enough. For 8 years I normally drive a Camry with a 2.0, fuel injection and automatic. It sips gas. Comparing the gas usage of the Volvo was on the same roads I travel with the Camry.
Also like to make a brief mention that I understand now why you see so many Volvos in Bolivia. That is one mountainous country.. very rugged. Volvo trucks are everywhere pulling those mountains. This little 2.4 4 cylinder gives me the same sensation as it climbs hills. The 4 speed automatic transmission has good shift points for all types of driving situations.
Not knocking Toyota (I have three, a Tercel, Camry and a Tacoma 4x4) but my first impression of the Volvo in the first miles was "refined" driving. Remember now, this is a 9 year old car with 142000 miles that popped my Toyota bubble.
I only have one complaint sort of. No coffee cup holders. I guess the Swedes are not allowed to drink and drive.