2002 Volvo V40 1.9T 1.9 litre turbo 4 from North America
V is for Vigor, Versatility, and Value
Nothing so far. It was sold without the remote keyless entry module and with a cracked side-marker lamp, but that's not a reliability issue.
I waited a whole 1,500 miles before posting my review, and I guess time will only tell, but I wanted to give people the chance to hear about my experiences so far.
The V40, overall, is an attractive, comfortable, versatile, and safe vehicle - and probably very attractively priced when used.
The engine is energetic. It has all the "whoosh" of a Jetta 1.8T, without any trace of harshness and with a solid, smooth power curve that makes you forget that the car is turbocharged until you stomp the accelerator when getting onto the highway. It's relatively efficient, too. Though I wonder how accurate the fuel consumption computer is, it is registering numbers between 25 and 32 under normal conditions, even at 5 years old.
I do not, by the way, stomp the gas pedal often. Turbocharged cars are like purebred dogs -mistreatment will definitely shorten its life.
Handling is competent and safe. The ride is a nice compromise between glued-to-the-road and bouncy comfort. There is minimal lean at turn in, and should you happen to get a little crazy on slippery roads, you've got ABS, Volvo's own Dynamic Stability Assistance, and a "winter" button on the transmission that locks in a lower gear to prevent wheelspin. Should you hit something, you have lap/shoulder belts for all passengers, a plethora of airbags including dual-stage front, head curtain, and side impact. There is also something called WHIPS (to prevent whiplash on the front seats) and ISOFIX for child seats in the rear as well as nifty flip-down kiddie seats in the back. Oh, and 5 headrests. No one suffers.
The interior is the most comfortable small-car interior I have ever experienced. The seats, heated and infinitely adjustable in power on the driver's side, have no equal since those of us remember what Peugeot seats were like. Now, when driving the other car in our family, which is a Passat, I notice the difference between passenger comfort at "good" and passenger comfort at "amazing". The Passat has a weird bulge that hits me at middle back. The V40 supports it all- thighs, back, In the winter, the driver's seat heats automatically, and the automatic climate control doesn't blast air on you until its actually warm. The radio has very good sound, although FM reception is kind of weak. CDs, the iPod, and the XM radio all sound great. The seats fold, flip and fold, and the passenger seat folds forward to flat to accomodate long items. It is no coincidence that the V40 was featured in an late 1990s IKEA ad. It seems built to accomodate that sort of shopping. There's also a power moonroof, wood trim, leather interior, rear seat individual reading lamps, am/fm cd AND cassette, and other bits of automatic this and that.
Items you should know:
Volvos are notoriously expensive to service. You also may have read that dealer service is unkind to customer concerns, especially those customer concerns that center around any sort of computer-related problems that make diagnosis and the "repetition" of the problem difficult.
My own first dealer service was a state inspection, which they couldn't really screw up. My car was ready on time, washed, and I got to pick it up inside a building instead of getting handed the key and getting told to go find it. We will see how the rest of it goes when I actually have a real service concern.
Aficionados claim that used Volvos are best repaired by specialists once they are out of warranty. Often, this is cheaper, and they work harder for your business because they compete for it. Again, time will tell.
That said, a well-maintained Volvo will last a long time. Many postings claiming that some sort of luxury car is "crap" fails to recognize that nearly all luxury brands are expensive to maintain and repair. Volvos, Saabs, BMWs, Mercedes-Benzes, and the like - you will fork out cash to fix them. Curiously, these are usually the only 30-year old daily drivers you will see. So there is something in the rep for durability.
If you are looking for something you can abuse for 120,000 miles, never change the oil, and drive daily at 80mph with the handbrake on, then buy a rusty Subaru for 500 bucks (hey, that was what I did when I was 16).
Do not ever lose a Volvo remote - or any Smartkey for that matter. They cost a fortune to replace and the dealer may or may not be nice to you when you ask about getting a new one or a spare. An '02 Volvo will cost a couple of hundred bucks to get a new, OEM spare. Expensive, but a replacement Lexus smartkey is $1500 if you lose it.
All in all, a good buy.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 18th January, 2007