I got my V70 XC at auction in 2009, and I have absolutely loved it! I will agree that Volvos aren't as good as the years have gone on. That because FORD bought them, and let's be honest, the quality of a Volvo and a Ford are incomparable. My parents have 3 94 850s that have been perfect. No really, my dad bought his 94 850 brand new and has only replaced tires, brakes, and basic "wear and tear" items. When Ford bought them, the electrical issues started.
I have had very minor problems, unlike most of the posters above. I will say that with Volvos there are a few VERY important rules.
1. You MUST maintain your car! Check your oil! Check your antifreeze! These are major things, and if one wears out, before you know it, you will blow a head gasket. Look for leakage under your car! Worn out brakes or tires are the fault of the DRIVER not the car.
Furthermore, the Emissions/Check engine light is a very minor problem. I drove my 97 850 with the check engine light on for over a year in college. It only means that somewhere there is a weak linkage in your emissions lines -- not usually a serious issue.
The second rule with all cars - Volvos especially - NEVER GO TO A DEALERSHIP! It's in their best interest to rip you off.
The only major things I have done to my car is an ABS module -- which should only be about a $200 job, not as much as anyone else keeps saying it should cost -- and my alternator. With most Volvo's ABS modules go wrong by the 10-14 yr mark.
PS - To the poster who believes it is only linked to brakes - WRONG! It's your computer system; anti lock brakes are a part of it, but it's also got a lot to do with all of your other electrical/computer sensors. GET IT FIXED. Look online, there's a guy who refurbishes them for $130.
I once had a rubber hose fail to my breather box... that was $10. Oh, and a rubber nipple on my gas tank went... but let's be honest, the car is 10 years old. Rubber isn't steel. It eventually fails.
Learn about cars. Don't trust dealers. And shop around. You'll find that most of the time a car isn't bad if you take care of it.
I absolutely love this car. My family currently has 8 Volvos ranging from an 2 240 wagons, 4 850s, 1 240 sedan, and my V70 XC. (and we've sold a few over the years.) Even old ones are better than the paying a car payment. I'd rather have a $200 bill to replace a 10 year old part every 6 mos, then pay $400 EVERY MONTH.