1999 Volvo V70 Base 2.4 gasoline from North America
Comfortable, smooth, quiet, roomy, nice details; just hope it will be as dependable as my Honda was!
The previous owners gave me all the service records from when the car was new. The common problems were fixed under warranty: upper motor mount, main window switch, light bulb sockets. Other than that, scheduled maintenance was carefully followed. Wear items fixed were the brakes, belts, tires, battery, one axle, and two windshields, because of rocks. Pretty much reliable.
I bought this car because my Honda got totalled, and I don't drive automatics! I was looking for a 5 speed, otherwise a Volvo would not have been under consideration. The only observations about driving it are that the steering is pretty light, and the shifter isn't as precise as the Honda's was, and it isn't quite as agile or fast.
Looking over the receipts, I have noticed that the car still has the original muffler, clutch, starter, alternator, water pump and struts. I guess I'll have to take care of each of these pretty soon, but I can do them myself. It speaks well of Volvo that these parts have lasted 15 years and 155,000 miles!
It has a rattle in the dash when it's cold - apparently this is fairly common. Also, the wires to the third brake light have frayed and need to be replaced; also a design fault, or poor quality wiring was used (probably the latter).
The seats are SO comfortable - they fit like a glove. There are lots of thoughtful details, like a clip on the left side of the windshield to hold parking permits. The sunroof slides open and also tilts up. There is little light that will come on if it's cold enough at the road surface for ice to be present. There are two hood latches instead of just one.
If you look at reviews of the most problematic V70s, the automatic transmissions eventually will go out, at a very high cost, and the AWD tends to cause problems. Mine is a non-turbo, 5 speed, front wheel drive, which appears to be the most reliable set-up. If you work on your own car and shop around for parts, the V70 should not break your bank. If you have to use the dealership to get your tires rotated, you're better off with a Toyota.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 16th January, 2014
Good luck, but as you've said, your model hasn't got the "complications" normally added to North American models, which make them expensive to own at a higher mileage - turbo, automatic, AWD. In saying that, as with any car, the mileage means you will encounter a few wear and tear items.
Personally first thing I'd do is change the fan belts, water pump, thermostat and hoses - overheating will cause either extensive or irreparable damage, but is usually caused by those three things.
I also had a "stripper" model Volvo (mine was an 06 S60 sedan with the 2.4 non-turbo engine and a 5 speed manual trans). While the car was comfortable and had the best HVAC system I've ever encountered on a car, I really don't think I'd get another. Things that you wouldn't expect to break, did! Things like suspension noises, electrical issues causing strange anomalies like bulbs to blow with regular consistency, and the car to run funny for no apparent reason, were just some of the issues.
Added to that the lack of easily attainable parts, and many mechanics outside the dealership who would service it at a "reasonable cost" after the warranty was up, made me realize that the allure of owning a fancy Scandinavian car was really not all it was cracked up to be. Sure I could have opted for the turbo model to make the car more enjoyable to drive, but ultimately the car was just a dog in performance, and the repair bills left me feeling like I'd rather go back to BMW (at least their cars are fun to drive, for the premium I'm paying to keep it on the road).