The V50 is starting to look a little old, the same body has been in production for quite a few years and still offers a great deal of value in a compact wagon, but is well overdue for an update. Volvo has built much of it reputation on its high safety standards and this station wagon does implement many of its best features in this department. The same foundation on this model has been used for over 7 years, but there have been some minor tweaks along the way to keep it current.
This five passenger wagon can offer an amazing amount of storage when it is not being used to transport the family by folding the back seats down. This is an option that allows it to compete with some other small crossover models that cost much more. The V50 starts under $30,000 and the base model comes with a supercharged inline 5 cylinder engine offering 227 horsepower. There are other small station wagons that offer more, but the package Volvo has put together in this model make a great deal for anybody looking for a safe option for a family vehicle that also can offer a huge amount of stow away room.
Engines: 2.4L I-5, 2.5L turbocharged I-5
Transmissions: 5-speed manual, 6-speed manual, 5-speed automatic
Models: 2.4i, T5 AWD R-Design
Standard equipment for the V50 2.4i now includes electronic climate control; options include a navigation system and satellite radio. Standard equipment for the V50 T5 R-Design now includes a standard 6-speed manual transmission. Both T5’s gain two-position, adjustable headrests, and are now available with preferred packages that gain a power glass moonroof, keyless ignition, and a power front passenger’s seat. Meanwhile, the climate package gains a humidity sensor and an interior air quality system.
Volvos are one of those rare brands where the wagon body style often looks better than the sedan. The V50 is no exception, despite its design’s age. And to keep it young, last year the T5 AWD received the attractive R-Design treatment, which included a matte silver grille surround, side skirts and front and rear spoilers.
The hallmark of Swedish design has always been a spare, geometric elegance, and the V50’s cabin absolutely nails it. Its centerpiece is the dash panel’s slim, waterfall center-stack. We’re particularly taken by the 2.4i’s optional Nordic Oak wood inlays. Indeed, the only real criticism here is a paucity of space, particularly for second row passengers.
Offering a 0-60 mph time of 8.5 seconds, the 168-hp 2.4i is a capable performer in normal traffic — but no more than that. If you’re looking for a little sizzle, look to the T5 R-Design, which sprints to the same speed in an estimated 6.7 for the manual transmission, and 7.1 seconds for the automatic. Moreover, its sport suspension and all-wheel drive grip make it the better handler — particularly in inclement conditions.
Neither the NHTSA nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety offer any test data specific to the V50, but data for the similar S40 sedan should provide at least some insight (NHTSA — five stars for all but driver frontal impact (4 stars); the Insurance Institute gives it a mix or ‘good’ and ‘average’ ratings). As with the S40, the V50 includes Volvo’s standard Automatic Hazard Warning System and Tire Pressure Monitoring System, while Blind Spot detection is optional.
2.4i: 20 mpg city/31 mpg highway (automatic)
T5 AWD R-Design: 20 mpg city/26 mph highway (manual);19 mpg city/27 mpg highway (automatic)
- Extra cargo space
- Delightfully Scandinavian interior
- Easy maneuverability
- Thoughtful safety features
- T5’s AWD grip and sports suspension
- Modest rear-seat space
- Aging platform
- 2.4i’s unremarkable acceleration
- The T5 R-Design’s questionable value proposition
Volvo’s cheapest – and most compact – wagon
- Volkswagen Passat Wagon
- Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen
- Subaru Outback