Full 2010 Volvo S40 Review
What's New for 2010
Only a year after being banished from North America, the Volvo S40 2.4i's standard five-speed manual transmission is back for 2010, and the T5 AWD R-Design gets a standard six-speed manual. The five-speed automatic remains standard on the front-wheel-drive T5 R-Design but returns to the options list for the other trims. Other updates include two-position head restraints (versus fixed) and revised options availability. Fuel economy estimates are also improved for 2010.
There are regular cars and there are luxury cars. Between these two worlds exists a niche for vehicles like the 2010 Volvo S40. The S40 is a premium model for sure, but we wouldn't call it a luxury sedan. As such, the S40 might appeal to people who can't afford something like an Audi A4 but still want a car that's more prestigious to own than a Mazda 3.
To its credit, the S40 looks more sophisticated than many sedans, and its overall styling has stayed surprisingly fresh even though the car has entered its sixth year of production. The interior is also sleek-looking, with a "floating" center console and customizable trim options that make the S40 stand out from the crowd. Still, it's unlikely that you'd be able to convince many of your friends that your Volvo is cooler than a BMW or a Mercedes-Benz and those brands typically enjoy more brand cachet.
Nonetheless, if you're shopping in this in-between segment, the suave S40 might be an appealing option. The cheaper Volkswagen Jetta and its GLI performance variant offer competitive acceleration and handling, but their interior styling is a relatively ho-hum affair despite quality construction and materials. Accordingly, the 2010 Volvo S40 could be a solid choice, particularly if you can get a big discount on one. But make sure you also check out the Acura TSX, the Lexus IS 250 and perhaps even a loaded version of the highly regarded Mazda 3.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2010 Volvo S40 sedan is available in two trim levels, 2.4i and T5 R-Design. The base model comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, foglights, cruise control, automatic climate control, an eight-way power driver seat, a tilt-telescoping steering column, neoprene-like T-Tec upholstery (also known as Dalaro), Bluetooth and an eight-speaker stereo with CD player, auxiliary audio jack, iPod/USB audio jack and HD radio. The T5 R-Design adds a turbocharged engine, driver memory functions, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, partial leather upholstery and upgraded R-Design exterior and interior trim.
On the options list, the Climate package includes heated front seats, headlight washers and automatic wipers. The Preferred package gets you a sunroof, a power passenger seat and keyless ignition/entry. The Multimedia package available on the T5 models is really a 12-speaker surround-sound system that includes satellite radio. Stand-alone options include adaptive bi-xenon headlights, a blind-spot warning system, full leather upholstery and a built-in navigation system with real-time traffic updates or a portable navigation system. The T5 R-Design can also be equipped with 18-inch wheels.
Powertrains and Performance
The front-wheel-drive S40 2.4i is equipped with a 2.4-liter inline-5 that generates 168 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard and a five-speed automatic is optional. According to Volvo, this engine will trot the S40 up to 60 mph in an unhurried 8.4 seconds. Estimated EPA fuel economy is 20 mpg city/28 mpg highway and 23 mpg combined.
The T5 R-Design gets a turbocharged 2.5-liter inline-5 that pumps out 227 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque. A five-speed automatic is standard. There's also an all-wheel-drive version of the T5 R-Design available; it has a six-speed manual transmission as standard, with the automatic being optional. Estimated 0-60 times for these models are 6.7 seconds for the front-driver and 7 flat for the AWD version. EPA fuel economy estimates are average for this type of car at 20 mpg city/31 mpg highway and 24 combined for a manual-equipped S40 2.4i. Opting for the automatic changes these numbers slightly to 21/29/24. Surprisingly, the front-drive turbo T5 R-Design gets nearly identical fuel economy. A T5 with AWD drops a couple mpg lower.
Antilock disc brakes, traction control and stability control are standard on all 2010 Volvo S40s. Also included are front-seat side airbags and full-length head curtain airbags, along with whiplash-reducing front head restraints. A blind-spot warning system (BLIS) is optional across the lineup.
In government crash testing, the S40 scored four stars for driver protection in a frontal crash and a full five stars in the other frontal and side categories. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety testing, the S40 was awarded the best rating of "Good" in the frontal-offset test and the second-best "Acceptable" rating in the side impact test.
Interior Design and Special Features
If you like to shop at Ikea -- or at least admire the company's modern designs -- then the 2010 Volvo S40's interior should strike your fancy. The centerpiece is the slim "floating" center stack, which is suspended between the console and the dash. Pretty much everything about the S40's interior design is a direct challenge to the relatively austere interiors found in competing models. The R-Design in particular features snazzy two-tone seats and blue-faced gauges. It certainly looks cool, but calling it "luxurious" might be a stretch. It is plenty functional, though, as most controls are a model of simplicity.
The quality of the S40's interior materials is excellent, and the ergonomically designed seats are extraordinarily comfortable and supportive. While leather is available, we'd save a few bucks and opt for the standard "T-Tec" upholstery, which breathes well in hot weather and firmly holds occupants in place during cornering. Trunk capacity is unimpressive at 12.6 cubic feet.
The base five-cylinder engine provides acceleration that's only slightly sprightlier than your typical four-cylinder family sedan. The turbocharged-5 is far superior, though its turbocharged nature makes it a little sluggish off the line. On curvy roads, the 2010 Volvo S40 is stable and confidence-inspiring, but less inspiring to drive than models like the BMW 3 Series or Infiniti G37.