I highly recommend this car for a first time buyer. The only problem with this car is it does horrible in the snow which is bad for me because i live in the Boston, Massachusetts area. Small problems can occur in this car but its like that with any car. I have owned this car for almost a year now and its been a great car. If you don't get at least 170,000 miles out of this car then there is a problem, it's built to last just like all Volvos. My only standing complaint is the cost to repair this vehicle it is not cheap.
I had a '97 960 and it was horrible in snow; the problem turned out to be an off-brand, cheap tire. The rubber used would harden in the cold and not flex and dispel the accumulated snow. It was scary and almost got me in a couple fender-benders. I took someone;'s advice and put a silica-based tire on it, like the better Michelin or Toyo tires, and it changed the car 100%. In fact when we got the '98 S90 the first thing we did was change the tires. Winter driving is awesome and we have never had any issues, even in deep snow when others are struggling. Try it!