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With its appealing mix of Volvo safety and Scandinavian style, the 2007 Volvo V50 deserves to be on your test-drive list if you're in the market for a small wagon with a premium feel.
Sharper handling than you'd expect from a Volvo, cutting-edge style inside and out, ergonomic control layout, available all-wheel drive.
Uninspiring performance on base 2.4i model, overly firm ride quality with sport suspension, minimal storage areas.
Available V50 Wagon Models
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Stability control is standard fare on all 2007 Volvo V50s. Front-wheel-drive T5 models now come with an automatic transmission only. New package options include an input jack for MP3 players and a ground-effects kit. Sirius satellite radio can be purchased à la carte this year. Inside the cabin, the overhead console design has been revised.
For singles, couples and small families who are realistic about how much interior room and all-terrain capability they really need (or don't need), small, premium wagons like the 2007 Volvo V50 can be an appealing option. This compact Volvo costs about the same as a well-loaded Explorer, yet offers trendy styling, crisp handling dynamics and a long list of safety features. It also has a lot less cargo space, of course, but its tidy dimensions make it easy to maneuver and keep its fuel consumption in the mid 20-mpg range. The same is true of just about any other compact wagon, but none can match the V50's distinctive, Scandinavian-inspired design.
There wasn't much to the design of the V50's predecessor, the V40. It was a blandly styled wagon with little penchant for performance. Introduced for the 2005 model year, the Volvo V50 has always been much more than that. It remains one of the sharpest-looking wagons on the road, and its unusual interior design, which features an ultra-thin center stack, looks fresh and contemporary three years into the model cycle. In addition, the V50's driving dynamics are unlike any other wagon in the Volvo lineup: It's not just about getting to your destination safely; it's about having a little fun along the way. The standard suspension setup offers a solid balance of ride comfort and handling precision, while the optional sport suspension trades away some comfort to sharpen the wagon's reflexes through the corners. Two engines are offered as well. Power from the base 2.4-liter inline five-cylinder engine in the V50 2.4i is no more than adequate, but the 218-horsepower turbocharged engine in the T5 model gives the V50 ample vigor in any situation.
Much as we like the package Volvo has put together, we can't help but note that Audi has found a way to do it less expensively. The entry-level A3 2.0T wagon has a bit less cargo room, but offers considerably more power for about the same price as the base V50 2.4i. The Volvo is still the cheaper way to go if you want all-wheel drive, but at this price, the slightly larger, and nearly as luxurious, Subaru Legacy merits consideration as well. However, for buyers determined to drive small, the 2007 Volvo V50 wagon is one of the better choices at the $30,000 mark.
The compact 2007 Volvo V50 wagon comes in two trim levels: 2.4i and T5. All 2.4 models are front-wheel drive; T5 buyers can get all-wheel drive as well. Standard items on the V50 2.4i include 16-inch alloy wheels, heated mirrors, manual climate control with a pollen filter, a CD player and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with telescopic adjustment. Step up to the V50 T5 and you get an eight-way power-adjustable driver seat, automatic climate control, a cargo-area 12-volt power outlet, aluminum trim, a trip computer and steering wheel-mounted audio controls.
Most of the popular options for the Volvo V50 must be purchased in packages. The Select Package for the 2.4i adds roof rails; a moonroof; power driver seat; a 12-speaker Dolby sound system with an MP3-capable in-dash CD changer; an auxiliary input jack for MP3 players; wood-grain interior inlays and a trip computer. For V50 T5 buyers, there's the Premium Package, which provides leather upholstery, a power passenger seat, driver-seat memory, the moonroof and the roof rails. A sport-tuned suspension and 17-inch wheels can be had if you select the Sport Package (2.4i) or Dynamic Trim Package (front-wheel-drive T5). Available on either trim, the Climate Package adds heated seats, rain-sensing wipers and headlamp washers.
Stand-alone extras include leather upholstery and a ground-effects body kit for the 2.4i, and bi-xenon headlights, keyless startup and a navigation system for the T5. Sirius satellite radio is available on all V50s.
Engines are specific to each V50 model. The base 2.4i gets a 168-hp, normally aspirated 2.4-liter five-cylinder, while the V50 T5 upgrades to a turbocharged, 2.5-liter five-cylinder that generates 218 hp. A five-speed automatic transmission is standard on 2.4i and front-wheel-drive T5s. All-wheel-drive T5 wagons feature a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, with the five-speed automatic offered as an option.
Antilock disc brakes and stability control are standard on all V50s. All models include both front-seat side-impact airbags and full-length head curtain airbags, along with whiplash-reducing seats in all outboard positions. Volvo's OnCall telematics system is also standard, and built-in child booster seats are optional. The NHTSA has not crash tested the 2007 Volvo V50, but its crashworthiness should be similar to the S40 sedan, which earned perfect five-star ratings in side-impact tests, along with four stars for driver protection and five stars for the front passenger in frontal-impact tests. In IIHS frontal-offset testing, the S40 earned a top rating of "Good"; in IIHS side-impact testing, the car rated "Acceptable."
Scandinavian to the core, the V50's interior is a study in simple elegance. Especially eye-catching is the slim center stack, which replaces the typical centerpiece clutter with spare lines and a "less is more" aesthetic that gives the car a thoroughly modern feel while opening up valuable storage space. The ergonomically designed seats are available in different upholstery types, though we like the standard "T-Tec" cloth best of all. Adults will find adequate legroom in both the front and rear. A 60/40-split-folding rear seat adds versatility, should you need to haul very long items. Maximum cargo capacity is 62.9 cubic feet -- 7 cubes more than you get in the Audi A3.
Handling is crisp and entertaining, though the standard tires are taxed by more aggressive cornering. An unfortunate downside to the V50's sharp reflexes is that cruising comfort suffers a bit, particularly with the optional sport suspension. The 2.4i model offers adequate if uninspiring acceleration, so driving enthusiasts should head straight for the spirited T5 model. The optional all-wheel-drive system is a good bet for buyers seeking a relatively affordable, premium-brand wagon that can brave the winter snows.
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