Full 2010 Volvo V50 Review
What's New for 2010
For 2010, the upper-level Volvo V50 T5 AWD R-Design gets a standard six-speed manual transmission, thereby bumping the five-speed automatic to the options list. The base V50 2.4i gets standard automatic climate control and increased option availability. Option packages have also been reorganized and renamed for both trim levels, and all models get adjustable head restraints. Fuel economy improves slightly throughout the range.
Small wagons haven't been popular in the United States since, well…come to think of it, have they ever been popular here? The 2010 Volvo V50 is unlikely to reverse this trend any time soon, but it is an appealing small wagon that could be a good choice for those searching for more space and better fuel economy than the latest wave of compact luxury crossovers. And while we think it's on the pricey side, a trend toward heavy discounts for the V50 should make it more palatable to value-conscious shoppers.
The V50 is the wagon version of Volvo's S40 sedan and boasts a healthy 63 cubic feet of cargo room with the 60/40-split rear seats folded. That's only a bit less than Volvo's new XC60 crossover but more than the Audi Q5 and Mercedes GLK. If you're looking to save money or fuel, but still need lots of space and luxury features, the V50 is a definitely a smart alternative.
Although the V50 is now in its fifth model year, its Swedish styling inside and out still looks fresh. In particular, the ultra-slim "floating" center console looks as cool today as it did back in '05. For 2010, the V50 gets minor changes associated with optional package content, plus a standard six-speed manual for the T5 AWD R-Design trim. Fuel economy also improves slightly throughout the range.
There's certainly plenty to like about the 2010 Volvo V50. However, a comparably equipped Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen provides the same power, space and interior quality as the V50 for considerably less money. The inelegantly named V50 T5 AWD R-Design is also on the pricey side, but at least it's more comparable to even more expensive luxury wagons like the Audi A4 Avant, BMW 328i xDrive and Saab 9-3 SportCombi. Luckily, V50s tend to be heavily discounted, making the V50 a smarter purchase. Small wagons may not be popular, but that doesn't mean they should be ignored.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2010 Volvo V50 is a five-passenger compact wagon that comes in 2.4i and T5 AWD R-Design trim levels. Standard equipment includes 17-inch wheels, heated side mirrors, cruise control, automatic climate control, an eight-way power driver seat, a tilt-telescoping steering wheel, neoprene-like T-Tec upholstery (also known as Dalaro), Bluetooth and an eight-speaker stereo with CD player, auxiliary audio jack and USB/iPod audio interface.
The T5 AWD R-Design adds all-wheel drive, a turbocharged engine, aluminum roof rails, sporty exterior trim, partial leather upholstery, driver memory functions, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and special R-Design floor mats, steering wheel, gauges and shift knob.
The Climate package includes heated front seats, headlight washers and automatic wipers. There's also a Preferred package that gets you a sunroof, a power passenger seat and keyless ignition/entry. Stand-alone options include a blind-spot warning system, bi-xenon headlights, integrated rear booster seats, full leather upholstery, a navigation system and on the 2.4i, satellite radio and wood trim. The Multimedia package available only on the T5 R-Design is essentially a 12-speaker Dynaudio surround-sound system that includes satellite radio.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2010 Volvo V50 2.4i is powered by a naturally aspirated 2.4-liter inline-5 that produces 168 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed automatic is the only transmission available. Volvo predicts a 0-60 sprint of 8.5 seconds. Estimated fuel economy is 20 mpg city/31 mpg highway and 24 mpg combined.
The all-wheel-drive V50 T5 AWD R-Design is powered by a 2.5-liter turbocharged inline-5 good for 227 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard and a five-speed automatic is optional. Volvo predicts a 0-60 sprint of 6.7 seconds with the manual and 7.1 seconds with the auto. Estimated fuel economy is 20/26/22 mpg with the manual and 19/27/22 with the auto.
The 2010 Volvo V50 comes standard with antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front side airbags, side curtain airbags and whiplash-reducing front head restraints. Optional features include integrated rear booster seats and a blind-spot warning system.
The V50 has not undergone official crash testing. However, in the government's frontal impact tests, the V50's S40 sedan sibling was awarded four stars for driver protection and five stars for front passenger protection, while netting a perfect five-star rating in the side-impact test. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the S40 its highest rating of "Good" in its frontal-offset test, but only the second-best "Acceptable" in the side crash 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 V50'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.
Fortunately, function lies behind the V50's impressive form. Most of the controls are straightforward to operate (the navigation system being the major exception) and the ergonomically designed seats are extraordinarily comfortable and supportive. The rear seat folds 60/40 to reveal a maximum cargo capacity of 63 cubic feet, just a shade less than the Jetta wagon's rear cargo hold.
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 turbo nature makes it a little sluggish off the line. On curvy roads, the V50 is stable and confidence-inspiring. However, real driving enthusiasts will find the Audi A4 Avant or BMW 3 Series more to their liking.