Used 1996 Volvo 850 R Review
Edmunds expert review
What's new for 1996
Somebody in Sweden loves you. This must be true; why else would the people at Volvo spend so much time guaranteeing passenger safety? The 850 boasts an impressive array of standard equipment that is designed to insure your safety: daytime running lights, anti-lock brakes, optional traction control (TRACS), dual airbags, side-impact airbags, fog lights, fixed head restraints, an integrated child-seat (wagon), and a wet weather automatic transmission system for are just some of the goodies that Volvo included in this car to keep you and your loved ones out of the emergency room. Indeed, all of these safety features can leave passengers feeling as if they are cruising around town in a well-appointed tank.
The driver, however, will know that the 850 is anything but tank-like. Steering is snappy and responsive, braking is so effective that it takes some getting used to, and gauges are easy to see. Unlike many of this Volvo's American and Japanese competitors, there is nothing extraneous about this car. Even back seat passengers will enjoy the luxury of the 850; there is plenty of room for two six-footers. Cargo space in the sedan is cavernous, liftover height is low, and the trunk includes a handy pass-through to the passenger compartment that nicely accommodates a pair of skis. The wagon's cargo area is so huge that it could easily carry all of the possessions of a new college graduate.
When decked out as an R edition, the 850 becomes something more than mechanical. Zero to 60 times in under six seconds just aren't supposed to happen in a mid-sized sedan. Seventeen-inch tires should never be standard equipment for a family hauler. Indeed, Volvo has broken all of the rules with this sportster. We can't wait to see the reaction of Camaro and Mustang owners who are getting dusted by a "mom's car" in the stop-light drags. Those Swedes have a good sense of humor.
The Volvo 850 is a great car, particularly when its price tag is compared to other European vehicles with the same features. We think that anyone interested in safety, quality, and performance should take a long look at the 850. The optional turbocharged engine is worth considering as well; the joy it will give commuters is worth the extra two grand.
Edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.