2002 Volvo S40 Review

Pros & Cons

  • Strong complement of safety features, affordable base price, upscale interior.
  • No manual transmission offered, lacks sporting intentions, pricing can quickly escalate with optional equipment installed.
List Price Estimate
$854 - $2,006

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Edmunds' Expert Review

Small but loaded with safety equipment, the S40 is, unfortunately, too expensive to compete with the VW Jetta and too small to take on the Acura TL.

Vehicle overview

The S40 sedan (and its platform mate, the V40 wagon) is Volvo's smallest and most affordable vehicle. Designed to appeal to younger buyers, the S40 offers impressive levels of safety equipment and an upscale image.

All S40s are equipped with a turbocharged 160-horsepower 1.9-liter four-cylinder engine. The only transmission choice (in the U.S., at least) is a five-speed automatic. On the road, Volvo has tuned the S40 for a fairly taut ride, though comfort ultimately takes precedence over performance. If you are looking for performance, Audi's A4 or BMW's 3 Series are better choices. Still, finely tuned MacPherson struts up front and a multilink rear suspension -- along with a rack-and-pinion steering system -- bring a distinctly Teutonic flavor to this Swedish sedan. Four-wheel antilock disc brakes are standard throughout the line.

As with other Volvos, safety is one of the S40's greatest assets. Every vehicle comes with an extensive menu of airbags, including Inflatable Curtain (IC) head-protection airbags for front and rear passengers, side airbags for front passengers and the usual dual-stage front airbags. Additional crash protection comes from whiplash-reducing front seats and seatbelt pre-tensioners. Further, the standard ISO-FIX child safety seat system simplifies the process of correctly installing and removing child seats.

Inside, the S40 offers a remarkable combination of luxury and value. Comfortable, supportive front seats have that Swedish feel we've come to expect from Volvo's high-end cars, and the interior materials are of high quality for a sub-$40,000 vehicle.

Our main concern about the S40 is that the cost of adding options quickly eliminates the advantage of its low base price. For 2002, Volvo has tried to improve upon the car's value equation by making it easier for base sedan buyers to purchase some of the features that come standard in the more upscale SE sedan. Opting for the Premium package adds a sunroof, CD player with Premium speakers, power driver seat and simulated wood accents. If that's not enough, you can purchase the Premium Plus group, which includes leather upholstery and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. In addition, Volvo has revised the content in the Sport package, so that you now get a spoiler, leather-wrapped wheel, aluminum interior accents, leather/cloth-upholstered sport seats and a unique instrument cluster -- still no manual transmission or tire upgrade, though.

If you are in the market for an upscale compact sedan, Volvo's S40 is worthy of consideration, especially if safety is one of your high priorities. But there are many choices in this price range, so make that sure that you try out competitors like the VW Jetta, Acura TL or even the Audi A4, before buying the Volvo.

2002 Highlights

Minor equipment changes have been made to Volvo's S40 for 2002. A Premium package now makes it easier for base sedan buyers to purchase desirable options like a sunroof, CD player, power driver seat and faux wood trim. And a Premium Plus package adds leather upholstery and a leather-wrapped steering wheel to the mix. The Sport package now includes aluminum interior accents, sport seats and an exclusive instrument cluster -- you can also get these items a la carte. A new center console design incorporates two integrated cupholders. Rear passengers will also have two cupholders at their disposal when they fold down the center armrest. And the S40 now comes with the an emergency trunk release. New exterior colors include Bamboo Green and Dark Blue.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2002 Volvo S40.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Good Fun Car
I really wanted a used BMW or Mercedes primarily because they were great handling rear-wheel drive cars. Hence I was hesitant to get another front-drive Volvo, but this car was in the price range. However, this car has exceeded my expectations. The turbo makes for great power and great fun. Hit the gas hard and it peels out through first gear. You can easily get to any open spot in traffic even on the highway. Firm suspension makes for good handling but a bit of a bumpy ride. Like others said, it stops on a dime. The cons. Cheap interior, I hate the cloth seats and door panels are loose. The car idles a bit rough, the steering wheel always shakes at lights.
Best 4cyl Car
This car is a very reliable car that meets all my requirements for a car. Small yet comfortable. I value the understated luxury, it lacks the pretension a BMW 318 or Audi A4 1.8t might have associated with it.
Reliable for us - but not for many
We bought a used '02 in early '06 with about 50k miles. It is now approaching 85k and we have had few problems. We had an oil leak for 1.5 years that the dealers could not fix, thought it was RMS but started cheap (RMS is $2k) fixed the Camshaft Seal ($300). That didn't fix it Finally an independent shop found it was the turbo return line, not uncommon and a $100 fix. Otherwise, we have had no real problems. The A/C occasionally blows hot air, something also not uncommon. In general, reliable for us, comfortable and fun to drive. However, shop just told us it was very rare to see this car with 7 years and 80k plus miles without a roulette of engine lights. So maybe we got a good one...
Comfortable car
I'm a housewife, I love driving this car, it's my current car, the 2002 year made. I find this car comfortable and fun to drive. Handles well, very good cornering and very responsive brake. And also the turbo gives enough power to get into traffic when you need it. :) VOLVO S40 is a 5stars rating for the safest car.

Features & Specs

See all Used 2002 Volvo S40 features & specs


IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Not Tested
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Not Tested
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 2002 Volvo S40

Used 2002 Volvo S40 Overview

The Used 2002 Volvo S40 is offered in the following submodels: S40 Sedan. Available styles include 4dr Sedan (1.9L 4cyl Turbo 5A).

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Which used 2002 Volvo S40s are available in my area?

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Can't find a used 2002 Volvo S40s you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Volvo S40 for sale - 10 great deals out of 17 listings starting at $14,519.

Find a used Volvo for sale - 8 great deals out of 21 listings starting at $18,128.

Find a used certified pre-owned Volvo S40 for sale - 8 great deals out of 16 listings starting at $25,652.

Find a used certified pre-owned Volvo for sale - 3 great deals out of 15 listings starting at $21,823.

Should I lease or buy a 2002 Volvo S40?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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Check out Volvo S40 lease specials