Used 2002 Volvo V40 Review

Small but loaded with safety equipment, the V40 is, unfortunately, too expensive to compete with the VW Jetta Wagon and too small to take on the VW Passat Wagon.

what's new

Minor equipment changes are in store for Volvo's V40 in 2002. A Premium package now makes it easier for base wagon 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. New exterior colors include Bamboo Green and Dark Blue.

vehicle overview

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

All V40s 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 V40 for a fairly taut ride, though comfort ultimately takes precedence over performance. If you are looking for performance, Audi's A4 Avant or BMW's 325i Sport Wagon 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 wagon. Four-wheel antilock disc brakes are standard throughout the line.

As with other Volvos, safety is one of the V40'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 V40 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. With the rear seats up, the V40 provides 33.5 cubic feet of luggage space -- about the same as Volkswagen's Jetta Wagon. Folding down the Volvo's 70/30-split rear bench yields 68.1 cubic feet of total cargo space.

Our main concern about the V40 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 wagon buyers to purchase some of the features that come standard in the more upscale SE wagon. 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 wagon, Volvo's V40 is worthy of consideration, especially if safety is one of your high priorities. But there are several choices in this price range, so make that sure that you try out competing models like the Jetta Wagon, VW Passat Wagon or even the Audi A4 Avant, before buying the Volvo.

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.