Weekend Classifieds/QOTD: Five Volvos – Which Volvo Is For You?

It’s the weekend! Time to trawl through the classified ads again. Last week, we looked at used Volkswagens on Craigslist. This week, let’s look at some desirable Volvos.

We can’t look at used Volvos without looking at the archetypal Volvo: a blocky old station wagon. Here’s a ’92 240 wagon, one of the last of its kind.

The 200-series Volvos were supposed to be supplanted by the 700-series range in 1982 but steady sales and loyal customers meant Volvo ended up giving the 200 a decade-long stay of execution, even though its bones dated back to the 1966-vintage 140-series.

Though the 200-series had been available with turbo and V6 engines, by the time this 240 rolled out of the Torslanda factory the only available engine was a 2.3 four-cylinder producing 114 hp and 136 ft-lbs. It was mated to either a four-speed automatic or, as in this 240, a five-speed manual.

Upholding Volvo’s reputation for safety, all 1992 240s came standard with anti-lock disc brakes and a driver’s airbag. In terms of creature comforts, you’ll find power windows and locks, air-conditioning and heated power mirrors.

Though most 200-series Volvos were sedans, the wagons were quite popular. Bizarrely, however, I never seem to see any of the wagons here in Brisbane.

If you’re buying an old Volvo, a wagon just feels right. This 240 has a few issues like a malfunctioning speedometer, some light rust, and a rear hatch that doesn’t lock. But these are well-regarded as being sturdy cars and it’s listed for only $1200. It does have almost 300,000 miles on the odometer, though…

Here’s something you don’t see often nowadays: a regular station wagon with a third row. Unless you’re in Europe, you probably don’t see many station wagons, period. The 940 was an evolution of the 700-series platform and, for a brief period of time in the early 1990s, the 200, 700 and 900 series Volvos were all sold alongside each other. This 940 has the turbocharged 2.3 four with 162 hp and 195 ft-lbs.

That third row doesn’t look especially comfortable but a lot of modern crossovers have lousy third rows, too, with a lot less legroom. What you won’t find on any modern crossovers is styling quite this straight-edged. Nor will you find any with such a big greenhouse, the 940’s interior being bright and airy with excellent visibility.

Volvo has long enjoyed a reputation for two things: safety and comfortable seats. The leather thrones in this 940 look extremely cushy and comfortable.

Personally, I’d rather a six-cylinder 960 as these 940 Turbos suffered from a bit of lag. There was little difference in fuel economy, either, while the six-cylinder matched the turbo in torque and produced an extra 40 hp. But this 940 Turbo looks nice and clean, if a little high mileage with 279,000 miles on the odometer. The asking price is $3500.

Perhaps you want a Volvo wagon but need something a little safer, more modern and better in the snow. How about this 2006 Volvo V50 T5 AWD?

I’ve always had a soft spot for these. What’s not to love? The turbocharged five-cylinder has a throaty hum and produces 217 hp and 236 ft-lbs so, though it weighs around 500 pounds more than the 240, it’ll be much quicker off the line. It’ll handle better, too, thanks to the C1 platform shared with the Mazda3.

It mightn’t have that bluff, tank-like charm of the old RWD Volvos but the V50’s airbag count is considerably higher than the 240’s with front side and full-length curtain airbags. There’s also heated seats, a moonroof and satellite navigation.

It’s smaller than the aforementioned Volvos but it’s clean inside and out, has the comfortable seats you’d expect of a Volvo, and is a great way to thumb your nose at everybody else’s crossovers. This V50 is listed at $5995 and it has less than 100,000 miles on the odometer.

Yeah, I know Volvo made cars other than wagons. Nevertheless, Volvo’s wagons are just so cool that I simply must show you another. This is a ’97 850 R, basically the 850 T5-R with a new name and a different paint job. The lurid Cream Yellow of the ’96 T5-R was replaced with a choice of red or black but otherwise it’s the same car.

That includes the 2.3 turbocharged five-cylinder engine, producing 240 hp and 221 ft-lbs. Unfortunately, all US-market T5-R and R models came only with a four-speed automatic; a five-speed manual was available elsewhere.

With an 850 R, you’ll get sub-7 second 0-60 times but a harsh, stiff ride. You’ll also get a faithful yet modern interpretation of classic Volvo wagon styling and a cavernous cabin, plus some lovely leather-and-Alcantara seats.

With this particular 850 R, listed at $5000, you’ll also get a car that’s clearly been loved by its owner. That’s not to say he hasn’t driven it hard but his ad is much more thoughtful and detailed than the typical Craigslist ad. Bonus points, too, for fitting the whole car in frame in photographs. A lot of Craigslisters can’t seem to get that right!

If you want to get a modern Volvo, though, why not go the whole nine yards? Here’s a 2010 Volvo S80 with the Yamaha-designed 4.4 V8 and all-wheel-drive. It’s fully-loaded with heated, ventilated and massaging front seats, satellite navigation, real wood trim, and, most interestingly, an interior heartbeat sensor to let you know if somebody’s hiding in your back seat. Volvo engineers must’ve been reading too many chain emails…

Producing 311 hp and 325 ft-lbs, the S80 V8 was even more powerful than the athletic S60 and V70 R models. Not that you’d know it by looking at it. The S80 V8 was not only conservative by mid-size luxury sedan standards, it was also scarcely differentiated from less powerful S80s.

On the plus side, that means there’s nothing to mar the elegant Scandinavian interior. Nor is there anything to distract from Todd Levy’s subtler interpretation of the first-generation S80’s broad-shouldered styling. Nobody will know you’ve got a V8 Volvo until you put the pedal to the metal. The Yamaha V8 is as sonorous as you’d expect it to be.

Although the adaptive dampers keep body motions in check and the V8 races the S80 to 60mph in around 6.5 seconds, some critics took issue with the S80’s somewhat recalcitrant transmission. Nevertheless, the S80 was plenty athletic and a highly desirable flagship Volvo. It’s also the lowest mileage Volvo here with 83,000 miles, though it’s the most expensive at $11,995.

I’ve commented before that Volvo should’ve put the Yamaha V8 under the hood of the mechanically-related V70. A V70 V8 would’ve been a fitting end for this week’s CC Classifieds as we’ve progressively increased horsepower with each Volvo wagon. It also would’ve made for my dream Volvo. Nevertheless, the S80 V8 is my pick for this week with the V50 T5 a close runner-up. Which Volvo appeals to you?

Related Reading:

CC Capsule: 2006-10 Volvo S80 V8 – Swedish Power Metal

Curbside Loaner Service: 2006 Volvo V50 Wagon – A Really Swede Ride

Curbside Classics: 1991-1998 Volvo 940/960 – Playing It Safe

Curbside Classic: 1993 Volvo 240 Classic Wagon – So Long, Old Friend

CC Capsule: 1995 Volvo 850 T-5R – A Rare Yellow Bird With A Touch Of Porsche