- Quiet, refined interior
- Great styling stands out from rivals
- Agility combined with the poise of a larger car
- Compact size affords easy maneuverability and parking
- Top T5 models are pricey
- Ride can be choppy in T5
- Lack of manual transmission in T5
The 2008 Volvo V50 has the efficiency and compactness of a small car with the available safety features and poise of a larger sport wagon.
Volvo’s small V50 wagon returns for the 2008 model year with some significant revisions inside and out. The center console and door panels get more storage space and an update to the audio system, while a new front-end appearance, and new tail lamps give the 2008 Volvo V50 a more “grown-up” look, and turbocharged T5 models see a bump in power.
A 2.4-liter inline five-cylinder engine in the base 2008 Volvo V50 2.4i model makes 168 horsepower and 166 pound-feet of torque in the base V50 2.4i model and exhibits perky performance with the five-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy is especially good in the 2.4i, at 31 mpg highway. Higher-powered V50 T5 models take on the turbocharged, 2.5-liter inline-five, which functions especially well with the five-speed automatic; the engine increases in power from 218 to 227 horsepower. The six-speed manual gearbox is no longer available.
The top 2008 Volvo V50 T5 AWD model has the latest version of the Haldex all-wheel-drive system, which is electronically controlled. It relies on the instant of slippage from the front wheels before torque would be sent to the rear, but responds well to the V50’s needs on wet or slippery roads.
With impressive stability and poise in high-speed cruising and curvy mountain roads, the 2008 Volvo V50 has the refined responsiveness of a larger sport wagon, especially in sporty T5 form. Handling in the T5 feels markedly sportier than in Volvo’s larger sedans. Though the ride of the T5 can be somewhat pitchy at lower speeds, road noise is not at all the problem that it can be in other small wagons and sedans.
The V50’s interior follows an especially distinctive design, with a thin, "flat panel" center control stack housing audio and climate control functions. It allows pass-through space between the driver and passenger footwells and a feeling of greater spaciousness. In front, generous seats permit an upright, near-perfect position for most, but the backseat area is quite limited in legroom.
Where Volvo admits interior storage was an issue, a new center console and revised set of door panels add more bins and room for miscellaneous items—10 CDs, for example, even though the audio system now includes an iPod jack and MP3 capability. The clock in the 2008 Volvo V50 is newly positioned, and air vents are improved.
The base 2008 Volvo V50 model comes decently equipped for its price range, with keyless entry, cruise control, and an 80-watt, six-speaker sound system included. But the sporty T5 model adds a lot more—including the turbocharged engine, flashy alloy wheels, fog lamps, electronic climate control, aluminum trim, an upgraded audio system, and six months of Sirius Satellite Radio—for a modest amount.
Active bi-xenon headlamps, which swivel in the direction the car is steered, are available on the 2008 Volvo T5 AWD, as is a navigation system and keyless drive. Safety features are by no means forgotten; Volvo’s Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) is an option on the V50, along with a new integrated child booster-seat system—a Volvo exclusive.
The 2008 Volvo V50 has not been crash tested, but standard safety features on the V50 include front side impact airbags, side curtain bags for front and rear outboard occupants, anti-lock brakes, and electronic stability control.