As the Volvo V50 approaches the end of its life cycle--sounds vaguely circadian, doesn't it?--it's shedding some of its model complexity.
In other words, all-wheel drive is now off the menu for the attractive, nimble wagon. Only front-drive V50 wagons are being offered for sale in 2011 in the U.S., though two distinct models remain, the V50 and the V50 T5 R-Design.
Both versions have a distinctive, handsome exterior that's low-key and still relevant after years on the market. That's even more true of the interior, which pioneered Volvo's new "floating" center stack design.
Volvo's also dropped the base in-line five-cylinder engine from the V50 portfolio, leaving behind the desireable 227-horsepower, 2.5-liter turbocharged in-line five-cylinder engine. A five-speed automatic transmission is the only gearbox offered this year, too, which means the formerly available six-speed manual on the R-Design is gone--turning that model, essentially, into a trim package.
The V50 has comfortable, supportive seats in front, but overall interior room is more compact than you might expect from Volvo--particularly in the back, where things get a little cramped. The big cargo hold makes up for things, and opens into a sizable space once the rear seats are folded down.
All versions have power windows, locks, and mirrors--and the usual climate and cruise control, plus a power driver seat. Navigation is an option, as are Sirius satellite radio, leather upholstery and parking sensors.
The V50 has enjoyed a good crash-safety record, but changes to the criteria from both the NHTSA and the IIHS mean the 2011 V50 has not been rated yet.For more information that applies to the V50 wagon, see TheCarConnection's 2011 Volvo S40 page, which includes specs, pricing, photos, and related news.