Overview & Reviews
German car companies have long been the dominant players in the compact sport sedan market. The Volvo S40, introduced to the North American market in 2000, was the Swedish brand's first stab at stealing some market share. Though it had its shortcomings, the S40 was a decent small sedan that helped redefine Volvo's image. Instead of the standard boxy shape once associated with Volvos, the S40 had a sleeker silhouette and was relatively fun to drive.
Volvo released the improved second-generation S40 midway through 2004. Styling is sportier and more refined, as are the car's ride and handling dynamics. Additionally, there are now two engine choices, including a turbocharged five-cylinder. Though it still doesn't have the prestige or athleticism of its German competition, the latest Volvo S40 costs less and still offers plenty of refinement, comfort and style.
Current Volvo S40
The Volvo S40 compact sport sedan is available in two trim levels -- T5 and T5 R-Design. Both are front-wheel drive and powered by a turbocharged 227-horsepower 2.5-liter five-cylinder. A five-speed automatic is the sole transmission.
Standard feature highlights include a sport suspension, a telescoping steering wheel with auxiliary audio controls, a sunroof, Bluetooth and a six-CD changer with satellite radio, HD radio and iPod control. The "R-Design" adds sporty exterior and interior styling cues. Options include leather seating, heated seats, a navigation system and a 12-speaker premium sound system.
Inside the S40, the seats, dash and panels look upscale and classy, and the ultra-slim center stack design makes a fashion statement while adding to the car's functionality. The driving position is snug and comfortable, but adults seated in the rear might find legroom tight.
In reviews, our editors have found the Volvo S40 entertaining to drive thanks to its turbocharged engine and lively handling. But the S40 just doesn't do much else to distinguish itself. Whether you're looking for the latest technology features, sportier performance, better fuel economy or just a more prestigious image, you'll likely find a better choice for a premium or entry-level luxury sedan.
Used Volvo S40 Models
The present second-generation Volvo S40 was introduced midyear as a 2004.5 model. (A related wagon variant is called the V50.) Compared to the current model, the S40 hasn't received major changes since then, but you'll want to pay attention to the various updates over the years when shopping for a used model.
Up until 2010, Volvo offered a base 2.4i model. It came with a naturally aspirated 2.4-liter inline-5 rated for 168 hp and 170 pound-feet of torque. The turbocharged T5 was a bit less powerful from the debut until 2007 than it is now; it made 218 hp. You might also encounter a model with a manual transmission; Volvo intermittently offered a manual for both the base 2.4i and T5 over the years. All-wheel drive was also available for the T5 through 2010.
There have been a few important equipment changes as well. Stability control became standard on all S40s for 2007, and upgraded audio components and the new blind-spot monitoring system joined the roster for '08. The '09 model received a slew of former options as standard equipment.
The first-generation Volvo S40 sport sedan debuted for 2000. It came with a turbocharged 1.9-liter four-cylinder engine that made 160 hp and 170 pound-feet of torque. A four-speed automatic transmission delivered power to the front wheels, and there was no manual transmission or AWD option. Standard features included ABS, automatic climate control, power windows and locks, and heated mirrors, while features like leather upholstery and a power driver seat were optional. In 2001, Volvo added safety features to the S40 and made minor styling changes to the headlights and interior. The company also brought out a new five-speed automatic transmission. For 2003, power was increased to 170 hp, and a CD player became standard. In 2004, Volvo added an LSE trim to the lineup to sustain interest in the car until the current generation launched later in the year.
In reviews of the first-generation Volvo S40, we noted that it was a competent small sedan but nonetheless a tough sell over the less expensive but comparably upscale turbocharged or V6-powered Volkswagen Jetta. If you're interested in buying a used S40 of this vintage, we'd recommend going with one from '03 or later, as these models benefited from the abovementioned mild power bump and standard CD player.
User Reviews:Showing 1 through 10 of 740.00
In Love With my Volvo - 2008 Volvo S40
By Mike in S.A. - December 30 - 5:03 am
This is the first Volvo I have ever owned. People are often surprised when, at 26 years old, I tell them I purchased a Volvo - that is, until they see it. The Volvo name may carry the stigma of an "old person's car", but one look at the sleek design instantly extinguishes that thought. My black on black S40 turns heads and evokes positive reactions from family, friends, and co-workers. My expectations have been surpassed with this excellent vehicle.
Great MPG - 2007 Volvo S40
By Daniel - December 27 - 2:20 pm
My wife and I have 11,000 miles on ours and we love it. The people who complain about the gas mileage are the same people you see gunning off the line, only having to slam on the brakes in 100 yards. We are averaging about 27 MPG city, and 34 MPG highway, with A/C. This should be an option for everyone who is looking at a 3 series BMW. No, the fit and finish isn't as nice, and the engine isn't as peppy, but it is an amazing car with a less expensive starting piont.
Dont know what everyone else is driving - 2000 Volvo S40
By jake! - December 27 - 10:00 am
I've been reading all these reviews about replacing the brakes and the bulbs and whatnot every month..i have had no problems with my car for all 2 years that i've had it..the only thing that even bothers me a little bit (reliability wise) is that the check engine light comes on when your really low on gas..other than that, i havent had any problems. I do agree with everyone however that the cupholders could have been much better placed.
Volvo S40 Fits the Times - 2006 Volvo S40
By Patch - December 15 - 5:00 pm
I am 6 foot 2 and was looking for a fun car with a stick and I am so glad my wife found the S40. A former motorcyclist with many miles in Europe under my belt, I was conditioned against a Volvo. The bigger sedans were always driven by drivers who really need the protection of the cage if you get my drift. I was pleasantly surprised by the roominess of the interior on test drive: all three kids fit snugly in the back, the truck was ample, and the handling nimble. Compared to my bikes and other cars, my previous car in the US was a 1991 SAAB Turbo SPG, the little blue car felt spunky but a tad underpowered - sadly the Turbo doesnt come in a stick. 42k later - still a great car at 28mpg!
Frustration - 2001 Volvo S40
By tmbbmt - December 14 - 3:03 am
I wanted to get a Volvo before grad school because I always viewed them as safe, reliable, lasting cars. Our old volvo wagon went 330k miles with few problems. This car is one big electrical malfunction. Windshield fluid spray/wipers randomly coming on, air/heat confused as to whether it should be putting out hot or cold air and at high or low, constantly replacing lights, check engine light coming on and off when it pleases (believe this is a sensor issue). Sometimes it's like the radio display is possessed. But for me, I kinda lost faith in my car when I stopped in the middle of a toll plaza on 95 and my car shut off and took 15 mins to restart.
Great Car - 2004 Volvo S40
By Bristol - December 4 - 10:00 am
I have owned Volvos for years and this is a great car with wonderful comfort for the front seat driver and passenger - plenty of legroom and quiet well appointed interior. Wonderful pickup and braking. Everything seems to work as advertised. A very practical and fun to drive car.
Sleek, sexy, and sporty S40 - 2007 Volvo S40
By Rich - December 3 - 2:20 pm
This car is fantastic! Mine has a silky smooth 6 speed manual transmission that is quick out of the gate. I have experienced next to no turbo lagged from the peppy 2.5 litre. Quick accelaration and the feeling of a more expensive German sedan make this Volvo a great choice. The interior is sleek. Simple and elegant is Volvo's game. And Volvo wins with this S40. The owner's manual recommends 91 octane fuel, but 87 delivers nearly identical performance and fuel economy. Besides the car, my dealership experience was fantastic. Thank you Gengras Volvo - East Hartford, CT!
The 2006 T5 is Awesome! - 2006 Volvo S40
By db4639 - November 26 - 11:20 pm
Overall, the 2005 Volvo T5 is awesome! Some people thought I was crazy to go from a 2004 3-Series BMW to a Volvo, but the superb handling & luxurious feel of this car far surpasses the BMW. The car is safe, reliable, powerful and very fun to drive. The fuel economy is also a plus, as was the purchase price! If you enjoy luxury at a reasonable price, the new Volvo is a must have!
Must read - S40 - 2001 Volvo S40
By 2001 S40 - November 24 - 2:03 am
I purchased this car in 2001 - my first new car! Since that time, I have replaced brake pads front and back each year since ownership. My check engine light continues to come on and no one can figure out why. Other repairs include fuel pump, rotors, every light bulb in car, thermostat, fuses and other minor things. I purchased this car for safety and my concern now is that with all of the repairs that I have made (most of them on-road surprises), that this car actually compromises the safety of the driver - not protects it.
Great Car! Great Pricing - 2003 Volvo S40
By Jammer - November 22 - 2:00 am
Even though I am a large person I have found this car to have great seating and leg room. Peppy, Fun and luxurious are words that describe how it feels to drive this awesome compact sedan. I never would have guessed a Volvo could be so much fun to drive!