The compact-size S40 sedan and a companion V40 wagon arrived last year as Volvos new entry-level models for the United States, aimed at a younger audience than its larger, more expensive versions.
This year, the S40 gets subtle styling changes, slightly longer dimensions and curtain-type airbags as a new standard feature. The curtain airbags extend from the front roof pillar to the rear pillar and drop down from above the windows in side collisions.
Other standard safety features include side-impact airbags for the front seats, antilock brakes and Volvos Whiplash Protection System, which moves the front seats rearward in a collision. The federally required front airbags have two deployment levels, with lower force used in low-speed collisions.
Ford wholly owns Swedish-based Volvo. Before Ford took over, Volvo developed the S40 and V40 with Japanese automaker Mitsubishi. The car is built at a plant shared by the two manufacturers in the Netherlands.
Volvo stretches the S40s wheelbase nearly 1 inch this year to 101 and adds a new front bumper and more rounded fenders, increasing the overall length by 2.4 inches to 177.8. The S40 is about 6 inches shorter in wheelbase and more than 2 inches shorter overall than Volvos new midsize S60 sedan.
The S40 has a trademark Volvo grille with chrome vertical bars and character lines in the hood and along the sides like those on the companys larger models.
Three-point seat belts are provided for all five seating positions in the S40, which comes with standard cloth upholstery and a 70/30 split rear seat that folds for additional cargo space. Cargo volume is listed at 13.2 cubic feet.
Interior changes this year include softer seats, a new center console and a new spot for the power window switches, moved from the console to the doors. Air conditioning, power locks and windows, cruise control, a cassette player and an immobilizer theft-deterrent system are standard. Leather upholstery and a power sunroof are optional.
Under the Hood
The only engine for the S40 is a 1.9-liter four-cylinder, hitched to a new five-speed automatic transmission instead of the four-speed automatic used previously. The engine is turbocharged and produces 160 horsepower, which Volvo says enables the S40 to reach 60 mph in 8.5 seconds.