OK, it's a Volvo and it's a wagon, but it wasn't as bad an experience as expected in the few days behind the wheel of the conservatively styled hauler for the grandparents of the generation X'ers.

The 2.3-liter, 222-h.p., turbocharged, 5-cylinder engine is surprisingly swift and the 19 m.p.g. city/26 m.p.g. highway rating is a pleasant benefit considering the performance.

Four-wheel ABS, dual air bags front and side, traction control and daytime running lamps provide security behind the wheel.

Standard equipment runs the gamut from power glass sunroof to leather heated seats, walnut trim, headlamp washers and power memory seats.

But at $38,830, including freight, it's a Volvo wagon for goodness sake. A Volvo wagon. Practicality personified.

An early-to-bed, early-to-rise, laced-shoes, cuffed-pants, hat-plus-earmuffs, clean-your-plate, Lawrence-Welk, I-Like-Ike, don't-leave-the-house-without-an-umbrella, if-you-can't-say-anything-nice-about-a-person-don't-say-anything-at-all Volvo station wagon.

Money, they say, can't buy happiness, but $38,830 will get you a comfortable Mercedes C-280 or a radical BMW Z3 or an impractical Plymouth Prowler and not only leave you change, but also ensure that the grandkids start visiting again on Sundays.