Henrik Otto, Volvo's Design Director, has this to say about the V50: "What sets the V50 apart is the ability for the car to carry both people and all the important stuff that allows them to live their lives to the fullest. It is truly a car with a large capacity for life!"
I'm here to tell you that I can certainly appreciate the design of this car. It's very sharp-looking, and it's got this cool "ultra-slim center console" which is where the stereo and climate controls are. It's so thin, there's a small area behind it where you can put a small to medium purse or other items requiring stowage. Nifty! A place for my purse other than the passenger seat is the best design innovation since cupholders. I'm serious.
However, the ability to carry both people and all the important stuff that allows them to live their lives to the fullest? Hardly, unless your full life only has small-to-medium sized stuff in it. For example, you have wake boards but not surfboards; a regular stroller but not a double stroller; two kids in child car seats but not three. I know, I know, the Volvo V50 is a premium compact Activity Sportswagon (Volvo's designation, not mine) and not a U-Haul. I get it. But come on, Mr. Otto, don't try to put one over on me! Just because it's a wagon does not mean it can carry everything important in my life. Why have a wagon when it's really just a sedan with a hatchback? There's no more room in here than in a typical small sedan. Which is not bad, it's just not the "quintessential mom-mobile."
Size issues aside (keep that innuendo to yourself, please), this car is fun! This is not the first zippy, tiny car that has wormed its way into my heart. Yet another prime example of fabulous safety, amazing handling, braking, and accelerating all packaged up in a pretty little box. After a brief snowstorm, I try to get this all-wheel drive to slide on the ice, but no luck. Believe me when I say that my north-facing driveway is equivalent to any hockey rink this time of year.
Ladies and Gentlemen, she is fast. The Volvo V50 has a turbocharged 5-cylinder engine so I can get those groceries home faster than I probably ought to. With all sorts of fabulous standard safety features like side-impact airbags and side-curtain airbags for head protection, I can feel a little better about it.
It goes without saying that there's very little storage in the car, ultra-slim console notwithstanding. The center console is adequate, and the cupholders in the middle are fine. Tiny door consoles and no storage in the back save for the seat pockets are inadequate. Look, it's important that you know I don't go around with the attitude that my car is for storing things, but I do like to have the option for road trips, or even close trips that require some space. And yes, some things wind up in my car long enough to be considered storage items.
Installing car seats is pretty easy when you don't take into account some operator errors. Sometimes I'm a total idiot with those things. Thankfully this review's not about me. Anyway, the Latch attachments and tethers are easy to use. I do have to admit a little disappointment that my test car doesn't have the optional built-in toddler seats. I would LOVE to try those puppies out.
In any case, the V50 is a great car, but just not great for me and others in a similar situation. Maybe it's better for Mr. Otto and his windsurfing!
*For more information on the Volvo V50 and its safety features visit Cars.com.
LET'S TALK NUMBERS LATCH Connectors: 2 Seating Capacity (includes driver): 5
IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Puny Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair
SENSE AND STYLE Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Not Really Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Good Times