My first thought about the 2005 Volvo V50 was, "Oh boy, another station wagon (yawn)." After driving it for two weeks I had a VOLVOlation: I really like sports wagons. Sure, they're descendants of our mom's station wagon that used to bring us home from soccer practice in time to partake in a lovely crockpot or fondue dinner. But the station wagon has evolved over the years into a new species that is stylish and functional enough to meet our generation's high standards.

The sports wagon is not just for women. As a matter of fact, I was stopped by a man who wanted to know all about the V50. He proceeded to tell me that he loves the way the Volvo V50 looks (all this coming from someone driving a honking-big SUV). Here's another unbelievable testimonial. My teenage brother and his college roommate (home for the holidays) "oohed" and "aahhed" over it. Of course, it doesn't take a lot to impress some dirt-poor college kids living on ramen noodles.

The best attribute of the V50 is its attention to safety. Volvo actually invented the three-point seatbelt and is still at the forefront of industry safety standards today. All the airbags in the V50, including side impact and side curtain, are standard. Volvo's whiplash protection system recently outperformed numerous cars in a recent test done by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. I am particularly impressed with Volvo's development of the world's first official computer model of a full-term pregnant crash dummy. It is used to test the effect of seatbelts and airbags on an unborn fetus and its mother.

Like the Volvo S40 that I recently tested, the V50's storage compartments are lacking. I mainly noticed the absence of rear in-door storage. I know there are women out there like myself who use these religiously for all the trash that accumulates when they're driving kids around. However, my children were fascinated by the fold-down armrest in the back. It has two cupholders and a "treasure chest," or a thin storage compartment just big enough for a small pad of paper and some crayons.

The seating surface of the V50 is dynamic T-Tech, something that's texture is similar to a neoprene wetsuit. The pro to this type of fabric is that it keeps passengers, as well as child seats, from sliding around. The con, I discovered, is that its porous surface soaks up leaks before you can wipe them up.

I had the pleasure of driving this sports wagon in icy conditions. The AWD version that I drove seemingly stuck to the road like glue. I didn't have any issues slipping or sliding. The heated seat (provided as part of the $625 climate package) was quite efficient. It heats not only the bottom of the seat, but the back as well, within a matter of seconds.

I have to say that my favorite thing about the 2005 Volvo V50 has nothing to do with the car itself, but rather the "Manual in Motion" provided by the manufacturer. I know there are women out there who don't have the time or inclination to read their new car's operating manual cover to cover. The Manual in Motion is a CD-ROM that I popped into my computer and had each function of the car (from the door locks to the sports mode and radio controls) smartly explained and clearly demonstrated.

The 2005 Volvo V50 T5 AWD is a great example of EVEolution (a term coined by trend forecaster Faith Popcorn to describe a business that evolves to "reach women on a woman's wavelength"). The most important thing to me as a mom is the safety of my children, and Volvo understands and caters to this instinctively.

* For more information on the 2005 Volvo V50 and its safety features visit