A rightfully depreciated Swedish luxury bargain
January 15, 2019
I purchased my 2007 Passion Red Volvo S60 T5 in late July of 2018 after my 2014 Mazda3 5-door base model was rear ended at a stop light in June of 2018 and totaled. I will be using that car as a benchmark for comparison. Anyways, I needed a car fast that was cheap. All that I could afford were 100k mile Hyundai’s with the horsepower of a Kei car, or so I thought. Out of pure luck my Volvo to be was listed as a $5,900 pre-safety inspection back row sale at a local dealership 50mi away. No pictures were uploaded but I really didn’t have much to lose. When I got there the car instantly caught my eye- A vivid red and sporty red sedan silhouette sat confidently upon beautiful 17” chrome “Tucana” rims. Besides a bit of cosmetic damage to the front bumper and passenger mirror, the car was in nearly perfect condition. The T5 is a higher level trim below the infamous S60r. Quite rare nowadays. After test driving it I instantly knew it was the car I would be purchasing. Not only is the car almost fully loaded, but it’s 256bhp propells the 3,500lb Swedish tank to illegal speeds much more quickly than my 155hp Mazda3. The interior is very aesthetically pleasing, albeit cheap plastic trim does detract from the overall experience. Gobi leather seats are magnificently comfortable, and the front ones had the advantage of being heated in the Volvo I now own. It also came with automatic & active bending Xenon headlights, headlight washers, auto-sensing rain wipers, 4C active suspension, aluminum interior trim, memory and power front seats w/lumbar, Homelink, an Auto-dimming rear view mirror, rear windshield defroster, power & heated side mirrors, fog lights, dual zone climate control, and an automatic climate option. After 11 years and 44,500 original miles the A/C was ice cold, the electronics worked perfectly, the interior was nearly immaculate, and the car could really move. A real deal for $5,900. The dealer ended up keeping the car for a week so it could replace the brake pads, tires, and rear sway bar links (which were back ordered and installed later). I have since put nearly 6,000 miles on it after 5 and 1/2 months of ownership. Here are my unbiased and completely honest impressions. The first thing you notice when driving this thing is that it is a luxurious boat. You literally feel like you’re operating an unathletic boat while city driving. The turning radius was among the worst in the industry at the time and still is. If you were previously a good driver prepare to become a bad one. This is certainly NOT a driver’s car. Despite its sporty appearance and appeal, this car’s only sporty attribute is its quick (not fast) 0-60 plagued by turbo-lag. From a stop this car starts slow then the power just comes all at once. In contrast driving at highway speeds and accelerating is a different and dangerously fun pleasure. Due to this car having a fwd design, torque steer is very obvious but controllable. The car’s heavy 3,500 curb weight is very much evident in its driving dynamics. Compared to my former 2,800lb Mazda it handles terribly and with little precision. The Volvo’s steering is unrefined, responsive for all the wrong reasons, and overall invokes a lack of confidence when cornering. The body roll certainly doesn’t help this matter. Now the suspension of this car is very confused. It can be very smooth, but the slightest bump has the potential to cause miata level harshness. Very strange. The comfort setting in the 4C chassis settings is my preferred option. The sport setting is a bit better for cornering and well not much else besides feeling the harshness of the road. The 5 cylinder engine isn’t very smooth and will actually cause slight vibrations in the car. It’s exhaust note is pretty unique! This car has a load of features for its time. A dial on left turn stalk switches between the plentiful and appreciated driver information located to the left of the gage cluster. Instantaneous mpg, average mpg, miles until empty tank, average speed, all very nice to know. A button on the end of the same stalk controls the messages function. Basically the little info screen in the gage cluster reads error codes from the car’s computer when prompted, “you have 1 messages”. If the computer detects an error while driving the info screen will display the error text along with a yellow (mild-moderate risk) caution symbol or a red caution symbol (high-risk). It is a brilliant and awesome feature.