In 2008, the Volvo V50 was one of two station wagons in the company’s line-up and was on the receiving end of a minor facelift….mainly in the front end treatment. With seatiang for five, it came in three variations: normally aspirated 2.4 litre, and two turbocharged 2.5 litre engines, with or without all-wheel-drive. All three versions had a five cylinder engine, and, depending upon the model, you could choose from a five or six-speed manual transmission or Volvo’s Geartronic automatic.
With the possible exception of Saab and maybe BMW, no other European manufacturer made a more accommodating station - or estate - wagon in that year. In a nutshell, the V50 was and is a comfortable automobile.
Power outputs were 168 hp for the normally-aspirated model, and 218 and 227 horsepower for the turbos. The “low compression” T5 version - the most popular model - was a reasonably lively automobile, with a 0 to 100 km/h time in the seven second neighbourhood.
Like its closest competitor, the Saab 9-3 Sport Combi, the V50 had a definite “drive me” flavour about it, and appealed to enthusiasts and soccer moms alike. Volvo campaigned a station wagon in various motorsport events around Europe for years, and the company hadn’t completely abandoned its performance roots in ‘08. Needless to say, the V50 also featured four-wheel disc brakes at all four corners with ABS as standard equipment.
Elsewhere, the V50 boasted 2015 litres of interior cargo space, with all seats folded flat. By way of comparison, a Saab Sport Combi had 2047 litres. Equipment level was high and things like tilt and telescoping steering wheel, cruise control, one-touch power windows, power and heated outside mirrors, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, and single CD player are came standard with the T5 model. Buyers could also order the “Sport Package”, which included Bi-Xenon headlights, heated and power front seats, larger 17-inch wheels and tires, and a rear cargo cover.
And you can’t talk about Volvos without mentioning the safety side of things. As well as the ABS brakes, the V50 had electronic brake distribution, a traction and stability control system, front, side, and side curtain airbags, and knee-pad protection for front passengers.
Two safety recalls to report from Transport Canada. One concerns a widespread glitch with the batteries used in the Garmin Nuvi 760 navi system. This recall affects a wide variety of various manufacturers, for cars manufactured from 2000 to 2010. Briefly put, the navi system can overheat and, if neglected long enough, catch fire. According to Transport Canada, “Dealers will direct customers who have an affected unit to the Garmin Web site, which explains how to verify if their units are involved and includes procedures to follow for product exchange.” To this we can add an alert about a possibly flawed power steering fluid hose that can rupture, cause a leak, and, if left unattended, an engine fire.
The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration also has a warning about V50 models equipped with roof rails. Said rails may have been installed with bolts that are too short and, if a heavy load is attached to them, or if the driver brakes too hard (!?), they could work themselves loose, fall off, and injure someone.
NHTSA’s technical service alert list for the ’08 V50 is fairly extensive, with 22 bulletins on file. These range from possibly loose front suspension struts, to overly sensitive theft alarm systems, to issues with the crankcase ventilation hoses, to the usual electrical/software glitches.
Aside from assorted electrical snafus, the 2008 V50 gets decent marks from Consumer Reports, but not outstanding, and not as good as the year before. The engine(s) and drive systems score well, but the best this organization can muster is an “average” used car prediction rating. C.R. describes the five cylinder engine as “raspy” and points out that it’s relatively cramped but versatile inside the car.
Marketing researcher, J.D. Power, doesn’t have a lot to say about this vintage of the V50 and give it an average predicted reliability rating.
The V50 has held its value reasonably well, and buyers can expect to pay anywhere from about $20,000 to $25,000 these days. The AWD models appear to be fetching around $1000 more than their FWD counterparts.
AT A GLANCE
Original Base Price: $32,995; Black Book: $19,050 - $23,600; Red Book: $17,425 - $21,250
Engine: 2.4 litre five cylinder, normally aspirated & turbocharged
Horsepower/Torque: 168, 218, & 227 hp / 170 & 236 ft. lb.
Transmission: Five & six-speed manual/automatic
Fuel Economy (litres/100 km): 10.7 city/7.0 hwy (T5 Turbo w. six-speed manual trans). Premium gas.
Drive: FWD &AWD
Alternatives: Saab 9.3 Sport Combi, Audi A4 Avant, BMW 3-series Touring, Subaru Legacy 2.5 GT wagon, VW Passat 2.0.