2006 Volvo V50
2006 VOLVO V50 T5 AWD – Small Premium Load Lugger
By Isaac Bouchard
Contributing Automotive Writer
Volvo’s smallest wagon, the V50, has been out for about a year now. American’s have yet to really ken to small premium load-luggers, as have people in other countries, but maybe that will change if gas stays at three dollars per. Especially as there’s much to recommend this vehicle, now available in full-strength all-wheel drive form.
Powered by the ubiquitous Volvo five-cylinder turbo in 218hp form, it’s snappy and fuel efficient. The tester’s five-speed auto seems a good match for this motor, providing smooth shifts and allowing the blower to stay spooled up for quick response.
The suspension offers decent handling; torque-steer is well suppressed. But the V50’s all-wheel drive setup, wherein power goes to the rear wheels only after slip is detected up front, causes some odd weighting changes through the helm. The ride suffers from the same business that all modern Volvos seem to have, though large bumps are absorbed nicely.
The interior is terrific: space efficient, high quality, with the wonderfully supportive seats Volvo’s been doing for decades. Beautiful color combinations allude to classic Scandinavian furniture design, as does the funky seat fabric and contrast stitching. Controls are intuitive, and the ‘floating’ center adds a touch of distinctiveness.
This also applies to the exterior; head designer Peter Hornbury (whose subsequent promotion to Ford VP bodes well for the beauty of the American landscape) has created a taught shape that has both the classical Volvo connotations of strength and safety, along with a surety of form and stance that’s bang up to date.
If at first the price point seems steep for the V50’s size, remember that it undercuts the small AWD wagons from Germany by thousands. For those looking for an all-weather carryall that doesn’t drink too much, it’s worth at least a look.
COMPARISON VEHICLES: Audi A3 and A4 Avant, BMW 325Xi wagon, Mercedes C350 wagon, Subaru Legacy and Outback wagons.
HIGHS: Design, efficiency.
LOWS: Price per pound ratio, poor ride quality.
PRICING: $30,310 base to $41,302 fully loaded.
FUEL ECONOMY: 19MPG City/26MPG Highway; 22MPG observed.