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The first Volvo car rolled off the line in Göteborg, Sweden in 1927 and the first truck followed the next year. Over the decades Volvo became a major vehicle exporter, sending cars, trucks, busses and tractors all over the world. Volvo Car Co. was sold to Ford Motor Company in 1999 for a reported $6.45 billion.
You ever to try to find a good hamburger? It’s not so easy. Garbage fast food is all around us. And sure; if you want a good steak you just wander into any number of fancy-pants restaurants and pay (through the nose) for a juicy bone-in rib eye. But a juicy burger you actually enjoy eating? Not so much. Switching to an automotive metaphor, all many people want is simple, basic transportation. But like a good burger, have you looked? There’s a whole gaggle of nicotine-stained grifters eager to sell you a Ford Focus. And even more well-coifed grifters are hungry to show you the joys of entry level luxury. But what if you only want a good small car? Friends, let me tell you about the Volvo C30.
Review: 2009 Volvo C30 T5 Car Review Rating
The S60 is Volvo's neglected middle child. Baby brother S40 is hipper, faster, and gets all the chicks. Older brother S80 is bigger and more luxurious. Where does that leave the S60? Not languishing on dealership lots, given that it's Volvo's best-selling sedan (if barely). But I'm hard-pressed to figure out why. Apparently, Volvo can't figure out why either– the S60 has purportedly been on the chopping block for a couple of years now, though no one seems willing to make that final cut yet. So let me take a stab at it.
2008 Volvo S60 2.5T Review Car Review Rating
Volvo is finally coming to grips with the fact that the brand doesn’t stretch much beyond wagons. Reflecting this new/old reality, rumors abound that Volvo’s about to axe their range-topping S80 sedan in favor of an upmarket V100 wagon. Add in a recent Consumer Reports’ study showing that American consumers still rate Volvo number one for safety, and you begin to understand the importance of the new V70 wagon. As wagons are what keeps Volvo’s ost on their smorgasbord, “getting it right” was essential. So, did they?
2008 Volvo V70 Review Car Review Rating
So Ford’s taking Volvo upmarket. Never mind why. How? On the face of it, the Swedish brand is as suited to life at the top as Volkswagen, whose mighty Phaeton died for their premium-priced aspirations. Volvo owns the sensible, safety-oriented, “car for life” mindspace. While it’s become a full-line automaker, Volvo’s station wagons best exemplify the underlying ethos. And here comes the all-new XC70, and extremely pricey people mover. If Volvo can take their station wagon upmarket, well, Ford might be onto something…
Volvo XC70 Review Car Review Rating
Sharing a platform with a Ford Focus is something you’d probably want to keep under wraps; kind of like that cousin with webbed toes and twelve fingers. Fortunately, the latest Volvo V50 is actually the ritzy cousin of that much-lauded obscure object of desire (at least for Americans): the Euro Focus. As the V50/S40 accounts for a third of Volvo’s global sales, this is a good thing. But do good genetics make the V50 a good car, or does this smorgasbord of multinational automaking represent a sad swansong for Ford’s about to be divorced Swedish brand?
Volvo V50 Review Car Review Rating
The last time a Volvo was sexy, so was (Sir) Roger Moore. Just as The Saint titillated the fairer sex, Simon Templar’s Volvo P1800 had heel-and-toe types salivating. Shortly thereafter Moore was persuaded to abandon his Swedish whip for an Aston. By the time the English actor got into Bond-age, Volvo had turned deeply dull. Sexy was scrapped, safety celebrated. Stylistically, Gothenburg’s designs adhered to a Ty Webbian template: “Be the box. Be the box.” While Volvos slowly evolved away from the rectangular gestalt, they never quite shucked middle-aged mindfulness. The new C30 aims to change all that.
Volvo C30 Review Car Review Rating
Back in the ‘80s, when Volvo was famous for making safe cars, the brand’s vanguard was an ugly, slow, heavy machine called the 240. Admirers affectionately dubbed it “the Brick.” The 240 was indefatigable. When Volvo tried to replace the car with a more “modern” boxy model in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, 240 loyalists– vegan university professors hauling cans of paint and their dog in a 240 wagon on the way to the farmer’s market– revolted. Finally, in 1992, Volvo execs terminated the 240. Some say that Volvo gained style and lost its soul. But hey, brand loyalists always say that kind of thing. Truth to tell, the old Swede’s spirit lives on in the S40.
In 1998, Volvo was SUV deficient. As they didn't have a truck chassis upon which to build, those crazy Swedes grabbed a station wagon, raised it a couple of inches and added all wheel-drive. Since then, the XC70's ground clearance has risen, transforming a slightly jacked-up joy rider (6.5") to a Jeep-wannabe (8.2"). The move leaves Volvo with a fully-fledged… something. Whatever it is, it is what it is. And now that Volvo has a "proper" SUV, the question must be asked: is the XC70 an anachronism whose time has come and gone?
Volvo XC70 Review Car Review Rating
A Volvo sports car is like a porno star wearing a condom: it makes perfect sense, and none at all. And yet, for reasons lost in the notes of a Ford strategy session gone bad, the brand best known for passenger fortification has developed an ongoing need to engage in protected sex appeal. Currently, the 300 horse S60R and V70R are the lead characters in this oxymoronic endeavor. Snicker if you must, but Volvo has publicly proclaimed that their R’s are suitable competition to BMW’s unassailable M3. Them’s fighting words!
Volvo V70R AWD Review Car Review Rating
Sweden is home to an automotive cult known as “Raggare” (roughly translated: “pick-up artist.”) Its adherents revere American hot rods and the cruising lifestyle depicted by the film "American Graffiti." It’s helpful to think of the Volvo C70 hardtop convertible in this context, as a latter day Swedish pony-car. I know; it's a bizarre concept. A hardtop convertible produced by a car company known for impeccable safety and wildly inoffensive design aspiring to super-cool sex appeal? Like Swedish meatballs, it tastes a lot better than it sounds.
Safety legislation is killing Volvo. New rules and test procedures have virtually leveled the playing field, to the point where Volkswagen sells crash protection as credibly as Thor's mob. Even worse, the Swedish brand has at least partially surrendered the field. Sure, their cars still come laden with the latest safety-oriented gizmos and boast the best construction techniques, but the focus has shifted. According to the official website, you should buy the new Volvo S80 because of its “Scandinavian luxury.” In case you’re wondering, that means “comfort + power + safety.” Talk about changing priorities…
Life for this wee Swede hasn't been easy. Low man on the totem pole, bastard half-Asian stepchild to the rest of the family, Volvo's S40 sat idly by in darkened showroom corners while siblings bulked up courtesy the brand's design NordicTrack. Unable to do little but watch its brethren emerge with quickened reflexes, broadened shoulders and finely tailored threads, the colorless S40 must've felt like Billy to the rest of the Baldwins.
But no more. That's because Volvo's finally replaced the (ironically-named) Mitsubishi Carisma doppelganger with something more befitting the brand. As here in T5 guise, that means 'out' with the 1.9-liter light-pressure turbo (a tepid lump that'd barely get out of its own way, let alone stand up at stoplights), and 'in' with a properly force-fed 2.5-liter five-cylinder and six-speed manual. 'Out' with the uninspired oriental NedCar chassis, 'in' with a more robust platform spun from the same cloth as the Mazda3 and Euro-market Ford Focus.
Porsche salesman Kirk Stingle calls it 'tip in'. It's those initial few seconds of acceleration, when a vehicle's engine tries to convince the stationary mass surrounding it that it's time to hit the road, Jack. A surprisingly large number of SUV's tip in like they're racing for pinks. Not so the Volvo XC90 V8. With a 311hp powerplant mated to a six-speed slushbox, the formerly slothful Swede glides off the line with all the grace and strength of an Olympic figure skater starting her routine. Even the Russian judges give it a perfect ten.
The newly-engined Volvo XC90 shows that the Ford subsidiary understands that the ideal 'soft roader' is nothing more than a luxury car on stilts. It must be comfortable enough so that none of its occupants wants to throttle a fellow passenger (always a plus for family car buyers), tall enough to impart a sense of superiority, fast enough to exercise that authority and nimble enough not to roll over and die when you do. Oh yes, and safe. It's got to be safe.