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Volvo V50 Estate (2004 - 2012) review

Read the Volvo V50 estate (2004 - ) car review by Auto Trader's motoring experts, covering price, specification, running costs, practicality, safety and how it drives.

The Auto Trader expert verdict:


The Volvo V50 offers a package of practicality and driveability and DRIVe models are very economical.

Reasons to buy:

  • tickPractical despite its small size
  • tickCost effective DRIVe models
  • tickGood to drive

At a glance:

How good does it look?

The Volvo V50 is the car which Volvo hopes will meet the aspirations of that section of the 24-35 age group that’s settled down, might have kids and is looking beyond the so called ‘volume-producers’. And first impressions are good, It’s recognisably a Volvo, and has a good load space to fill up with kids and luggage. But the Sports Wagon looks give it a contemporary feel which might attract the younger end of the car-buying market more than the more traditional Volvo V70 estate. R Design models get a sports body kit which further helps this cause.
Expert rating: 3/5

What's the interior like?

The V50 is as stylish inside as it is out. As refreshing as a stroll through a Scandinavian forest in winter, the V50 is an uncluttered place to be. Boasting the signature ‘free-floating’ instrument stack (the central console has room behind for storage), the interior has a feeling of quality, space and subtlety. Everything appears to be laid out with the intention of soothing any troubled drivers’ brow. The only risk is that drivers who like a host of buttons to play with might just get a teensy-weensy bit bored.
Expert rating: 3/5

How practical is it?

Just two up front? Then there’s 1,307 litres of space to play with. Pack the car with five adults and this shrinks to a still decent 417 litres. The boot is easily accessible. We used it to transport masses of bags for a holiday and found it easy to load and unload. Roof bars are included, making it easier to add bike carriers or a roof box for even more luggage.
Expert rating: 4/5

What's it like to drive?

This might be a Sports Wagon rather than their more traditional estate, but Volvo has plenty of experience when it comes to creating cars able to shift families and their stuff. The handling is excellent and the ride, while not the softest you’ll ever experience, is jolly good too. We enjoyed driving the car and found it very easy to live with.
Expert rating: 3/5

How powerful is it?

The V50 engine range has had a mid-life overhaul, and now features two petrol and three diesel models. In the first camp, there’s a 2-litre with 143bhp and a high-performance 2.5-litre T5 engine with 217bhp. Choose a diesel and there’s a D2 with 113bhp, D3 with 148bhp and D4 with 177bhp. We drove the 2.4-litre D4 with a top speed of 140mph and the ability to hit 62mph in 8.2 seconds and liked it a lot. This might be a practical vehicle with a nod to fashion but it has certainly got performance up its sleeve too. Depending on power, all engines are available with a five or six-speed manual or Geartronic automatic gearbox.
Expert rating: 3/5

How much will it cost me?

Average fuel consumption of 48.7mpg for the model we drove adds up to reasonably economic motoring. However, this drops to 31.4mpg for the T5 model and increases to 65.7mpg with the 1.6-litre D2. Likewise insurance varies significantly between the D2 and T5 models. Warranties cover the first 60,000 miles or three years, whichever milestone is passed first. You can expect the car to lose more than half its original purchase price after two years.
Expert rating: 4/5

How reliable is it?

This is a well-made car, inside and out. Its predecessor, the V40, was very reliable. What problems there were tended to be minor and failed to keep the car off the road for very long. The V50 has been subject to several recalls to solve potential issues with the braking system, accelerator and gearbox.
Expert rating: 3/5

How safe is it?

Volvo set out to achieve the same standards with the V50 as it did with the S80 – awarded a four-star Euro NCAP rating. To this end they increased the car’s rigidity while the front of the car has been divided into zones which should better protect the cabin. Rear passengers get side and curtain airbags while those in the front also get the benefit of front and side airbags. There is also a whiplash protection system.
Expert rating: 4/5

How much equipment do I get?

It gets a bit complicated here, as there’s ES, SE, SE Lux, R Design and DRIVe to choose from. All models are reasonably equipped, with R Design models aimed at making the V50 a sportier vehicle thanks to a body kit and silver roof rails. Highlights for SE models include 17-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, and auto wipers. SE Lux adds premium quality in the form of leather upholstery, thick floor mats, heated seats and folding door mirrors. DRIVe models are focussed on economy and stop and start is fitted as well as aerodynamic alloy wheels.
Expert rating: 4/5

Why buy?

Driveability. It’s safe, it can take lots of stuff and it’s easy on the eye too. But what we like best is it marries all these qualities and then adds ‘good to drive’ in for good measure. How much fun will depend which engine is chosen. Visit the Volvo website now for more information on the Volvo V50.
Expert rating: 4/5

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