Product Type: Volvo cars
Newest Review: ... much rather drive an automatic. Having driven a few over the years, I would say the Volvo 850 is more responsive than is usual for automat... more
The Flying Brick.
Member Name: enrm6
Date: 12/07/02, updated on 12/07/02 (6838 review reads)
Advantages: capacity, performance, safety
Disadvantages: air con failures, rattly trim
These cars are just starting to become affordable for those of us who don't want to pay new car prices. In addition you get an awful lot of car for your money. If you are considering purchasing one of these here is my take on the matter.
First, these cars have been around a while now and it is likely that you’ll come across many models with a high mileage. In fact, it is likely that the one you like the look of has been around the world a couple of times. However, mileage in the main is not an issue. Myself and many others have bought our 850s with well over 100k miles and have had no more problems than you might expect from a less well travelled model. You do have to take the usual precautions though as with purchasing any second hand car; make sure you get a good service history, check that everything works as it should, make sure the alloys (if it has them) are in good condition – poorly looked after alloys can be a sign of a careless owner!, also check that the tyres are good quality ones especially if you are looking at the more performance models.
Sorry, what was that you said, performance?
Yes indeed, what some people won’t recognise is one of the things that made this particular model of Volvo very popular amongst those in the know is that it has a racing heritage. Back in 1994 Volvo entered an 850 estate in the British Touring Car Championships – and actually started winning races. For many of us that started the love affair with this model and in particular the two high powered versions the 2.3 litre T-5 and the R. These models have 225 and 245 bhp respectively, large alloy wheels, all round disc brakes and a huge amount of interior options for those who like their ‘toys’. If you purchase one of these models you will realise that they have huge performance, handling to match and are basically extremely rewarding to drive.
The other models in the range include:
re 10 valve model with is best avoided as it is a bit overworked in this car,
2.5 litre 10 valve model which has a good torque range and is good for load lugging,
2.5 litre 20 valve model which is a bit more effortless when cruising,
2.5 litre turbo diesel which has good performance and better fuel economy,
2.5 litre 20 valve light pressure turbo AWD model which is suited to those who need the agricultural features.
Basically there is a version to suit all tastes.
Other things to think about include whether you want an estate or a saloon. In reality there is little difference but the estate is much more practical with masses of space for all your trips to the DIY sheds, supermarkets, seaside, etc, etc. You’ll also find that the estate holds its price better so whilst you’ll pay a little more you’ll also get more for it when you come to sell it. As I mentioned, interior options are wide ranging but a lot of the standard equipment is very good, you’ll be hard pushed to find better seats in any car. Whilst the car you buy might not have a cd player (it is an option but obviously they don’t all have them) the speaker set up if very good (having 8 all together) and it is extremely easy to fit an aftermarket stereo. Safety is legendary and most vehicles have airbags up front and at the sides.
If you read the ‘net and the various forums you’ll also find that there are a couple of continuing niggles everyone seems to have at some point during their ownership. The first and potentially most expensive is the air conditioning. If you get a model with air con make sure it works, with plenty of cold air and don’t run it for the last mile or so of your journey so that any water in the system can evaporate and thus avoid any issues with corrosion. The second is trim rattles. Basically there are known problem areas such as the tailgate trim which can start to rattle, so it’s a
matter of going round with your torx set tightening up the bolts, lubricating the catches, and making sure everything is snug. The final point to mention is the ride. I would say that for most Europeans the ride is just firm and nothing particularly out of the ordinary, but if you come from North America and you are used to floating around in a big arm chair then it might be somewhat of a shock – again aftermarket springs and dampers are available if you really bothered.
To avoid ending on a bad note I just want to reiterate that these are great cars, with a range of features to suit everyone whether it is performance you are after, load carrying capacity, caravan or trailer towing, safety, or just like the look of them. You may read in various places around the ‘net about people with bad experiences and they are obviously genuine problem cases but you have to remember that more people will vent their frustration than their happiness. If you do your homework, make sure you really check out the model you are going to buy then you will enjoy owning a Volvo 850. There are some very good resources about, both on the ‘net and in the real world to help you get the most from your purchase.