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Volvo 850 Wagons

FREDERICKFREDERICK Posts: 228
This weekend we bought a 96 850 Wagon with 34k miles from a So. Cal dealership. I've been a long time member of Edmunds Town Hall forums under the Hatchback Saab 9-3 title. I had to search quite a bit around the Edmunds forums to find the general information I was seeking about Volvo ownership expereinces before we bought one.

We shopped for a month in the Los Angeles area before we bought from a dealership in Orange County. I drove as far north as Ventura (1 1/2 hour) looking for quality used Volvos from dealerships. The day before we bought our car I even got a call from a San Diego dealership that had been alerted by an Los Angeles dealership that I was in the market looking for a specific wagon that they did not happen to have in stock.

Our Volvo shopping experience in Los Angeles was generally been very positive. The only distastfull experince we had was at a dealership that also sold an American marque. Typical cheesy salesman sleeze!

The farther North I went looking for Volvos outside of L.A. the smaller the dealerships got but their attitude was still very polite and the sales people maintained a no nonsense approach to showing and selling their cars.

Our last car was a 1999 Saab 9-3 that we leased back in August. After seven months ownership I fell asleep at the wheeel and rolled this car out in the desert. I survived this crash with little more than some abrassions to my arm and a few stitches above my eye where I hit the open sunroof. We really liked the Saab but they no longer offered the same deal and the Vovlvo wagon was really our aspiration.

We paid $20,500 plus tax & lisc. for our base 96 850 wagon with 34 k miles auto, cloth, pwr drivers seat, and premium wheels. They had a couple base sedans w/ loooooow mileage available that we could have gotten out the door for less than $20K but I wanted a wagon! Chase Manhattan provided financing on our car @ 7.35% w/ $2K down. We had a 720 credit rating.
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Comments

  • basmanbasman Posts: 2
    About the Volvo 850: please email me at:
    bdbergstra@yahoo.com
  • FREDERICKFREDERICK Posts: 228
    I'm not aware of the "Estate" nomenclature on Volvos. If it is a base 850 w/ the 166 bhp engine I'd definitly recomend the stick. We own an auto and acceleration is a bit anemic and loud. Fuel economy is decent @ 20 MPG - 28 MPG but then I'm from the land of SUV's.

    $27,000 sounds "O.K." but I'm not privy to all the options on the car your talking about. If it is totally decked out with nearly everything your probably in the ball park on price. We live in a very large metropolitan area with more than half a dozen dealerships nearby. $27,000 on a decked out turbo w/ auto and low mileage would probably fly here in Los Angeles. Check Edmunds Used Car section to get a reasonable appraisal on the vehicle your considering.
  • basmanbasman Posts: 2
    Thanks for your advise Frederick, I appreciate it. About the options, it indeed does have nearly everything so the offering price is competitive.

    About the transmission, we do quite some commuting (traffic jams) so I think the automatic will be more convenient. Besides, the fuel economy you mentioned sounds fair enough.

    Does your car transmission have the option sport/economy and Winter? Is there much difference using one or the other in terms of performance and fuel economy?

    Thanks again.
  • danfdanf Posts: 1
    Hi! I'm going to get a `94 or `95 Volvo 850 Turbo wagon in about 6 to 9 months. I test drove the Audi A4, the Chrysler 300M, and the Saab 9-3. I loved the Volvo the most. The Saab was the closest competitor but it had too much turbo lag, though it was loads of fun on boost. The Audi's interior was too small for my height, and the 300M didn't seem very fast, even if it was. So...the Volvo wins.

    Anyway, I'm minorly concerned about having a car with a turbo. I would imagine Volvo has had the time to make a long-lasting turbo by now. Does anyone know how the 850 turbo holds up with 150k to 200k miles? A car under my care would have excellent maintenance. I would not be inclined to buy a car that generally needs a major service (turbo rebuild) at say every 100k miles.

    Thanks for any info someone might pass along!
  • FREDERICKFREDERICK Posts: 228
    Now here is a group of automobiles that is near a dear to my heart in one way or another, or maybe not.

    In August 14998 we leased a 9-3, our first Saab, and seven months later I totalled it in the California desert when I fell asleep at the wheel.

    The 9-3 (turbo equiped) had great accelleration and enourmous carrying capacity for a car of its size. I racked up one speeding ticket and was able to stuff increadible amounts into its cargo area. The car was not crisp though and it did not give the fit and finish sense I expected for a car at its price.

    The A4 is a very nice atractive, if not sensuos, car. Great exterior styling with a sumptious interior. The engine is anemic though its a V-6.
    After a five hour drive in the middle backseat of an A4 from Munich to Prague and back I very definitly catagorize the A4 as marginally a four adult hauler.

    The 300M looked very nice on the surface and was cosmetically a very attractive car. The engine was loud and unrefined at almost any speed. It had the typical American marque "you get what you pay for" feel to it and I personally believe not much of a contender.

    The Volvo base 850/V70 is a brick and its fels like one too. You get no where fast with this car. You do feel safe in this car and you always know just exactly what is going on between it and the road. The 850/V70 feel is a bit peculiar for the typical American but it does give you a strong sense of security.

    I've riden in @/or extensivly driven the cars you've listed and for me most of them come close or exceed the Volvo in one or two areas but they don't over all make up for the safety, firmness, solidly built, or know depreciation of a used Volvo.

    Nice group of cars yes! But real long term contenders, no!
  • jeffryjeffry Posts: 36
    Has anyone towed a light trailer w/ a Volvo-turbo?? They are supposed to pull 3300 lbs but I am not sure how well. I am considering a light travel trailer 1500-2000 lbs, a Casita or similar. I have an 850 Turbo and am considering the V70 T5-w/ my car the ground clearance would seem to preclude pulling anything as the front scrapes pulling into ANY driveway unless at an angle and slowly, so I am not sure how they consider it could pull anything. Any Feedback or experience is appreciated.
  • FREDERICKFREDERICK Posts: 228
    Volvo offered a rear leveling suspension specifically for use in towing. Your T5 would have Volvo's sport suspension which when added with the lower profile tires you would inevetably be a very low slung automobile. The front scraping problem would most likely go away when pulling a trailer unless you have the rear leveling suspension. The weight on the rear lifts the front end naturally.

    Interesting note to the Volvo is that the head lights are easily re-adjusted for towing. There is a simple dial under the hood behind the head lights that will adjust your light quickly for towing.

    Your trailer is relatively lite but since you most likely you have the sport suspension you'll have to take it easy over any bump.

    I do not own a turbo version but I'm sure Volvo took into account the interest in towing when it built the turbos since the 162 bhp base engine really would be a dog under tow.

    Hope more enteries to your question will preceed since towing is a basic question to Volvo ownership especially in the wagon form.

    Best wishes for the family summer vacation!
  • FREDERICKFREDERICK Posts: 228
    The Volvo wagons you're talking about are literal pocket rockets. They'll smoke the tires off most regular sedans in the market and haul all the stuff home too. The "R" version of these wagons is a serious contender.

    These cars were designed to be as solid as a brick but get up an hustle with any sedan that cared to try. The wagons look better than the sedan too!
  • FREDERICKFREDERICK Posts: 228
    We just purchased a 96 850 base w/ 34K miles white w/ cloth interior no third seat for $20500 from a Los Angeles dealership. I went to at least eight dealerships in our area looking for four weeks at wagons and never came across one near the same mileage or near the same price.

    I think the fact that you know the foibles of the car you might purchase is rather beneficial. I don't know how much you know about cars but if you take a crawl under the car to take a look at the repair from the Corvette you'd get a better idea of how extensive the repair from the rear ending was. $1800 sounds like a rather cosmetic kind of damage so I'd not be inclined to think to badly towards the car your considering.

    If you know who the repair shop was or at least that they were a reputable Volvo repair place I wouldn't worry to much about this accident. Since the 850 is a front wheel drive car there really is little that a car like a Corvette could do to the rear end at slow speed.

    Brakes are another matter though I tend to believe that current Volvos suffer this problem universally. Volvo brakes are very grabby and if you've ever driven the car your considering you'd notice right off the the brakes are very sensitive but then this accounts for Volvo's unbelievably short stopping distance.

    The front brakes on our 34k mile wagon were replaced by the dealership before we purchased it which some what alarmed me too. I've read though in other forums that brakes and the dust they creat on Volvo and Saab's too seem to be a bit problematic but they recommended that you replace your pads with metalic composits from Raybestos next time you got the chance.

    Best wishes and enjoy should you decide to purchase this "bargain."
  • FREDERICKFREDERICK Posts: 228
    #1 of 2: Harmonics (twoof1) Sat 12 Jun '99 (09:43 AM)

    shwneeg,
    I notice a harmonic distortion with the rear
    window only rolled down. This is not uncommon. It
    has also happened in previous cars I have owned. It
    can be very annoying when my 5-year old decides
    it's time to play roll down the window, however all
    I have to do is lock out the windows and open the
    sun roof for him. Problem solved
  • FREDERICKFREDERICK Posts: 228
    #2 of 2: Noise- (FREDERICK) Sun 13 Jun '99 (07:17 PM)

    We have the same problem with our 850 base wagon.
    It happens only when the rear windows are rolled
    down with everthing else closed. I thought at
    first it might be related to the tires but you'd
    obviously have different tires on your XC than we
    do.
  • riig1riig1 Posts: 1
    Last weekend we actually drove the 850 wagon (1996 Black leather etc. around $18K) and were happy to find that the car was basically what we wanted. The only down side was that the leather was a creamish beige, and you could really tell that it was the family hauler. If you know of any heavy duty leather cleaner & conditioner, that would be great. Also, since it came with the boring stock rims (base model), we are thinking about updating / retro fitting the newer Volvo rims to give the car a newer look. The other reason is because the old owners seemed to be drawn to curbs more often than not when parking.

    Due to the price and some timing issues, we will take ownership in August. We have scheduled the car to goto the dealership for Volvo's standard safety inspection (roughly $100) to eliminate any final gitters. Your response was great. We believe that after we have the car completely shampooed, this will be a wonderful new car to us. Now the big question, will I get my 180,000 miles worth of enjoyment out of this car...

    Enjoy, and thanks again
  • FREDERICKFREDERICK Posts: 228
    riig1-

    I know the the Taupe color leather your talking about. My wife and I looked at quite a few 96 cars with this color leathr interior and many of them were in quite shabby shape after only 3 years. The color however is definitly the best leather color for a black car in August. Unlike the Black leather, the Taupe shows all the dirt and scratches but with proper regular care you should be able to enjoy these seats for many years. Kids are problematic with your color seats but just roll with in and do your best to keep them conditioned and clean.

    Your soon to be family wagon should be cleaned regularly with a cleaner like Kiwi's "Propert's Leather and Saddle Soap." Twice a year application with a simple sponge, bucket of warm water, and hand towel will keep your leather soft and clean for years. There are many more sophisticated ways to clean your leather interior, but this simple soap/ conditioner is cheap, easy, proven and w/o all the harsh chemicals that over time could actually lead to acclerated deterioration of your leather.

    Saddle soap is best applied with a simple sponge moistened slightly in a bucket of warm water. Lightly rub the sponge in the Saddle soap and work up a little lather before applying to the leather. Work on small areas at a time and work the lather into the leather and then wipe away with a clean soft towel before it dries. Rinse out the sponge regularly and apply new soap to the sponge.

    You'll find an amazing amount of dirt transfered to your towel but you also be conditioning the leather at the same time. Work carefully and reapply if you feel the leather still is too dirty. Avoid rubbing lots of soap into the stitching since this can promote rotting over a long period of time. Be generous with the soap on the areas of the seats exposed to the harsh summer sunlight since these areas tend to deteriorate nearly as fast and the actual seating surfaces.

    After you've thoroughly cleaned the leather you may choose to use a matched cream polish over the scrathed, dingy, or sundamaged areas. Remeber to thoroughly rub the cream into the leather and then wipe all the residue away so that the color won't be transfered onto someones pants!

    I own a 1978 Cadillac Triple White Seville that I've kept in amazing condition with this foremetioned regimen. You can do it you've just got to do it spend a few hours each year to make those seats last for 180,000 miles.
  • thornthorn Posts: 91
    Check the new Car & Driver for a full test of Euro
    wagons.

    Needless to say, the two Swedes - Saab and Volvo -
    take the rear behind the superlative German wagons
    from Audi, Daimler and BMW. Volvo's Frigidaire
    styling is easily the worst, making it an ideal addition to the Ford stable of ugly.
  • FREDERICKFREDERICK Posts: 228
    You've posted this memo around various Volvo and Saab sites. What exactly is the beef?
  • erikaerika Posts: 1
    Our family is considering a '96 Volvo GLT wagon w/ @ 33K miles. Although we can manage the purchase price (around $22.5), we are concerned about maintenance costs over the long run. Can anyone give us a sense of the quantity and quality of problems the car might experience over the long run?
  • FREDERICKFREDERICK Posts: 228
    Erika-

    Your Volvo really is a little too young to know its long term build quality. Turbos have changed a lot from the early years for all car makes. Saab is developing a completely turbo based line of cars and they are at least from early indications light years ahead of those they sold in the early to mid-eighties.

    As I read around the net on 850 Volvos before we bought our base wagon, they seem to be pretty solid with a few problems in their eletrical system on the earlier models. Brake wear has definitly been an issue because I've read numerous accounts of early pad replacement. Keep your eye on your front pads and replace them when needed before you do real damage to the rotors. Pads are cheap and they are what makes for Volvo's increadibly short stopping distances.

    You've bought a pretty new model and it is much too early to know whether it'll live up to the Volvo reputation. I'm hoping, just like you, that the 850 will indead be a great long term car.

    Best Wishes and enjoy your car. Keep us posted!
  • JPhamJPham Posts: 148
    An informal survey of 850/V70 owners reveal some common reliability issues. You can check it out for yourself at http://vsr.cjb.net/
    and make up your own mind.

    JP
  • lightbulblightbulb Posts: 5
    Ericka,

    We bought our '94 850 wagon 2 years ago and basically love it. As it was purchased through a dealership, I decided to spend the extra CDN$1,200 and buy a factory extended warranty (call it insurance 'til 2001). Good thing, there's been aprox. $2,500 worth of service to the A/C. The water pump was also just replaced. Despite the service problems, I'm considering a 2nd Volvo and would recommend it. Consider a warranty if available (make sure it's Volvo factory).
  • FREDERICKFREDERICK Posts: 228
    Thorn- (no other name need be given)

    This guy has posted this message all over Edmunds Forums especially in the Saab and Volvo forums. He seems to have a chip on his shoulder against Volvo but he is NOT an OWNER.
  • FREDERICKFREDERICK Posts: 228
    I read two major automotive mags from cover to cover every month and to be honest they say exactly the same sort of things about every car they review. (Now isn't that amazing!?..Huh) These writers are totally myopic and without real-life long term daily ownership experiences of the cars they so glibly review. I wonder how many years it's been since any of them have regularly driven and owned a car that was not less than two years old?

    You guys may have read a few of "THORN's" postingings on the Swedish wagons reviewed in C&D's "Luxo-Wagons Compared" article in the June issue. Needless to say, this totally inane article chose to compare equally the BMW 528i, MB's 320, Audi A6 Avant Quatro against both the Saab 9-5 and Volvo V70R AWD. Of the three German wagons, only the Audi was nearly the same price as the Sweeds. The BMW and MB were nearly $10k more than any of the others.

    Now what kind of comparison is it when you ask the real consumer "Would you spend $10K more for this car" if in fact they only have a set amount of dollars to spend for their car. People shop for the best car they can afford given the dollars they have to spend not becasue a review lists a $10K more expensive car as the "best."

    Give me the extra $10K and I'll throw it into one of the Sweeds on after market goodies that'd guarantee to blow the doors off any of the German showroom Luxo-wagon.
  • lightbulblightbulb Posts: 5
    You used to be a Saab 9-3 owner who's converted to a 850 wagon; your input please. We already have an 850 wagon and have narrowed down the field to a 9-3 or V70 for a 2nd car; after much reading, research,etc. I'm on the fence.... with various deals, the cost of the 9-3 SE and the V70 GLT is the same. Unknown but sportier Saab or known and conservative Volvo?
  • FREDERICKFREDERICK Posts: 228
    We leased a Saab 9-3 10+ months ago because we thought that the deal was great for the amount of car we were getting. After driving the car for seven months I had a different opinion of the car.

    The Saab was a bit floaty in its hadeling. the acceleration was great but the car lacked quality. I loved the capacity of the Saab but I felt it really was not solidly put together.

    Our new Volvo 850 is very crisp. Everything seems up to what you'd expect from a European car. The Volvo is very crisp, annoyingly so at times. This car is a tank compared to anything else I've owned or driven.

    We bought the Volvo because I believed in its resale value but we leased the Saab because I did not.
  • ekcannonekcannon Posts: 1
    Hello.

    I am new to this forum and would like to know if anyone is having the same problem with the rear seat belts in their 1996 Volvo 850 Turbo SW. During installation of car seats, my rear seat belts have failed a total of 3 times in the past year. Twice on the left and once on the right. The component on the latch that you switch to "Car Seat" breaks off when we pull on the seat belt to properly install the car seat. This makes it impossible to tighten the car seat properly without the use of a locking clip.

    We bought this car used back in July of '98. The dealer has told me that this is the first he has heard of this problem. I find that hard to believe since it has happened to me 3 times in one year. I only weigh 125 and I am not that strong, so if this seat belt can fail with me pulling on it...surely it will fail in an accident, indangering the lives of my children. I bought this car because it was supposed to be safe, but I am selling it because I do not believe that it is.

    I understand that 80-90% of consumers do not install car seats correctly. I am not one of those individuals and have had my installations checked by certified safety technicians.

    If anyone else has had this problem, or knows someone that has, please contact me at ekcannon@mindspring.com

    I have already filed an investigation request with the NHTSA.

    Thanks,
    Karla
  • FREDERICKFREDERICK Posts: 228
    I know of the switch you are talking about but we have not yet used them on our 96 850. I have not read of this problem in other forums either.

    Hope someone will post something about this for you soon

    Best Wishes
  • FREDERICKFREDERICK Posts: 228
    As of recent I've been having sporatic problems getting the drivers door window to go back up after using the auto down or just regular down mode with the switch.

    So now you know that your dream of a trouble free ownership of a used Volvo does not infact exist. I'm only kidding. One major design flaw on the 850 though was that the cup holder pulls out directly over the window switch control module.

    Who knows what the previous owner dropped down on top of the switches but I've switched to using a small hand towel under the cup holder if I ever drinking anything in the car. Liquids and electrical switches generally don't get along too well together.
  • As the owner of a '95 850 Turbo wagon, who has put a deposit on a 4 dr Saab 9-3 Viggen, I hope that your experiences were unique to your car, and not to Saabs in general. I've enjoyed every mile in my wagon, except for the ride, which from time to time, was very harsh. I test drove the Viggen, and even with its 17 inch rims and sport suspension, it somehow felt more compliant. Everything else about the Volvo has been outstanding, including the reliability (aside from 3 transmission shift locks!). And with 70K on it now, it's still solid as a rock. I think BMW should offer lessons to the other Euro car mfrs about ride/handling...no one seems to come close.

    The Volvo was my first break from being a manual transmission purist. I drove a V70 T5 with a 5 speed when it became available, and was less than impressed with the way the engine dynamics worked with the transmission (the auto works MUCH better). Test driving the Viggen sold me immediately...looks, handling, performance, seats, transmission, and it's "almost" wagon-like practicality.

    I don't regret my decision, but will miss the wagon when it goes...
  • FREDERICKFREDERICK Posts: 228
    phughes 1-

    Now you're exactly the kind of guy I want to hear from, especially in the future. I say this because before we bought our used 96 Volvo 850 auto wagon we leased a 99 Saab 9-3 for seven months.

    I crashed that Saab out in the California desert late one night when I fell asleep at the wheel. The car was totaled and I basically walked away from the accident with a few abraisions to my right arm and some stitches above my right eye.

    I have both a lot of good and bad feelings about that 9-3. I loved the hauling capacity of its hatchback formation and its fun to drive turbo engine. I hated the build quality of the car with its unacceptable fit and finish and a totally floaty suspension. When it came time to replace that car we went out and bought the Volvo wagon because I felt more confident in it than I even felt about the Saab.

    The Volvo has a much stiffer suspension than our Saab 9-3. I like this feed back after driving the Saab. The Volvo feels like a brick and makes me more confident in its handeling characteristics. Believe me, I know what float is like in a car because I daily drive a Lincoln but I'd never push it to where I confidently know the Volvo could go.

    I wish I could say that I trust Saab after my experience but in my heart I didn't at the time we leased our car and I still don't. I like Saab but I love Volvo, electrical problems and all. I believe in the Volvo and know that its depriciation won't kill me. Hell I've even shopped numerous old Volvo's but I've always been leary of an old Saab.

    The new Viggen really is the kind of 9-3 I should have had but it wasn't yet available and it doesn't come in an auto. The Lincoln is mine the Volvo/old Saab 9-3 is my wife's. I love the old Saab Aero, but I'd probably choose a T-5 Wagon over it ina heartbeat.
  • bradly1bradly1 Posts: 1
    I have owned 2 SAAB's(99LE/99GL...that's over 20 yrs ago)and 4 volvo's in a 2 driver family.
    The 240's were indistructable, the 87 740 Turbo wagon good but a little finicky at times, even thought the turbo and tranny(auto)never really acted up, and a 96GLE 10 valve Wagon.
    With over 80k on and 1 A/C repair(accumulator about $1200cdn on warranty) I would say the 850 is a fine machine ...if you can get used to a set of front pads every 30k... I have had no electrical problems or any other warrenty issues.
    As an everyday family car I don't think anything else comes close for price,comfort and safety. I expect 8-10 yrs out of this car, and given my previous history with Volvos should see it.
    I've recently purchased a BMW 323....great car....probably better brakes than any volvo but will it give me 8-10yrs????
  • MiroMiro Posts: 15
    Regarding an upcoming car rental in western Europe (the Netherlands), who knows without a doubt whether the fleet V70's have manual or automatic transmissions? This wagon is listed as "full size" by European standards, so I hope it will fit 5 adults + suitcases.
    BTW, the rental/travel agents I spoke with gave a different answer each time (Avis says manual, National says automatic, etc.), their web sites don't give definite answers either.
    Our first choice was the Omega (Catera) wagon, but it's n/a this time around, so I hope the V70 won't be too much of a compromise.
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