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Volvo 850 Wagons



    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?
    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

    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

    I have already filed an investigation request with the NHTSA.

    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
    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/ 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...
    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.
    I was in Europe last year and drove a BMW 3-series and rode in an Audi A4 Avant for 10 hours from Munich to Prague and back. Our Avant was a tubo diesel manual chasing a gas BMW 323 but it fared pretty well except in the comfort category. The middle back seat was completely unacceptable to anything other than a child's car seat.

    We own an 850 auto wagon here in the States and it seems pretty small by American standards but it does carry a lot and is pretty comfortable with a load but it's no screamer. Manual trans would help with the base engine if your fully loaded.

    The 850 middle rear seat has a well designed built in child seat/arm rest but it might be a little uncomfortable over a long haul. I've never sat in the middle back seat to know. The rear seat is well contoured and has plenty of leg room though.

    Luggage wise your talking a total box in the rear. My wife and I usually travel pretty heavily loaded when we take a trip in the Volvo, but we've never gotten above the rear seat level with our luggage. Volvo even has safety netting, if so equipped, that'll pull from the rear seat backs up to the ceiling to keep luggage in the rear compartment from sliding forward.

    If your rental Volvo is mounted with roof rails you have an entirely new area of storage to utilize. Volvo manufactures sliding bars that'll adjust the entire length of the rails therefore providing infinite possibilities for addition storage.

    I suspect the Catera/Omega is slightly smaller than the 850 but a capacity comparision on the U.S. sedans would give you a good insight on the wagons.

    Best wishes and enjoy the trip,

  • I purchased a '99 V70 a little over a year ago. It was a demo with alittle over 5,000 miles on it.
    I had always wanted a Volvo due to it's safety record and comfort. Unfortunately, things keep breaking in mine. For instance, I pulled down the visor on the driver's side, and it broke. When my husband was driving the car to the dealer to be repaired, the cruise control broke and the left blinker was blinking at a faster rate than normal. The dealer could not replace the visor right away, so he opend the back to throw the old one in, and when he closed the door, the open door warning would not go off.
    On the way home the ABS and Tracks Off lights came on.
    The dealer has been wonderful, but I'm afraid once the warrenty is up, it's going to be very expensive to fix all these little items.
    I know Volvo is a trusted car manufacturer.
    Can anyone tell me if they think I have a "lemon". This has never happened with our past vehicles. We've always been able to "drive them into the ground". I was hoping I could with this one as well. Please give me your advice. Thank you
  • MiroMiro Posts: 15
    re #39 Thanks again for your insight. We haven't made the reservations yet, but for now it looks like the V70 class is the one. BTW the Omega (Catera) is n/a in the rental fleet, because of decreased demand in upscale Opels over the years. So GM has backed away and let Ford (Volvo) take its place.
  • jal3jal3 Posts: 1
    I am the owner of a '93 240 wagon. If the new wagon are consisent with the 240 wagon' out! Although I love the styling of the volvo, it is rather quirky with high maintainance bills. I have averaged approximately $1,500 to $2,000 EACH YEAR since I have owned this car. It now has 120,000 miles on it and I am looking for another car...unfortunately, not a Volvo. good luck!
  • Just got back from a trip to the UK, where we rented a right hand drive V70 automatic. Drove about 600 mi. with approximately 1400# of people & luggage. A great car, I wouldn't have wanted anything larger on those roads in the UK--it behaved perfectly.
  • Hi, We're apt to buy a v70 wagon via the tourist and diplomatic sales program...order in Europe for delivery in US. What we are unsure of is whether we need anything bigger than the 168 hp manual engine. Has anybody compared the basic car, not the AWD versions, turbo versus nonturbo?
  • We bought a used 96 855 auto base wagon after test driving both. I liked the turbo because it was a real rocket, but I hated the T5's required leather color options. We luckily found an almost totally decked out base auto w/ charcoal cloth seats.

    On the used cars the ivory leather seats looked really grimy even after reconditioning and the black leather was totally unacceptable for So. Cal. weather. Needless to say I'm not much of a fan of leather seats anyway.

    The T5 is a light pressure turbo that kicks in very early on in the torque curve. The car seems fast because it gets up and goes right off the line. In the manual format this engine would be incredibly fast but you'd definitely feel a lot of torque steer. In the U.S. versions this torque steer is muted by the automatic transmission.

    Our base 850 w/ auto is not a rocket but it gets up enough steam for us and we're old school V-8 kind of folks. I'd love a manual w/ this engine but it's my wife's car and she basically hates to drive anyway. I'd say the auto equipped base engine is rather deliberate in its acquisition of speed but not what most driving enthusiasts would call inspiring, it can only be described as adequate.

    Best Wishes as you contemplate your purchase options.

  • Thanks,
  • Just bought a 98 V70 and I love it. Only problem (so far). AM radio reception sucks! I noticed in the manual that there is some kind of AM boost. I wonder how that works. Does it plug in? Factory installed? I'm jonesin for sports talk radio. Thanks for any help. Mark

    I'm not specifically familiar with the problem your having, but should you not find postings with the specific information you desire I'll certainly try to direct you to it. Several people have complained that because the antenna is attached to the left rear glass they've had problems with reception but I'm not sure that this is in fact the reason for their troubles.

    Best Wishes,


    We live in So. Cal. and the talk radio AM station I usually listen to can be heard alway up to Nor. Cal. on a clear night. I love being able to tune into them as I cruise back home late at night.
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