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Highway miles: Yes, highway miles are better; they put much less strain on a car, not just the engine, than continuous stop and go driving. Having said that, however, it's difficult to prove that the miles on a car are indeed "highway" miles and not "rallying up Mt. Washington" miles.
Power- The 850 5 cylinder has more than enough power for a new driver, even in non-turbo form. In fact, make sure you buy a non-turbo; it's just one less thing to worry about--less stress on the engine, and turbos, when they fail, are upwards of a thousand dollars to replace.
As always, make sure any car you buy has been thoroughly inspected by a specialist mechanic. In New England, Volvo mechanics are not hard to find.
For more information than you ever wanted to know about Volvos, check out http://www.brickboard.com
They've got tons of useful information on all models of Volvos. Good luck.
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