in 2009 Upscale Small Cars

Avg. Price Paid: $12,258 - $14,789
Original MSRP: $28,550 - $33,800
MPG: 20 City / 31 Hwy
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2009 Volvo S40 Performance

This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

It's not a hot rod, but the S40 has decent performance to satisfy most drivers' needs. Auto writers are especially impressed with the T5 models.

  • "Power in the base car is far from exhilarating and all-wheel drive is available only with the pricier T5." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "We skipped the turbocharged 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine in favor of the base 168-hp, 2.4-liter five, which was lauded several times in the logbook for its smoothness and throaty growl on initial acceleration. It never made the pulse race, but after a year, even the boy racers were saying how much of a pleasure the S40 was to drive." -- Automobile Magazine

Acceleration and Power

Test drivers say the S40's base five-cylinder engine with 168 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque will be sufficient for most, although the T5's turbocharged engine has more personality. One thing the base model and T5 now share is Volvo's smooth five-speed Geartronic automatic transmission, now that the previously offered manual transmission has been done away with. According to the EPA, the S40 should achieve 20/28 mpg city/highway with the automatic transmission. T5's all-wheel drive decreases fuel economy ratings to 18/26 mpg.

  • "The base 2.4-liter engine provides acceleration that's only slightly sprightlier than your typical four-cylinder family sedan. The turbocharged 2.5-liter unit is far superior, though it does have a rather peaky power band, with noticeable turbo lag off the line." -- Edmunds
  • "Quiet and refined, the T5 is a spirited performer, with its smooth-shifting five-speed Geartronic automatic transmission adeptly handling the engine's power. ... If you can swing the extra cash, opt for the T5 -- it's turbocharged engine brings the little S40 to life." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The automatic is generally smooth and responsive." -- Consumer Guide

Handling and Braking

The 2009 Volvo S40 is not the most thrilling or sporty ride, but it is described as controlled, stable and accurate.

  • "Handling is crisp and entertaining with either the standard or sport-tuned suspension, though the S40 isn't as sharp as the A4, 3 Series or G35." -- Edmunds
  • "One serious automobile, well-suited for both the highway and twisting back roads. Stable and solid on the road, the S40 T5's steering yields sharp reasonably quick responses." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Steering feel is accurate, but some testers find it too light for best highway-speed control. The brakes ease speed quickly with fine stability and moderate nosedive." -- Consumer Guide

All-Wheel Drive

The S40's all-wheel drive system performed confidently on test drives.

  • "Volvo uses the latest version of the Haldex all-wheel-drive system, which is electronically controlled. It relies on the instant of slippage from the front wheels before torque would be sent to the rear, but seems to respond flawlessly to the S40s on-road needs. A near full-throttle start showed an absence of torque steer and no obvious loss of traction more than a slight tire chirp." -- BusinessWeek
  • "Adding AWD makes it a stable, practical, New England car year-round." -- The Boston Globe