Styling: 2011 Volvo S40
Given its crisp lines and handsome sporty European design, it may come as a surprise to learn this current generation of the Volvo S40 is now in its seventh year. A refresh back in 2008 leaves the vehicle with smoother edges, a slight pulled-back silhouette and pleasant, albeit conservative, overall exterior styling.
On the inside, most reviews tout the Volvo as an exceptionally comfortable and accommodating small sedan – provided you're seated in the front seat. While rear passenger space and trunk space are fairly unimpressive when compared to others in its class, this fact is often overlooked by those who typically travel solo (or in pairs). Bring out the measuring tape, and you'll find that the Volvo S40 delivers a maximum of 12.6 cubic feet of storage space.
Performance: 2011 Volvo S40
Fuel-minded shoppers may lament the loss of last year's efficient base engine. However, the now-standard turbocharged 2.5-liter inline-5 helps bring the S40 more in line with the expected output of luxury sedans. This capable engine musters 227 horsepower and 236 lb-ft. of torque. Thankfully, this power is achieved while still managing good fuel efficiency for the class. The EPA suggests figures of 21 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway. If you're looking to beat these numbers, then you might look into the 2011 Volkswagen GTI, 2011 Lexus CT200h or 2011 MINI Countryman.
If you're interested in a vehicle that offers all-wheel drive, then you'll have to look elsewhere. Volvo has discontinued the all-wheel drive option for the 2011 model year.
Safety: 2011 Volvo S40
Volvo is a car brand known for exceptional safety. As such, it should come as no surprise that the 2011 S40 comes standard with a number of safety features. These include four-wheel antilock disc brakes, front-seat side airbags, full-length head curtain airbags, stability control, traction control and active front head restraints. For those interested, a blind-spot warning system is available as an option.
In crash tests performed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the Volvo S40 earned a best-possible rating of Good in frontal offset tests and a second-best rating of Average in side-impact tests.
Pricing and Features: 2011 Volvo S40
The 2011 Volvo S40 comes with a starting price tag of $27,750. This dollar figure splits the field between bargain luxury sedans (Volkswagen GTI, MINI Countryman, etc.) and more capable entry-level luxury models (Acura TSX, BMW 1-Series, etc.) The base Volvo S40 T5 comes standard with 17-inch wheels, heated exterior mirrors, air conditioning, cruise control, 60/40 rear split seat, eight-way driver's seat with memory settings, Bluetooth and 8-speaker stereo. Notably, leather seating is only available as an option (along with sunroof and power passenger seat).
The sportier Volvo S40 T5 R-Design adds side skirts, front/rear spoilers, sport steering wheel, upgraded watch-dial gauges and aluminum pedals. The upgrades bring the price tag to $31,150.