So it's a Volvo, then.
May 17, 2009 2:19 PM   Subscribe

Twenty-something interested in buying first serious car...a Volvo maybe!

Asking this anonymously as I don't want my partner to associate the surprise with me...

It looks like I'll be getting my first proper job in a few months, and will then be in a position to replace my current car, up to now a basically reliable but not ideal motor, with a modern car that will last a while and hopefully provide enhanced safety, security, comfort and enjoyment!

I'm looking at a Volvo (live in Scandinavia and like the ride and reputation), and in particular a V50. But then I hear round and about that this isn't a 'true Volvo'. Something about a Ford chassis. But what does this mean in real terms? What does it lack that a true Volvo has? Is a V70 a true Volvo, or is that also built on a Ford chassis?! Was the last true Volvo the 240?

What are the cars strengths, weaknesses?
But can anyone come in and comment on what size engine is needed to make this purchase a keeper (I've heard tell at 1.6l it's an underpowered car), about whether they're reliable and offer the benefits the Volvo name suggests they should...

and whether I should buy NEW or a 2007 model. I imagine new would mean quite a bit bigger monthly payments but is it maybe worth it in terms of an investment, I would KNOW the car's history. When it comes to financing, can anyone advise on whether should I should make a big effort to make as big a down payment as possible...what max percentage of net monthly income I should be prepared to pay on a car etc.

Also just for fun: what options should I get! After all, this is meant to be fun, right?

posted by anonymous to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (16 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
From a purely economic standpoint, I believe conventional wisdom is that a car loses half its value when it leaves the forecourt. So buying new would probably not be a good move. A "one careful lady owner" low mileage old model might be good, or an ex-demonstrator, as it will have had the benefit of excellent official servicing and parts.

I can't speak for Volvos specifically - parts will be relatively easy to acquire and cheap as you're in Scandinavia. I know older Volvos had reputations of being built very well, and made to last, but that's just a general impression of the marque more than being based on anything factual.

Also, what do you use the car for? Are you quite rural with long drives, where you'd want reliability and comfort, or urban where being small, good around town etc. are more important considerations? Do you need to tow, or transport large items, etc. etc.? (email one of the mods to answer those questions as anonymous).
posted by djgh at 2:29 PM on May 17, 2009

Ignoring all of your questions up until you ask about options and want a car that is fun (I'm not actually ignoring them...) Do not get a Volvo. Volvo cars are great, semi reliable, expensive to get fixed; buy one new and keep it for years - great if you can afford it, but don't buy a used one unless it's a demo model that has done 8,000 miles in two years in a dealer's forecourt. Fun and cheap is something like a Mazda MX5. Now, that is fun. This, of course, is just my opinion, but I cannot see why any young person would be able to invest in a dull car like a volve (when one of the conditions is that they want to have fun) just because they are living in Scandanavia. (Try to find a 70s convertible Saab - Jeeeeez!)
posted by Elmore at 2:30 PM on May 17, 2009

One of the reasons a young person would buy a Volvo because they live in Scandinavia is because they want the car to start in the morning, to handle well on icy roads, to save their asses when they hit a moose, to cart shitloads of stuff from IKEA, cheap as (rather expensive) chips to get parts for and repair.

We have a v50, we love it. It's sporty enough (for an estate) if you get one with a decent sized motor and/or turbo. We have an... ummm... 2.4T? Is that an engine size? It's light blue.
Do buy second hand, a two year old model is half to third of the price and has about another 18 years on it. Don't forget to budget for winter tyres. Find a local place that stores, rotates, and switches your tyres, it's about 400 kr, twice a year, very worth it if you are in a flat.
posted by Iteki at 2:41 PM on May 17, 2009 [2 favorites]

Oh, and re. costs, we pay about 2000kr a month I would say for all the car stuff other than petrol and our parking space.
posted by Iteki at 2:43 PM on May 17, 2009

OK, that's a good answer. I guess there is a different car culture here and a lot less IKEAs and Moose.
posted by Elmore at 2:52 PM on May 17, 2009

In the US at least, a "true" Volvo's model name begins with a digit and a Ford-Volvo's begins with a letter, so a 740 or an 850 is a "true" Volvo.
posted by jet_silver at 2:53 PM on May 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

I have a V70 Turbo wagon, and it's a great car. A Volvo purist will tell you it doesn't handle like a true, non-Ford Volvo, but to me, it feels the same as my first car, which was an 850 Turbo. In the US, maintenance is rather expensive, but the car is very reliable. I bought a 2004 in 2006, and I'm glad I didn't go for the brand new car. As for fun stuff, leather seats are nice. I also paid extra for the wood kit, which put faux-wood accents all over the car. I like it, you may think faux-wood is cheesy. And definitely go for the Turbo, no matter which model you choose. My car is very fast for a big wagon.
posted by twiggy32 at 3:11 PM on May 17, 2009

Volvo's reputation as a reliable, tough-as-nails cold-starting car is based off their 240 and 740 lines, which were simple as hell and built like tanks. After the 740, Volvo started getting it into their heads that they were making luxury cars and as a result the cars lost not only their toughness but also their soul. Try looking at an S80 and see if you can see the same spirited design a 245 wagon had- it's just not there. Their new cars are based on Ford platforms and don't really have any safety/reliability advantage over their Ford platform-mates.

For reference:
Volvo V70=Ford 500/Ford Taurus
Volvo V50=Mazda3/Mazda6/2010 Ford Focus

If you're looking to buy a real Volvo, get a 240 or a 740. Sadly, that's not going to be a very new car anymore. Regardless, no matter what you do, don't buy brand-new- as has been mentioned previously cars lose a lot of value as soon as you drive them off the lot.
posted by dunkadunc at 3:14 PM on May 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

I've been very happy with my V40. Stingy with gas. Not many mechanical problems, holds up like a champ when the tractor trailers blow by me at eighty miles an hour on the freeway. Great safety features. Much more solid and easy to steer than my previous Toyota.
posted by effluvia at 3:45 PM on May 17, 2009

and whether I should buy NEW or a 2007 model. I imagine new would mean quite a bit bigger monthly payments but is it maybe worth it in terms of an investment, I would KNOW the car's history. When it comes to financing, can anyone advise on whether should I should make a big effort to make as big a down payment as possible...what max percentage of net monthly income I should be prepared to pay on a car etc.

A car is not something you should usually finance. Save your "monthly payment" into a special interest bearing savings account until you can afford to buy it outright.

When you buy something with a combination of your own money and debt, you're "levering up" and amplifying your returns (or losses, in the case of a car). This is well enough when you're buying a house and its value will (tend to) go up. But a car's value will absolutely go down, and a new car will lose something like 20-30% of its value right off the lot.

So if you pay half up front, and you take out a loan to pay the rest with debt (so 1/2 your money), you're doubling your losses. The car loses 30% of its value when you drive it off the lot, but you lose 60% of your money. (Example: $30,000 car and you pay $15,000 up front. You drive it off the lot and it's worth $20,000 -- it lost one third of its value. Now if you have to sell it you get $20,000 for it and pay off the remaining $15,000 loan, leaving you with $5,000, meaning you lost two thirds of your original $15,000.)

If you do pay off all the loan, then there was no harm done except for any interest payments. So if you can get a 0% APR loan and are absolutely positive you will keep your job and can keep the car until you pay off your loan, then financing isn't a bad idea. Otherwise, save until you can afford to buy the car.
posted by losvedir at 3:53 PM on May 17, 2009

1. Volvos are not fun. Safe, but not fun.
2. The One True Volvo is the 240. And the 780. And the P1800.
3. You shouldn't pay more than the equivalent of about USD$500 for a 240. You shouldn't buy a 780 or a P1800.
posted by b1tr0t at 4:03 PM on May 17, 2009 [4 favorites]

We have an older V70 - a 2001 purchased used and love it all around. Pros: Surprisingly good pickup when you hit the gas even though it's just the stock model, very smooth ride, easy to pack full of stuff. It's never had a problem starting in Chicago winters, gets good traction in snow assuming you keep the tires relatively new, and has had few mechanical problems. It's a pleasure to drive.

We also had a tire disintegrate after hitting a massive pothole at 75 mph (not the fault of the car). It was great to have such a heavy, low car - we spun around in a full circle at 60 mph on the highway with the car fully loaded. We absolutely would have flipped and rolled in an SUV.

I would buy another V70 in a heartbeat.
posted by true at 5:28 PM on May 17, 2009

my wife has a 240 wagon that has close to 300k miles... the thing is built like a tank... that said, she will not buy a new volvo....

my guess is this is the last car she will own....

look for an older volvo...
posted by HuronBob at 7:45 PM on May 17, 2009

My father had a sky blue '80 Bertone Coupe (awesome); mom's first "new" car was a red '76 240; my first college car was a white '76 240; my last 850 had 250K miles on it. Now Mrs. Webhund and I have an '07 XC70 that we picked up at the factory in Goteborg (awesome experience) and already has 62K on it. In the midst of negotiating an '09 XC70 (desperate U.S. dealers = bargain).

Oh, my answer: Register and post your question at SwedeSpeed. Very friendly and active Volvo forum. (Just try and ignore the "modern" P1800 on the home page). :)
posted by webhund at 8:07 PM on May 17, 2009 is your friend (and I assume there are similar sites out there). I've also been intrigued by various Volvos a couple-few years old, but I am more than a little wary of a lot of stories regarding reliability. That aside, 1.6 sounds small and weak for that car; is it a turbo?

I live in a country where they sell cars a spec.-level lower than what one finds in the USA; things like the basic Subaru hatchback with a whopping 105-hp (aka "not many") engine. I'm not looking to play Captain Go Fast behind the wheel, but I have rented a similar car with a similar engine and it is pathetic, really tiresome for basic things like merging, going up hills, having to jump a little quick into a slot when traffic leaves no alternative.

If you go for a Volvo or not, give 'er a thorough test drive to include merging or simulations, gassing it a decent bit and see if you deem it adequate or better. having a gutless car gets tiresome.
posted by ambient2 at 3:02 AM on May 18, 2009

I was considering purchasing a V50 this year, and after doing my rounds at the Volvo showroom and its competitors, what impressed me about the V50 were its multitude of safety features as well as its surprisingly good fuel efficiency (on paper) compared to other cars of its class.

I also found the car's interior classy and elegant. However, I found the car's pickup to be kinda sluggish, when moving off from a stationary position.
posted by nihraguk at 8:35 PM on May 18, 2009

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