New Car Review
1994 VOLVO 850 TURBOCHARGED SPORTSWAGON
by: BILL RUSS
SEE ALSO:Volvo Buyer's Guide
For over a quarter of a century Volvo has developed a reputation of strong, safe, solid, boxy sedans and station wagons. These traditional works of fine Swedish Steel were configured with the engine in front and the drive wheels in back, and were designed to provide roomy, reliable transportation. Late in 1992 a dramatic change took place at Volvo. It launched its all-new 850 sedan! This newcomer was not only smaller and sportier than its brethren, but its drive wheels were in front and it was powered by a new five-cylinder transverse-mounted engine. Despite these changes, the 850 was still unmistakably Volvo as far as basic styling, rugged construction and safety features were concerned.
For 1994 even more dramatic changes were made to the 850. A station wagon version and a turbocharged engine were added to the lineup. With its 225 horsepower turbo engine and refined sleek wagon styling Volvo describes it as the "Sportswagon". It is also an efficient vehicle. Efficient in its use of engine compartment as well as passenger and cargo space, in its variable transportation potential, and in its use of energy. While the 850 Sportswagon is designed to appeal to a younger group of owners with an interest in performance, it retains all of Volvo's traditional values of quality and safety.
APPEARANCE: The new Sportswagon is lower and wider than previous wagons, But it retains the signature Volvo rectangular grille with the familiar logo in the center. The new grille and hood are lower, the headlamps are slimmer, the body side moldings are wider, and the bumpers are smoothly integrated. New swept spoke alloy wheels and Michelin Pilot HX low profile performance tires set the wagon apart, as do the innovative and very visible rear taillights which stretch from the bumper to the top on each side of the large rear hatch. . A glass sunroof provides added touring vision.
COMFORT: The 850 has a tastefully appointed European interior that includes heated seats and side mirrors. It is equipped with very comfortable leather faced seating, a highly visible instrument panel, plus an excellent dual-control climate system with separate temperature settings for each side of the wagon. Clear, crisp sound fills the cabin from the AM/FM/cassette system. Not only does the rear set fold down and forward to provide a lot of extra storage room, but the rear arm rest converts to a safe child seat with side supports. The flat cargo floor has concealed lockable storage spaces. There's an information panel that provides trip information to the driver. The windows, side mirrors and door locks are powered, and the doors can be remotely locked or unlocked with an infrared key fob.
SAFETY: Volvo has long been known for its safety features. It pioneered integral safety cage construction and front and rear crush zones, which are part of the wagon's structure. Occupants are further protected with dual airbags, plus Volvo's patented Side Impact Protection System. There are three-point seat belts for all five seating positions, and those in front are automatically height adjustable and feature automatic seat belt tensioners in the event of an impact.
ROADABILITY: Like the rest of the Volvo automotive lineup, the front-wheel drive 850 Sportswagon is designed to be driven. Its independent suspension system is enhanced in slightly increased stiffness for firmer riding and handing. The optional traction control system works in conjunction with the ABS system to reduce wheel spin while the optional self-leveling system assures that its load is evenly distributed to all four wheels. It delivers excellent road feel through its rack-and-pinion power steering, and provides precise stopping with ABS and four-wheel disc brakes.
PERFORMANCE: To accommodate the turbo for the 850 Volvo had to reengineer its five cylinder engine. The increase in horsepower from 168 to 222 was made possible by a small quick-acting turbo, and a large intercooler. A sophisticated engine management system delivers high torque at almost all engine speeds. The improved smooth-shifting four-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission has three shift modes, Economy, Sport and Winter. Economy is for city driving, Sport when using the turbo, and Winter for starting in third gear on icy surfaces to reduce slippage. The 850's new powertrain combination insures adequate and safe power for a wide range of driving, weather and road conditions.
1994 VOLVO 850 TURBOCHARGED SPORTSWAGON
Base Price $ 30,985 Price As Tested $ 33,640 Engine Type I-5, dohc, 20 valve, mpfi, turbocharged, intercooled Engine Size 2.3 liter/142 cid Horsepower 222 @ 5200 Torque (ft/lbs) 221 @ 2100 Wheelbase/Length 105"/185" Transmission four speed automatic w/od Curb Weight 3400 Pounds per Horsepower 15 Fuel Capacity 19 Fuel Requirement Unleaded premium (91 oct) Tire Michelin Pilot HX 205/50ZR16 Brake anti-lock standard disc/disc Drive Train front engine/front drive PERFORMANCE EPA Economy - miles per gallon, city/highway/observed 19/26/21.4 0 to 60 mph 7.1 sec 1/4 mi (E.T.) 15.5 sec Coefficient of drag (Cd) .33