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1995 VOLVO 960 SEDAN

by: BILL RUSS

SEE ALSO:Volvo Buyer's Guide

Volvo is a Swedish-based company that has been selling its automobiles in this country since the mid-fifties. From very humble beginnings, North America has grown to become Volvo's largest and most important market. To ensure that its models reflect our environmental, styling, convenience, and performance desires it has established the Volvo Monitoring and Concept Center, a "think tank" facility in Southern California. As its title implies it monitors American trends in legislation, society and lifestyle, as well as industrial and technological change to keep Volvo cars up to date in this vital market. Like many another manufacturer, Volvo is becoming increasingly international. The new top-of-the-line 960 luxury model is a product of this thinking.

Volvos have an admirable reputation for safety and solidity but have been thought of by some people as perhaps a bit too practical. One aim of the 960 is to inject fun and sportiness into the Volvo repertoire. How well did they do this? A drive along the Monterey Peninsula, through the Salinas valley and into the rugged California foothills left these impressions.

APPEARANCE: According to Peter Horbury, Volvo's new design chief, the 1995 960 sedan had its styling revised to make it look lower without actually lowering the chassis or body. It was subtly changed by lowering the hood line, making the headlights and grille slimmer, giving the bumper a wider line and smoothing out the sharp edges. The operative word here is "subtly". as it still displays its trademark grille and logo. It retains its deep window line and high rear deck, but adds lower body side moldings Michelin performance-rated tires mounted on alloy wheels hint at its road potential..

COMFORT: As Volvo's top-of-the-line sedan, the new 960 is very completely equipped with a host of comfort and convenience items. The restyled front bucket seats are 8-way power adjustable and heated, plus there is a 3-position memory setting for the driver. Leather upholstery and a premium 8-speaker AM/FM/cassette sound system enhance driving comfort. The side mirrors, windows and door locks are also powered, and there is a remote lock/unlock device. Cabin temperature is maintained by an electronically controlled climate system with rear seat ducting plus 100% air recirculation. This arrangement helps to cool the interior quicker and excludes outside odors. A glass sunroof with a new ventscreen is standard, as is cruise control and front and rear fog lights. The instrument panel is easy to read and all switches and controls are well placed for easy use.

SAFETY: For many years Volvo has stressed the strength of its body and the built-in safety of its automotive products. For 1995 it has added daytime running lights and remote central locking with an alarm. Improvements have been made to its side impact protection system, and an additional cross member has been added to disperse offset frontal collision impact forces. Other standard safety items are four-wheel disc anti-lock brakes, dual front airbags and a washer/wiper for the headlights.

ROADABILITY: Numerous suspension changes have been made to the 960 to add to its agility and steering response. The front suspension is entirely new and the rear multi-link suspension has been significantly updated. The benefits are a wider stance, greater stability, a smoother ride, less body roll, a shorter turn radius, better steering response and less brake dive. These factors combine to provide a tighter, quieter ride with positive road feel and predictability. This sedan is very quiet on the road as a lot of new sound-deadening material and weather stripping absorbs much of the wind and road noise. All around vision is excellent .

PERFORMANCE: Volvo's all alloy 2.9 liter, dual overhead cam, 24- valve, in-line 6-cylinder engine has been reworked to develop greater torque to the rear driving wheels at lower speeds. This allows quicker acceleration for driving in heavy traffic, or for maneuvering to avoid a potential problem. American 960 models are only available with a four- speed electronically controlled automatic transmission. This smooth and versatile transmission has three shift modes, E for economy, S for sport and W for winter. In the W mode starts are made in 3rd gear to reduce slippage when starting up on cold or damp surfaces. An automatic "Down Slope" mode senses when the car is on a downgrade and automatically shifts to a lower gear to provide engine braking.

CONCLUSION: True to its tradition of providing safe and reliable transportation, Volvo has added, changed or revised almost 2,000 parts for 1995. Many are not visible, but they are there for you!

SPECIFICATIONS:
1995 VOLVO 960 SEDAN

           
           Base Price              $ 29,900
           Price As Tested         $ 30,360
           Engine Type             1-6, dohc - 24v, smpfi
           Engine Size             2.9 liter/178 cid   
           Horsepower              181 @ 5200
           Torque (ft/lbs)         199 @ 4100
           Wheelbase/Length        109"/192"
           Transmission            4-speed auto w/od
           Curb Weight             3520
           Pounds per Horsepower   19
           Fuel Capacity           21
           Fuel Requirement        Unleaded regular/premium  (87/91 octane)
           Tire                    Michelin MXGTV4 P205/55VR16 M+S
           Brake                   anti-lock standard   vented disc/disc
           Drive Train             front engine, rear drive
                                               
                         PERFORMANCE    
           
           EPA Economy - miles per gallon,        
             city/highway/observed      18/26/22.6     
           0 to 60 mph                  9.3 sec
           1/4 mi (E.T.)                16.9 sec  
           Coefficient of drag (cd)     .32       

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