True to the Volvo brand, the Volvo 850 comes packed with plenty of safety features. It also has tons of storage options, which means this is a great family car. But safety and cargo space does not mean this car is only for the staid and serious; it is still plenty fun to drive.
Body Styles: sedan, wagon
Engines: 2.3-liter five-cylinder, 2.4-liter five-cylinder
Transmissions: five-speed manual, four-speed automatic
Models: Volvo 850, Volvo 850 GLT, Volvo 850 T5, Volvo 850 R
The 1997 Volvo 850 GLT has a new engine with 22 more horsepower than last year’s version. The base and GLT models meet Transitional Low Emission Vehicle regulations this year, although that engine is only available in Massachusetts, California, and New York. The Turbo model is now known as the T5. All models also carry a somewhat updated exterior.
The1997 Volvo 850 couldn’t quite shake its boxy image: the car is essentially still a rectangle. However, there have been some tweaks that added a more updated sense of style; for example, the redefined front end gives the car a slimmer profile. It comes equipped with 15-inch wheels, although the R model has 17-inch wheels. Dimensions for this vehicle are 69.3 inches wide, 55.7 inches tall, and 183.5 inches long on a 104.9-inch wheelbase. The few optional exterior features include alloy wheels and a rear spoiler.
The Volvo 850 seats five with plenty of room in the back row; long-legged passengers will still feel comfortable. Up front, there are cloth-covered bucket seats and separate driver and passenger temperature controls. Standard features include power heated mirrors, tinted glass, cruise control, power steering, a tilt and telescopic steering wheel, air-conditioning, power windows, and an AM/FM/Cassette audio system. There is also a fold-out child booster seat built into the center of the backseat. Unfortunately, there seems to be no logic to the dashboard controls and there is some unappealing trim inside, particularly in the R model. Interior options include heated front seats, keyless entry, a power moonroof, power driver and passenger seats with memory, a trip computer, leather seating, a leather-trimmed steering wheel, and CD player. There’s plenty of storage room in the sedan and even more in the wagon models, and it has a nifty trunk pass-through to back row, which is perfect for carting skis.
Performance & Handling
The base model gets a 2.4-liter five-cylinder engine with 168 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque. The GLT Turbo gets 190 horsepower and 191 lb-ft of torque, while the T5 gets 222 horsepower with 221 lb-ft of torque. The limited edition R gets 240 horsepower and 221 lb-ft of torque. The base is the only model with an available manual transmission; all other models come with an automatic. Overall, it has responsive steering and sensitive braking. Its fun to drive with excellent handling and power, especially the turbo models, although it can be slow around corners. The R model goes from zero to 60 in under seven seconds.
The 1997 Volvo 850 takes safety seriously with driver and passenger front airbags and side-impact airbags, daytime running lights, anti-lock brakes, fog lights, fixed headrests, wet weather automatic transmission, power brakes, and four-wheel ABS. Optional safety features include traction control and an anti-theft alarm system. There were no National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or Insurance Institute for Highway Safety ratings available.
EPA Fuel Economy
Volvo 850 2.4-liter: 19/26 mpg city/highway
Volvo 850 2.3-liter: 20/29 mpg city/highway
- Safety features
- Roomy Interior
- Fun to drive
You Won't Like
- Poorly laid out dashboard
Fun option for parents with money to burn.
If You Like This Vehicle
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