Originally introduced in 1995, the S40 marks Volvo’s original attempt at breaking into the compact sedan market. The 2004 Volvo S40 shows a major redesign over the earlier model, providing numerous refinements. The 2004 Volvo S40 feels more spacious, more powerful, and handles better than the previous models.
However, unusual for most automobiles, the 2004 Volvo S40 comes in two versions. The original version debuted early in 2004 as almost an exact duplicate of the 2003 Volvo S40. Part way through 2004, a new version, often referred to as the 2004.5 Volvo S40, launched. The 2004.5 Volvo S40 shows almost a complete redesign from the 2003 and early 2004 Volvo S40s. It has a larger interior, a 2.4-liter, five-cylinder engine option, a redesigned body, numerous styling changes, and upgraded performance.
The 2004 Volvo S40 provides a solid vehicle that marks the final upgrade of the first generation of S40s. The 2004.5 Volvo S40 ushers in the second generation of S40s with enough impact to make up for the late release. Both make good vehicles, but the 2004.5 Volvo S40 represents the clear superior of the two versions.
Body Styles: sedan
Engines: 1.9-liter four-cylinder, 2.4-liter five-cylinder
Transmissions: five-speed automatic
Models: Volvo S40, Volvo S40 2.4i, Volvo S40 LSE, Volvo S40 T5
The 2004 Volvo S40 comes in two different models. The original release remains very similar to the 2003 Volvo S40. The only noticeable changes involve the front fascia, which shows some minor styling changes, and the CD player, which comes prewired for a CD changer.
The 2004.5 Volvo S40 released partway through the year as an almost complete redesign. The body looks shorter, but with a longer wheelbase, than the older version. In addition, numerous additional options become available. The Volvo S40 2.4i, Volvo S40 LSE, and Volvo S40 T5 become available as well.
The 2004 Volvo S40 classifies as a compact sedan that features similar styling to the larger Volvo S60. The distinct chrome grille found on many Volvo models marks the most distinguishing of the S40. It looks a little shorter and smaller than many of its competitors in overall size, including the Toyota Corolla, but it still provides a fairly average-sized interior.
The interior of the Volvo S40 remains largely the same between both 2004 Volvo S40 models. The only difference concerns the redesigned 2004.5 model, which has a slightly larger interior, but the overall features stay the same. The S40 seats five with three-point seat belts for all passengers. Power windows, cruise control, and a CD player with seven speakers come standard on all models. The rear seat feels slightly cramped, but this hardly seems surprising for a compact car.
Performance & Handling
The remodeled version of the Volvo S40 released midway through 2004 serves as a powerful vehicle with strong performance and handling. The 1.9-liter, four-cylinder engine generates 170 horsepower, which proves better than some six-cylinder sedans. The redesigned body proves more agile than the previous incarnation and matches many of the more expensive Volvos with turning and navigation.
The Volvo S40 released early in the year still handles well, but not quite as impressively as the newer version. The 1.9-liter, four-cylinder engine offers the only option, but it still gives the older S40 impressive speed and acceleration. Handling represents the weaker area of the older model. The larger body design seems less agile and only allows fairly mediocre handling.
The 2004 Volvo S40 includes more standard safety features than most similar vehicles. Dual front, side-curtain, and rear airbags along with four-wheel anti-lock brakes come standard on all models. Volvo’s Whiplash Protection System (WHIPS) comes built into the driver and front-passenger seats. In the event of a crash, the WHIPS moves the front seats backwards to reduce the chance of whiplash. A Dynamic Stability Assistance system remains available as an optional feature. This system automatically reduces torque to the tires when it detects the loss of traction, allowing the driver to maintain greater control of the vehicle.
EPA Fuel Economy
Volvo S40: 19/27 mpg city/highway
- Low price compared to larger, but similar Volvos
- Powerful engine
You Won't Like
- Small back seat
- Early 2004 models almost identical to 2003 models
Volvo unleashes a more refined entry into the compact sport sedan market.
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