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2011 Volvo S40 Overview
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Since Volvo has had problems differentiating its sedan models, it has dropped the base trim of the 2011 Volvo S40, meaning each of the new trims starts with more options.
Beginning with the now-base T5, prospective buyers can find a sedan with a 227-horsepower turbocharged five-cylinder engine. Although that's roughly the same power offered by compact sports sedans like the Subaru WRX, the S40 also provides 21 mpg in city driving and 30 on the highway.
New this year, the base T5 Volvo S40 comes with a powered driver's seat, and option packages now include electronic climate control, satellite radio, and other perks in a front-wheel-drive package.
Drivers still get to take advantage of 17-inch alloy wheels and an auto-stick transmission. They can also enjoy an eight-speaker, 160-watt stereo system. To maximize interior comfort, the Preferred option package includes leather and powered seats for the driver and front passenger, as well as a powered moonroof and leather upholstery in the rear.
Moving up to the T5 R-Design, drivers in cold climates may lament the loss of both all-wheel drive and the six-speed manual transmission that helped navigate slippery roads. But many of the optional features included in the Volvo S40 T5's Preferred package now come standard.
For the driver who enjoys carving roads, the S40's look is more aggressive inside and out, with a four-piece ground effects kit and high-performance fabric inlays in all seats to improve stability for occupants during tight cornering at speed. It's not all bark with no bite, either, with the S40 R-Design package including a suspension tuned dynamically for sporting motorists.
Since Volvo has been known for its safety features for years, it's no surprise that down to its chassis, the S40 is strong. In fact, a specialized cross member supports and strengthens the front passenger cabin on both sides. There are also small things like the tire pressure monitoring system to alert drivers who don't always perform routine maintenance.
There are also blind-spot monitoring systems optional for both trim levels and available bi-xenon headlights, with the option for specialized swiveling mounts that follow the steering wheel. While the options available for the Volvo S40 make it stand out among its peers, it's important to remember what cars share the Volvo S40's chassis.
Ford, Mazda, and Volvo have shared the platform that underpins the Volvo S40. So, while Volvo increased the strength of the base chassis, buyers should be aware of the positive aspects of the underlying frame. After all, the same chassis is the basis for the Mazda3 and worldwide Ford platforms. The reviews for handling among these cars have been well above average, if not top of their class.
So, if you're looking for standard features like automatic hazard lights when the airbags deploy or optional keyless start, you'll find the 2011 Volvo S40 provides a wealth of options for those who prize safety in an internationally renowned platform. Add standard front, side, and side curtain airbags, along with the now ubiquitous electronic stability control and ABS systems, and it's clear that Volvo has lived up to its heritage.
by John Curran
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