October 18, 2005

Trendwatch: The Young Families [Heart] The Volvos

volvo_240_wagon.JPGI swear, it's not just because we live here, but I'm coming to the conclusion that our DC neighborhood is the epicenter of yuppie parenting trends. I mean, both Ann "Raising America" Hulbert and Judith "Perfect Madness" Warner live around here somewhere. And everyone's drivin' the Volvos these days.

On the walk to our neighborhood playground--about three blocks--we pass three Volvo V50 sportswagons, an XC70 AWD wagon, and my personal, perennial favorite, a cherry red, late-model 240 DL Wagon with a dog cage in the back. [Beloved, but underwhelming ratings from Consumer Guide.]

So when Jalopnik announces that Volvo's planning a new model, the XC50, to jump on the small SUV bandwagon, all I can say is, "Yeah, I could've guessed."

Volvo Cars - US [volvocars.us]
Volvo Reportedly Working on a New Small SUV


I test drove a V50 and absolutely loved it... but when you consider it's about a 40-50% price premium over the car it's based on, the Mazda3, it's suddenly not so attractive. (I just realized I amalways comparing everything to Mazdas when I post here... just a coincidence, really, I'm not that big of a fan of them!!!)

Still, that T5 turbo has the one single most important selling point I really look for in a car -- slightly more horsepower and torque than my sister's new Acura TSX -- so I may yet cave... :)

[I take it streetracing's legal in Canada, so long as it's with family? -ed.]

We've been driving a Volvo since our son was born.

My husband overheard a guy at the Volvo shop here in Frankfurt say "I used to drive a Mercedes Benz, up until I had a little accident and hit a Volvo." True story.

[eh, we hit Volvos all the time in our Mercedes. Take no prisoners. -ed.]


You're not kidding about Volvo's pricing being all out of whack. I've got an 850R wagon (that I bought before the kid came along). I was looking into a V50 when the new one came out, but if you load it up, it's only a couple grand less than a V70R. So just get the V70R, and you can leave the TSX way, way behind. :)

My parents had a 240 wagon when I was growing up. Once I was riding in the front passenger seat when my mom hit a deer. After we hosed the Volvo off, the only damage was a cracked headlight.

or, could it be that upcoming and current young parents are just not in a position to purchase new cars and want something reliable? we drive a 1991 volvo 240DL, not because its stylish but because it was given to us by our parents! (well, after a few payments that is).

a friend of ours recently purchase that very same red wagon you picture above, volvo's are just great long-lasting cars.

But... you need the turbo! I mean, how else are you supposed to travel the long canadian highways between towns?
Volvos have the best winter traction I have ever experienced in a 2wd, hands down. And that is on a '94 850 Turbo wagon with over 400,000 KM on it. You can seriously drive those things into the ground.

My aunt t-boned a Windstar in her '81 240D and the owners of the Windstar went out and bought a Volvo. It seems to be a common thing.

Yes, it's true. Child leave, cloth diapers and everyone drives Volvos. Canada truly is paradise.

Let me guess -- you guys probably get paid days off to go shoping for Volvos whenever you've got a bun in the oven (or is that a croissant in the cooker?)

I love Canada.

Thought of moving there after the last election, but my baby daddy reminded me it's actually NORTH of where I grew up (somewhere near the Arctic circle on Lake Ontario). Ah, but the pull of cloth diapers and child leave......

[that, and you're required to follow up every "I love Canada," with "Zhe lurve Canada, mwa," or they'll cut ya. -ed.]

Heh. Are you kidding, it's downright balmy here on the wet coast?
Actually, that isn't true. It's frickin' cold and we are taking bets on whether or not we will get snow on halloween.
The Volvo dealership here offers 24 hour test drives, and will drop the car off at your home or office if you ask nicely. Life is sweet. Well, they won't do that for us, but that's just because we live an hour from civilization.

Clearly those disparaging the V50s price have not taken the similarly illogical plunge and purchased a Bugaboo.

For those of us firmly stuck in the somewhat illogical world of wanting well designed kids stuff, the V50 is almost perfect. While the v70's shape is a little "overheated" in the behind, the v50 is svelt. And maybe it's safer or something.. at least that's a similar justification for emotional purchasing that I used for the Bugaboo.

The only time it doesn't jive is when someone asks what I drive. I still have to say, "Volvo Stationwagon" which sends shivers up my spine.

For those of you who want a great family car that is reliable, cheap to maintain, and will be fun to work on with your child helping (get me a phillips screwdriver....sure, dad), then pick up a late model (90-93) volvo 240. Not only will you have a well-made care with great modern, utilitarian look, but you will also potentially have a good 10 years of reliable driving ahead of you if it has been properly maintained (for somewhere between $2500 - $4000!). For any doubters, check out the RWD section of www.brickboard.com - these are amazing cars, and both ironic signifiers and iconic signs of parenting in America.

We have a 92 240 sedan and a sea-blue 93 Classic 240 wagon which will be the kid-mobile beginning sometime next month. The 740s and 940s are also RWD and represent the height of engineer-designed (as opposed to marketing demographer-designed) volvos. I swear, MOMA should have a 240 in their collection.

[You said the secret word, Pancho, and while I totally 100% agree with you, here's what I wrote after we decided on getting our MB 300 instead of a 240: "Listening to NPR while driving a Volvo and listening to NPR while driving a Volvo ironically look pretty much the same from here."

That said, a 240 wagon still sounds pretty sweet to me. -ed.]

That's totally funny! I agree. Actually, the MB 123 models (240D, 300D, 300CD, 300TD wagon!) share many attributes with the venerable volvos. Mechanically simple, safe, slow, timeless modern design, etc. The MBs are a bit more irritable mechanically, but that diesel engine should bring you to 500K miles without much major work. MBs more elegant and refined, Volvos more spare and consciously middlebrow. But the self-conscious NPR/Whole Foods/Used Book Store/Kill Your Television bumpersticker/Volvo 240 connection is sort of fun. It is wearing off, however, as these cars are getting older, less expensive, and often second hand. I think that today, 240 drivers are more likely to be stubborn utilitarians than upwardly mobile progressives. Same with the MB. Great cars, though!

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