1991 Volvo 940SE Is a Foul-Weather Friend



From the February 1991 difficulty of Automotive and Driver.

Jackie Stewart, racing nice, high-­pitched telecaster, and sensible Scots­man, as soon as informed us that he would put any used automotive he was interested by shopping for by a carwash. Why? To see if it leaks, after all. As a corollary to this sound recommendation, we have at all times felt that driv­ing a automotive, any automotive, in a rainstorm will re­veal that automotive’s capability to please and com­fort the driving force. Rain, and plenty of it, fell on us once we took the brand new Volvo 940 se­ries automotive on a preview run.

We had the chance to drive the brand new automotive again to again at Volvo’s excessive­-speed monitor in Sweden on the type of chilly, wet day that likely impressed Ingmar Bergman to create the numerous laugh-riot movies he made together with his pal Charlie McCarthy. And we’re pressured to confess that settling right into a heat, welcoming Volvo inside had a tonic impact on us. You would possibly say the 940 each happy and comforted us.

Volvo’s latest entry within the North American market replaces its top­-rung 760 series launched right here in 1983, and the brand new line contains, as earlier than, each sedans and wagons. Each physique types can be found, studying from backside to high, as a GLE, a Turbo, and an SE, with base costs starting from $27,885 to $33,630.

Essentially the most obvious change, logically sufficient, is a newly sculpted exterior on the sedans. The rear finish has been thor­oughly overhauled, with the next deck lid, a rear window that is been raked extra steeply, and extra rounded rear fenders. This removes a lot of the boxlike facet of the 760 however does nothing to decrease the distinctive Volvo stance, a glance that continues to speak the power and security that is lengthy been Volvo’s spe­cial delight and property.

Appearances apart, the brand new exterior remedy additionally delivers a twelve-percent-­decrease drag coefficient—serving to the 940SE obtain an EPA freeway mileage a excessive as 25 mpg—and fewer wind noise than we present in its predecessors. On a extra sensible notice, the brand new design has additionally resulted in a decrease lift-over when fill­ing the massive trunk with baggage.

Inside, the seats stay the massive, snug, heated repositories that bigger drivers have come to know and love. Leather-based is commonplace on the top-of-the-line SE, non-compulsory on the others. The SE’s energy changes let you rap­idly obtain a accountable driving place—or driving place, within the case of the front-seat passenger. A driver’s-side air bag is commonplace all through the road. Volvo’s plain-spoken sprint remedy, re­strained and readable, retains the driving force absolutely knowledgeable with out flash or fuss.

The 940 collection makes use of two engines, each four-cylinders, as are all Volvo engines for ’91. The GLE’s energy derives from the B-234F engine, a 2.3-liter sixteen­-valve double-overhead-cam unit that produces a modest however satisfactory 153 horsepower at 5700 rpm. Peak torque is 150 pound-feet at 4450. The Turbo and the SE use the B-230FT turbocharged and intercooled four-cylinder, a single-over­head-cam engine that develops 162 horsepower at 4000 rpm (4800 within the Turbo) and 195 pound-feet of torque at a low and re­warding 3450 rpm.

All 940s can be found solely with auto­matic transmissions. The GLE will get the AW-72L, a four-speed with lockup torque converter and a brand new Computerized Locking Differential, and the opposite two use the AW-71 four-speed with the brand new differential. This differential offers the traditional operate of permitting the wheels to show at totally different speeds when the automotive goes round corners, however may also—at speeds underneath 25 mph or from a standstill—lock each wheels collectively if one has someway misplaced traction. The ALD’s purpose is to make foul-weather driv­ing much less horrifying.

The suspensions on the three sedans maintain no surprises; the GLE and the Tur­bo use struts in entrance and a reside axle in again, positioned by a Panhard rod and 4 trailing hyperlinks, two on a rubber-isolat­ed subframe. Each ends have coil springs and anti-roll bars.

The SE has an an identical setup in entrance however has Volvo’s multilink unbiased rear suspension: every rear wheel is locat­ed by one trailing hyperlink, two lateral hyperlinks, and a trailing arm. Coil springs, self-­leveling shocks, and an anti-roll bar com­plete the rear suspension.

The GLE has 6.0-by-15-inch alloy wheels with 185/65HR-15 tires; the sportier Turbo rides on 6.5-by-16-inch alloys with large 205/55VR-16 tire , and the SE has 6.0-by-15-inch twenty-spoke alloy wheels with 195/60HR-15 tires.

Not surprisingly, the Turbo is probably the most aggressive handler of the trio, due largely to the broader wheels and bigger tires. Not one of the three might be mistaken for something however Volvos, no unhealthy factor the place a roomy sedan is worried. Un­der approach, the automobiles are succesful and con­trolled and in a position to negotiate surfaces tough and clean, straight and twisting, with out incident.

For the type of high-speed, bad-weath­er driving Europeans so usually encounter, the 940 sedans are extra at dwelling than most. We will consider an awesome many sedans that don’t reply effectively to being placed on excessive banking at speeds within the 110-mph vary, however Volvos aren’t amongst this quantity. The 940s simply maintain whis­tling on by the moist, wipers sweep­ing the massive windshield, creating their very own sunshine.

On a brief dealing with course, the Turbo and the SE have been probably the most enjoyable, the Turbo due to its sportier tires and the SE due to its multilink rear suspension. Not one of the automobiles are neck-snappers—or head-turners for that matter—however solely the GLE left us feeling the least short-changed within the power-supply class. The opposite sedans and the Turbo wagon bordered on being enjoyable, which isn’t to rattling them with faint reward . . . bear in mind we’re coping with pillars of firm automobiles right here, not up­begin nickel rockets.

The brand new 940 lineup might be adopted subsequent 12 months by a line of 960s that might be powered by Volvo’s new B-6304F 24-valve, twin-cam 2.9-liter inline-six. We drove this automotive additionally, and may say that the engine’s 204 horsepower introduced the massive sedan to a simple gallop with all the best sensory parts. We have been additionally handled to a run in a 273-hp twin-turbo model of the 960, an engine which will or might not ever see manufacturing. The 960 se­ries didn’t come to the U.S. forward of or with the 940 collection as a result of manufacturing had not but reached most output on the engine plant the place the alternative for the venerable Peugeot/Renault/Volvo V-6 is being constructed.

The 940 collection, sedan and wagons, will give Volvo a recent set of foils with which to fend off the rising variety of infidels storming the barricades of the $30,000-sedan empire. Oddly, in a world the place all too many shapes are related, Volvo’s staid styling serves to set it aside and should effectively contribute closely to the Swedish automaker’s efforts to keep up the strong gross sales it is seen in current instances.

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1991 Volvo 940SE
Car Sort: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan

As Examined: $32,950

turbocharged and intercooled SOHC inline-4, iron block and aluminum head, port gasoline injection

Displacement: 141 in3, 2316 cm3

Energy: 162 hp @ 4000 rpm 

4-speed automated

Wheelbase: 109.1 in

Size: 191.7 in
Curb Weight: 3300 lb  

Metropolis: 18 mpg 

Contributing Editor

William Jeanes is a former editor-in-chief and writer of Automotive and Driver. He and his spouse, Susan, a former artwork director at Automotive and Driver, are actually residing in Madison, Mississippi.


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