Since the 1993 model year, Volvo's front-drive car, the Volvo 850, was available as a 4-door sedan, then as well as a station wagon since 1994. The 850 was Volvo's midpriced car, and competed with such sports/luxury imports as the Acura Legend, Audi A6, BMW 3-Series, Saab 900 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class.
Arguably the most heralded introduction in Volvo history, the 850 has come up, spun around and continued outward in several different directions in its first three years of production.
The sedan and wagon were available in base, GLT and Turbo trim. Aside from Volvo's normal array of safety equipment, all 850 Turbos were fitted with seat-mounted, side-impact airbags designed to minimize body trauma on the rebound (or reaction) side of impact. These SIPS (side-impact protection system) bags were available on nonturbo cars as a $500 option.
The 850 combined a compact, 4-valves-per-cylinder, aluminum 5-cylinder engine (designed in collaboration with Porsche) and optional turbocharger with an equally compact 4-speed, electronically controlled 3- mode automatic transmission.
The automatic was standard on Turbo models and optional on others, where a 5-speed manual was standard.
Volvo brought daytime driving lights, required in Sweden and Canada, to the United States on all models. Low wattage was supplied to the headlights whenever the ignition would be turned on.
Volvo pioneered roadside assistance with its On Call 24-hour roadside service. The 850 also had standard airbags, ABS, CFC-free air conditioning and asbestos-free brake pads.
For 1995, the normally aspirated GLT models got smoother front sheetmetal first introduced on Turbo models.
The 850 excels in wintry weather. With a cleated tire at each corner, a transmission programmed to start off in third gear and Tracs traction control, the 850 pulls straight ahead in the snow with more confidence than some SUVs. The front-drive 850 competes with the Acura TL, Audi A6, Ford Taurus and Saab 900, as well as the rear-drive BMW 3-series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class.
The amazing T5-R, introduced in March 1995, was a specially equipped version of the already hot 850 Turbo fitted with startling 17-in. wheels, lowered sport suspension, traction control, 240 hp and exclusive trim and paint. A mere 1000 units later (U.S. allocation), the T5-R was a fleeting memory.
After the 940 was pastured, the 850 became the entry-level Volvo.
Replacing the 1995 T5-R for 1996 was a less sanguinary offering called the Platinum Limited Edition. It retained most of the T5-R's content (sport suspension, traction control, special 16-in. tires and wheels, Cold Weather package, keyless entry, sunroof and an upscale AM/FM/cassette/CD stereo and leather upholstery), but not the engine enhancement or the big graphite-colored wheels. Those who wished to upgrade the 850 Turbo had to investigate the T5-R parts schedule while it lasted.
Other than the platinum, champagne and metallic red paints that were new for 1996, the lineup was unchanged.
- $24,680 (1994 Volvo 850 4DR Sedan)
- $27,110 (1994 Volvo 850 GLT 4DR Sedan)
- $28,410 (1994 Volvo 850 GLT 4DR Wagon)
- $30,435 (1994 Volvo 850 Turbo 4DR Sedan)
- $31,735 (1994 Volvo 850 Turbo 4DR Wagon)
As of late 1994:
- $25,180 (1995 Volvo 850 4DR Sedan)
- $26,480 (1995 Volvo 850 4DR Wagon)
- $27,610 (1995 Volvo 850 GLT 4DR Sedan)
- $28,910 (1995 Volvo 850 GLT 4DR Wagon)
- $31,045 (1995 Volvo 850 Turbo 4DR Sedan)
- $32,345 (1995 Volvo 850 Turbo 4DR Wagon)
As of April 10, 1995:
- $24,935 (1995 Volvo 850 4DR Sedan)
- $26,235 (1995 Volvo 850 4DR Wagon)
- $27,780 (1995 Volvo 850 GLT 4DR Sedan)
- $29,080 (1995 Volvo 850 GLT 4DR Wagon)
- $31,790 (1995 Volvo 850 Turbo 4DR Sedan)
- $33,090 (1995 Volvo 850 Turbo 4DR Wagon)
- $35,545 (1995 Volvo 850 Turbo T-5R 4DR Sedan)
- $37,095 (1995 Volvo 850 Turbo T-5R 4DR Wagon)
As of October 1, 1995:
- $26,125 (1996 Volvo 850 4DR Sedan)
- $27,425 (1996 Volvo 850 4DR Wagon)
- $29,200 (1996 Volvo 850 GLT 4DR Sedan)
- $30,500 (1996 Volvo 850 GLT 4DR Wagon)
- $32,650 (1996 Volvo 850 Turbo 4DR Sedan)
- $33,950 (1996 Volvo 850 Turbo 4DR Wagon)
- $36,885 (1996 Volvo 850 Platinum Limited Edition 4DR Sedan)
- $38,335 (1996 Volvo 850 Platinum Limited Edition 4DR Wagon)