Is a Volvo a Honda??
If low operating expense is as big an issue as you imply, be aware that Volvos are expensive to repair when they break. They are borderline luxury cars and just like Mercedes, BMW, etc. it is simply more expensive to have them worked on. For example, micro-sized lightbulbs for dash lights cost $9 at a Volvo dealer while the exact same bulb at a Honda dealer is $2.60. That’s a trivial example but you get the idea. Since you can’t do your own work you will always be paying premium prices for replacement parts.
I have owned many different cars and although I love my current Volvo I do not expect it to be the most trouble-free car I have ever owned. It may be heresy on this Volvo board, but for reliability and trouble-free use, you may want to look at a used Honda or Toyota. I had a Honda Accord that went 87,000 miles without one single thing going wrong with it – not one thing! I doubt many Volvo owners can say the same.
Also be aware that if you get a Volvo with a turbo you should probably use premium fuel – a significant added expense with regular fuel approaching $4/gallon.
Volvos are not for everyone; a round peg does not fit in a square hole. For poor students and those who must have an operating vehicle every morning, bar none, buy new (anything) or buy a Honda (or Toyota). But those who buy, say, a 1997 Accord over a 1997 850 must remember they’re giving up a degree of safety for the promise of improved reliability and somewhat lower operating costs (maintenance + repairs + fuel and other consumables).
It’s a value decision, just like the other ten thousand value decisions we’re faced with in life.
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