Premium large car; Built in Sweden, Belgium, Canada
  • 4-door sedan
  • 4-door wagon
  • longitudinal front-engine/rear-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $1,100 – $3,500*


1996 Volvo 960 4-door sedan


1995 Volvo 960 4-door wagon


1995 Volvo 960 4-door sedan


1995 Volvo 960 interior


1995 Volvo 960 interior

Pros:
  • Acceleration (except base 940)
  • Antilock brakes
  • Passenger and cargo room
  • Ride/handling
Cons:
  • Acceleration (base 940)
  • Road noise
  • Wind noise

Base models are decent values, but both the 940 and the 960 have trouble competing now against such refined benchmarks as the front-wheel-drive Lexus ES 300 and Acura Legend. We’ve rated the 960 highly in most areas, helped by Volvo’s reputation for safety and durability, but rivals in its price class have similar features.

Overview

The 940 Series rode on the same rear-drive chassis as the discontinued 760 and came in three trim levels: base GLE, Turbo, and SE–available in both wagon and sedan body styles. GLE models came with a 153-horsepower, dual-cam 2.3-liter 4-cylinder engine. Turbos and SE versions provided a 162-horsepower turbocharged 2.3-liter with a single-overhead camshaft. A 4-speed overdrive automatic transmission was standard on all models. Also standard were antilock brakes, a driver’s airbag, and Volvo’s new automatic-locking differential.

Yearly Updates

1992 940/960/S90/V90
A new 960 model joins the 940 to make a full complement of 900-series premium sedans and wagons for Volvo. The updated 900 line now includes the 940 GL, 940 Turbo, plus the new 960, which replaces the former 940 SE flagship model. Also discontinued is the 940 GLE, along with its twin-cam 153-horsepower 2.3-liter 4-cylinder. The new 960 sedans and wagons provide a new 2.9-liter twin-cam inline-6, rated at 201 horsepower. A 4-speed automatic is the only transmission provided.
1993 940/960/S90/V90
Highlights include a new passenger-side airbag for the 960 models, a new antitheft stereo, and a built-in child safety seat for the station wagons. Wagons get larger gas tanks that provide an extra 4 gallons (up to 19.8 gallons) of fuel. Among 940s, the previous GL-tagged sedans and wagons give way to a new base model equipped with the same 2.3-liter 114-horsepower engine.
1994 940/960/S90/V90
For ’94, the 940 and 960 come as either a Level I or Level II model. The 940 I equipped with Volvo’s 114-horsepower 4-cylinder engine. Level II models come with a 162-horsepower turbocharged version of the same engine, along with a longer list of standard amenities.
1995 940/960/S90/V90
Retuning of the 960’s 2.9-liter inline-6 designed to reduce emissions results in a change in output. It now provides 181 horsepower (down from 201) and 199 pound-feet of torque (2 more than before). Volvo also scraps last year’s confusing Level I and Level II model configurations and quietly returns to the former 940, 940 Turbo, and 960 nomenclature. Inside is a more contoured instrument panel–complete with new wood accents and cupholders–plus new door panels. Exterior styling changes include a slimmer grille and headlamps mounted in a more rounded front end. The front suspension has been modified to reduce body lean, while the two separate coils used in the rear suspension are replaced with a new transverse leaf spring.
1996 940/960/S90/V90
Both the naturally aspirated and turbocharged 4-cylinder 940 models have been eliminated, leaving just the 6-cylinder 960 sedan and wagon. Both now come with the new side airbags, introduced in ’95 on the entry-level 850 models. Also, the seatbelts have a new automatic-locking-retractor feature that eliminates the need for locking clips for the child safety seats.
1997 940/960/S90/V90
Volvo’s rear-drive 960 returns for 1997 virtually unchanged.
1998 940/960/S90/V90
For their last year, sedans are now called S90 and wagons are called V90. Both use the 181-horsepower inline six-cylinder engine and come with revised center consoles and a softer suspension.

Engines

longitudinal front-engine/rear-wheel drive

Upon introduction in 1991, the 940 GLE model comes with a dual-cam 2.3-liter 4-cylinder engine. It provides 153 horsepower at 5700 rpm and 150 pound-feet of torque at 4450 rpm. Turbos and SE versions provide a turbocharged 2.3-liter with a single-overhead camshaft. It delivers 162 horsepower at 4800 rpm and 195 pound-feet of torque at 3450 rpm. A 4-speed overdrive automatic is standard on all models. For ’92, Volvo deletes the 153-horsepower 4-cylinder and begins installing the 240 model’s 2.3-liter engine in the 940 GL. It offers only 114 horsepower at 5400 rpm and 136 pound-feet of torque at 2150 rpm. The same year, 960 sedans and wagons provided a new 2.9-liter twin-cam inline-6, rated at 201 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 197 pound-feet of torque at 4300 rpm. Emissions tuning in ’95 resulted in revised numbers of 181 horsepower at 5200 rpm and 199 pound-feet of torque at 4100 rpm. A 4-speed automatic is the only transmission provided by Volvo. Finally, for ’96 the naturally aspirated and turbocharged 4-cylinder engines are dropped with the elimination of the 940 models.

ohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.3/141
Engine HP 114
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 136
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

20/28

dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.3/141
Engine HP 153
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 150
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

18/23

Turbocharged ohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.3/141
Engine HP 162
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 195
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

19/22

17.6

dohc I6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.9/178
Engine HP 181-201
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 199-197
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

17/26

17.8

Road Test

These premium Volvo sedans provide very good passenger and cargo room, decent ride comfort, braking, and workmanship. But dropping the dual-overhead-cam engine from the powertrain lineup in ’92 for the underpowered 114-horsepower engine used by the entry-level 240 dooms the base 940 to lackluster performance. Selecting the 940 Turbo is one alternative, but then you suffer with “turbo lag” waiting for the power to arrive. We prefer the smoother 6-cylinder. It gives the 960 brisk takeoffs and ensures spirited passing ability. The 6-cylinder produces sporty, aggressive tone in hard acceleration and cruises comfortably. We timed a 1995 sedan at a brisk 8.7 seconds, despite a reduction of 20 horsepower that year. Fuel economy is about average. We recorded 17.8 mpg with a 960 in mostly city and suburban commuting.

On all cars, there is an excessive amount of wind noise at speed, and stiffer tires added in ’95 produce additional unwanted noise and vibration over rough pavement. Suspension changes improve cornering for this large, boxy sedan, but the harsher ride makes the wagons more preferable.

Ratings

Model Tested: 1995 Volvo 960 4-door

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.

Performance

Acceleration - 6
60%
Fuel Economy - 3
30%
Ride Quality - 6
60%
Steering/Handling - 6
60%
Quietness - 6
60%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 6
60%
Room/Comfort Front - 6
60%
Room/Comfort Rear - 4
40%
Cargo Room - 4
40%

Other

Value - 4
40%

Total: 51

Specifications

4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
109.1 191.7 69.3 55.5
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
16.8 19.8 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
38.6 37.1 41.0 34.7
4-door wagon
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
109.1 189.3 69.3 56.5
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
74.9 19.8 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
38.6 37.6 41.0 34.7
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 1997 940/960 4-door sedan

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 4
80%
Front Passenger Injury - 4
80%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

HLDI

(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision 125
Injury 85
Theft 73

Trouble Spots

Air conditioner
Description: If the idle speed drops when the A/C engages, a capacitor kit may be installed in the circuit for the fuel-injection control module. (1992-94)
Automatic transmission
Description: If the transmission is sometimes difficult to shift out of park, it is due to improper contact of the lockout microswitch. (1994-96)
Brake noise
Description: Noisy, squealing brakes can be quieted by installing antinoise shims between the brake pads and calipers. (1991-96)
Audio system
Description: Whining from the radio may be caused by a bolt on the side of the equalizer touching the cigar-lighter socket. (1991) Whine while playing a tape is caused by interference from the cable harness under the dash. (1991-94)
Steering noise
Description: A springing sound from the steering wheel may be due to the retaining springs for the airbag. (1992-94)
Turn signal
Description: Turn signals on sedan operate intermittently because the two positive contacts on front bulbs melt together. (1991-99)

Recall History

1991 944/945
Description: Chafed cable to seat heater, power seat, or seatbelt warning can develop low-resistance short circuit that could result in fire.
1991
Description: On cars with 80-liter fuel tank, seepage could occur from top of tank.
1991-93
Description: If car has been subjected to flood conditions, attempting to start the engine could cause airbag deployment.
1991-98 Accessory Child Car Seat
Description: Predynamic test-buckle release force is lower than required by federal standard and may not retain child in seat in event of a crash.
1992-93
Description: Seatbelt-webbing guide can break under heavy loads.
1993 944/945 Turbo
Description: Plastic hood insulation clip(s) on some cars could interfere with throttle operation.
1995
Description: Driver-side airbag may not deploy properly in a collision.
1996-97
Description: Screws that attach throttle plate to the throttle shaft can loosen, possibly preventing throttle from returning to idle position.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.