QUEBEC CITY, Canada - Fahrenheit and Celsius converge when the temperature reaches 40 below zero, the forecasted wind chill on the day of our first test drive of the 2005 Volvo V50, and when the air whips across the surface of exposed skin, it sears the cells like a burn on a hot stove. Bundled in heavy coats, thick gloves, waterproof boots, and black hats which resembled Elmer Fudd's hunting cap, we set off for Quebec's frozen hinterlands in a Mineral Gray Metallic Volvo V50 T5 equipped with an automatic transmission, all-wheel-drive, a map of local roads, and a bag of Trader Joe's Salty, Sweet & Nutty Trek Mix. Our mission: sample the Volvo V50's available all-wheel-drive in some of the most extreme winter conditions possible.
Thankfully, the day was bright and the wind calmer than expected, making unnecessary the Exothermic Toe Warmers that Volvo supplied. Our Volvo V50's two-stage seat heaters, however, were set to full blast, and the dual-zone automatic climate control system poured warm air into the cabin throughout the frigid day. We spent several hours cruising highways, crossing icy two-lane roads, and driving a handling course carved into a frozen lake to evaluate the cold-weather prowess of Volvo's latest AWD creation, a vehicle aimed at a younger, less affluent, but more active demographic than the Swedish automaker has ever targeted. Based on our brief fling with the V50, it appears that Volvo has created a vehicle that youthfully exuberant consumers might find fits their lifestyle perfectly.