Available in sedan/saloon and station wagon/estate body styles, the Volvo 850 was notable as the first front-wheel drive vehicle from this Swedish manufacturer
to be exported to North America. It is often considered the vehicle that gave Volvo its reputation as a high-end auto maker in North America due to the level of
features available in this model that were not offered in previous models. At the time of its development, the 850 was regarded as one of the largest engineering
endeavours in Sweden.
The Volvo 850 was introduced worldwide as a 1992 model, but arrived in the U.S. in the 1993 model year. It was sold as a sedan with a wagon model on sale from 1992 in Europe. The 850 was the first Volvo model in the U.S. to feature front-wheel drive and an all-aluminum 20-valve five-cylinder engine.
The 850 was Volvo's top-seller in the mid-1990s. In markets outside the U.S. a 10-valve variant of the five-cylinder was popular for its lower cost and better fuel economy. All U.S. 850s received standard equipment such as dual front airbags, antilock brakes, head restraints and three-point seat belts for all passengers, power windows, door locks, and mirrors, cruise control, and dual zone climate control. Side torso airbags became a world first when introduced as an option for 1995.
Some other options during the model run included features such as traction control, leather interior, power glass moonroof, power seats, heated seats, remote keyless entry, automatic climate control, and automatic transmission.
The 850 sedan features a remarkable interior space of 2.80 ml (99 cubic ft). This is slightly more than the 2.78 ml (98 cubic ft) of the 2004 Mercedes-Benz E-Class even though the car is reasonably compact on the outside. This space is achieved by mounting the in-line 5-cylinder engine transversely (from the left to the right of the car) under the hood. The road-holding and handling are vastly improved over the previous rear-wheel drive Volvos. The 850 Turbo Wagon is one of the fastest production station wagons in the world, capable of 250+ km/h (160+ mph) when ungoverned.
Production models of the wagon and sedan are electronically governed to approximately 142 mph (229 km/h). In 1996 a "Platinum" edition of the 850 Turbo was available. The exterior paint for these models came in a metallic pearl platinum-color and had special 16 inch alloy wheels. The interior was fitted with leather seats and burled walnut accents. Only 1500 of these were imported for the U.S. market. For the last model year (1996/1997) 850 was available also with 5-cylinder Volkswagen/Audi turbodiesel engine (D5252T) with 140 bhp. As well AWD (All Wheel Drive) model was introduced with a new 193 bhp low pressure turbo 2.4 litre engine (B5254T).
In 1998, the model line was updated, and renamed the Volvo S70 (sedan) and Volvo V70 (station wagon). These vehicles were sold in the U.S. through the 2000 model year when there were still many 850's waiting to be sold.
Thanks to Wikipedia for contributing to this FAQ!