Volvo XC40 — An enjoyable crossover

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

Volvo has a very impressive three-vehicle crossover SUV lineup entering the third decade of the 21st Century, and we think the newest, smallest and least expensive model — the XC40 — might be the best of the lot. Its fetching good looks, fun-to-drive demeanor, spacious interior, and attractive price for an entry-level luxury car are compelling.

The XC40 enters its second year with the 2020 model that remains mostly unchanged. The few changes include more standard equipment for the higher trim levels and replacement of the leather upholstery in the base trim with a cloth and faux-leather combination. Leather remains standard on the higher trims.

The XC40 goes head-to-head in the luxury world with such compact-sized entries as the BMW X1, the Audi Q3, the Range Rover Evoque, Mercedes-Benz GLA250 and Lexus NX 300. And it has proven very competitive in this segment.

The XC40 brings its first-class interior and infotainment system to this sub-compact entry as well as quick, satisfying performance from a turbocharged 2.0-liter four cylinder making 248-horsepower and 258-pound-feet of torque — dubbed the T5 — mated to an eight-speed automatic with standard all-wheel drive, and a suite of cutting-edge safety features.

Performance and luxury seem to go hand in hand, and the XC40 T5 fits the bill very well. Switch from the default mode to the Dynamic mode and you can launch the XC40 from 0-to-60 in as little as 6.2 seconds. And the Volvo doesn't slow down at higher speeds covering a quarter mile in 14.8 seconds at 95 mph.

We found the shifts from the eight-speed to be swift and smooth. The XC40 felt well planted on our rural curving road test track. The XC40 drives small and is quick to change direction. We particularly enjoyed the car's small diameter steering wheel and light steering effort. Our top-of-the-line Inscription model came with a sport tuned suspension and 18-inch wheels with summer tires.

While towing capacity is something not usually discussed with small crossovers, the T5 XC40 boosts a very useful 3,500-pound capacity.

Volvo has hit the styling nail on the head giving the XC40 a Volvo family look while making it attractive in its own right. The XC40 gets Volvo’s signature Thor’s hammer daytime running lights, which compliment a new interpretation of Volvo’s grill. It has a strong, structured profile with large
wheels and an 8.3-inch ride height providing a true SUV feeling. The rear is highlighted by broad shoulders and large taillights that flow down from the roofline and around the corner into the fenders.

Inside, the cabin is as attractive as you would expect from the designers of the current S90 sedan and XC60 and XC90 crossovers. A large touchscreen that basically functions as a nine-inch iPad sits front and center and includes virtually every climate, audio and vehicle setting. It will probably be a head scratcher at first, but once used to it, it will become second nature. The T5 includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.

Fit and finish is first class with stitched nappa leather seats with suede inserts and aluminum trim that came with a design that looked like long rows of dashes. Volvo calls the trim "Cutting Edge." Our Inscription test car included conservative, but attractive, colors. But you can order bright orange carpeting, door panels, and center console trim. Volvo is perhaps pandering to younger customers — but we like the colorful look, too.

The front seats proved comfortable and rear-seat passengers are afforded more legroom than is the norm for the segment. And there is scads of headroom. Included are 21 cubic feet of cargo space behind the seats. There is ample storage space up front including a trash can built into the center console.

The XC40 comes in just three trim levels — Momentum, R-Design and Inscription. All three trims are well equipped with R-Design adding exterior styling enhancements, larger wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, panoramic sunroof, a navigation system and a few more luxury features. Convenience and Premium packages can be added to the base Momentum. The Convenience package includes such things as dual-zone climate control and an adjustable cargo load floor. The Premium package adds a hands-free liftgate, keyless entry, auto-dimming exterior mirrors, a wireless charging pad and a blind-spot monitor. The Inscription adds on even more luxury features.

Prices rise through the configurations to $43,445 for the AWD T5 Inscription. Our T5 Inscription carried a bottom line of $47,395 that included a few options such as 19-inch black alloy wheels, a 600-watt Harmon-Kardon premium audio system, and a 360-degree around view camera.

Base price: $34,695; as driven, $47,395
Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder
Horsepower: 248 @ 5,500 rpm
Torque: 258 foot-pounds @ 1,800rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Drive: all wheel
Seating: 2/3
Wheelbase: 106.4 inches
Length: 174.2 inches
Curb weight: 3,629 pounds
Turning circle: 37.4 feet
Cargo capacity: 47.2 cubic feet
Luggage capacity: 21 cubic feet
Towing capacity: 3,500 pounds
Fuel capacity: 14.2 gallons (premium)
EPA rating: 22 city, 30 highway, 25 combined
0-60: 6.2 seconds (Car and Driver)

The Good
• First-class interior
• Pleasing performance
• Full range of safety features

The Bad
• Learning curve for infotainment system

The Ugly
• Blindspot warning optional equipment