The 2020 Volvo XC40 is a relative newcomer to the Swedish automaker’s lineup, launched two years ago as a crossover slotting below the XC90 and XC60 in both size and price. It’s a more city-friendly vehicle than its bigger, plusher siblings, while still maintaining a surprising amount of capability and practicality. It’s stylish, tech-forward, and embodies the safety that’s synonymous with Volvo.
Despite being from a premium brand, the XC40 offers a relatively modest starting price below $35,000. Of course, it goes up from there, but in general, the XC40 provides more features for the money than its primary competitors (Audi Q3, BMW X1/X2, Mercedes GLB). There are two available powertrains, one offering great fuel economy and front-wheel drive, with a second offering more power and all-wheel drive. We like the XC40, and find it very competitive against those similar-sized competitors.
What's new for 2020?
For 2020, leather seating is no longer standard in the base model (it's now a high-quality fabric) and it no longer offers power-folding rear seats.
New for the 2020 model year will be an all-electric version called the XC40 P8 Recharge. As of this writing, Volvo has not announced a launch date or pricing for the electric version here in North America.
What's the XC40’s interior and in-car technology like?
Volvo’s interiors are very tidy, and architectural in terms of design, and the XC40 is no exception even if its specific design diverges from the 60 and 90 series norm. It’s pleasingly simple; using nice materials, comfort and conservative modernism as its foundation. The base textile upholstery is much higher quality than your typical cloth seats, and the leathers are even better.
Besides its design, one of the ways the XC40 differs from its siblings (and indeed its competitors as well) is its clever center console design. It features numerous large, grippy bins to store, secure and charge devices, plus useful cupholders and a sizable under-armrest bin. There's even a little compartment specifically designed to act as a garbage can. There was clearly lots of care and thought that went into the XC40.
There’s a lot of tech baked right in, too, from the standard vertically oriented infotainment screen to the digital instrument panel. We appreciate the embracing of technology, but we do have some qualms with Volvo’s Sensus infotainment system. It looks great, and that large, vertical screen can display a lot of information at once. Some of our editors are not huge fans of the various menu screens, and find them unintuitive to navigate. It’ll take some getting used to before you remember how to switch between radio and Bluetooth streaming, for instance. On the plus side, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability is included as standard and the touchscreen's vertical orientation means they don't co-opt the entire display when in operation as is the case in most other infotainment systems.
How big is the XC40?
The back seat is a little small for larger adults, but is fairly standard for the segment. The XC40 falls into the smallest luxury crossover segment, a space shared by the Audi Q3, BMW X1/X2, Lexus UX and Mercedes GLB. With 36.1 inches of rear legroom, it’s more spacious than the Lexus (33.1 inches), equal to the Audi Q3 and slightly smaller than the X1 (37.0 inches). Rear headroom is in the Volvo is good, though. We found it easy to install a child car seat, even if our test kid didn’t have a ton of room to swing his legs around without kicking the passenger seat.
The XC40’s cargo space behind the second row is on the small side, but the area is tall, and it’s easy to load items into the large opening. Maximum cargo capacity is 57.5 cubic feet, which is bigger than nearly all of its competitors. One exception is the BMW X1 (58.7 cu. ft.), but its space isn’t as easy to use.
What's the XC40’s performance and fuel economy?
The XC40 is currently available with two powertrain options. The T4 offers a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, and is only available with front-wheel drive. It makes 187 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque. Though not as peppy as the T5, it offers better fuel economy than most in the segment: 23 mpg city, 33 mpg highway and 27 mpg combined. It’s not as efficient as the Lexus UX (33 combined MPG in the all-gas FWD model, 39 mpg for the AWD hybrid), but its performance is vastly superior.
The XC40 T5 also features a 2.0-liter turbo-four, but it’s more powerful and comes standard with all-wheel drive. It produces 248 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. That’s more power than the sole engine offerings in the Q3, X1 and GLB. Of course, with more power comes greater thirst for fuel. The XC40 T5 is rated at 22 mpg city, 30 highway and 25 combined. That still manages to beat the combined rating of the Q3 (22 mpg), but the X1 and GLB are just a bit better at 26 mpg combined.
Later this year, Volvo will offer the all-electric XC40 P8 Recharge. With electric motors front and rear, it will provide a total of 402 horsepower and 486 pound-feet of torque, pushing it from 0-60 mph in 4.7 seconds. Its 75-kWh battery pack will provide over 200 miles of driving range on a single charge, though Volvo hasn't provided the exact range figure yet.
What's the XC40 like to drive?
The XC40 breaks from the Volvo 60 and 90 series norm – it still feels competent and stable, yet there's more of a pluckiness present. It feels playful and light on its feet, and although the steering is on the numb side, it's precise and appropriately weighted. Yet, paradoxically, the XC40 is also quite tall and narrow, resulting in more body roll than usual and a notably high seating position. It feels a bit classically SUV-like in this regard, especially when compared to overtly car-like entries like the BMW X2 and Mercedes GLA. In total, the driving experience is a bit unusual – some of our editors disliked it, others found it charming. Either way, the XC40 is certainly not boring.
After driving multiple versions of the XC40, we've found that ride comfort depend greatly on the options boxes checked, including wheel sizes and the available adaptive suspension. It's generally on the firm side, but "firm" can easily transition into "unpleasant" depending on your specification and the road surfaces at hand. Make sure to try out different combinations when test driving the XC40.
The same goes for the engine. While the T4 is more than capable, the T5 with its 248 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque is actually fun. It’ll go from zero to 60 in just a little over 6 seconds. That said, we're eager to try out the upcoming XC40 plug-in hybrid – it's apparently a bit slower but its all-electric driving range seems perfect for the XC40's urban- and suburban-based customers. There's also the P8 AWD Recharge all-electric model, which definitely isn't slower (0-60 in an estimated 4.7 seconds) and promises range of around 200 miles.
What more can I read about the XC40?
Two of our editors test the T5 AWD in R-Design trim, discovering they basically have opposite opinions about Volvo's smallest crossover.
This was our first crack at the XC40, specifically the T5 AWD version, tested in the city, country, mountains and seaside highways around Barcelona. It’s clear right away that this attractive, small crossover is meant to garner mass appeal across broad demographics.
What features are available and what's the price?
Pricing for the 2020 Volvo XC40 starts at $34,695 for the T4 FWD Momentum trim, and that includes the $995 in destination fees. That includes a power liftgate, aluminum roof rails, LED headlights, auto highbeams, a power driver’s seat with memory function, a leather steering wheel, a 9-inch vertically oriented touchscreen, 12.3-inch digital instrument panel, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and satellite radio.
Going up from there, you can go the sporty route, with the R-Design — which includes features like the sport chassis and paddle shifters — or for the extra-luxurious Inscription trim. The more powerful T5 with all-wheel drive is available in the same three trims for an extra $2,000. That's actually pretty good value as competitors often charge that for all-wheel drive alone.
To see what extra features come on the R-Design and Inscription trim levels, check out this breakdown of features, pricing and specs here on Autoblog.
Volvo XC40 T4 FWD:
Volvo XC40 T5 AWD
Pricing for the XC40 P8 Recharge was not available at the time of this writing.
What's XC40’s safety equipment and crash ratings?
In addition to the things like airbags and seat belts, standard safety equipment on the 2020 Volvo XC40 includes front and rear collision warning, automatic emergency braking, a driver alert system that watches for drowsy driving, lane keeping assist and road sign information. Other available safety systems include active bending lights, blind spot monitoring, cross-traffic alert, LED fog lights with cornering lights and adaptive cruise control with lane centering.
Besides the sheer volume of driver assistance aids, it's important to note that Volvo's systems work very well and make driving less stressful while putting safety at the forefront. We also like the available Pilot Assist with adaptive cruise control and lane centering that make for easy work of rush hour traffic jams.
As of this writing, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) haven’t rated the 2020 model year of the XC40. The 2019 XC40 earned a Top Safety Pick+ from the IIHS (which we don’t expect to change for 2020), including the highest “Good” ratings for crashworthiness, “Good” available headlights (though the standard lights earned a “Poor” rating), and “Superior” ratings for vehicle and pedestrian crash prevention.
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