Volvo is courting youthful, premium-minded buyers with the XC40, a stylish subcompact crossover drowning in charm and packed with tech. This quirky little Swede imparts a carefree feeling so real that you can practically hear it humming ABBA’s “Dancing Queen” as it hustles through traffic. Inside its stylish cabin, much effort went into making the XC40 as functional as possible while maintaining the comfort, spaciousness, and upscale ambience from modern Volvos. Driving delight is also a part of the equation; the XC40 is a sprightly and nimble partner that feels as at home on twisty back roads as it does on long-distance highway cruises. The littlest Volvo crossover brings a funky element to the lineup while adding to the brand’s cachet, style, and spirit.
Highs: Fun and funky styling, refined interior, technologically advanced features.
Lows: Coarse engine sound, unexceptional fuel economy, slow-to-respond infotainment system.
Verdict: The baby Volvo crossover exerts its personality without straying from the brand’s core values.
What’s New for 2019?
The XC40 is an all-new entry in the subcompact luxury crossover segment, echoing the brand’s contemporary styling and adding a dash of whimsy.
Volvo XC40 Pricing and Which One to Buy
Of the XC40’s three trim levels, we’d choose the sporty R-Design model, which adds navigation, 19-inch diamond-cut aluminum wheels, paddle shifters, upgraded suspension components, and a more dynamic wardrobe of interior and exterior flourishes. We’d also add the heated steering wheel and front seats, and we’d select the Premium package that includes adaptive cruise control with semi-autonomous driving mode, a folding cargo floor with hooks for shopping bags, a wireless smartphone charging pad, and a power-folding rear seat.
Engine, Transmission, Performance, and Towing
Likes: Perky T5 engine, slick-shifting automatic transmission, playful handling.
Dislikes: Engine sounds unrefined at high revs, harsh ride on 20-inch wheels.
Under the hood of every XC40 is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder making either 184 or 248 horsepower (called T4 and T5, respectively). The more powerful T5, which receives all-wheel drive as standard, helped our Momentum test vehicle scoot from zero to 60 mph in a reasonably brisk 6.3 seconds. The eight-speed automatic transmission handles gearchanges without delay and transmits no harshness to the cabin while doing so. Our sole complaint is the coarse engine sound under heavy throttle; when cruising, the powertrain is quiet and refined. Towing capacity is something that’s a rarity among subcompact luxury crossovers; the XC40 boasts a stout 3500-pound limit.
On a twisty road, the Mercedes-Benz GLA250 or the BMW X1 are more willing partners, but the XC40 holds its own. The Volvo feels stable and playful, thanks in large part to steering that is light, sharp, and responsive. Our Momentum test vehicle exhibited a controlled and supple ride over the harsh, potholed roads around our editorial offices in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Upgrading to one of the XC40’s 20-inch wheel options erodes some of that comfort, but those lucky enough to live outside the Rust Belt will still find the ride calm and agreeable. The sporty R-Design model comes with a slightly stiffer suspension for enhanced agility; an adjustable suspension is optional.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
Despite competitive fuel-efficiency ratings from the EPA, the XC40 T5’s performance in our 200-mile real-world highway fuel-economy testing turned out to be merely average for the segment at 29 mpg. The über-efficient Mercedes-Benz GLA250 and the spunky three-cylinder Mini Cooper Countryman both handily beat the XC40 in our testing with 34 mpg results.
Interior, Infotainment, and Cargo
Likes: High-end details and materials, well-bolstered seats, thoughtfully integrated storage solutions.
Dislikes: Rear seatback is positioned almost bolt upright, noticeable infotainment system lag at startup, forward-angled rear hatchback window impinges on cargo space.
Swedish contemporary design meets fun and functional in the XC40’s interior, and the cabin’s atmosphere imparts a truly upscale vibe even in the base Momentum trim. The boxy, upright design allows for a light and airy feel inside; passenger space is commodious in both the front and rear seats. As with its more expensive stablemates, the XC60 and the XC90, the XC40’s cabin is functional, well made, and beautifully designed—if not quite as plush and luxurious. Volvo designers took the opportunity to incorporate more youthful flourishes in the cabin of the Momentum and R-Design trims, such as the optional blaze-orange carpeting that extends up into the door panels, textured metallic trim in place of traditional wood inlays, and rectilinear vents with floating chrome adjusters. Upscale Inscription models sport a classier appearance with the addition of driftwood trim and a shift knob crafted from Orrefors crystal.
From its prominent and slightly left-canted position in the center of the XC40’s dashboard, Volvo’s Sensus Connect infotainment system is projected brightly on a 9.0-inch touchscreen. Most everything inside the cabin is controlled via this screen, and there are few redundant physical buttons. System usability is a mixed bag: the main menus are intuitively arranged, but submenus suffer from small touchscreen icons that are fussy to use on the go. We also noticed pronounced system lag immediately upon startup.
In our carry-on luggage test, the XC40 managed to accommodate 23 of our suitcases with its rear seats folded. Additionally, Volvo has integrated a number of inventive cargo-storage features throughout the XC40’s interior, such as a hook that flips out from the glovebox to hold takeout bags, a divider for the cargo area, and a removable garbage bin with a hinged door in the center console.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
Volvo offers plenty of driver-assistance tech as standard, including automated emergency braking; more advanced features including a semi-autonomous driving mode are optional. Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety have completed testing of the XC40 yet, so its crashworthiness is still unknown. Key safety features include:
Standard automated emergency braking
Standard lane-keeping assist
Standard automatic high-beam headlamps
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
here that makes the XC40 a standout among its rivals that all offer roughly the same coverages.
Limited warranty covers 4 years or 50,000 miles
Powertrain warranty covers 4 years or 50,000 miles
Complimentary maintenance is covered for 3 years or 36,000 miles