SMALL BUT PRACTICAL
Volvo is taking a shot at compact SUV buyers with its new XC40 model. But it’s got some strong competition to deal with. The XC40 competes with established players, like the BMW X1, the Audi Q3 and the Mercedes GLA. Yet, this new Volvo offers distinctive styling, luxury appointments and the latest technology.
The XC40 sports a family resemblance with its big brother the XC60 with an upright stance, boomerang taillights and its “Thor’s Hammer” running lights. Yet, its upswept rear pillars and a “floating” roof (offered in contrasting black or white) give it a more youthful countenance.
Inside, the cabin delivers luxury features, such as standard leather seats and patterned metal trim on the dash, but the overall impression is that of functionality. Large storage bins in the front doors provide a great place for odds and ends. A removable bin in front of the console is also handy, and makes disposing of trash a snap, and there’s even a flip-out hook for a handbag on the glove box. Storage area in the rear is more than adequate at 20.7 cu-ft. However, space in the backseat could be better with a bit more legroom.
Back up front, a 9-inch touchscreen dominates a cleanly designed dash. Volvo’s infotainment system handles audio, air conditioning and just about all other functions. The system requires multiple touches or swipes to get what you want. It is not intuitive, and in fact, it’s very frustrating. I don’t know about you, but I hate to go through several steps just to change a radio station. However, on the plus side, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, and Volvo’s On Call emergency contact service is offered to buyers free for four years.
Under the hood, T4 models get a 2.0-liter, turbocharged, four-cylinder, engine with 187 horsepower. It’s teamed with an eight-speed automatic transmission that drives the front wheels. T5 versions get the two-liter turbo with 248 horses, and the same automatic drives all four wheels. The shifter on the XC40s has to be moved twice in the appropriate direction to engage, which is quite annoying. On the positive side, my T5 test car had plenty of zip, and was smooth and quiet. T4 models are rated at 25 mpg—T5s get 24. Both use premium gas.
On the road, the XC40 feels nimble. It takes corners with very little body-lean, but the steering could deliver a little more feel of the road. The ride is very firm, and the stiff suspension amplifies bumps in the road. If your drive route takes you over rough pavement, you should check this out on your test drive before you buy.
Volvo offer both the T4 and T5 models in three levels of trim, Momentum, R-Design and Inscription. The Momentum is nicely equipped with an eight-speaker audio system, lane-change assist and rain-sensing wipers. The sportier R-Design gives you navigation, paddle shifters and gloss-black trim. The Inscription adds luxury with a panoramic moonroof, a power sunshade and distinctive alloy wheels.
As you would expect from Volvo, the XC40 has the latest safety features. The standard City Safety system provides low-speed frontal-collision warning and braking that can detect pedestrians, bicycles and large animals. Blind-spot warning, rear-cross traffic alert and braking, adaptive cruise control, as well as a 360-degree camera are available as options.
Pricing for the XC40 T4 Momentum starts at $34,195. The R-Design goes for $36,695 and the Inscription sells for $38,695. However, if you want a little get-up-and-go, the T5 models are just $2,000 more.