Immediately what sets the XC40 apart from the rest is design regardless of which trim you get. However, there's nothing in this segment that comes close to the R-Dynamic and Inscription models. Setting these models apart are features like a unique front grille, sleek looking blacked out exterior trim, bumper integrated dual exhaust tips that make a statement, and many more. Available on Momentum models is a white roof for $300. Ultimately it looks and feels like a real SUV to the point it almost outgrows rivals like the Jaguar E-Pace, BMW X1 and definitely the more hatch-like Mercedes GLA. Inside its a similar story...
Cheekier than Volvo’s other crossovers, the XC40 flaunts a streetwise wardrobe that is sure to turn heads. A tiny rubber Swedish flag—available as dealer-installed accessory—pokes out from under the side of the hood, adding a touch of whimsy that is sure to delight those with an eye for details.
Taller and wider than its rivals in this comparison, the XC40 looks more substantial and feels like a true SUV from behind the wheel. Ground clearance is also greater than other subcompact crossovers, but we doubt many buyers will venture too far off-road.
The R-Design model looks the most dynamic with a unique front grille, blacked-out exterior trim, and dual exhaust tips integrated into the rear bumper; upscale Inscription models come with glossy chrome trim and a palette of more subdued colors. Momentum models can be had with a contrasting white roof for $300, so long as you choose black, light blue, gray, or red as the primary exterior color.
Source: Car and Driver
If you have trouble telling your BMW X1s from your X3s and X5s, you’ll note Volvo hasn’t taken the same reiterative approach to design. They went to the trouble of thinking of some new lines and shapes that you can tell it apart from an XC60 and XC90. So it has an angular, relatively small side glass area, and stretched octagonal cut-outs in the lower body side. Two-tone paint schemes feature prominently in the configurator.
Joining the award-winning XC90 and XC60, the Chinese-owned Swedish automaker’s newest offering is also its most stylish. Yes, “stylish Volvo” used to be an oxymoron, but the company successfully managed to shuck its “boxy but good” persona during the Ford years. And the XC40’s complex shapes, complemented by the tester’s subtle Amazon Blue paint and cream-coloured roof, make it a standout in the premium crossover segment, no easy task considering the competition.
Fused together brilliantly in the all-new XC40 is a combination of contemporary design and practicality. It a combination rarely found elsewhere in this segment and not to this extent. The boxy and "real SUV" proportions on the outside show it influence here in forum of generous cabin volume for both front and rear passengers, adequate visibility (class leading?), a quiet interior that mitigates road and wind noise, comfortable upright seats, and more. Unfortunately the bulky c-pilar, complicated controls, and the terrible shifter won't sit well with some owners.
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.
Visibility from the driver’s seat is good if not class leading, and the only potential trouble spot is the XC40’s rearmost roof pillars, which are extra wide at their bases, thanks to a cheeky kinked window line, and may cause trouble for shorter drivers.
Source: Car and Driver
Acoustic comfort is well taken care of, too. There’s little wind noise or racket from the tyres. It’s a peaceful cruiser. You can get Volvo’s optional Drive Pilot, which is radar cruise and lane-following. It won’t drive the car and you’d be a total fool to zone yourself out. But if you allow yourself to have your hands held, it can helpfully cut long-trip fatigue.
The seats are terrific, and the driving position is generally fine. It’s an SUV position, with your back upright and your legs down. As we’ve seen in its dynamics, it doesn’t pretend to be a low-slung sportster.
Now, about that shifter: It’s terrible. In order to engage Drive or Reverse, drivers need to move the gear selector twice in the appropriate direction, like a double-tap. If they miss the second tap, the transmission stays in Neutral. This can result in a delay during a parking maneuver and will surely frustrate drivers. Consumer Reports has repeatedly discussed the problems with these types of shifters in previous coverage. (Read “When It Comes to Automatic Shifters, It's Proceed With Caution.”)
Drivers do benefit from sitting up high, but even with the XC40’s lofty perch, rear visibility is hurt somewhat by the chunky C-pillar and the lack of a third side window, which most SUVs have.
Though the double-tap shifter has to go and the interior controls are unnecessarily complicated, there are vastly more likes than dislikes to the XC40. Compliments regarding its uncommonly chic looks and paint scheme were many.
Touted as “the most powerful luxury compact SUV priced under $40,000 in the automotive industry” is the result of its standard (and only, in some markets) 2.0L 4 cylinder powerplant producing almost 250 horsepower. This in addition to feeling like a real SUV and not like its more hatchback feeling segment rivals makes the XC40 hard to ignore. Of course if you want more, Momentum, R-Design and Inscription trims come to your rescue. In these trims you'll find features like; navigation, 19-inch diamond-cut aluminum wheels, paddle shifters, heated steering wheel, wireless smartphone charging pad and many more.
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 pay $750 for a heated steering wheel and front seats, and we’d select the $900 Premium package that includes:
• Adaptive cruise control with a semi-autonomous driving mode
• Folding cargo floor with hooks for shopping bags
• Wireless smartphone charging pad
• Power-folding rear-seat backrest
Source: Car and Driver
There’s impressive attention to detail all around, including the leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, brushed aluminum trim on the dashboard and door panels, and the small rubber Swedish flag attached to the car’s left front flank.
The Inscription trim further dresses the XC40 up, with wheels as large as 21 inches, unique body cladding, and the same Orrefors crystal shifter and driftwood trim that’s available in the XC60.
Though other engines are offered in other markets, in Canada the all-wheel-drive XC40 is equipped exclusively with Volvo’s T5 Drive-E powertrain in all three of its trims (Momentum, R-Design and Inscription). At a base price of $39,500, Volvo makes much of the fact the XC40 is “the most powerful luxury compact SUV priced under $40,000 in the automotive industry” — a 248-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder being the source of motivation.
Powertrains & Performance
Powertrain offerings vary depending on market like a 248 horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four for most markets, a Diesel D3 engine exclusive to European markets and finally a twin engine plug-in hybrid model. Basemodel owners can get enough fun and practical every day power from the standard 2.0L turbo engine with steering and suspension to complement its power output. Upgrading to the Momentum with bigger 20-inch wheels impacts ride quality and comfort but makes up for it with an improved overall sporty feel. However, refinements can be made. Performance-economy pales in comparison to rivals, the 8-speed transmission shows indecisiveness and, true sporty feel is lacking for what's marketed as a "fun-to-drive vehicle".
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 as quiet and refined as it is in other applications throughout the Volvo lineup.
Towing capacity is something that’s a rarity among subcompact luxury crossovers; the XC40 boasts a stout 3500-pound limit that easily exceeds the Lexus NX’s rating.
Despite its compact dimensions and playful, agile handling, the XC40 feels pleasantly substantial. Its steering is direct, its braking performance is reassuring, and the 248-hp version of the turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four is plucky.
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 will erode some of that comfort, but those lucky enough to live outside the Rust Belt will find still find the ride calm and agreeable.
Source: Car and Driver
Volvo reckons well over half XC40s sold in the UK will have that low-power D3 engine, though many will have the ‘sporty’ looking R Design trim. That underlines the wisdom of the chassis settings: this is a soft-riding car for making gentle progress, not a firmly-sprung tyre-stressing terroriser of backroads.
Also, the eight-speed gearbox can be a bit indecisive, and when it does make a choice it’s often accompanied by a jerk. I found myself using the paddle shifters. It meant I could keep the engine in its most sonically acceptable rpm range, as well as make sure the transmission wasn’t shifting under load.
The only weakness is the powertrains: they’re not that refined, and rivals have some better performance-economy compromises.
Volvo says the T5 should sprint from 0 to 60 mph in 6.2 seconds. We thought the powertrain made the car feel quick and responsive, but the start/stop system was very abrupt when restarting. It sometimes made the SUV lurch forward when starting up at a stop light.
Even with its compact size, the XC40 doesn’t feel very engaging when it comes to handling curves. The steering is too light and lacks enough feedback for the XC40 to be called a fun-to-drive vehicle. The Momentum trim comes with an adjustable-drive mode setting that lets you alter the car’s steering and throttle response from comfortable to sportier.
Cargo & Storage
If everyday practicality is what you want, the XC40 has a lot of it with cargo and storage. For how the average buyer will be using these, its ideal and a perfect alternative to its more hatchback like rivals (GLA, X1/X2, etc.). Features that set the XC40 apart are; flat folding rear seats, lift-over height that peaks at 29.5 inches, cargo area divider, a hook accessible from the glovebox to hold takeout bags, laptop sized door bins, a deep armrest bin, and many more innovations only possible from a Sweedish company.
In terms of its cargo-volume measurement, the XC40’s practicality would appear to be simply average, but Volvo’s attention to little details and a host of inventive cargo features elevate it to the top of its class. In our carry-on luggage test, the XC40’s cabin tops its rivals in this comparison once its rear seat is folded flat.
Although its lift-over height is the highest here at 29.5 inches, it’s still low for a crossover, with other utes regularly topping the 30-inch mark.
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.
Source: Car and Driver
Cabin storage is the sum of some clever ideas. The hi-fi bass units are in the dash rather than the doors, which frees up enough space in each door bin to swallow a laptop. Meanwhile the console includes two lidded bins behind the cupholders.
One is the deep armrest bin. The second bin is removable, so you can use it as a rubbish bin and rapidly void the cabin of accumulated sweet wrappers, parking tickets and orange peel. A curry hook folds out from the glovebox lid in case you’re doing a little freelance Deliverooing.
The boot floor does a clever origami up-fold that divides the boot into two, making a deep trough to stop shopping bags toppling. The parcel shelf fits under the floor too. The sort of boring stuff that doesn’t sell a car, but does make it easier to live with.
The XC40 comes with lots of thoughtful storage spots, including generous door pockets, an open bin in front of the console, a removable waste bin that sits just in front of the center armrest, and a bag hook attached to the front of the glove box. A dedicated cell-phone storage space frees up cup holders and other areas commonly used by passengers to store their phones.
By folding the rear seats down and opening the standard power rear liftgate, the cargo area can hold a mountain bike with the front wheel removed.