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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
WARNING, LONG POST!

I get this 2 cars are not direct competitors, but when looking for an EV both names will come up.

I was able to test driving a XC40 Recharge back to back with a VW ID.4. First a brief history.

Back in January I sold my Acura TLX due to Covid and both of us working from home, why pay for 2 cars. I should had done it last year, but did not think about it. I also sold it due to the low miles it was getting and forecast to get even post-pandemic. I decided when I did go back to us having 2 cars one needed to be an EV. I had just test driven a Kia Niro EV to see what I thought, but the Niro was OK, but being FWD and some nasty torque steer I was not interested, although it wet my appetite for an EV.

When the Mach-E was coming out I got very interested as AWD was a strong desire for me and the ER AWD Mach-E checked all the boxes. I was interested in the Mach-E until I drove it. It had 3 issues that turned it into a no go for me. The seating position was bad and no matter what I did I could not get comfortable and then my lag was getting jammed by the center console. More importantly the car is too low to the ground and with the long wheel base created problems getting over my steep driveway that has a hump at the top. Finally the ride quality felt rather hap hazard as if they did not know how to design a suspension that could handle all the additional weight. Once I scratched the Mach-E that was around the time the ID/4 was coming out. I had also driven a XC40 Recharge and liked it, but initially took it off the list due to price, lower than average range and I really don’t like suede or suede like seat inserts. Back in March I decided the VW ID.4 looked to be a good option and placed an AWD Pro S Gradient on order, knowing it would be some time.

All was good until my wife’s lease was coming up and we wanted to look at cars for her. She wanted to look at an XC 40 and liked it. That got us test driving the XC 40 Recharge again. We were so close to doing the XC40 Recharge, but I got cold feet for 2 reasons. Initial EV range anxiety, since the XC 40 was rated at only 208 miles and honestly the lack of a spare was an issue since my wife seems to attract flats like bees to honey. Being a one car family with only an EV was a concern. Needless to say we backed out and she got a XC 40 T5 R-Design. Now that she has the XC 40 T5 I am very impressed. She loves the car and it has grown on me. When we were getting her car I took the XC 40 Recharge out for a test drive again. I was mixed as it rode good, but the price was a bit much. I decided to sit tight and wait for my ID.4. This past weekend we had to go back to Volvo to get her second key programmed (don’t get me started on Volvo’s tactics with the second key being only the orange care key). While there I decided to take the XC 40 out again. My motive this time would be to do the same test loop as a few weeks earlier, but this time I decided to test the ID.4 back to back under the same conditions, since the VW dealer shares the same entrance to their respective lots.


RANGE

I took the XC 40 on a 11-12 mile trip on suburban streets with speed limits around 40-45 MPH and numerous traffic lights. I had done the same route 2 weeks earlier and at about 55F the car did 28.7 kwH/100 miles. Which by my math translated into 3.4m/KwH which is a very respectable efficiency. For comparison I took the AWD LR Mach-E on a 20 mile drive and it averaged 3.4 mi/KwH at lower temps. On this XC 40 run the temps were close to 80F and the AC was set to 68F. I did the same run and this time got 31.5KwH/100mi, translating into 3.1mi/KwH. If I do some predictive math, using the Volvo’s suggested 90% max charge would be 67.5 kWh of capacity and if you only let it go down to 10% that gives you 60kWh of usage at 3.1mi/kWh that gives you 186 miles of around town usage without range anxiety. That translates into a hypothetical range of 232 miles 100% to 0% Remember this is around town driving, the XC 40 is shaped like a box so at higher speeds it will be fighting to cut through the air. Most reviews show on the highway the XC 40 declines quickly as it becomes very thirsty. Some YouTube tests have the XC 40 when it is cold temps and highway speed down around 2mi/kWh which would still give you 120 of range.

The ID.4 on the same route showed 3.4mi/kWh which would translate into a 261mile range 100-0%,. I did try a few quick acceleration tests, but I doubt that had a huge impact. Keeping in mind the ID.4 has half the equivalent HP and is only driving 2 of its 4 wheels that is not bad. Assuming the AWD loses about 20-25 miles in range puts it at about 235-240 miles. Some YouTube ranges tests show the ID.4 down around 2.9 mi/kWh on highway runs with the Mach-E around 2.7. Assuming AWD robs the VW of some range I would expect it to land in the Mach-E numbers. The box shape of the Volvo really hurts it at higher speeds due to it slightly smaller battery and brick wall approach to aerodynamics. So if you are in a colder climate and plan on doing a lot of highway driving the VW si probably your safer choice.


PERFORMANCE and HANDLING

This will be short as it is not even a fair comparison. The Volvo puts down twice the power through all four wheels vs. the VW using only two. That said, understanding the target audience of the VW when you do push the pedal it feels better than most gas equivalents that it is trying to lure you aware from. From a handling view things get a little closer. The Volvo is only 124 lbs. heavier, considering it has an extra motor and mechanicals to support it over the VW. The Volvo felt like it road a little heavier and harder. Both were equipped with 20 inch wheels and tires. Both were very well composed, but you can feel the ride impact of the extra half-ton of weight they carry compared to comparable ICE versions. My wife has a ICE XC 40 T5 and it feels almost lieka feather and very nimble compared to either of these EVs. The Volvo is gears to better handling and felt a bit more planted on the road, but the VW was fine.


INTERIOR

This is extremely subjective based on your tastes. The Volvo does not scream it is an EV as the interiors is almost identical to the ICE version. If someone sat you in both he ICE XC40 and EV XC40 without driving them or turning on the car you would be hard pressed to determine which is which. To me the quick give away is the USB ports on the ICE are Type-A and the EV are Type-C, other than that they look and feel the same. The gauges and center infotainment are all LCD based on the Volvo and are top notch with high resolution and clarity. Being based on Android Automotive (not Android Auto, google the differences) you can speak to the Volvo and it knows what you want. Setting temps and tuning the radio happens effortlessly. Link your Google account to the car and your car is an extension of your Google ecosystem. The Volvo interior has it’s cheap areas such as the dash plastics and such, but overall exudes more of a luxury upscale ride. I am not a fan of any car with suede/microfiber type inserts and the Volvo has them. The Volvo is based on their R-Design features so it has sporty overtones so with that said the seats are very well bolstered and can be a tad firm for some. Being based on a gas car platforms the car has a large center tunnel where Volvo has put much of the battery pack which creates a more isolated tradition RWD like passenger compartment. The center armrest and storage is comfortable and there is ample storage inside.

The VW is designed to transition people from an ICE car to an EV, but does scream EV and technology when you get inside. The seats are more designed for family life and while they have some laterals support they are more comfortable with soft padding and would be a pleasure on a longer drive. The VW has a massaging seat which is nice if you are sitting in traffic and you enjoy that type of thing. Where the VW seats fall short are the flimsy narrow armrests that make the seats feel like cheap captains chairs. I almost thing the padding in the VW seats helps mask some of the traditional heavy ride of an EV as when you go over bumps or less than ideal pavement the VW masks it more, but you can clearly feel it in the suspension, but not your seat. The VW infotainment system gets a bad rap. In the few times I have been in an ID.4 the infotainment has had minimal or no noticeable lag. There was a software release in April that helped that a bit. That said many of the online testers just keep navigating around the infotainment non-stop which with any OS will eventually get overwhelmed a little. The Volvo had zero lag, the VW had very slight lag on some screens.

The VW cut corners by going to capacitive sense switches and then in gloss black. This will be a smudge magnet and also will not product the positive feedback you get with normal buttons and switches. Both cars rely heavily on their main infotainment touch screen to do many things in the car.

One clear difference to me is the seating position and outward visibility to me in general. The Vole is very tradition and you feel right at home with the distanced for the A pillar and windshield slope, but the VW you feel like the A Pillar and front of the dah above the firewall are so far away. The A Pillar changes your perspective on outward visibility as it create a very forward blind spot that while minimal is there. I also felt like I was sitting lower than the hood coal in the VW even when I had the seat fairly high (and I am 6 foot) when the Volvo was again very natural like any other CUV/SUV you have been in.


FEATURES and SAFTEY

I will not cover all the features, just some key ones. They both have most of the expected safety tech in today’s cars. Blind spot, cross traffic detection, lane keep assist, etc. I do prefer the VW blind spot system more than Volvo, as it is on the inside facing part of the mirror, vs. the Volvo’s more traditional light in the mirror itself. The Volvo excels when it comes to backup cameras. The Volvo (if optioned with Advanced package) has 360 cameras with a very good crisp resolution, one of the best I have seen. I come for many Acura’s where backup/surround cameras were pitiful clarify and resolution. The VW has a mediocre backup camera only which clearly was a cost saving measure. Another minor gripe on the VW is no HomeLink at all, sure I can add a $300 mirror, but that is just more work. The view out the rearview mirror in the VW is a bit small and cluttered, where in the Volvo you can push a button (in the menus) to fold the rear headrests down giving you great view out the back window. The Volvo does have adaptive lights that will turn as you go into corners. Where I ding both cars equally in safety is the lack of a spare tire. This trend started a few years ago in gas cars looking to shave weight for MPGs and costs. Every car should make space for one and then make it an option. I will say that several ID.4 owners have figured out how to get a spare without sacrificing much space and still hiding it from sight. I have yet to see any Volvo owners do that. The ICE XC40 has a spare so Volvo put one in as there have been several owners that have had damaged tires and have their car laid towed and laid up while they wait for a replacement spare.

VW offers wireless Android Auto and Apple Carplay, the Volvo only has Android Automotive (not the same as Android Auto) and Carplay is coming later this year along with XM (which the VW has).


EXTERIOR

This is again a very subjective section. I personally like both cars. The Volvo has a very classy look to it with the Thor’s Hammer DRLs and signature Vertical rear lights. The VW has a light bar across the back as well as one across the front. On the Pro S Gradient models the VW ill light up. The VW has a more traditional EV look which is curvy and sloping to assist with aerodynamics, but it looks very appealing. Since the Volvo is based on the GAS version it looks just like the GAS version other than it has about 1.5 less ground clearance and no need for a grille so there is a body colored insert there. When Volvo could have help make an impact was to have the Volvo logo and diagonal line light up on the Recharge to hep further identify it at night.


PRICE

If you compare an AWD ID/4 (yes not available yet) to the Volvo you are looking at a roughly $10K price difference (assuming Volvo has the Advanced, Climate and 20 inch wheel options). That is a big gap and begins to answer some of the more obvious cost cutting in the VW. Then again the VW is targeting RAV-4, CR-V and Tiguan buyers and the Volvo is looking to be a reasonable alternative to Tesla Model Y that can perform when needed. Some will argue the Model Y is cheaper, but there are those that will be overwhelmed by the tech heavy single tablet console of the Tesla.


SUMMARY

Both cars are excellent EVs where the Volvo will be more appealing to those wanting a more traditional CUV/SUV vehicle that is more luxurious and has very good performance at the expense of range. The VW will attract it’s target audience, but only those not intimidated by technology. Volvo’s use of Google Android Automotive may be a questionable one as it is not ready for prime time and lack many features the standard Volvo Sense has. My wife has the 21 ICE XC40 T5 R-Design and I will take Sense all day every day at this point. Volvo is promising to get the Recharge more up to date, but the VW is better baked system out of the block, even if a tad laggy at times.
 

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Thank you for posting this! We're currently shopping the XC40 P8 against the Model Y, having already considered and dropped the Polestar 2 (felt cramped or tight inside), and the Mach-e (very competent but awfully "American"). We prefer the XC40's ride over the Y, though I'd choose 19" wheels for the XC hoping for a more relaxed ride, and would have to plan on swapping out the Y's suspension for the same reason 😳. I'm willing to give Volvo the benefit of the doubt on their Google OS and am sure it will greatly improve over time. The Model Y can't even do navigation waypoints.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I wanted to look at Tesla and know there are die hard fanboys, reminds me of Apple fans, but the constant complaints I see on build quality, ride quality and issues getting repairs and parts I am not willing to do that. As long as Volvo keeps coming with updates for a few years and does not forget the early adopters in 2-3 years they can really refine this. I am trying to finalize a deal on a car tomorrow. Really want Blue, but will take Thunder Gray next and maybe Glacier Silver. Really wanted Red, but the only one is 500 miles away and in FL and does not have a heat pump. Almost every car here has 20 inch wheels, 19s will probably help smooth the ride out a bit.
 
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WARNING, LONG POST!

I get this 2 cars are not direct competitors, but when looking for an EV both names will come up.
I think both of these are direct competitors if for no other reason than I am considering both of them, along with the Mach E and so all 3 competitors. Just as ID.4 is adding AWD in a few months, I think Volvo is planning to add single motor trim in the future.

So far the XC40 is the only option of the 3 I haven't test driven yet. My main concern with the XC40 is the smaller cargo space, lower range, and more expensive of the 3 vehicles.

All vehicles have their pros and cons, along with a lot more competitors for next model year (such as the kia ev6). I would also consider the y, but dealers / service centers are too far to make my short list...
 

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I wanted to look at Tesla and know there are die hard fanboys, reminds me of Apple fans, but the constant complaints I see on build quality, ride quality and issues getting repairs and parts I am not willing to do that.
Having owned an early Model 3 for three years, I can understand both viewpoints. For our next car I'm looking for something from an adult-run manufacturer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I think both of these are direct competitors if for no other reason than I am considering both of them, along with the Mach E and so all 3 competitors. Just as ID.4 is adding AWD in a few months, I think Volvo is planning to add single motor trim in the future.

So far the XC40 is the only option of the 3 I haven't test driven yet. My main concern with the XC40 is the smaller cargo space, lower range, and more expensive of the 3 vehicles.

All vehicles have their pros and cons, along with a lot more competitors for next model year (such as the kia ev6). I would also consider the y, but dealers / service centers are too far to make my short list...

We have no kids and for years I had a sedan and she had an Acura RDX. She wanted something smaller and more nimble and got the XC40 T5 R-Design. She loves it. I sold my sedan in January and been used to driving her RDX for 4 months going back to a sedan is not in the cards and I swore I would always drive sedans. The thing I like about the XC 40 is it does not drive like a SUV.
 
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