Volvo entered the compact luxury SUV market – one of the most important growth areas – with the all new XC40 for the 2019 model year.
Even though the Volvo XC40 is the least expensive SUV available in Volvo’s lineup, the vehicle still offers top quality with a long list of features and details. The 2020 model carries on with only minor changes to the feature list including the standard cloth seats and elimination of power-folding rear seats. The 2020 Volvo XC40 is currently the third best-selling luxury subcompact SUV, trailing behind the BMW X1 and the Mercedes-Benz GLA – this shows that Volvo is definitely doing something right with this stylish model.
The only question is: is it good enough to compete with the likes of Audi Q3, BMW X1/X2, and the new Lexus UX?
The exterior and interior of the Volvo XC40 are clearly geared toward a youthful market with a focus on “clean design” and trendy styling elements. The exterior is not flashy by any means, but it is confident-looking and appears like it has solid feel all around, no doubt helped out by large wheels, good ground clearance, and a mature stance.
The interior has a Nordic flair and is practical and luxurious at the same time. The seats are more than sufficiently comfortable for long drives, and there is ample cargo space (1,628 litres) and storage cubbies at every turn.
As far as technology goes, the Volvo XC40 comes standard with a nine-inch Sensus touch screen, three USB ports, an eight-speaker Harman audio system, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capabilities. Standard safety features include traffic sign recognition, a rearview camera, auto emergency braking, as well as road departure and forward collision warning.
Furthermore, the XC40 comes with Intellisafe technologies which is part of Volvo’s safety suite, such as the City Safe that is designed to avoid collisions with cyclists, pedestrians and other vehicles in an urban setting. The XC40 receives top ratings from the likes of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. After all, it is a Volvo (even though it’s now owned by a Chinese company) and so we should expect nothing less in terms of safety ratings.
Drivers have a choice of two powertrains: the T4 FWD 2.0-litre inline-four engine which produces 184 horsepower and 221 foot-pounds of torque, or the T5 AWD turbo-four engine that produces 248 h.p. and 258 foot-pounds of torque. Both engines are paired with a smooth eight-speed automatic transmission. Opting for the T5 AWD engine will add an extra $2,600 to the bill. Driving modes include Comfort, Eco, Dynamic, Off-Road and an Individual mode for more personalization.
Fuel economy for the T5 engine is 10.3/7.5/9.0 litres per 100 kilometres for city/highway/combined, respectively.
The XC40 is comfortable and smooth riding, if somewhat stiff when compared to its Japanese competitors. But its handling and overall performance is average – perhaps the BMW X1 handles better and the Audi Q3 rides better. The Volvo does feel a notch above when it comes to refinement though, except for the stop-and-go function that is a bit choppy in execution.
The only truly annoying feature of the XC40 is the fact that you have to push the transmission gear forward or backward (for drive or reverse) two times; yes like in double tapping. Perhaps an owner will get used to it after a while, but none of us in the automotive industry understand why Volvo decided to implement such a strange feature.
The Volvo XC40 comes in three trim levels: Momentum, R-Design and Inscription. R-Design is sporty and features an all-black exterior colour scheme, while the interior features an optional orange “Lava” carpeting for contrast. The Inscription trim level is indulgent, filled with authentic materials, and is all about Scandinavian luxury.
By the way, Volvo offers a European delivery program that provides a unique way to customize and obtain your new vehicle. In this program, buyers receive a discount off the Canadian base MSRP price, a travel package to the Volvo factory in Gothenburg, Sweden including airfare and hotel, a tour of the Volvo factory and museum and home shipment and delivery of the customized new car. In an era of cutting corners and simplifying the buying process, it’s nice to see a program designed to bring the buyers closer to the automaker.
Is the 2020 Volvo XC40 a perfect vehicle? Perhaps not, but it offers unique styling and a fashionable interior that is refreshing from the sea of lookalikes these days. It is also priced competitively and excels in safety, while providing good comfort and features all around. It isn’t a sporty vehicle in comparison to a BMW or Audi, but it balances practical elements with trendy designs. The 2020 Volvo XC40 starts at $39,750 for the Momentum trim, $45,650 for the R-Design and $48,200 for the Inscription.