As the market for SUV/CUV vehicles has heated up, manufacturers have been working overtime to design and deliver an optimally performing compact crossover that is equal to or better than their larger siblings.
The just arriving Volvo XC40 compact crossover from Volvo has done what many of their competitors have been unable to do – deliver a near perfect compact crossover at an affordable price.
Comparing to its next larger sibling, the popular XC60, the XC40 is near a foot shorter – some say city sized – and importantly about $6,000 cheaper. Surprising many including us – it delivers the same gentrified city, highway and back country drive and ride experience as the larger sibling. Just smaller and cheaper.
Volvo sent us a 2019 XC40 T5 AWD R-Design for a week-long drive test in Central Texas this last month. It was an attention getter wherever we went. At first glance, the XC40 – competing in a segment that relishes severe angular styling – the simplicity and elegance of its smooth lines and shapes makes it stand out.
Our test XC40 T5 AWD R-Design sported a Crystal White Metallic exterior with Black Roof and gloss black exterior accents. Coupled with its Blacked-out R-Design Grille, optional R-Design 20-inch Matte Black Alloy Wheels and a bold upswept rear pillar with ‘R-Design’ embossed, our XC40 T5 AWD R-Design turned heads wherever we went.
On closer inspection – the unique small rubber Swedish Flag tag at the driver-side the edge of the hood was quickly noted followed by – when opening the doors – a “wow” on seeing the bold Orange door panels and carpets.
Setting aside the Orange interior treatment (its optional) – we refer the interior as ‘Ikea’ elegant. As only Volvo can do, it is a simple yet very functional design that is well executed and excellently crafted with subtle premium materials.
The XC40 does not lack for convenience, technology and safety features – offering nearly everything that is available in its larger XC60 and XC90 siblings.
Best of all – starting with the lowest price in the Volvo line (about $6,000 less than the XC60) – the XC40 compact crossover offers more performance and value (it’s a Volvo) for the money than the competition.
Volvo XC40 T5 AWD R-Design – as tested
Based on the very reasonably priced base Momentum level (MSRP $35,200) – Volvo amped it into the R-Design trim with signature R-Design elements and features raising the MSRP to $37,700.
Then, adding Premium, Vision and Advanced Packages plus a cluster of stand-alone optional accessories on this all-new XC40 T5 AWD R-Design – Volvo delivered this very complete compact crossover for just $45,995.
As we said up front – we think Volvo designed and affordably delivered it with everything in mind.
The Volvo XC40 T5 AWD R-Design is powered by a 2.0L turbocharged I4 engine which is the base engine on the larger XC60. Delivering a snappy 248 horsepower with 258 lb.-ft. of torque, it is mated to an 8-speed Geartronic automatic transmission with Auto Start/Stop. It also has five driver selectable Drive Modes (Eco, Comfort, Dynamic, Off-Road and Individual) to augment or enhance performance as desired.
The well-regarded Volvo AWD with Hill Start Assist and Hill Descent Control is standard on the T5.
The XC40 is the first Volvo on their new Compact Modular Architecture with a Sport Chassis uniquely designed with front MacPherson strut and rear multilink coil suspension running gear which suits it well. Adding 19-inch wheels, able sized anti-lock brakes, electric power assisted steering, Advanced Electronic Stability Control and more – the XC40 R-Design accelerates quickly and smoothly, handles crisply, holds the road firmly, brakes sharply and adjusts easily to various road conditions.
And the fuel economy is decent rated at 23/32 mpg city/highway and 26 mpg combined.
On the inside the XC40 is also ‘Ikea -like’ with its refined styling and use of select premium materials. The seating is very supportive and comfortable with extendable front cushions -both driver and passenger.
Second row legroom and headroom are better than many competitors in the segment but do take slightly from cargo space behind. With powered 60/40 folding seats and storage under the cargo deck, the 20.7 cubic feet was pretty adequate.
Speaking of storage, Volvo has cleverly and effectively provided a nice range of small storage spaces from front to rear in the XC40.
The Volvo Sensus Infotainment System puts some folks off with its ‘different’ approach to information management in a vehicle. It features a very crisp and dynamic tablet style 9-inch color touch screen that is easy to read under all conditions. The operating interface – a bit confusing at first – is actually very intuitive (think tablet) and one gets control of the system pretty quickly – including 72-year-old hacks like this writer.
Other technology includes Wi-Fi Hotspot, Smartphone Integration, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth Handsfree and Streaming, SiriusXM and HD radio, USB ports and 12v power port in the cargo bay.
A customizable 12.3-inch Color Driver Instrument Display gives the driver complete and comprehensive vehicle statuses as needed or desired
Always at the forefront of safety, the XC40 includes the Volvo City Safety System that detects vehicles, people, cyclists and even large animals, Lane Keeping and Oncoming Lane Mitigation, Run-Off Road Road Protection and Mitigation and Road Sign Identification Display plus more.
R-Design Package Features
The R-Design Package upgrade added elements like the Black Contrasting Roof with Black Integrated Roof Rails, R-Design Wheels, Steering Wheel Mounted Shift Paddles, Sport Pedals, Sensus Navigation Pro, Led Fog Lights in the front spoiler and Nappa Leather and Nubuck Upholstery with unique “Cutting Edge” Aluminum Deco Inlays.
Other functional features of the R-Design Package were the Dual Zone Climate Control, 8-way Power Front Seats with Seat Cushion Extensions, Keyless Entry and Push Button Start, Hands-free Power Tailgate and High-Level Interior Illumination.
Individual Options adding flair to our XC40 R-Design were the Metallic Exterior Paint, Laminated Panoramic Moonroof, 20-inch 5-Double Spoke Matte Black Alloy Wheels, 600W Harman Kardon Premium Audio w/13 Speakers, Heated Front Seats and Steering Wheel along with the distinctive Orange Lava Interior Door Panels and Carpeting.
A 360-degree SurroundView Camera anchors the Advanced Package that also includes LED Headlights with the awesome Volvo Automatic Bending Lights feature and a High-Pressure Headlight Cleaning System.
Convenience items in the Premium Package are a Wireless Charging Pad (big enough almost for a tablet), Semi-Autonomous Drive System with Adaptive Cruise Control, Power Headrests, Hidden Storage under the driver seat, Folding Cargo Floor Deck with grocery holders and Heated Windshield Washer Nozzles.
Supplementing that was the Vision Package with Blind Spot Information and Warning System, Cross Traffic Alert with Automatic Braking, Park Assist Pilot with Front and Rear Parking Sensors and Power Retractable Mirrors.
We don’t think Volvo missed a thing. Putting all of this in the terrific-to-drive and comfortable-to-ride Volvo XC40 T5 R-Design – and delivered under $46,000 – should make purchase a no-brainer’.
Speaking of purchasing, Volvo says the XC40 is targeted at urban and younger buyers wanting a Volvo SUV/CUV right-sized and right-priced for them.
We take our ‘usual offense’ at this target description as we find the all-new XC40 T5 R-Design right in the sweet spot of empty nesters like us.
Right size, right price and right fun – even more so with the Orange Lava door panels and carpets.
2019 Volvo XC40 Lineup
The T5 AWD XC40 is now available in three trim levels, the T5 R-Design middle level we just tested, a base Momentum at MSRP $35,200 and upscale T5 Inscription at MSRP $39,750. Later this year the T4 FWD (front-wheel drive) version with a bit less power and commensurate lower price will arrive.