2019 Volvo XC40

By September 11, 2019

The Volvo XC40 is a new compact crossover that slots below the XC60 and XC90 in price, size, and performance. It’s a nimble city hustler that has snappy styling touches to go with its energetic performance. 

The only engine is a 2.0-liter turbo-4 that makes a strong 248 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque and delivers it to the ground through an 8-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard, with an option for all-wheel drive. The XC40 comes in Inscription, Momentum or R-Design trim. 

The EPA rates the XC40 at 23 mpg city, 31 highway, 26 combined with all-wheel drive. With front-drive, it’s 1 mpg more efficient.

Neither the NHTSA nor the IIHS has crash-tested the 2019 Volvo XC40, but the standard safety features are impressive. They include automatic emergency braking and active lane control. Volvo’s driver-assistance system, called Pilot Assist, bundles active lane control and adaptive cruise control as part of an option package. The system can follow cars in stop-and-go traffic and travel short distances within well-defined lanes without driver input. Blind-spot monitors and a surround-view camera system are available.

The XC40 also is offered by subscription, under the name Care by Volvo. For $600 or $700 per month (Momentum or R-Design), a subscriber gets a fully-equipped car, insurance, and maintenance. After one year they can continue the deal with a new car, or extend the deal for another year; after two years they buy it or walk away.

Model Lineup

The XC40 comes in three models, the Inscription, Momentum, and R-Design.

The T5 Momentum comes with 18-inch wheels, LED headlights and taillights, leather upholstery, power adjustable driver’s seat, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, Bluetooth connectivity,  a 9.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, and the active safety package. 

The T5 AWD R-Design adds stiffer springs and bigger anti-roll bars, 19-inch wheels, softer leather with synthetic suede, a power passenger seat, a motion-activated tailgate, and black roof. Lava Orange carpeting is a $100 option. 

Inscription models make most features standard.

Heated front seats and steering wheel are $750. There are many more options, from a crisp Harman Kardon sound system to adaptive suspension to 20-inch wheels.

Exterior

The XC40 is perkier than Volvos are known for. It goes its own way, literally, in the grille: it’s concave instead of convex like the XC60 and XC90. It has an underbite. 

The rear roof pillar is a fat triangle, most likely a different color than the straight sharp roof that comes in black, white, or gray.    

Aiming for the young entails letting loose a bit. The XC40 can come in Amazon Blue with a white roof and white wheels, to fire-truck red with a black roof and black 20-inch wheels. It also comes in orange. 

Interior

The cabin is finished in high-quality materials and solid panels. A vertical touchscreen rises from a horizontal dash. There are clever cubbies and slots, including deep door pockets and a hidden trash bin.

The scalloped front seats are beautifully supportive. Volvo seats are the best, with great bolstering and adjustability. 

Three adults can’t seriously fit in the rear, but it’s great for two, having wide bottom cushions. There’s a pass-through in the rear seat for skis and the like. 

There’s 20.7 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats up, and 47.2 cubic feet with the seatbacks folded down. An optional cargo floor offers versatility. 

Rearward vision is poor because of the thick roof pillars. Blind-spot monitors are highly recommended. 

Driving Impressions

With its 2.0-liter turbo-4 making 248 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, the T5 AWD XC40 can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 6.2 seconds, same as the BMW X1 xDrive28i. The power comes fast but not sharp, and the 8-speed automatic keeps perfect pace. The acceleration is refined. The engine doesn’t growl. 

The transmission upshifts are smooth and well-timed, but the shift lever itself takes two tugs to engage a gear. 

The all-wheel-drive system is made by BorgWarner, and moves up to 50 percent of the power to the rear wheels when traction is needed back there. There’s 8.3 inches of ground clearance. 

The suspension is a basic front strut, rear multi-link setup, with the R-Design using stiffer springs and bigger anti-roll bars for cornering, and rear monotube shocks for a sportier ride. The ride isn’t harsh at all, and we were surprised that it felt no stiffer with the optional 20-inch wheels and tires. 

In every ride mode (Eco, Comfort, Dynamic, and Off-Road) the ride is steady and the steering precise and predictable, but there’s not much communication from the tires. A bit more engagement would be nice. It excels as a city runabout.

Final Word

The 2019 Volvo XC40 goes out of its way to show off its energetic powertrain with a style to match. It’s well-executed, has nimble handling and lots of interior space for its size. The unique Care by Volvo subscription service makes for an intriguing choice; do drivers want to treat their cars like their mobile phones?