2020 Volvo XC40
2020 Volvo XC40
The 2020 Volvo XC40 runs with a modern crowd. It has sharp edges and a funky stance. It’s quick and it’s nimble, and it has tidy acceleration and handling.
The 2020 XC40 can be fitted with one of two powerplants. The base model is called T4, and uses a 2.0-liter turbo-4 making 187 horsepower and 221 lb-ft of torque. It’s front-wheel drive and uses the same 8-speed automatic as found in the optional T5. This 2.0-liter turbo-4 puts out 248 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, and in this 3,600-pound crossover it’s an impressive motivator.
There’s also a model called the R-Design that ups the XC40’s sporty game with a stiffer suspension, bigger wheels, and black trim.
The cabin offers as much function as the larger and more expensive XC60 and XC90. The cargo space, flexibility, and small storage is great. It seats five, but occupants will be a lot happier if there’s only four of them.
Base front-drive models with the 187-hp T4 powertrain get EPA ratings of 23 mpg city, 33 highway, 27 combined. The 248-hp T5 comes with all-wheel drive but still returns 23/31/26 mpg.
The NHTSA hasn’t crash-tested the XC40 yet, but the IIHS gives it their top ‘Good’ rating when equipped with the optional headlights.
Every XC40 gets standard automatic emergency braking with forward-collision warnings and active lane control. Better headlights, a surround-view camera system, blind-spot monitors and rear cross-traffic alerts are optional.
There’s also the Pilot Assist package, which adds adaptive cruise control that can automatically follow other cars in stop-and-go traffic, and also can turn itself off automatically.
The XC40 comes as Momentum, R-Design, and Inscription. All-wheel drive is available on the T4, standard on the T5.
With a starting price of $35,340 the base XC40 Momentum comes well equipped with LED headlights, 18-inch wheels, cloth upholstery, a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, a 9.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth connectivity, and a power-adjustable driver’s seat.
Options include a package with blind-spot monitors, keyless ignition, and wireless smartphone charging; another package has a power front passenger seat, and yet another has Pilot Assist and a surround-view camera system.
The $40,945 R-Design is sporty, with a firmer suspension for improved cornering, 19-inch wheels, and glossy black trim. It also adds a power passenger seat, dual-zone climate control, navigation, leather-with-suede upholstery, a panoramic roof, and a motion-activated tailgate.
The $41,445 Inscription is elegant, with real wood trim, graceful 19-inch wheels, premium leather upholstery, and chrome exterior trim. Options include heated seats and steering wheel, adaptive dampers, navigation, and a Harmon Kardon sound system.
All XC40 crossovers come with a 4-year/50,000-mile warranty.
Volvo offers a subscription service that’s unique. Instead of purchasing the XC40, for $700 a month, participants in the Care by Volvo subscription plan get the same amount of miles as they would with a three-year lease.
Choppy and edgy, the XC40 is a significant departure from Volvo’s familiar wagon-like SUV shapes. It hasn’t shed its mechanical roots, but there’s an attitude about it. The XC40 wears the tones well, on its tall and boxy body. It’s only 174 inches long and 73 inches wide, but its horizontal lines make it look wider.
The horizontal theme continues in the cabin, interrupted only by an upright rectangular 9.0-inch touchscreen. Volvo’s infotainment system is among the best, intuitive and fast. The front occupants are flanked by gauges and screens. Style meets function with clever storage, including hidden cubbies, deep door pockets, hooks in the glovebox, a small rubbish bin in the center console, and cargo organizers behind the rear seats.
There are no rough sounds from under the hood, and nor is there excessive wind, road, or engine noise. It is hushed to an impressive degree.
One look at the optional driftwood trim, and you’ll know this is a premium space. Even the optional Lava Orange carpet in the R-Design, straight out of the ‘70s, probably won’t change your mind.
The XC40’s seats are soft and supportive for long hours behind the wheel. However we find it ironic that heated seats are optional, when they were standard equipment in the Volvos of the 1980s.
The backs of the front seats are scalloped, to provide more knee room in the rear. There’s plenty of room for cargo, with 20.7 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 47 cubic feet with the seats folded.
We haven’t driven the base T4 yet, with its 2.0-liter turbo-4 making 187 horsepower and 221 lb-ft of torque. But we’ve driven the T5, whose 2.0-liter turbo-4 makes 248 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, and it’s quite an engine. The torque comes on early, so you don’t have to wring it out. It pushes the XC40 to 60 mph in 6.2 seconds, a time that’s near the top of the class.
The T5 is also one of the most refined powertrains in its class that includes the best from Germany and Japan. The 8-speed automatic transmission matches the smoothness of the engine.
However there is a problem: the shifter. It’s maddening. We have no idea why Volvo would betray its Swedish DNA of simplicity and function, and design an odd thing that requires two downward clicks to go from park to drive. If you only click it down once you’ll be in neutral, and you’ll find yourself stepping on the gas and only getting engine noise without any forward motion.
The T5 comes standard with all-wheel drive. The system is from Borg-Warner and can send up to 50 percent of the torque to the rear wheels, for better traction in snow or grip on slippery roads.
The R-Design, with its stiffer springs and beefier roll bars, has quick steering with a light touch. It does a good job of adding sport to comfort, without compromising the quality of the ride. It gets even better with the optional adaptive dampers.
The 2020 Volvo XC40 is a winner, if you like the edgy looks. It gets cleaner and more stylish inside, with a thoughtful design and exceptional materials. It also has a great ride and handling, even better with the R-Design. The T4 with optional all-wheel-drive will be fine, but the T5 will blow your Swedish socks off.
—by Sam Moses, with driving impressions by The Car Connection