Volvo XC40 driving

Volvo XC40 review

The Volvo XC40 is a premium compact SUV that blends an upmarket feel with advanced safety technology and understated Scandinavian design.


  • Stylish, practical interior
  • Advanced safety features
  • Hybrid and electric versions available


  • High-spec versions quite costly
  • No diesel option for more recent models
  • Touchscreen system not to all tastes


“A chic compact SUV with a premium feel and lots of high-tech features.”

The XC40 is a compact SUV that marries traditional Volvo virtues like high-tech safety features and a comfortable driving experience with chic styling inside and out.
It adds a dash of bold design bravado to the typical Volvo recipe of understated Scandinavian minimalism, with contrast-coloured roof options and some bold interior carpets and trim options available. All versions are well equipped and good to drive.

There’s a range of engines available, with powerful and fuel-efficient plug-in hybrid models available as well as a purely electric option. If your heart’s set on a diesel version, you’ll need to pick one built before summer 2020, when they were discontinued.

What's the interior like?

“An appealing mix of comfort, minimalist design and family-friendly practicality.”

The XC40 has a more youthful character than other Volvos, so although it has the comfortable seats and minimalist interior design you expect of the brand, many versions make use of striking trim patterns and colours in order to create a more vibrant feel.

In common with all other Volvos, the infotainment system is a portrait-shaped 12.3-inch display, which offers plenty of flexibility to display multiple categories of information. It’s not the most intuitive system to use, but once you get used to it you’ll find it works really well. If you want a model with Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, check the one you want had this specified when new, because it was a £300 option rather than a standard feature.

There’s plenty of space in both the front and the back seats and useful storage features, including particularly large front door ‘bins’. The back seats aren’t as comfortable as those in the front, though, so you might get a few complaints from the back-seat passengers on longer journeys.

You’ll find the boot’s large opening and flat boot floor really useful for sliding heavy stuff in and out. There’s a good amount of space, too, with a 460-litre capacity that’s similar to what you get with many rivals and is enough to carry a few suitcases.

What's it like to drive?

“Effortless to drive thanks to a comfortable ride, responsive engines and a good view out.”

A smooth ride, a quiet interior and commanding view of the road make the XC40 an easygoing companion on long or short journeys. R-Design models with slightly bigger wheels feel a little more firm, but are far from uncomfortable. Parking and other low-speed manoeuvres are a doddle, because all XC40s get rear parking sensors as standard.

Most models come with a smooth-shifting automatic gearbox and even the least-powerful engine options are strong enough to keep up with fast-flowing motorway traffic. The optional Pilot Assist system can even accelerate, brake and steer the car for you on motorways.

Depending on the particular spec of car, XC40s can be four-wheel drive or front-wheel drive, so if you value extra reassurance on potentially slippery surfaces it might be worthwhile seeking out a four-wheel-drive model.

Is it cost-efficient to buy and run?

“Premium prices but competitive running costs, especially for plug-in models.”

The diesel versions of the XC40 can deliver more than 50mpg, while lower-powered petrol models will get more like 40mpg, depending on the model. The more powerful petrol models such as the T4 and T5 use more fuel, but are still fairly cost-effective to run.

The mild hybrid B4 and B5 versions, introduced in 2020, provide a little boost of electric power using energy gathered from the movement of the car’s wheels, which helps make the car more fuel-efficient.  Most economical are the plug-in hybrid versions, which will give you official fuel economy in excess of 100mpg, but that does depend on how you use them – to get this figure you’ll need to recharge them regularly at a home or public charging point, and not take on too many long journeys.

If you keep the plug-in hybrid model fully charged you could make trips of longer than 30 miles on pure electric power alone.

Of course, if you’re really interested in electric power, then you should opt for the fully electric Recharge P8, which has a range of 260 miles between charge-ups. But while it’s very cost-effective to run, the electric XC40 is one of the most expensive to buy.

How reliable and safe is it?

“Impeccable safety credentials and a good reputation for reliability.”

Volvo has an excellent reputation for safety and the XC40 scored the full five stars for its independently assessed Euro NCAP safety rating. Standard safety equipment includes technology that can automatically brake for vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists and even large animals in the case of an emergency. It also features systems that can help stop you veering into  oncoming traffic, or steering off the road.

In the J.D. Power 2019 UK Vehicle Dependability Study (an independent customer satisfaction survey) Volvo scored above average as a brand. The XC40 features a range of engines and technology that has been tried and tested in other Volvo products.

Which one is best for you?

Best for emissions - Recharge P8

Best for family -  T3 petrol/ D4 diesel

Best for fun - T5 Recharge

If fuel economy is all-important then a diesel XC40 is probably best if you do regular long journeys, but if shorter trips make up the majority of your driving, then the plug-in hybrid versions will be the best bet.

Although all XC40s are well equipped, it’s worth looking out for cars fitted with desirable options such as extras such as upgraded sound systems and the ‘winter pack’ that brings heated front seats and headlamp washer jets. There are also clever high-tech extras such as a 360-degree camera that gives you a top-down view of the car’s surroundings and a system that will find a parking space for you and steer the car into it automatically.

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