Volvo XC40 Review
The Volvo XC40 is a compact premium SUV that gives you a commanding driving position, good practicality and a choice of petrol, diesel, hybrid or electric power.
Published: 19 December 2022
The XC40 takes everything that’s great about Volvo’s large SUVs and puts them in a smaller and more cost-effective package. That means a high-quality, high-tech interior, strong performance, the option of hybrid power and lots of features included as standard. There are also pure-electric versions that have excellent battery range.
- Stylish, practical interior
- Lots of safety features as standard
- Plug-in hybrid and electric models available
- Some versions are expensive
- Back seats less comfortable than the front
- Low mpg for some petrol models
Dashboard & tech
If you’ve got an iPad, the 9-inch portrait-format touchscreen in the centre of the XC40’s dashboard might look familiar. You use it to control most functions, including the air con, audio and sat nav and you can swipe, scroll and tap it in the same way you do with your tablet at home.
The screen looks great and responds quickly. Some people might get frustrated that there are no physical dials for things like the air con, but on the whole it’s quite easy to use.
If you want a model with support for Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, check that the one you want had this specified when new, because it was a £300 option rather than a standard feature until 2022. In the same year, Volvo also introduced a new infotainment system for the XC40. The dashboard is the same, but there’s a new operating system powered by Google, which you might find more intuitive to use.
Volvo has a reputation for building cars with comfortable seats, and the front two in the XC40 are no exception. They’re not quite as soothing as those in Volvo’s larger models but they’re very supportive and should keep the driver and front passenger ache-free on a long journey. Most trim levels have heated front seats and some even have heated back seats.
As with most cars, back-seat passengers don't have quite the same comfort as those in the front but in the case of the XC40 there’s quite a gap because the seat bases in the back are rather short and flat. If your kids are in child seats they won’t notice but any adult passengers might grumble.
If you’re a fan of minimalist Scandinavian design, the interior of the XC40 will be right up your street. Many parts are shared with Volvo’s larger, more expensive models and there’s a premium feel that lives up to the XC40’s price. Touches that make it feel a bit special include fabric on the inside of the door pockets and interior lighting that subtly highlights sections of the dashboard and the doors.
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Practicality & boot space
The XC40 is a fraction shorter than rivals such as the latest BMW X1 or the Audi Q3 but it’s very competitive for space, partly because of its upright, boxy shape. Even your tallest passengers are unlikely to complain about the headroom and legroom in the front and back – and you can even squeeze a third adult in the middle of the back row.
You won’t have any trouble finding space for your odds and ends, either. The front cupholders are large enough for your biggest reusable coffee cup, while the front door pockets will swallow enough snacks for the longest road trip. There’s a large storage bin between the front seats that can be removed and emptied, a decent-size glovebox and a big space for a smartphone or two below the touchscreen. Handily, this is close to the USB ports.
You’ll find the boot’s wide opening and flat floor useful when loading heavy items like a pushchair or suitcases. We could make a comment about the 452-litre boot being perfect for a trip to a certain Swedish furniture store. The fact is, the XC40’s luggage capacity is about average for this size of car, placing it somewhere between the BMW X1 (505 litres) and the Audi Q3 (427 litres). The larger XC60 has a 505-litre boot, the difference being equal to one large shopping bag.
There are 1,328 litres of luggage space available with the back seats folded down, and because the bench has a 60/40 split, you can retain the use of one or two seats and still carry extra items.
Check to see if the original owner selected some of the accessories from the options catalogue. The luggage-securing net, a glasses holder, a plastic boot mat and a dog harness could be useful.
If you’re more interested in a smooth, comfortable drive than in sportiness you’re unlikely to be disappointed by the XC40. Everything has been configured to deliver a serene driving experience, and the high seating position and light steering means there's no stress driving the XC40 in the city.
The XC40 is available with everything from 18-inch to 21-inch alloy wheels. Take care before going full ‘bling’ though, because while the larger alloys are stylish, the XC40 has a smoother ride on 18- and 19-inch wheels because of their higher-profile tyres. If you’re after a sportier drive, choose an R-Design model, which comes with lowered suspension for a more responsive feel and a slightly less cushy ride.
While most XC40 models have front-wheel drive, higher-powered versions have four-wheel drive. The same is true of petrol, diesel, plug-in hybrid and pure electric versions.
One of the greatest strengths of the XC40 is the fact that there isn’t a weak link in the engine line-up. Even the smallest petrol or diesel engine will do a great job of hauling you and your luggage along at a brisk rate. (The diesel versions, badged D3 and D4, were dropped from the range in 2020.)
Models with a Recharge badge come with some form of electrification. In the case of the T4 and T5 Plug-in hybrid (formerly known as Twin Engine), it means a 1.5-litre petrol engine paired with an electric motor. As the name suggests, the XC40 Recharge Pure Electric is powered by either one or two electric motors – both are very quick.
Fuel economy & CO2 emissions
The fully electric XC40 is likely to deliver the lowest running costs, especially if you charge the car overnight at home. Maximum official battery range is 273 miles for double-motor versions and 265 miles for single-motor versions. And it means zero carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, which currently saves you a lot in car tax.
If you’re not ready to fully embrace the electric age, the plug-in hybrid could be a good option. With a charged battery, you should be able to travel up to 28 miles on pure-electric power, according to official figures, which could be enough for your daily commute.
Don’t rule out the D3 and D4 diesel engines if you’re looking for the best fuel economy. They return about 55mpg, according to official figures. Choosing a petrol version will see your fuel economy drop by around 15mpg or more. The highest-powered petrol versions give you less than 40mpg, according to official figures, so fuel costs will add up if you cover a lot of miles.
Value for money
Prices for the XC40 are on the high side, especially if you go for one of the high-spec or most-powerful plug-in hybrid or electric models. However, despite being on sale new since early 2018, the Volvo XC40 remains one of the most desirable cars in its class. This means that it holds its value better than many of its rivals. You’ll also find that Volvo tends to include more features as standard than many rival manufacturers, so even if an XC40 looks more expensive than an equivalent Audi, BMW or Mercedes-Benz, closer scrutiny could reveal that you’re getting decent value for money overall.
Reliability & Warranty
Volvo achieved a top 10 ranking in the latest J.D. Power UK Vehicle Dependability Study, which bodes well for the reliability of the XC40. Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar, Audi and BMW finished nearer the bottom of the table.
The XC40 comes with a three-year, 60,000-mile warranty, whichever comes first. That is typical for the class, but some manufacturers offer cover for five or seven years.
Safety is something Volvo is known for. The XC40 was awarded a maximum five-star rating by safety experts at Euro NCAP when it was tested in 2018, including a near perfect 97% score for adult occupant protection – the highest rating of the year.
Standard driver-assistance systems include 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.
Trims & Engines
While some cars have a potentially confusing array of trim levels, Volvo keeps things fairly simple with the XC40. It started out in 2018 with three trim levels: Momentum, R-Design and Inscription, with Pro packs available for each. Momentum is the entry-level model, R-Design the sportiest and Inscription the most luxurious. There was also a lavish First Edition, which featured a long list of desirable features as standard.
The level of equipment will vary according to the age of the car and whether the original owner had fun with the accessories catalogue, but all XC40 models have dual-zone climate control, automatic LED headlights, a 9-inch touchscreen infotainment system, 12.3-inch customisable driver display, DAB digital radio and cruise control. Volvo subsequently changed the trim levels to Core, Plus and Ultimate, but the specification remains broadly the same.
Volvo uses a combination of a letter and a number for its petrol and diesel engines but, confusingly, these have changed over time. Initially, there were T2, T3, T4 and T5 petrol models. In 2020 these were replaced by B3 and B4 petrol models that use mild-hybrid technology to make the car slightly more fuel-efficient.
The plug-in hybrid versions were originally called Twin Engine, but are now known as Recharge T4 or T5 models. A diesel engine (in D3 and D4 models) was available until 2020.
Volvo called the pure-electric version Recharge P8 when it first came out but it’s now simply known as the XC40 Recharge.
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