Volvo XC40: Swedish Style and Substance in a Small SUV

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
volvo xc40 swedish style and substance in a small suv

Volvo’s Compact Modular Architecture is turning out to be a little sexier than one might have imagined. With the arrival of the XC40 we were expecting something akin to a baby X90, but we ended up getting a better-looking Range Rover Evoque. It’s certainly reminiscent of its bigger brothers, yet possesses an individual sense of style that Volvo claims will make its way into other models using the CMA platform.

All of this style is likely to come at the expensive of rearward visibility. We haven’t sat behind the wheel of a XC40 but we can already tell you that bulky C-pillar is probably going to get in the way from time to time. That said, it looks so good that it’s difficult to truly fault it — especially when the small SUV is fitted with a black or white contrasting roof.

Offsetting the chic styling is a modest amount of plastic cladding along the bottom of the vehicle. This ought to provide some necessary protection for urban owners forced to park close to banged-up models with drivers less inclined to appreciate the XC40’s unibody beauty.

Dimensions are about what you’d expect from a lifted hatchback. At 174 inches long, the Volvo is roughly the same length as a Mercedes-Benz GLA but a litter thicker in the middle. Its 73.3 inches of girth makes it a little wider than most of its competition in the growing premium compact crossover category — the Range Rover Evoque and Lexus NX being exceptions.

Height is more small SUV than compact crossover, too. The 65-inch roofline will have owners towering above standard sedans, which is probably what most shoppers are looking for. Overall, it’s a couple inches more squat than the XC60, about 10 inches shorter, and 1.5 inches narrower. The overall wheelbase for the XC40 is 106.3 inches, which is about half a foot less than its larger Swedish sibling.

While it doesn’t share its dimensions with the other XC units from Volvo, it packs in a lot of their features — and a few of its own. The XC40 can come equipped with Volvo Cars’ Pilot Assist system, City Safety, Run-off Road protection and mitigation, cross traffic alerts, and a 360-degree camera with park assist. But Volvo has added upgraded brake assist to cross traffic and the lane keeping system will pull you back to the right side of the road if the car thinks you might run headlong into oncoming traffic.

For North America, there will be two versions of the XC40 available at launch with two distinctive trim levels — the entry-level Momentum and upscale R-Sport. There’s also a forthcoming premium trim called Inscription, but its roof receives the body color treatment and is therefore a waste of money.

The all-wheel-drive XC40 T5 gets a 250-horsepower turbocharged inline-four with 258 lb-ft of torque, while the front-drive T4 receives a slightly less powerful version of the same engine. Volvo didn’t say, but we’ll hazard a guess of around 200 hp with torque in a similar numeric neighborhood. Volvo is also planning a plug-in hybrid variant and a fully electric model for the future.

Momentum trimmed models come standard with 19-inch wheels and an optional white roof with white alloys. The R-Sport swaps the two-tone color scheme for an optional black roof, with a black grille, unique exterior trim pieces, gussied-up interior, and 20-inch wheels as standard. Volvo’s long 9.0-inch infotainment screen will be standard across the range and the same goes for its foot-and-a-half-wide TFT active-display instrument panel.

Interior design appears serviceable and stylish from the photos and, according to the manufacturer, can be outfitted with a premium sound system, inductive device charging, loads of insane colors, unique metal trim, and other things you might want to splurge on. A power-assisted rear tailgate and power-folding rear seats are standard, however.

At first glance, the XC40 looks like a winner. Especially when you compare available powertrains, standard features, and the price of its competition. Entry-level Momentum trim models of the T4 and T5 will be priced at $33,200 and $35,200, respectively. A base-model BMW X1 will run you $33,900, whereas the Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class starts around $33,400.

Like Lynk & Co’s upcoming 01 (which is also owned by Geely and uses the same CMA platform), Volvo says you can lease the XC40 using its “Care by Volvo subscription service.” The automaker claims it makes the car easier to own than a cell phone and allows for easy sharing of the crossover with friends and family using digital key technology. Regardless of how you want to go about the ownership experience, both the T4 and T5 should be here by next summer.

[Images: Volvo Cars]

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  • Jeanbaptiste Any variant of “pizza” flavored combos. I only eat these on car trips and they are just my special gut wrenching treat.
  • Nrd515 Usually for me it's been Arby's for pretty much forever, except when the one near my house dosed me with food poisoning twice in about a year. Both times were horrible, but the second time was just so terrible it's up near the top of my medical horror stories, and I have a few of those. Obviously, I never went to that one again. I'm still pissed at Arby's for dropping Potato Cakes, and Culver's is truly better anyway. It will be Arby's fish for my "cheat day", when I eat what I want. No tartar sauce and no lettuce on mine, please. And if I get a fish and a French Dip & Swiss? Keep the Swiss, and the dip, too salty. Just the meat and the bread for me, thanks. The odds are about 25% that they will screw one or both of them up and I will have to drive through again to get replacement sandwiches. Culver's seems to get my order right many times in a row, but if I hurry and don't check my order, that's when it's screwed up and garbage to me. My best friend lives on Starbucks coffee. I don't understand coffee's appeal at all. Both my sister and I hate anything it's in. It's like green peppers, they ruin everything they touch. About the only things I hate more than coffee are most condiments, ranked from most hated to..who cares..[list=1][*]Tartar sauce. Just thinking about it makes me smell it in my head. A nod to Ranch here too. Disgusting. [/*][*]Mayo. JEEEEZUS! WTF?[/*][*]Ketchup. Sweet puke tasting sludge. On my fries? Salt. [/*][*]Mustard. Yikes. Brown, yellow, whatever, it's just awful.[/*][*]Pickles. Just ruin it from the pickle juice. No. [/*][*]Horsey, Secret, whatever sauce. Gross. [/*][*]American Cheese. American Sleeze. Any cheese, I don't want it.[/*][*]Shredded lettuce. I don't hate it, but it's warm and what's the point?[/*][*]Raw onion. Totally OK, but not something I really want. Grilled onions is a whole nother thing, I WANT those on a burger.[/*][*]Any of that "juice" that Subway and other sandwich places want to put on. NO, HELL NO! Actually, move this up to #5. [/*][/list=1]
  • SPPPP It seems like a really nice car that's just still trying to find its customer.
  • MRF 95 T-Bird I owned an 87 Thunderbird aka the second generation aero bird. It was a fine driving comfortable and very reliable car. Quite underrated compared to the GM G-body mid sized coupes since unlike them they had rack and pinion steering and struts on all four wheels plus fuel injection which GM was a bit late to the game on their mid and full sized cars. When I sold it I considered a Mark VII LSC which like many had its trouble prone air suspension deleted and replaced with coils and struts. Instead I went for a MN-12 Thunderbird.
  • SCE to AUX Somebody got the bill of material mixed up and never caught it.Maybe the stud was for a different version (like the 4xe) which might use a different fuel tank.