Volvo XC40: Swedish Style and Substance in a Small SUV

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

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]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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