By on March 14, 2018

When the majority of the buying public thinks of Volvo, three things generally come to mind: safety, boxy wagons, and professors in tweed sport coats with those weird elbow patches. This is understandable, given that the company made hay selling safe and boxy wagons to professors in tweed sport coats with weird elbow patches.

Volvo has long since de-weirded itself but still marches to a slightly different Swedish beat. It’s currently under the stewardship of a Chinese company that gives the brand enough leash to generally do its own thing. Starting at $35,200, the automaker’s least-expensive car, the XC40, should help bring new buyers to the brand. Let’s see how it stacks up in base form.

Despite its rap for hawking 240DL sedans and 760GLE wagons, Volvo is no stranger to the small(ish) car game. Your author is particularly partial to the C30 R-Design Polestar, a hatchback with a liftgate made entirely of glass and a heart made entirely of a 250 horsepower turbocharged inline-five.

The XC40 has a similar amount of power in its base model, 248 horses from a turbocharged inline-four, reportedly moving the thing to sixty in 6.1 seconds. No rocket, but neither is it a slouch. The EPA says it’ll even get 31 mpg on the highway.

For the price of a steak dinner or two over thirty-five large, buyers of the base XC40 trim – called the Momentum – will find goodies like a power liftgate, leather seats, plus an enormous 12.3-inch driver display and a 9.0-inch vertical touchscreen in the centre that wouldn’t look wholly out of place in a Tesla Model S.The usual cadre of power accessories and charging options are found here in the base model, although the passenger’s chair is manually adjusted.

Amazon Blue gives this little Volvo the appearance of a freshly calved iceberg. Snazzy metallic paints cost an annoying $595, a mark against the Ace of Base criteria, but at least the hues offered gratis include something interesting like this natty blue.

The XC40’s hatchback isn’t an all-glass affair like the cool and departed C30, but the whole package is tidy and likely checks all the boxes of shoppers in the small crossover segment. It is built on the company’s new GMA platform, which should spawn a whole range of 40-series cars. A small C40 sedan would be neat. A tidy V40 wagon would be even neater.

Inside the trucklet is an interior befitting that of a much more expensive car, especially when trimmed in the $0 Oxide Red Leather. Volvo requires XC40s so equipped to be painted Black Stone in color. Sadly, heated front seats and steering wheel are not standard equipment on this $35,200 machine, despite those features being standard equipment in the $18,895 Hyundai Accent.

I’m not wholly convinced this XC40 makes the cut, as the deletion of heated seats in a Scandinavian car is particularly egregious. Still, it’s a funky looking thing that will refuse to blend in at the curbside school pick-up line.

[Image: Volvo Cars]

Not every base model has aced it. The ones that have? They help make the automotive landscape a lot better. Any others you can think of, B&B? Let us know in the comments. Naturally, feel free to eviscerate our selections.

The model above is shown with American options and is priced in Freedom Dollars absent of any rebates or destination fees. As always, your dealer may sell for less.

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26 Comments on “Ace of Base: 2019 Volvo XC40...”

  • avatar

    IMO, Volvo’s best kept secret is the comfort of it’s front seats.

    • 0 avatar

      I can 100% affirm this, having driven cross country in one.

      After several days of driving, I felt great.

      In contrast, doing the same trip in a Subaru sucked.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Very appealing choice, but maybe a premature call since it’s just gone on sale. I agree on the heated seats thing – that’s crazy.

  • avatar

    $35,200 is a little steep for a LADA, oh, that’s a Volvo? My bad.

  • avatar

    I think the Lincoln MKC aces this XC40 in the near luxury compact CUV segment. A base MKC comes in well below the price of the XC40, even before incentives are considered. No leather in the base MKC, but I’m okay w/ heated leatherette. My only beef w/ the MKC is how small it is, but it looks like the XC40 is even smaller.

  • avatar

    I don’t care for the XC40. It takes Volvo’s nice styling and chops it to the point where it’s nearly unrecognizable. Rear visibility will be terrible because of the huge pillars, and it looks a little too Honda.

    And it’s $35,000.

  • avatar

    How much for AWD?

    And you are right, standard leather but no heated seats in base form is a silly oversight.

  • avatar

    This may be the first crossover that I genuinely think looks pretty good. Yes, the rear pillars are still massive and will hinder visibility, but the overall visual package is pretty unique and original. It’s nice to see something other than a roundish blob.

  • avatar

    I thought the points of this column was to highlight some cars that in base trim constitute a compelling buy. This Volvo is crap, in any trim, and is overpriced, in any trim, so how much did you get paid from Volvo to publish this fluff?

    • 0 avatar

      It won car of the year at the Geneva auto show.

      Which competitor do you think is better for about the same price?

    • 0 avatar

      I like it, but I like Volvos (I drive a 2015 XC70).

      Top-class seats (because comfort matters), more-than-acceptable performance (.3 seconds faster than my T6, and it’s Not Remotely Sluggish), excellent AWD.

      “Crap, in any trim” requires a little more elucidation to be taken remotely seriously, even though *de gustibus*.

      I’m not the biggest fan of the styling, and would prefer they dropped the touchscreen, but …

  • avatar

    Not Swedish beat, but *Chinese* beat, since Volvo is a Chinese brand.

    • 0 avatar


      By your standard:

      Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep and RAM are Italian.
      Jaguar, Aston Martin and Land Rover are Indian.
      MINI, Rolls Royce, and Bentley are German.

      • 0 avatar

        MINI is German though. Certainly not British! Many aren’t even made in the UK. MINIs are BMWs with MINI-style cues and badges. Since the F-series/3rd Gen, BMW isn’t even bothering to pretend otherwise, not to mention the fact that 4 or 5 BMW-branded models share platforms, software, wiring and engines with MINI now. You can literally code to toggle on/off MINI/BMW/RR screens and sounds now.

    • 0 avatar

      “Yeah, sure, it’s still designed by Swedes and built at the Volvo plant in Belgium, but the holding company is [email protected]

  • avatar

    Where is this thing made? Will it have no Orange Peel paint like the Chinese-built S90 I was driving next to today? (honestly the worst paint job I can recall seeing on any car, in any price-range).

    This one gets a MEH from me.

  • avatar

    To me, problem with this is inside. I need to manipulate iPad while driving? Thanks – no. Too much electronics. electronics in non-Japanese car? – forget it

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