Volvo has had much success with its five-passenger XC60 and larger three-row XC90 crossover SUVs. In fact, they’re the brand’s most popular vehicles. So if two is good, three is even better, right? Volvo must think so because the company is rounding out its portfolio with the all-new 2019 XC40. You might agree, too. If those other Volvos seem too big or expensive, this smaller XC40 could be just the thing.
The 2019 Volvo XC40 successfully translates the distinctive look of Volvo’s larger SUVs into a smaller package. You’ll notice this as soon as you take a seat in the cabin. The steering wheel, touchscreen and center stack design will be immediately familiar to those who have driven an XC60. Numerous cubbies throughout the interior are also suitable for storing small items, and a removable cargo floor partition helps make the most of the smallish cargo area.
The XC40 offers distinctive looks and competitive luxury and technology — all with more practicality than many luxury subcompacts.
The 2019 XC40, Volvo’s new small SUV, takes aim at urban and younger buyers with a technical, even cute design and impressive attention to detail. It will do battle with established luxury subcompact SUVs like the Audi Q3, BMW X1 and Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class.
The XC40 is no lightweight compared with Volvo’s well-regarded bigger SUVs (except in actual weight): It offers most of the multimedia and safety tech brainpower of the compact XC60 and the mid-size three-row XC90, Cars.com’s Best of 2016 winner. But it comes in a tidier, city-size package that’s almost a foot shorter and priced about $6,000 lower than a comparable XC60.
For this review, I drove the two versions that went on sale first, the T5 Momentum and a sportier T5 R-Design. A fancier top-of-the-line T5 Inscription trim level now has joined the lineup; all three share the same powertrain and all-wheel drive. Due in the summer of 2018 are less expensive T4 versions with front-wheel drive and a less powerful engine, and Volvo says hybrid and battery-electric models are coming down the road. Overall, I found the XC40 to be a stylish, fun-to-drive model that packs the utility of a bigger SUV.
This Volvo comes with a 187-horsepower, turbocharged four-cylinder engine and an eight-speed automatic transmission, and a 248-horsepower turbo-four is available. The engines deliver lively acceleration and have more than enough power to move this small SUV. The transmission occasionally feels clunky, but it willingly downshifts and generally pairs well with the engine.
XC40 Gas Mileage: Not too Thirsty
When equipped with its base engine, the XC40 gets some of the best gas mileage ratings in the class, earning 25 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway. Even the more powerful engine gets ratings that are competitive with other luxury subcompact SUVs, earning 23 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway.
XC40 Ride and Handling: Not Some Stodgy Grocery Getter
Volvo is shedding its reputation for only building safe vehicles that aren’t fun to drive, and the XC40 will help accelerate that shift in perception. It may not be the most fun-to-drive SUV in the class, but it’s enjoyable when you’re behind the wheel, and it has plenty of agility. Ride quality also leaves little to complain about.
The 2019 Volvo XC40 is a compact luxury crossover with seating for five. Three trim levels are available: Momentum, R-Design and Inscription. Every XC40 comes loaded with luxury and safety features, including LED headlights, leather upholstery, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and forward collision warning and mitigation. Upgrading to the R-Design doesn’t cost much more and adds exterior styling enhancements and more luxury features. Each is also available with several available features packages and stand-alone options.
The XC40 is sold with two powertrains, both utilizing a turbocharged four-cylinder engine paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission. The front-wheel-drive T4 produces 187 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque. Opting for the all-wheel-drive T5 boosts output to 248 hp and 258 lb-ft. Selecting either powertrain in the Momentum configuration equips the XC40 with 18-inch wheels, LED headlights, automatic high-beam control, roof rails, automatic wipers, a power liftgate, automatic climate control, keyless ignition, a power-adjustable driver seat, driver-seat memory settings, 60/40-split rear seats, leather upholstery and ambient interior lighting.
Also included are three USB ports (two in front, one USB-C in the rear), a configurable gauge cluster display, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality, Bluetooth, a Wi-Fi hotspot, a 9-inch touchscreen, and an eight-speaker audio system with HD and satellite radio. Standard safety features include Volvo On Call communications, a rearview camera, lane departure warning and mitigation, and forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking. Selecting the R-Design trim adds 19-inch wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, LED foglights and cornering lights, a black roof, black exterior trim, keyless entry, a hands-free tailgate, dual-zone climate control, a cooled glovebox, steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles, front-seat extendable thigh cushions, a power passenger seat, leather upholstery with faux suede inserts, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, upgraded ambient lighting, and a navigation system.
The luxe Inscription starts with the Momentum’s equipment and adds unique wheels, a panoramic sunroof, chrome roof rails, keyless entry, a hands-free tailgate, wood trim, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and the R-Design’s LED foglights and cornering lights, power passenger seat, dual-zone climate control, cooled glovebox, upgraded ambient lighting and navigation system. Several packages are available for all trims. The Premium package adds heated wiper blades, adaptive cruise control, power-folding rear seats, a wireless charger, a storage bin under the driver’s seat, a removable cargo floor, power-folding rear headrests, and a nifty feature that allows you to remotely control the rear child locks from the driver’s seat. Selecting this package on the Momentum also includes the R-Design’s features added by the Inscription model.