2020 Volvo XC40 delivers safety innovations, sharp design Featured

Posted On Tuesday, 13 October 2020 01:26 Written by
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Volvo's 2020 XC40 is small, but makes a big impression on the compact end of the SUV market. Volvo's 2020 XC40 is small, but makes a big impression on the compact end of the SUV market. Photo courtesy of Volvo

For a newer vehicle to succeed, it must check multiple boxes.

For the 2020 Volvo XC40, one of those boxes is filling the demand on the smaller end of the SUV scale, a segment for which demand has grown tremendously in the past handful of years.

The other key box it checks is that, like all Volvo offerings, it offers an extremely impressive amount of safety features to luxury car buyers.

But in a crowded category with plenty of excellent offerings from multiple leading brands, is it enough to stand out? Read on for a full review.


The XC40 is Volvo’s smallest SUV offering, behind the midsize XC60 and large XC90. Sharp-looking since its debut in 2018, the XC40 continues to be an attractive, well-designed vehicle that will get a lot of people turning their heads. The exterior features an attractive panoramic-style moonroof, and generally sharp lines all around, completed by Volvo's unique and instantly recognizable front and rear designs.

Inside the vehicle, the rear is very tight for legroom (and best for kids and shorter adults), but the front seats are quite comfortable. There are also some interesting design choices available. The XC40 I tested featured an eye-catching orangish-red color (called “lava”) inside the doors and on the floor, perfectly accenting a very well-designed interior.

Storage space is decent for the segment, but of course it's a small SUV so don't expect miracles. To boost storage versatility, you get a split folding backrest with a load-through hatch.

External highlights include: An impressive 8.3” ground clearance, hidden tailpipes, standard power tailgate with hands-free opening, LED tail lights, panoramic moonroof, Thor’s Hammer LED headlamps, and available keyless entry with door handle illumination.

Options include: Heated front seats & heated steering wheel, and 20" alloy wheels. And there’s an impressive amount of storage space up front for your belongings for a small SUV. The vehicle is also designed to maximize audio quality.

This is, of course, a luxury ride, and Volvo delivers that experience well, through features like: Extremely comfortable Nappa leather & Nubuck upholstery, leather steering wheel, aluminum deco inlays, heated wiper blades with integrated washers, and 2-zone automatic climate control.

Other attractive design touches and helpful features come courtesy of Volvo’s R-Design package, but it’s a bit pricey, costing over $6,000. 

With the smaller SUVs, even on the luxury side, performance is often a mixed bag. Volvo, however, has come through with some strong numbers here.

The XC40 features a 2.0-liter, turbocharged engine, boasting 248 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of  torque. It is paired with an 8-Speed automatic transmission. All-Wheel Drive allows for maximum traction during acceleration.

I thoroughly enjoyed the cornering ability, handling and overall ride quality in the XC40, which comes as a result of the strong overall setup, including: Front McPherson Strut & Rear Multi-Link Suspension, Anti-Lock Braking System with Hill Start Assist, Advanced Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and Electric Power Assisted Steering. Many of the suspension components are made of lightweight aluminum.

I found the XC40 to be a very smooth and impressive ride during my time behind the wheel. It’s not overly  powerful. but not sluggish either. Steering wheel shift paddles allow you to control the gears if you prefer, and the 0-to-60 time was roughly 6 seconds, which is impressive for the segment. 

The XC40 lives up to what it should be — a comfortable, quiet and extra smooth ride. 

The XC40’s R-Design trim level offers a Sport chassis that features stiffer springs, thicker anti-roll bars and monotube rear shock absorbers that provide more direct control and a sportier driving experience.

Drive modes offered include: Comfort Mode; Dynamic Mode for quicker acceleration, steering and braking; and ECO Mode for lower fuel consumption and weaker acceleration. A customized Individual Mode can also be created.

The XC40 is an especially good choice for commuters who work in the city — and those who frequently visit downtown areas for entertainment. Its size makes it ideal to handle the turns and difficult parking situations you are likely to encounter, as compared to driving a larger SUV in the city.

Volvo’s safety innovations are known throughout the industry, and the XC40 borrows from the strong technology in play on the larger XC90 and XC60 vehicles. For luxury vehicles of this size, it offers more bells and whistles than much of the competition.

Among the safety features are:
— Blind Spot Information System with Steer Assist, and Cross Traffic Alert with Autobrake
— Collision Avoidance by City Safety; which detects vehicles/pedestrians/cyclists/large animals
— Run-off Road Protection & Run-off Road Mitigation
— Lane Keeping Aid & Oncoming Lane Mitigation
— Road Sign Information
— Full array of airbags in front and rear
— Side Impact Protection System
— Whiplash Protection System in front seats
— Power child safety locks on rear doors
— Hill Descent Control
— Electronic Stability Control

An advanced Package ($1,400) will get you Volvo’s Pilot Assist Driver Assistance System with Adaptive Cruise Control, a high-quality 360-degree Surround View Camera, Headlight Cleaning System, and full LED headlights w/ Active Bending Lights. Pilot Assist is a driver’s aid that assists with steering, acceleration and braking. Drivers must keep their hands on the wheel, monitor road conditions and react as necessary. 

The body of the XC40 is also designed for maximum passenger protection in the event of an accident.

The technology focus of the XC40 is a mixed bag, as there are some strong points, but other areas where the XC40 struggles. Specifically, the Sensus infotainment system at the center of it all can be frustrating at times due to the way it is designed.

In general it works well and voice commands are understood, but the overall design on the 9-inch touchscreen is more complicated than I would like it to be. A regular user will get used to it over time, but the learning curve is more steep than you'll find in other vehicles in the luxury realm. The system was also slow to load at times when I got into the vehicle.

On the plus side, the navigation system works well and will take you to POIs along your route without any issues. Navigation, music and other features are easy to control by voice. Navigation directions are also displayed directly on the screen in front of the driver by the speedometer, which helps keep the driver’s eyes looking forward.

Also helpful is the standard Apple CarPlay & Android Auto for phone mirroring, and the excellent wireless phone charger up front. You can use the vehicle as a Wi-Fi hotspot, and Volvo’s On Call comes with a 4-year subscription including a mobile app for remote starting the vehicle.

The standard sound system is a 250 watt system w/ 8 Speakers, Bluetooth streaming lets you play music via your phone, and SiriusXM Radio is included with a 3-month trial subscription.

Fuel mileage on the 2020 Volvo XC40 comes in at 22 City/30 Highway/25 Combined. These are strong numbers that are near the top of the luxury compact SUV segment.

My test vehicle was just over $46,995; base price starts about $34,000. This is actually a decent price for the segment, where some vehicles from other luxury brands can start even higher.

For those who don’t want to commit to purchasing a vehicle, the XC40 is also available from Volvo through its unique subscription program, for $650 a month including monthly payment, insurance costs, 15,000 annual miles and much more.

Volvo’s warranties include a 48-month/50K mile limited warranty; 144-month corrosion protection;  and complimentary factory scheduled maintenance for the first 3 years or 36,000 miles.


With a winning combination of looks, drive quality and safety features, the Volvo XC40 is a leading candidate for the top of the pack in the compact luxury SUV category. 

Folks considering more established luxury brands like BMW and Mercedes and Audi should give it a chance, and may be surprised at what they find when they test the XC40. They may end up making the switch.


AutoTechReviews.com can be found on Twitter @AutoTechReview, or stay updated at the AutoTechReviews Facebook page.

Matt Myftiu can be found on Twitter @MattMyftiu.

Additional Info

  • Vehicle: 2020 Volvo XC40 
  • Price as tested: $46,995 (starts at $34K)
  • Best feature: Smooth ride, top-notch safety features  
  • Rating: 4 out of five stars
  • Who will want this vehicle?: Luxury buyers seeking a smaller SUV that’s great for city driving and loaded with safety features  
Matt M. Myftiu

Matt Myftiu has been a journalist for two decades with a focus on technology, NASCAR and autos.

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