Inside the XC40, the back seat is a bit tight, but that's the only major criticism I have in terms of design. Everything was well-placed, and quality materials are used throughout the interior of the vehicle, meaning the XC40 lives up to what a luxury vehicle should be in terms of design.
If you fold down the back seats, there’s a decent amount of space for storage, though less than some rivals in the class. The leather seating is high-end, and it’s very comfortable up front, but keep shorter people and kids in the back due to the lack of space.
HOW’S THE RIDE?
The XC40’s T5 models are powered by a 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine that features 248 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque. It is paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission, and includes start/stop technology for boosted fuel mileage. (Note: XC40 T4 models offer 187 horsepower and 221 lb.-ft.)
This is a vehicle that can be fast, but isn’t an absolute rocket. Zero to 60 times are in the low 6-second range, which is strong for the class. It comes in FWD or AWD options.
What stands out most about the ride in the Volvo XC40 is just how responsive it is to input. It’s without question offering one of the smoothest rides available across the industry.
It shows its prowess most in sharp turns (i.e., sweeping circular freeway exits), where it glides through the curves with minimal driver input needed. You get a sense of calm while driving the XC40, as you know it will do everything you need it to do without fail.
One minor quibble is that Volvo has gone the route of using an odd type of shifter; a little nub of a thing that features Park as a button next to it, and R/N/D on the baby shifter. You get used to it, but it definitely takes a while to be comfortable with it, and some people may not like it.
As always, Volvo has things covered well in the safety arena. The XC40 features Collision Avoidance, Run-off Road Protection and Mitigation, Lane Keeping Aid, Road Sign Information, a full array of air bags and LED headlights.
Options include: Blind Spot Information, Cross Traffic Alert with Autobrake; Park Assist Pilot, Front and Rear Parking Sensors, and notably the Pilot Assist Semi Autonomous Drive System with Adaptive Cruise Control.
You can also upgrade from the standard audio system to a 13-speaker, 600-watt Harman Kardon premium system.
One of my favorite tech features was the optional 360-degree Surroundview camera system, which proved extremely helpful for parking and backing up with its multiple viewpoints all around the vehicle. You can also opt for a wireless phone charger, which is placed in a convenient location up front and center.
The mixed bag in the tech discussion on Volvo vehicles is its infotainment system.
The Sensus Navigation Pro system, on the plus side, is large (12.3-inch display) and mostly well-organized. It responded well and quickly to manual input in my experience.
On the down side, its reaction to voice commands was not great. It takes longer to respond, and doesn’t always recognize commands properly. I had to repeat myself sometimes to get commands to work.
It’s not a bad system, it just doesn’t offer the level of user-friendliness that competitors’ systems offer, and has a longer learning curve.
Fuel mileage is one area where the XC40 shines in its class. Official numbers on the AWD version I tested were 23 city/31 highway/26 combined. This is at the top of the class when compared to in-class competitors like the Audi Q3, BMW X1, Mercedes GLA Class, Lexus NX and Infiniti QX30.
Also, if you go the FWD route, your numbers jump up to 23 city/33 highway/27 combined.
My test vehicle (a 2019 XC40 T5 AWD Momentum with options) was priced just over $44,000; Base price starts about $34K. You get some strong extended warranties too, but what’s really different about the XC40 is Volvo’s efforts to offer it to consumers in very unique ways.
Looking to the future and thinking beyond the usual buying or leasing options, Volvo is offering a way to “subscribe” to some of their new vehicles, including the XC40.
This all-inclusive package (called Care by Volvo) gets you the vehicle without a long-term commitment, and allows for more frequent upgrades. The fee includes insurance costs, maintenance, road hazard protection and normal wear-and-tear. This exact type of subscription service may or may not be the way of the future, but it’s nice to see companies experimenting with options that are more flexible than traditional leasing for people who want to stay in the newest vehicles every year.
I’m curious to see how this trend evolves, as we move more toward autonomous vehicles and the quicker adoption of new tech. I can see a future where you don’t even subscribe to the entire vehicle; just part of it, sharing it with others throughout the month, which could lower per-person costs.
With a sharp look and even sharper performance, the 2019 XC40 is a brilliant entry in the compact luxury crossover class by Volvo. The looks will turn heads, safety features are plentiful, and it features a truly impressive performance feel for the driver.
Matt Myftiu can be found on Twitter @MattMyftiu.