Starting price: $35,200 (T5) | Price yours
Seating capacity: 5 passengers
Engine: 248-hp turbo 4 cylinder
Warranty: 4 years/50,000 miles
Similar: Audi Q3, BMW X1, Infiniti QX30, Mercedes-Benz GLA

Comfort, performance and style in Volvo’s first compact crossover SUV

The best evidence one needs that Volvo has moved beyond just safety as its main calling card is to look at its SUV lineup. The XC90 and XC60 demonstrate that the Swedish brand has built on its safety heritage with a series of stylish, technology advanced and comfortable vehicles. Now comes the 2019 Volvo XC40 as an entry-level model that shares many of its larger siblings’ good points and breaks ground with some nifty features of its own.

Hello, handsome

As far as compact crossover SUVs go, the Volvo XC40’s design is crisp and clean. The chiseled good looks with unmistakable Volvo cues is unique to this model. Rather than give us another proverbial cut of the sausage in a smaller package, the XC40 was designed to look more like a cousin than a direct descendant of the larger XC60 and XC90.

This process starts at the nose, where the horizontal grille with the Volvo logo is concave rather than the convex look used on the bigger SUVs. The lighting elements are swept back into the fenders with a modified version of the Thor’s hammer LED running lights. In profile, the XC40 uses a minimalist approach to cut and character lines, relying on simple sculpted forms including a clamshell-style hood, a lower scallop in the side of the vehicle, and a pinched quarter window in the rear door to give the vehicle a sporty flair.

The front and rear fascias feature skid plate-like elements along with the strong side rocker panel treatment and integrated roof rails. This gives the XC40 the muscular attitude of an off-road vehicle. The Volvo XC40 is further distinguished by an optional white roof on Momentum models which can be paired with white wheels, while all R-Design versions come with a black roof.

That expressive exterior design carries over into the cabin. It’s clean and uncluttered with a 9-inch vertical touch screen dominating the center of the dash and an instrument cluster that incorporates a 12.3-inch digital driver display. The front and rear seats, steering wheel and shift knob are covered in leather on the T5 Momentum and R-Design trim levels.

Ingenious storage solutions

The all-new XC40 does a lot to out-surprise-and-delight the Japanese competition. By moving the audio speakers out of the doors and into other strategic locations throughout the car, Volvo designers opened a huge storage bin beneath and ahead of the armrests. This wider, more open door storage can accommodate a laptop and large bottles of water. In the center console, there’s a neat little waste receptacle with a spring-loaded cover, which provides a handy area to dispose of gum wrappers and other detritus that litters most cabins. Behind the glove box door is a little hook that can be deployed so you can hang your bag of carryout food.

In the cargo hold behind the rear bench, the XC40 offers below-floor storage, and a panel that flips up to form a small, boxed-in hold right behind the seatback. The hinges on that panel can also be used to hang additional grocery bags. And there’s ample space below the floor in which you can store the rear cargo security cover, rather than leaving it at home in the garage.

The XC40 is also the first Volvo to offer wireless charging in the center console, along with multiple USB and power points.  

Behind the wheel

For our initial test drive, we had access to T5 R-Design versions of the 2019 Volvo XC40. The first models that go on sale in the U.S. will be the T5, which has a 248-horsepower turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and 8-speed automatic transmission driving all four wheels. The only differences between Momentum and R-Design models is that the latter comes with a bit more standard equipment and a slightly tauter suspension. Later in 2018, an XC40 T4 model will be available at a lower price point in front-drive only and with the same 2.0-liter engine tuned to make 185 horsepower.

The T5 has plenty of power for a vehicle its size and the steering and handling is precise and well controlled. While the XC40 boasts 8.3 inches of ground clearance as well as the look and ability to do some off-roading, the higher ride height, tight body and responsive suspension makes this compact crossover a fun drive on twisty asphalt. There’s enough compliance in the suspension for a supple ride, while at the same time the overall balance and linear steering response inspires confidence. For those looking for the next level of responsiveness, an adaptive suspension will be available later in the model year as a $1,000 option.

The XC40 T5 is equipped with four basic drive modes, plus an extra setting for individual setups. These include Eco, Comfort (the default mode), Dynamic and Off-Road. Each has specific parameters for steering effort, brake pedal feel and throttle response.

The only nits to pick involve the stop/start system and the shift-by-wire gear selector. The former isn’t as seamless as other setups, which have gotten so unobtrusive that the defeat button has been eliminated on some. Fortunately, the Volvo still has a means to switch off the start/stop function. On the latter, the shifter lacks the feel of a traditional mechanical setup with detents that let you know when a gear is engaged. Often, I’d pull on the lever multiple times and look at the dash indicator to reassure myself that I had engaged the right gear.

2019 Volvo XC40 Interior and Exterior Photos

Pricing, options and subscriptions

Base prices will start as low as $33,200 for the T4 front-drive model. The all-wheel-drive-only T5 is priced from $35,200 for the Momentum trim level and $37,700 for the R-Design. Both models include a full suite of Volvo safety and driver assist features including lane keeping, run-off road and lane on-coming mitigation, road sign information, automatic braking after collision, low- and high-speed collision mitigation and pedestrian, cyclist and large animal detection. Dual zone climate control is $1,400 on Momentum and $900 on R-Design, an $1,100 vision package that includes park assist pilot, blind spot and cross traffic alert and retractable mirrors. The $995 advanced package includes a 360-degree camera and LED headlamps. Momentum models offer a $1,395 media package that includes navigation and a 13-speaker harman/kardon sound system. R-Design models have navigation as standard equipment, while charging $800 for the upgraded sound system. A panoramic sunroof is a $1,200 option on both.

In addition to leasing or buying an XC40, Volvo has introduced a unique 2-year subscription that includes maintenance and insurance. Called Care by Volvo, the program offers the T5 Momentum for an all-inclusive $600 monthly payment and the T5 R-Design at $700 per month. Customers are required to pay all applicable sales taxes and registration fees, but beyond that there’s no up-front payment required. After the first year, subscribers can opt to roll into a new model in the program for an additional two years at the prevailing monthly rate. Subscribers have a 15,000-mile per year cap with a charge of 25 cents per mile above that limit that will be assessed when the car is returned.

Find out why the Volvo XC40 wins two KBB Best Buy Awards for 2019

2019 Volvo XC40 T5 Specs
Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder
Horsepower: 248 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
Torque: 258 lb-ft @ 1,800-4,800 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Drivetrain: All-wheel drive
Wheelbase: 106.4 in
Length: 174.2 in
Width: 75.2 in
Height: 65.0 in
Turning circle: 37.4 ft
Base wheel: 18-inch light-alloy

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