2020 Volvo XC40

By Ed Kemper


Volvo is following the trend in the automotive sales market by providing a full range of SUVs. And it is very easy to figure out the relative sizes of the models since bigger number after the XC initials gives a clue as to the size variations. XC90 is the biggest and next down is the XC60, and finally the smallest, and our test car, the compact XC40 SUV. Even with many luxury features, the base selling price is about $34,000.

There are multiple power combination choices. Although the engines are all 2.0 liter turbocharged four cylinders versions, there are two power choices. The base unit has 187 horsepower and the optional unit has 248 horsepower. Both are attached to an eight-speed automatic transmission. The smaller powered engine has front wheel drive, and the more powerful unit operates through an all wheel drive system. In our test car with the bigger engine, the average fuel mileage is rated at a very reasonable 26 mpg. Likewise acceleration is swift with a 0-60 mph time of 6.1 seconds.

Following the current design motif of Volvos, the grille has the rectangular Volvo shape surrounded with narrow but long headlights. In an attempt to avoid the small rectangular box and on a longer box, the side view has a upswept at the rear roofline, plus various sculpturing lines on the sides. In the rear area, there are some super hefty taillights, with a rear roof spoiler. Large alloy wheels starting at 18 inches helps the SUV styling spin.

Volvo was one of the first cars to have a shoulder and seat belt system, and the XC40 has many safety systems. Besides numerous airbags and/or curtains including a driver knee airbag, Volvo has provided multiple safety systems to avoid the accident in the first place. These systems include as standard equipment collision avoidance, detection of vehicles/pedestrians/cyclists, and lane run off road mitigation and various alerts.

When opening the front door (i.e., have the key on you) the side mirrors pop open and, of course, the engine is started with push of a button. A leather covered steering wheel with some nice stitching is present as well as the interior with similar stitching here and there along with metal inserts. The front seats have medium sized side bolstering. One distinctive feature is Volvo’s 9-inch video screen is vertical rather than a horizontal one. Nonetheless, the screen is very clear and colorful. Control is chiefly handled by touch, but with some other dials or buttons below the screen. Smart phones apps can be tied into the screen. In the dashpod is another big video 12-inch screen with various gauges and information (i.e. mpg, time, distance, etc). The screen also shows the legal speed for the road being traveled on.

Although the length of this SUV is relatively short, rear seating room is good for even the big and tall on the outer edges of the rear seat. An armrest with two cupholders is available, as well as two air vents in the back of the center console to handle air conditioning. Storage of small items can be placed in nets on the back seats. The rear power liftgate can be opened with the key fob button or a button on the dash. There is a good amount of storage available under a removable cover. A huge storage puka is available under a floor panel. And the rear seat backs are split 60/40 and can be dropped for carrying big items. A small door behind the armrest can be opened to place small items in the rear carrying area.

On the road at normal speeds, the turbocharged engine is very quiet, and even with some real thrust it is not loud. The eight-speed automatic shifts are barely detectable. The gear lever is a very small one and the gears are shown in the dashpod screen. Manual shifting is also possible. There are 4 drive modes (i.e. eco, comfort, dynamic, and off road) set with a small dial that chang shifting pattern and other dynamics. In the eco setting, the engine turns off at lights and instantly restarts when lifting off the brakes. Even with overall height, the ride is very absorbing even over rough surfaces. With the large 19 inch wheels on our test SUV, there is plenty of control around the corners. Steering is nicely done and direct.

With this luxury compact SUV, there are lots of powertrain choices. But no matter which choice is made, comfort and utility is part of the deal.

Tech Specs

Model: Compact SUV 5 passenger.
Price: (base) $33,700, as tested $41,470
Powertrain: 2.0 liter, turbocharged 4 cylinder, 187 hp or optional 248 hp, 8-speed automatic transmission, front wheel drive, all wheel drive (optional)
Performance: 0-60: 6.1 seconds (larger engine).
Fuel Mileage: 23 mpg city, 31 mpg highway, 26 mpg average (larger engine).
High Beams: Speed with fuel economy. Interesting exterior design. Colorful and large dash and dashpod video screens.
Low Beam: Beaming sound when the road speed limit changes, but it can be turned off.