Actually volvo has had great success with its five-passenger XC60 and larger three-row XC90 crossover SUVs. In fact, they are the brand’s most popular cars. So if two is good, three is even better, not so? Volvo must feel so because the company is rounding out its portfolio with the all-new 2019 XC40. You may agree, too. If those other Volvos appear too big or expensive, this smaller XC40 may be just the thing.
The 2019 Volvo XC40 successfully carries over the distinctive look of Volvo’s larger SUVs into a smaller package. You’ll observe this as soon as you take a seat in the cabin. The steering wheel, touchscreen and center stack design will get immediately familiar to those who have driven an XC60. The front seats are wonderfully carved and remain comfortable for long periods — just as with other Volvos — while passengers in the back enjoy a surprising space of headroom and legroom. Numerous cubbies throughout the interior are also suitable for storing small items, and a removable cargo floor partition assist make the most of the smallish cargo area.
As one would expect from a manufacturer whose reputation was built on passenger safety, most of today’s advanced driving aids are standard or optional. Every XC40 is equipped with Volvo’s City Safety feature, which can warn the driver if it senses an imminent collision with a car, pedestrian, bicyclist or large animal. It’ll even apply the brakes if you don’t act quickly enough. The optional rear cross-traffic alert system will also hit the brakes if a vehicle is about to collide with you while backing up. Other systems include headlights that turn as you rotate the steering wheel, the semiautonomous Pilot Assist function and automated parking.
Not every luxury carmaker has been able to package its core strengths in a small, relatively affordable crossover. It’s a bit late to the party, but Volvo has done its homework with the 2019 XC40. Even if you get the base model with no add-ons, this subcompact luxury crossover is very competitive against rivals such as the BMW X1, the Jaguar E-Pace and the Lexus NX 300.
Trim levels & features
The 2019 Volvo XC40 lands as a compact luxury crossover with seating for five. Three trim levels are offered: 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 includes exterior styling enhancements and more luxury features. Each is also offered 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 generates 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 packaged 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 OnCall communications, a rearview camera, lane departure warning and mitigation, and forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking.
Choosing 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 begins 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 offered for all trims. The Premium package includes 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. Choosing this package on the Momentum also includes the R-Design’s features added by the Inscription model.
The Vision package includes power-folding and auto-dimming exterior mirrors, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert with automatic braking, front and rear parking sensors and an automated parking system. The Advanced package builds on top of the Vision pack with a 360-degree parking camera and turn-adaptive headlights and LED foglights. The Momentum-only Multimedia package adds navigation and a 13-speaker Harman Kardon audio system, which is available on the R-Design and Inscription as a stand-alone option.
Other stand-alone features are the panoramic sunroof, heated front seats and a heated steering wheel, 20-inch wheels and adaptive suspension dampers.
Each vehicle typically lands in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our First Drive of the 2019 Volvo XC40 T5 R-Design (turbo 2.0L inline-4 | 8-speed automatic | AWD).
There’s much power on tap from the turbocharged four-cylinder engine, though there is a momentary pause when accelerating from a stop. Shifts are quick and smooth. Around turns, the R-Design feels planted to the road and offers the driver confidence.
Even with its 19-inch tires and the sporty suspension tuning, the XC40 is surprisingly comfortable. The front seats are supportive for long drives, but tall rear passengers will be disappointed by the low-mounted seats and short seat bottoms. Road noise is noticeable but not a deal-breaker.
A sense of roominess is vital in small crossovers such as this one, and the XC40 does not disappoint. Headroom and legroom in the front and the rear are sufficient for most adults, and the panoramic sunroof offers the cabin a bright, airy feel. The materials are appropriately top-notch.
Volvo’s smallest SUV makes the most of its available space. The door pockets and center armrest are quite large and hold a number of small items. Cargo space is modest for the class, but an optional removable cargo floor includes some flexibility and can be used to help secure grocery bags.
Then the touchscreen’s user interface takes a little time to figure out. Nearly every climate, audio and car setting is found in these menus, too. But once you figure it out, it feels like a second nature. Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and a bevy of advanced driving aids land standard.