With the debut of its new XC40, Volvo is the proud parent of triplets vying for attention in the crossover sport-utility class.
The first of three all-new luxury entries from the Swedish manufacturer was the three-row, full-size 2016 XC90. Next came the midsize XC60. Separately, each won top awards from the North American Car of the Year jury, an independent organization of automotive journalists from the US and Canada.
Now we have the 2019 XC40, smaller and lower-priced, but with many of the same qualities that jury members found in its siblings. It is luxurious with exhilarating performance, quiet and comfortable ride, decent handling and state-of-the art embellishments.
One is Pilot Assist, Volvo’s semi-autonomous system. It uses adaptive cruise control and lane-departure mitigation to take over driving chores, though the driver must pay attention and maintain contact with the steering wheel.
The other is the optional Park Assist Pilot, which automatically backs the XC40 into either a parallel or perpendicular parking space. It takes practice, requires a bit more space than a skilled driver would need, and the driver must do all the braking.
Though Volvo now is owned by Geely Holding Corporation of China, it operates independently and without much apparent interference from the owner. The Swedish designers and engineers have cleverly delivered three different crossovers that essentially use the same engines and transmissions.
The engine is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, a configuration that is becoming ubiquitous among manufacturers around the world as it replaces V6 and even V8 engines. In the XC90 and XC60, it delivers 316 hp and 296 or 295 lb-ft of torque; in the new XC40, the horsepower is 248 and the torque is rated at 258 lb-ft.
All three of the Volvo crossovers use an eight-speed automatic transmission with a manual-shift mode to deliver the power to all four wheels.
Two versions of the XC40 were available at the introduction: the tested T5 AWD Momentum, with a starting price of $36,195, and the R-Design, which costs an additional $2,500. Later in the model year, Volvo will offer a less-powerful T4 version with front-wheel drive at a starting price of $34,195.
With a substantial list of options, including the aforementioned Pilot and Park Assist systems, the tested XC40 had a bottom-line sticker price of $44,315. Full safety equipment included a collision avoidance system that detects, pedestrians, cyclists, and large animals.
Other features included a panoramic glass sunroof, leather upholstery, hands-free power tailgate, blind-spot warning, dual-zone automatic climate control, inductive smart phone charging, an overhead surround-view camera, 19-inch alloy wheels, SXM satellite radio, configurable cargo area and an “ice white” painted roof topping a pale blue body.
With rear vision from the driver’s seat restricted by wide roof pillars and large back-seat headrests, the equipment included a nifty — and welcome — feature. A touch of an icon on the center screen drops the headrests below the top of the seatback. The rear seatbacks also can be folded by touching buttons inside the cargo area, which then expands from 21 to 58 cubic feet.
From the outside, the XC40 exhibits modern, flowing styling that includes doors that wrap over the rocker panels, a clamshell hood design and a cutesy touch: a tiny Swedish flag made of rubber that peeks out from under the hood on the left side.
Inside, like its siblings, the XC40’s center screen uses swipe and tap features familiar to anyone who uses a tablet or smart phone. It takes a bit of learning and should not be used underway by the driver because it can be distracting. You must divert your attention in order to tap small rectangles on the screen for different functions.
Two interior shortcomings include a perforated cloth sunscreen for the panoramic glass roof which allows too much sunlight to intrude. Sunshades should be opaque. Also, the sun visors do not slide on their support rods to fully block sunlight from the side.
The interior exudes luxury with comfortable, supportive and well-bolstered seats; large door pockets made possible by relocating speakers for the upscale audio that includes SXM satellite radio, and even a small, easily emptied trash bin in the center console. The back seat delivers ample room for two but the center-rear position should be avoided.
Overall, the XC40 is a formidable contender against luxury compact crossovers that include the Audi Q3, Range Rover Evoque, Mercedes-Benz GLA, BMW X1 and Infiniti QX30.
- Model: 2019 Volvo XC40 T5 AWD Momentum four-door crossover sport utility vehicle.
- Engine: 2.0-liter four-cylinder, turbocharged, 248 hp, 258 lb-ft torque.
- Transmission: Eight-speed automatic with manual-shift mode and all-wheel drive.
- Overall length: 14 feet 6 inches.
- EPA passenger/cargo volume: 95/21 cubic feet.
- Weight: 3,855 pounds.
- EPA city/highway/combined fuel consumption: 23/31/26 mpg.
- Base price, including destination charge: $36,195.
- Price as tested: $44,315.
Disclaimer: This test drive was conducted at a manufacturer-sponsored press event. The manufacturer provided travel, accommodations, vehicles, meals and fuel.
Photos (c) Volvo.