all-new 2019 Volvo XC40 stradles the line in size between the
luxury subcompact and compact crossover class. Pictured on
April 18, 2018 in Arlington Heights, Ill.
Volvo is one
of the last automakers to flesh out its premium crossover lineup,
yet it has done so with winning success. The XC90 three-row
crossover won 2016 North American Truck/Utility of the Year; the
midsize XC60 earned 2018 honors. Now comes the 2019 Volvo XC40,
which straddles the line between the smallest subcompact crossover
and the roomier compact crossover space.
smaller than it feels on the inside. Three can fit in the back seat
with ample legroom, though headroom can get tight for 6-footers.
Even with a full load, there is enough cargo room to haul the kidsí
ó or grandkidsí ó gear for the weekend. There are plenty of
clever storage areas for phones, cups and trash too.
clean and strong like Jaguarís growing family of crossovers, and
more edgy than the German brandsí tendency to round off the edges
with the pretension of sport.
is long with short overhangs for a sporty profile, but the face is
broad and tall, with black undercladding to give it an SUV vibe.
In design and
performance, as well as technology and comfort, XC40 does it mostly
well. While so many other premium crossovers feel like a compromise
without a soul, the XC40 evokes the soul of the new Volvo: balance,
beauty and evolution.
time to evolve from the nuisance they call a gear selector. It
requires a double shift to get into reverse or drive that left us in
neutral more times than not. Why, Volvo, why?
In sport mode,
the 248-horsepower four-cylinder is responsive and punchy, though it
lacks some high-end power. It wonít be mistaken for a performance
crossover. In comfort and eco mode, the shift points in the
eight-speed automatic come quicker, and start/stop technology as
well as the turbocharger help conserve fuel to a respectable 26 mpg
while averaging 47 mph. EPA estimates 23 mpg around town and 31 mpg
highway, which we fell short of by at least 2 mpg.
as sporty as the Infiniti QX30 hatch, but XC40 stays close to the
road. Overall, it does a good job of balancing a bit of performance
in a smooth and quiet ride.
The tester in
R-Design trim had all the upgrades, including Pilot Assist
semi-autonomous drive system ($900 as part of Premium package) and
park assist ($1,100 as part of Vision package). Volvoís system is
one of the safest and easiest weíve tested. The system provides
about 15 seconds of self-driving before the small icon under the
speedometer turns orange and instructs the driver to put hands back
on the wheel. After another five seconds there will be an audible
alert, and the message will say Pilot Assist has been canceled.
Realistically, drivers could get away with checking their phone
while in traffic on the highway but, you know, donít.
self-parking feature is also effective and safe; it might not split
the spot perfectly, but it cuts it faster and tighter than most
humans. Just man the brake.
Of all the
shades of orange, few look good, yet the Lava orange carpet on the
doors, floors and console looked really sharp with the black and
chrome seats and trim pieces.
All is not
perfect, of course. The touch screen is a computer that can be slow
to load and respond. There is a steep learning curve with the three
pages of available info, so take the time to get to know the vehicle
to optimize its capabilities. For a company steeped in safety, Volvoís
reliance on the touch screen requires some long looks and swipes to
get it right.
mark with all these small luxury crossovers is how quickly the
options add up. Paying more than $50,000 just ainít right, yet it
happens. The fear is real in the XC40, with power folding headrests
and power folding 60-40 rear seats, but it is priced right, further
affirming its well-balanced proposition in a market awash with
similar, not as well-executed rides.
XC40 R-Design at a glance
Mpg: 23 city,
248-horsepower 2-liter turbo four-cylinder
Eight-speed automatic in AWD