The compact luxury premium CUV/SUV is a very hot market with vehicles like this new Volvo XC40, Volvo XC40 Generations Explained Major redesigns occur every five years or so; not much changes in between. Dividing them into generations provides more meaningful distinctions in the shopping process.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
Volvo offers plenty of driver-assistance tech as standard, including automated emergency braking; more advanced features including a semi-autonomous driving mode are optional. Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety have completed testing of the XC40 yet, so its crashworthiness is still unknown. Key safety features include:
Standard automated emergency braking Standard lane-keeping assist Standard automatic high-beam headlamps
The 2019 Volvo XC40 T5 AWD R-Design is the hottest available version of Volvo’s newest, smallest, and least expensive SUV. What makes it an R-Design is more aggressive suspension tuning including 10-percent-stiffer springs, monotube rear dampers, fractionally thicker anti-roll bars, and standard 19-inch wheels. The XC40 R-Design is easily identified by its chunky tailpipes and the contrasting black roof panel that extends down half of the C-pillar to create a distinctive silhouette on an otherwise predictable shape. But the combination doesn’t always win—with black trim also found on its A-pillars, B-pillars, and mirrors, our Crystal White Metallic test vehicle looked as if it had been ordered by the California Highway Patrol. We also tested an Amazon Blue car with a white roof in the Momentum trim level, ostensibly one step lower in the lineup but with the same drivetrain.
Lovely Volvo Cabin
The all-new Volvo XC40 is an outstanding SUV. The XC40 delivers ample engine power, a smooth ride, and adept handling. Inside, you’ll find arguably the nicest cabin in the class, with upscale materials, lots of standard and available features, and two rows of roomy seats. Some rivals have more cargo space, and some other Volvo models have more supportive seats, but those are about the only drawbacks to this SUV. Aside from its Cheetos-colored carpet, the XC40’s interior generally mimicked the loveliness of the cabins in the brand’s other fresh designs, including the XC90, XC60, and S90. Fit and finish are exceptional, and the combination of black nappa leather, suede seat inserts, perforated hides on the steering wheel and seats (and even on the key fob), and white contrast stitching give the R-Design’s cabin sporty flair. But forget about wood trim. That would be too Volvo-y. Instead there’s cool aluminum trim that Volvo calls Cutting Edge, with inlays on the dashboard and the door panels. Its front seats may be firmer than you expect in a Volvo, but they’re well shaped and comfortable. The rear seat offers more legroom than is the norm in this segment, and there’s also plenty of headroom. Behind that rear seat are 21 cubic feet of space. That’s more than in a Mercedes GLA, but the Volvo’s fast backlight doesn’t leave much room for tall items. In our testing, the XC40 held six carry-on-size boxes in its cargo area versus seven in the X1 and five in the GLA. However, with the second row folded, the XC40 swallowed 23 boxes versus 19 in the X1 and 16 in the GLA.
Volvo has had much success with its five-passenger XC60 and larger three-row XC90 crossover SUVs. In fact, they’re the brand’s most popular vehicles. So if two is good, three is even better, right? Volvo must think so because the company is rounding out its portfolio with the all-new 2019 XC40. You might agree, too. If those other Volvos seem too big or expensive, this smaller XC40 could be just the thing.
The 2019 Volvo XC40 successfully translates the distinctive look of Volvo’s larger SUVs into a smaller package. You’ll notice this as soon as you take a seat in the cabin. The steering wheel, touchscreen and center stack design will be immediately familiar to those who have driven an XC60. Numerous cubbies throughout the interior are also suitable for storing small items, and a removable cargo floor partition helps make the most of the smallish cargo area.
There are some shortcomings: In particular, while Volvo has a reputation for exceptional seat ergonomics, the XC40 is a notable exception to the rule. The front headrests are pushed aggressively forward and have only limited vertical adjustment. This means that some drivers will have trouble finding a comfortable seating position. With the exception of an overly sensitive forward collision system, the XC40 shows pretty strong on the technology front. We like the options provided for smartphone integration and the complimentary Wi-Fi trial. Even the native voice controls have above-average usefulness.
The XC40 rides on conventional, nonadjustable dampers and steel springs whereas the XC60 and the XC90 get air suspension all around. Nonetheless, the former exhibits a great deal of composure at low speeds. Over a few bad sections that we managed to find around the Outer Ring Road, the XC40 felt comfortable skipping over corrugations and rutty surfaces. Sure, you do hear the suspension working but there is hardly any lateral movement or unsettling jolts. At higher speeds, even though straight line stability is superb and it feels rock solid at speed, we noticed some amount of up and down movement throughout the ORR. As for the steering, at low speeds its light and easy to twirl and at highway speeds it’s got more heft to it – it weighs up nicely as you up the pace, especially in Dynamic. Based on our brief first stint, the XC40 makes for a great urban SUV, with compact proportions, a good commanding driving position, light controls and lots of driving aids.