Volvo XC40 Review
Individual and high tech: the Volvo XC40 is a crossover with huge appeal and plenty of power options including hybrid and electric
Strengths & weaknesses
- Modern design
- Long list of safety features
- Comfortable and well-equipped
- Engines less efficient than rivals'
- Premium price
- Smartphone features are optional
Volvo XC40 prices from £16,058 Finance from £242.27 per month
In years gone by, typical families would steer towards hatchbacks and SUVs were the reserve of those in need of four-wheel drive. Cars like the Nissan Qashqai kicked off the small SUV boom, and since then, there has been a wave of new crossovers including premium options like the Range Rover Evoque.
On the premium end, there’s also the BMW X1, Mercedes GLA, Audi Q3, and Jaguar E-Pace to consider, not to mention cheaper but no less capable alternatives like the Hyundai Tucson and Kia Sportage. Drivers after the electric version of the XC40 (which Volvo calls 'Recharge') may also want to consider cars like the Audi Q4 e-tron and Hyundai Ioniq 5.
The XC40 was designed to appeal to younger buyers with its chunky look and options such as contrasting roof colours. The inside looks high-tech, with a 9-inch portrait touchscreen in the centre of the dashboard. It’s easy to use and clear, but is more fiddly to use on the go compared with cars that use a rotary dial like Mercedes, BMW and Audi. Sat-nav is standard but Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which allow simpler control of phone apps is an optional extra.
Despite its youthful pitch, the XC40 is still a Volvo, so there are practical storage and stowage options, including drawers under the front seats and door pockets big enough to store large bottles and a laptop.
The quality of materials and their fit is close to the high standards of Audi and BMW. The seats are comfortable and there’s plenty of room in the front and rear for adults (legroom in the back is particularly impressive). Most versions of the car will have a 452-litre boot, which is pretty average. The electric models have a smaller 419-litre boot due to the batteries sitting partly under the boot floor, which is just one litre smaller than the Audi Q4 e-tron's boot.
All of the available engines offer enough power for everyday use, and some even come with four-wheel drive. Petrol options (badged 'T') range from a 129hp 1.5-litre petrol engine to a 250hp 2.0-litre petrol engine. There were previously some diesels available (badged 'D'), but these have been dropped in favour of lower-emission options. Later, Volvo added mild hybrid tech to most of its engines to reduce CO2 emissions, which can be recognised by their 'B' badges.
For the eco-conscious, a pair of quick plug-in hybrids each with more than 200hp is available, which Volvo calls 'Twin Engine' - they should be able to do around 30 miles on electric power from a full charge. Then there's the electric XC40 Recharge, with either 231hp or 408hp in twin-motor format. Expect a range of well over 200 miles from each.
The XC40 isn’t as responsive and nimble in corners as the X1 but it's not designed to be. It’s predictable - so you can turn the steering wheel and know exactly where the car will be pointed - as well as comfortable and stable, leaving everyone onboard pretty much unruffled whatever road conditions the XC40 has to tackle.
Airbags and strong crash structures are just the start of the safety features. The XC40 can detect potential frontal collisions with other cars, pedestrians, cyclists and large animals - like horses. Active steering to keep you in your lane is standard.
An optional Pilot Assist package gives the car the ability to virtually drive itself on the motorways and in traffic jams, but it’s not foolproof, so you need to keep alert and your hands on the wheel.
Volvo has an excellent record for designing safe cars so it should be no surprise that the XC40 scored the full five stars in the latest round of Euro NCAP crash tests. There are two sets of Isofix mounts for child seats in the back.
Prices for the XC40 have climbed recently, so while the entry-level model costs around £36,000, most other models will cost well in excess of £40,000. Pricing is on par with the Mercedes GLA, and several thousand pounds more than the Audi Q3 and new BMW X1 that was launched in 2022.
You’ve also got another option: to take out the car with Volvo’s new subscription service: Care by Volvo. You can switch cars every three months and get things like maintenance, wear and tear, and tax all thrown in, but you pay a hefty premium. Prices currently start at £499 on a three-year plan or £599 for a three-month plan.
|Warranty||3 years / 60,000 miles|
|Boot size||452 litres|
Best Volvo XC40 for...
Best for Economy – Volvo XC40 T4 Twin Engine Inscription
Both the T4 and T5 PHEVs promise around 134mpg and CO2 emissions of as low as 47g/km, but the lesser-powered version will likely be the cheapest to run.
Best for Families – Volvo XC40 B3 P Plus
The mild hybrid petrol-engined variant blends economy and usable performance to create a practical and stylish alternative for families who don’t cover large annual mileages.
Best for Performance – Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin
With over 400hp, the twin-motor variant of the electric XC40 can get to 62mph in 4.9 seconds, which is quicker than most hot hatches. It can also be cheap to run if you can get your hands on some cheap electricity.
Understanding Volvo XC40 names
Trim level Inscription
Four trim levels – Momentum, R-Design, Inscription and First Edition – offer different combinations of equipment at varying prices. There are also packs of equipment (labelled Pro) that add extra features. Volvo changed its trims in 2022 to include Core, Plus, and Ultimate, but the equipment levels remain almost unchanged.
Diesel engines are labelled D and petrol models badged T, including petrol plug-in hybrids. There are also mild hybrid B models. The number relates to power: the higher the number, the more power it has. It’s not much more scientific than that.
Driven wheels AWD
Standard XC40s send the power from the engine to their front wheels only. These are badged FWD for front-wheel drive. Four wheel drive cars are badged AWD - for all-wheel drive.
Volvo keeps its gearbox labels simple: manual or automatic.
Volvo XC40 Engines
Petrol: T2, T3, B3, T4, B4, T5, B5
Diesel: D3, D4
Plug-in hybrid: T4 Twin Engine, T5 Twin Engine
Electric: P8, Recharge, Recharge Twin
There has been no shortage of engines available in the Volvo XC40 over the years, but we'll start with the handful of diesels because they are no longer available new. The D3 was available with manual and automatic gearboxes, and four-wheel drive (auto only). There's also a more powerful D4 option which is four-wheel-drive and automatic only. They're all pretty efficient in day-to-day driving.
Then there's the wide range of petrol engines, all of which bar the entry-level T2 have been available with mild hybrid tech in later years. The T2 is manual-only, while the T3 is manual or automatic - both use a 1.5-litre petrol engine. When the T3 became the mild hybrid B3, it stayed at 163hp but used a 2.0-litre petrol engine. Despite this, it saw a an increase of around 4mpg according to official tests. The B3 is auto only.
Other petrol engines include the T4 and B4, which are automatic only and available with or without four-wheel drive. The most powerful T5 is auto and four-wheel-drive only, as is the B5 mild hybrid variant.
Fans of plug-in hybrids benefit from a pair of models, both using a 1.5-litre engine. Expect up to 30 miles of electric-only range from the T4 Twin Engine and T5 Twin Engine.
Finally, there's the electric version. Initially called the P8, this 408hp four-wheel-drive electric SUV later became the Recharge Twin. At this point, a lesser-powered Recharge was added with front-wheel drive. They can all exceed 200 miles of range from a full charge in real-world conditions.
Official fuel economy
|D3 FWD||Diesel||150hp||Manual or automatic||51.4mpg|
|T3 FWD||Petrol||163hp||Manual or automatic||40.4mpg or 38.7mpg|
|B3 FWD||Mild hybrid petrol||163hp||Automatic||42.8mpg|
|B4 FWD||Mild hybrid petrol||197hp||Automatic||42.8mpg|
|B4 AWD||Mild hybrid petrol||197hp||Automatic||40.4mpg|
|T4 Twin Engine FWD||Petrol plug-in hybrid||211hp||Automatic||134.5mpg|
|T5 Twin Engine FWD||Petrol plug-in hybrid||262hp||Automatic||134.5mpg|
|Recharge Twin AWD||Electric||408hp||Automatic||2.6mi/kWh|
Volvo XC40 Trims
Momentum, R-Design, Inscription, First Edition
You might feel fairly satisfied with entry-level Momentum models, which include plenty of equipment, including 18in alloy wheels, LED headlights, a 9in central touchscreen with sat-nav and traffic updates, plus another 12.3in screen in front of the driver, displaying a digital speedometer.
There’s also two-zone climate control, cruise control and the various standard safety features including automatic emergency braking that can identify pedestrians, cyclists and large animals, as well as cars. Active steering is also included, which will steer the car automatically if it’s drifting out of its lane.
Each trim level also has a Pro package of extra features, which for Momentum includes an electrically-adjustable driver’s seat, heated front seats, heated windscreen and auto-folding door mirrors.
R-Design adds a range of sporty styling upgrades, which include a black roof, high-gloss grille and lower bumper, and dual exhaust pipes. The interior gains part-leather seats, black headlining and perforated leather steering wheel and gear lever.
R-Design Pro also adds 20in alloy wheels, electrically-adjustable driver’s seat, heated front seats and heated windscreen.
Inscription, is meant to be more luxurious than R-Design, so adds to the entry level Momentium specification with leather-faced seats, a motorised bootlid, an electrically-adjustable driver’s seat with memory function, front parking sensors and interior wood panels. Automatic cars gain a crystal gear lever and there’s extra chrome, as well as metallic paint on the outside.
Inscription Pro adds 19in alloy wheels, electrically-adjustable front passenger seat, heated front seats and heated windscreen.
A First Edition trim, available for a limited time, is based on the R-Design specification, and comes with several option packs, which can also be added to other models.
These include a Xenium Pack (which includes a powered glass tilt and slide sunroof, self-parking system and 360º surround-view parking camera), as well as an Intellisafe Pro Pack (which includes Pilot Assist semi-autonomous drive technology, which can accelerate, brake and steer on motorways and in traffic jams).
In 2022, Volvo updated its range to include Core, Plus, and Ultimate trim levels. Equipment stayed fairly in-line with Momentum, Inscription, and R-Design, though it's worth checking individual listings for what you want in your XC40.
Volvo XC40 Reliability and warranty
The company is ranked as the fifth most reliable manufacturer in the 2018 Auto Express Driver Power survey, with only ten per cent of owners having any sort of issue with a new car.
Volvo’s warranty covers the first three years or 60,000 miles, whichever comes first, which isn’t the best in the premium market, let alone the market overall where the Kia Sportage’s seven-year warranty leads the way. BMW and Mercedes offer similar warranties, though.
Used Volvo XC40
Diesel power is no longer available new, and as buyers opt to stay away from diesel, there are often good bargains to be had if you need a good tow car or regularly do motorway miles.
Similarly, the XC40 in petrol form has sold well since the start, and there are countless variants available with or without mild hybrid tech. We'd avoid the T2 in favour of something with a bit more power.
Plug-in hybrid and electric versions are particularly expensive when new. Used examples can appear expensive compared with rivals, but in reality, they will have already lost thousands of pounds.