Automotive manufacturers are constantly exploring ways of being creative in rolling out their new lineup of Electric Vehicles (EVs). Volvo started its EV rollout with vehicles like the C40 Recharge compact crossover, which we had a chance to review a few months ago with its unique sloping rear end. Now, we get our hands on the Volvo XC40, which is nearly identical to the C40 except the XC40 doesn’t have the sloping rear, but a more upright and commonly designed look that comes from the gas-powered XC40, which we reviewed last year.
The new 2023 Volvo XC40 Recharge brings a simplistic approach to EV driving and surprising performance in a smallish crossover package. That performance is 402 horsepower and 486 lb-ft of torque provided by two motors working together, one on each axle, for a seamless all-wheel-drive experience.
The performance aspects of the Volvo XC40 Recharge are its best qualities next to how decently sized its interior seating areas are for a compact crossover. The XC40 Recharge, just like its C40 Recharge platform-sharing sibling, hit 60 mph from a standstill in just 4.4 seconds. The XC40 Recharge comes with the same drivetrain for its three trim levels, Core, Plus, and Ultimate. My XC40 Recharge Ultimate test vehicle brings larger 20-inch wheels over the standard 19-inch wheels, which may add a bit to its handling abilities. When putting the XC40 Recharge into turns, you start to notice its 4,800-pound curb weight but is otherwise kept in check when driving civil.
The overall ride quality of the XC40 Recharge Ultimate is good for such a small SUV with 20-inch wheels and a short wheelbase. Just like in the C40 Recharge Ultimate I tested, the XC40 Recharge Ultimate is mostly on the firmer side but not overly firm, in my opinion. Moreover, just like the C40 Recharge, there are no drive modes per se, just a toggle deep into the vehicle settings of having a firmer steering wheel effort or switch to one-pedal driving, allowing you to come to a stop by letting off the accelerator enacting an abundance of braking regen that ultimately helps recharge the battery. When driving without one-pedal mode, the Volvo XC40 Recharge will coast instead of adding any braking regen or deceleration. This is one feature buyers of the XC40 Recharge must be mindful of, as the vehicle doesn’t slow naturally with added drivetrain drag like most other cars on the road. You may find yourself accelerating going down hills or bridges, forcing you to ride the brakes longer than you would normally.
The 78-kWh battery pack (75-kWh usable) in the XC40 Recharge, the same found in the C40 Recharge, allows for an EPA range of 226 miles. Charging up the battery using a DC fast charger, you’ll see rates capped at 150 kW as I did, requiring about 30 minutes for a charge from 10% to 80% state of charge. Using a home Level 2 charger (240-volt) up to 40 or 48 amps, you’ll get a full charge from a nearly depleted battery in 8 to 10 hours, which is enough to fully charge your XC40 Recharge overnight.
Power consumption is relatively good at up to 92 MPGe (2.75 miles/kWh) in the city, 79 MPGe (2.35 miles/kWh) on the highway, and 85 MPGe (2.53 miles/kWH) combined. In the real world, as I experienced, these figures are easy to obtain. Also, it’s good to have a heat pump built in to condition the battery in cold climates to help extend the range instead of suffering from a great loss of range with a cold battery, otherwise.
The cabin of the new XC40 Recharge in the top-level Ultimate trim has a welcoming premium feel and theme. The heated front seats, using a unique wool blend fabric, are quite unique and play nicely for a luxury tone to change up from expected leather trims. The dashboard is mostly soft touch, and there are several panels of unique translucent, LED back-lit trim.
Seating space is very accommodating up front and out back, which partly takes up some of the cargo space, leaving you with just 25 cubic feet of storage with the seat backs in place. Folding the 60/40-split rear seatbacks down, you’ll open up to just over 57 cubic feet of storage accessed through the power rear liftgate.
The infotainment unit of the Volvo XC40 Recharge is mostly what I have experienced in the past in modern Volvos using a 9-inch portrait-oriented touchscreen. The system is mostly simplistic in its use but requires a slight learning curve as there are hardly any physical buttons for common functions, such as adjusting the automatic dual-zone climate control or accessing the heated steering wheel and heated front seats.
The integration of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto works well, and there’s the embedding of Google apps and maps. Overall, the system could use some updating to better use functions like the backup camera system, which doesn’t allow you to view the 360-degree camera display at the same time as the rearward camera angle.
Probably my most hated feature of the Volvo XC40 Recharge, just like in the C40 Recharge, is that there is no start-stop button for the vehicle. Simply put, the vehicle automatically powers up and shuts down based on it detecting someone in the driver’s seat with the key fob. While there is a manual shutoff method that is deep within the touchscreen’s vehicle settings feature, the XC40 Recharge becomes frustrating for you wanting to either leave it on or power it up in preparation for your trip. While the vehicle does slightly turn on when you enter it with the climate control coming on, there are missteps if you have other passengers sitting in the vehicle and the driver decides to leave the vehicle – in hot Florida, we’re going to have problems unless you leave your key fob allowing a passenger to turn the climate system on. Lastly, my other major issue is that the EV range is not displayed in the rather large 12.3-inch digital driver’s gauge cluster. Instead, you only have the battery percentage displayed. The only way to pull up the range is through the infotainment screen.
As I have said before, Volvo remains at the front of vehicle safety, and the use of its latest active safety features makes the XC40 Recharge one of the safest vehicles on the road. The Pilot Assist adaptive cruise control system works great, and there’s a welcoming aspect of the forward collision warning/braking system only enacting when it needs to mitigate most false warning situations. Again, I wish that the backup camera system and its 360-degree view were better and allowed for both the 360-degree view and rearward view to be displayed at the same time.
The base Volvo XC40 Core starts at $54,645, which may be a bit much for a compact crossover. However, considering the performance level, the XC40 Recharge doesn’t look so bad on paper considering all that you get in the smallish package. Moving up to the XC40 Recharge Ultimate trim, you’ll be looking at the as-tested price of $61,890, which includes a metallic paint option, Pixel LED headlights, and a $1,095 destination charge.