Paul Horn, CC BY 2.0, Cropped

Boring or bold?

Quick notes

– A punchy and practical drive.

– Safe and innovative.

– Richly equipped.

The new Volvo XC40 has been attempting to break the mold that’s been plaguing Volvos for years: that they’re boring. Reviews are largely positive, but there are still a few issues that need to be ironed out. Luckily, we’re here to give you the need to know information about the XC40.

Room for the whole family (and most of their gear)

Inside, the Volvo XC40 is roomier than you’d expect from a compact SUV.  Both the front and rear rows of seats have ample headroom. In terms of cargo space, there are a fairly slim 20.7 cubic feet with the rear seats up. While this may not sound like a lot, clever space management and features like hooks for shopping bags add practicality.

If you’ve driven a Volvo before, you might be expecting a certain amount of plushness, but that’s sadly lacking in the XC40. Leather is no longer standard, nor are power seats.

One other problem reviewers have been having is with the car’s infotainment system. There have been reports of odd glitches, such as white noise being produced from the speakers when certain functions are used. Most of the car’s functions rely on the use of the vertical touchscreen, which will take some adjustment when first driving the car.

Engine and economy

Kārlis Dambrāns, CC BY 2.0, Resized

The two-liter turbocharged engine feels fairly fast. It’s not going to set any land speed records, but it’s perfectly respectable for commuting and traveling. The transmission is responsive, downshifting well when more power is required. However, the shifter is hard to get used to. It requires a double pull to enter drive and a double push for reverse, which makes three-point turns a trial.

The engine really comes into its own when towing, with the XC40 being named best tow car of the year by the UK’s Caravan and Motorhome Club.

In terms of handling, there’s a certain bounciness when moving at speed. If you hit a larger bump, you’re going to feel it. This quality does work in its favor with small bumps though, which you should hardly feel.

The Volvo XC40 has very good fuel economy. On the all-wheel drive T5, you can expect a combined city/highway mpg of around 25, which is far from shabby for an AWD.


Volvo is almost a byword for safety, and the XC40 is no different. While the 2020 model has yet to be tested, the 2019 model was awarded a rating of Top Safety Pick+ by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

The car comes with an array of safety features, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, automatic high-beam headlights, and a rear-mounted parking camera.


The Volvo XC40 comes equipped with a very good level of technology. You can connect the car to your phone with the Volvo On Call app. Through the app, you can check the fuel level, engage ignition, unlock the doors, and even honk the horn. It’s a nifty little set of features, particularly if the XC40 will be shared between multiple drivers.

If you’re looking for a solid, reliable crossover SUV, the Volvo XC40 could well be the car for you

While the infotainment system may have its problems, it’s still fine for day-to-day use. The stereo sounds great, particularly if upgraded to the optional Harman Kardon system. Apple CarPlay is available, as is Android Auto, and there are two standard USB ports to plug your devices into.


If you’re looking for a solid, reliable crossover SUV, the Volvo XC40 could well be the car for you. While lacking some of the luxuries that you may expect from its rivals such as the BMW X1 or the Audi Q3, it’s got a good level of equipment, solid engines, and is supremely safe.

A deeper dive – Related reading from the 101:

The Mercedes Sprinter van is taking over the U.S. | Autos 101

It’s only just started being made here, but the Sprinter is winning hearts.

Best towing SUVs on the market | Autos 101

Need to haul some serious cargo? Then you’ll need one of these.

The right way to warm up your car | Living 101

Winter is coming. Find out how to warm up your car the right way.