Volvo XC40 review
The Volvo XC40 is a spacious small SUV with smart styling and a comfortable drive. Some of the interior trims aren’t quite up to scratch and you might find the infotainment system fiddly.
What's not so good
Find out more about the Volvo XC40
The Volvo XC40 is a stylish and very trendy SUV that brings cool Scandinavian styling – inside and out – and a wide range of engine options including mild hybrid, plug-in hybrid and even fully-electric models to the table.
The XC40 is Volvo’s smallest SUV, but unlike alternatives such as the BMW X1 or Audi Q3 it doesn’t look like a scaled-down version of larger models in the range – it has its own style. That’s not to say that some of the most appealing aspects of Volvo’s range are missing, though.
We think it’s more youthful-looking than the larger XC60, which you could describe as a tailored shirt to the XC40’s funky tee.
The interior is full of neat details that help the Volvo to stand out. For example, the door trims, armrest and handles are made out of a single piece of plastic and have colour-coded felt-lined inlays. It means there’s some good-sized door bins on the one hand, but yet it also looks stylish inside.
In fact clever interior storage is one of the XC40’s key traits: the central armrest has a removable section that works well as a small waste paper bin; and the large, well-shaped boot features a pop-up divider to hold shopping bags or loose items in place. There’s plenty of space in the cabin for people as well, with nicely adjustable seats and plenty of room in the back.
The Volvo XC40 is a bit of a cracker. It's a sophisticated SUV with an upmarket feel and the icing on the cake is that it's really easy to live with.
There are some small issues with the XC40’s interior, though. Some materials look a bit out of place, certainly below the standard you’ll find in an Audi Q3. And while the touchscreen infotainment system looks great, it’s not as easy to use as the system in a BMW X1.
The XC40 is comfy over bumps, effortless in town, and relaxing on the motorway – so it makes a great everyday car. It’s not as sharp to drive as an X1, but that’s by no means a deal-breaker given its talents elsewhere.
There’s a wide range of engines to choose from. The entry-level T2 and T3 petrols are quiet and efficient, so they’re good for local trips. The B4 and B5 models use a petrol engine and mild hybrid technology for a small boost in fuel efficiency, though they’re essentially just larger petrol options.
However, company car drivers should keep in mind the T4 and T5 Recharge plug-in hybrid models will be the cheapest to run – as long as you plug in regularly. There’s also a fully electric version of the XC40 called the P8 Recharge with a 259-mile range.
The Volvo XC40 is one of the safest new cars on the road even without adding a single option, but extras such as blind-spot monitoring contribute even more to that. It’s also available with an advanced cruise control system that keeps you a safe distance from the car in front, can automatically keep you in lane and even works in stop-start traffic.
Check out our Volvo XC40 deals to see how much you can save on this upmarket, relaxing and practical SUV.
The Volvo XC40’s interior has room for four adults and an impressive amount of storage space in the doors. The boot isn’t the largest, but it is well designed and packed with features
One of the first things you notice when you climb aboard the lofty Volvo XC40 is that it feels like a proper SUV. You can easily see over hedges and peer over lines of traffic from the comfort of the supportive seats – things the Audi Q2 isn’t quite so good at.
The XC40 feels like a big car then, but you should be able to get comfortable behind the wheel even if you’re small, because the driver’s seat adjusts for height and the steering wheel adjusts up and down, as well as in and out.
Another bonus is that both front seats get lumbar adjustment as standard, so you can ease achy backs by beefing up lower back support on long journeys.
Moving up the range buys you extra comfort – Inscription Pro and R-Design Pro models add heated front seats and a driver’s seat that adjusts electrically (and has a memory function to return the seat to your position after someone else has driven the car). Inscription Pro models also add an electrically-adjustable passenger seat.
Thankfully, decent rear passenger space comes as standard. The Volvo XC40’s back seats have room for two six-footers – even if two more six-footers are sitting in the front – and you can have them heated for not much extra.
Isofix child-seat mounting points come as standard, and the Volvo’s raised body means you don’t have to bend your back when you’re fitting the chair through the car’s reasonably sized back doors.
You’ll be happy to hear that Volvo has been almost fanatical about providing a number of smaller interior storage spaces.
For example, the Volvo XC40’s front door pockets will swallow the usual bottles of water (several two-litre bottles, actually), but are also big enough for a laptop. To make that possible, large bassy speakers in the doors have been replaced with high-frequency tweeters, with the bulk of the sound instead coming from speakers in the dashboard.
On top of that, the space under the front centre armrest is big enough for a small handbag or, if you want that full-blown minicab feel, a large box of tissues. There’re also a couple of cupholders between the two front seats, a card holder next to the steering wheel and a tray for your phone. Wireless charging is a cheap option across the range.
All Volvo XC40s have a 452-litre boot that’s larger than what you get in the Audi Q2, but smaller than both the Mercedes GLA and the BMW X1.
You’re unlikely to miss those extra litres though, because the XC40’s boot is well designed with a large opening, a square load bay that won’t snag awkward luggage and no boot lip – so heavy objects can be slid easily into place. A hands-free tailgate is a relatively cheap option too.
Fold the rear seats down and you’ll open up 1,328 litres of storage. It means the XC40 can carry a bike with both its wheels attached, or carry enough flat-pack furniture to fill a small living room.
The XC40’s more comfortable than plenty of small SUVs but the quickest top-spec petrol models aren’t all that frugal
The Volvo XC40 is available with a choice of petrol and diesel engines with either a manual or automatic gearbox, and two- or four-wheel drive. There are also hybrid versions and even a fully-electric model.
If you do much of your driving in town, don’t be put off by the entry-level three-cylinder T2 petrol model. It’s the cheapest way into a Volvo XC40 but doesn’t lack the punch needed to haul about a family. The T3 model is the same basic engine but has a little more power – the T2 has 129hp and the T3 has 163hp. Both are reasonably frugal.
Then there are the B4 and B5 mild hybrids. These use a tiny electric motor to provide an unnoticeable amount of help for the engine to get slightly better emissions – there’s no option of driving them on electric power alone. They’re smooth and powerful (with 197hp and 250hp respectively) but the XC40 is better value with the three-cylinder engines.
If you have good access to charging at home or work and you plan to run an XC40 as a company car, you should seriously consider the T4 or T5 Recharge plug-in hybrids. They’ll travel around 28 miles purely on electricity when fully charged, but also have a 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine to call upon when that runs out. The T4 Recharge has 211hp and the T5 Recharge 262hp.
You can improve fuel economy slightly on non-hybrid models by going for the eight-speed automatic gearbox, rather than the six-speed manual, but its operation is unintuitive (especially the left-right motion for manual mode) and it’s also a little bit slow to respond when you want a burst of acceleration. Still, the baggy six-speed manual isn’t the best, either.
The Volvo XC40 is designed to be very comfortable so has none of the sporty aspirations of models such as the Audi Q2 or BMW BMW X1.
That said, it doesn’t wobble like a blancmange in corners and the benefit of the softer setup is that the suspension absorbs bumps very well. It’s designed to be relaxing whether you’re in town or on the motorway.
Speaking of the motorway, Volvo’s optional Pilot Assist system provides comfort of a different kind by helping to relieve you of some of the monotonous concentration required for long journeys.
Using a mixture of cameras and sensors, it accelerates, brakes and steers the car for you; all you need to do is set a speed and keep your hands on the steering wheel. It’ll even steer the car through long, sweeping corners without any assistance from the driver. Buy Pilot Assist (part of the £1,550 Driver Assist pack) and you also get a blind-spot warning system and rear collision mitigation that’ll help protect your passengers if someone runs into the back of you.
In town, the Volvo XC40’s standard automatic emergency braking can help you to avoid low-speed front-end shunts, and the raised driving position gives you a good view forwards. The only downside comes in the form of two large pillars at the back of the car that obscure over-the-shoulder visibility.
They’re only a problem when you’re pulling out on the motorway though, because all Volvo XC40s come with reversing sensors that make parking a doddle.
If you really hate squeezing into tight spaces however, it’s worth paying for the optional 360-degree camera (it gives you a bird’s eye view of the car’s surroundings), and Park Assist that’ll reverse park the car for you.
The Volvo XC40’s interior has a classy minimalist design and an eye-catching infotainment screen. Sadly, it’s not the easiest system to use and the XC40 also suffers from patchy build quality.
Volvo XC40 colours
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*Please contact the dealer for a personalised quote, including terms and conditions. Quote is subject to dealer requirements, including status and availability. Illustrations are based on personal contract hire, 9 month upfront fee, 48 month term and 8000 miles annually, VAT included.