By Barbara & Bill Schaffer
Volvo has been full of surprises the last few years introducing an impressive array of new cars and powerplants. And the trend continues with their latest, the 2019 Volvo XC40.
The XC40 is the smallest of the three Volvo SUVs and is about the same length as the BMW X1 SAV ? and about six inches shorter and more upscale than the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4.
The Volvo XC40 takes on some new youthful design cues with more trendy lines than the larger Volvo SUVs. The grill is like a reverse of the larger models being concave, rather than convex. Side panels are more sculptured than the larger models, but the large taillights have the trademark Volvo upswing along the rear windows to the rear overhead spoiler. The biggest difference in design is in the broad C-pillar which slopes into the rear door. The Volvo family DNA is strongest on the LED headlights and the distinctive ?Thor?s Hammer? daytime running lights.
The new Volvo was named 2018 European Car of the Year at the Geneva Motor Show in Switzerland recently, and initial demand for the car was very strong. It?s being built at the Volvo Cars plant in Ghent, Belgium.
At first glance inside we were startled by the Lava colored (bright orange) carpets, door panels and console sides that contrasted dramatically with the more traditional Volvo seating and controls. The carpeting is a ?love it? or ?hate it? $100 option. We count in the ?hate it? column, but it is an attention-getter. We also were unimpressed by the indoor-outdoor carpet texture of the orange carpet, we thought it looked cheap and out of place in the otherwise plush interior.
Like all Volvos we?ve driven, this one has great seats that will stay comfortable even on long trips. The interior fits four adults comfortably and five snuggly. Cargo volume is 16.2 cubic feet with the rear seat back in place and 47 cubic feet with the seat folded. The interior is well-designed with a multitude of storage compartments, hooks for carrying grocery bags and organizing cargo.
Describing the new XC40, H?kan Samuelsson, president and chief executive said, ?The XC40 is our first entry in the small SUV segment, broadening the appeal of the Volvo brand and moving it in a new direction. It represents a fresh, creative and distinctive new member of the Volvo line-up.?
The U.S. version of the XC40 is powered by the Volvo T5 drive train, which includes a 247-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, Volvo?s excellent eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. It also has 8.3 inches of ground clearance making it one of the best in the category. The XC40 T5 accelerates from 0 to 60 in 6.2 seconds according to buff magazine tests. The EPA rates it at 25 mpg city and 29 mpg highway. We averaged 25.4 mpg during our week behind the wheel.
Currently there is only the one engine available for the XC40, but there are several other variations being sold in foreign markets, including a diesel and a three-cylinder gasoline engine. We can expect some other engines to find their way to the U.S. market along with a hybrid or all-electric version.
All three versions of the XC40 are equipped with an extensive list of safety and technological driver aids, many which were pioneered by Volvo. They also include SUV features like Hill Start Assist, Hill Descent Control and a power operated tailgate. All models have full infotainment features and connections for smartphone integration.
Currently the 2019 Volvo XC40 AWD is available in three trim levels: Momentum, R-Design and Inscription. The prices range from $36,195, including the destination charge, for the Momentum. The R-Design is $2,500 more and the Inscription is an additional $4,550. So far, all trims have the T5 engine and AWD, but front-wheel drive models will be available later in the model year.
Volvo is offering a unique payment service for the XC40 called Volvo Care by Subscription. This all-inclusive program has a fixed price of $600 per month for the Momentum and $700 a month for the R-Design. There are no negotiations, long-term commitment or compromise. Volvo equates the program to owning a smart phone. Plus, you can upgrade to another new Volvo in as little as a year. The Volvo Care program includes the payment, road hazard protection and normal wear-and-tear into the flat rate monthly payment. The program has a 15,000 mile per year allowance and includes insurance by Liberty Mutual. All the subscriber pays for is gasoline. For more information go online to https://www.volvocars.com/us/?or contact your local Volvo dealer.
We liked the new Volvo XC40, it has the features and performance to make it a strong competitor in the premium compact SUV segment. But we?d skip the Lava-colored carpet option.