2019 Volvo XC40 Second Take: Influencing a New Design Direction [Review]

Volvo takes a different approach to its competitors.

2019 Volvo XC40
2019 Volvo XC40. [Photo: Volvo]
Volvo through the years has produced some interesting vehicles with a wide range of design languages. Through the years, we’ve seen everything from dull and boring boxy forms to the stylishly innovative P1800. We’ve also seen sexy convertibles, and now this: the new, exceptionally appealing design of the 2019 Volvo XC40 compact crossover.

OVERVIEW

Volvo’s latest crossover tosses conventional brand styling out the window. There are still a few recognizable cues reflective of Volvo’s DNA, but the XC40 delivers a bold expressive persona with a youthful flair. It’s certainly a departure from the likes of the S90, XC90 and XC60. There are three trim levels from which to choose: the basic Momentum, starting at $35,200; the sporty R-Design with a base sticker of $37,700; and the ultimate Inscription trim, which starts at $39,750. Even the base Momentum comes well-equipped, with 18-inch wheels, advanced safety features and LED headlights and taillights.

2019 Volvo XC40
[Photo: Volvo]

NEW DESIGN SPIN

The XC40 design was penned by Ian Kettle, a 31-year-old English artist. He first submitted the basic design five years ago, when he was just out of art school in London. His design includes some of Volvo’s familiar cues, but with a new spin. Instead of the XC60 and XC90 convex grille, the XC40’s grille is concave with a lip. The signature “Thor’s hammer” LED headlights flank the grill, reaching up to the stamped clamshell hood.

Then there’s the roof line, which kicks up from the rear door, creating a prominent rear roof pillar that joins one of three roof colors with a cutline and trim piece that smoothly blends the seams. R-Design models sport a stamped “R-Design” logo. Just above the rocker panel is a contained trapezoidal stamping that balances the vertical weight of the doors tying the front to the back well, with a protective polymer cladding surround.

Subscription-Based Approach

Volvo is offering a subscription model for the XC40 with a unique take on a lease program. By paying $600 or $700 per month through the Care by Volvo program, subscribers can get a T5 AWD and a variety features, insurance, maintenance, as well as normal wear-and-tear items. Subscribers may turn in the keys after one year and get a new car, keep their car for two years and buy it outright, or they can walk away. It’s an interesting approach to car-buying – one which more manufacturers are giving a shot.

Exploring Care by Volvo: 2019 Volvo XC40
[Photo: Volvo]

COMFORT AND CONVENIENCE

The cabin of the 2019 Volvo XC40 technically seats five. However, it’s better off seating four adults comfortably. The XC40 combines a horizontal dash with a 9.0-inch vertical touchscreen mounted near the middle. The XC40 showcases a younger attitude than the XC60 and XC90, and that’s a good thing. Luxury crossovers at the entry-level end of the market are aimed at a younger set of buyers.

There’s lots of useful interior storage nooks and foldable shelves – even a center armrest trash bin is offered. Standard fare includes leather upholstery, a power adjustable driver’s seat, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, Bluetooth connectivity, and the 9.0-inch Sensus infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.

2019 Volvo XC40
Volvo’s Sensus infotainment system. [Photo: Volvo]
In the realm of safety features, all models come standard with front, side, and curtain airbags for all occupants, including a driver’s knee airbag. Active lane control, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, a rearview camera, and emergency responder notifications are included on every trim.

Other advanced safety features are available, such as Volvo’s Pilot Assist semi-autonomous system. The system adds active lane control and adaptive cruise control as part of a $1,400 premium package ($900 on R-Design). The system can follow cars in stop-and-go traffic and travel short distances within well-defined lanes without driver input. Volvo refers to Pilot Assist as a “driver support” system since it shuts off without driver intervention after a short period.

Blind-spot monitors with cross traffic alert and parking sensors are available for $1,100. Uprated headlights and a surround-view camera system are upgrades from there for $995 more.

2019 Volvo XC40. [Photo: Volvo]

PERFORMANCE

The Volvo XC40 uses a 2.0-liter inline turbocharged four-cylinder engine, as is fashionable in the segment. It cranks out 248 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque through an eight-speed automatic transmission. T5 models send power to all-four wheels, although a less powerful, front-wheel drive T4 version is also available.

The R-Design trim level supplies bigger wheels, stouter springs, and heftier anti-roll bars over the Momentum. The sportier treatment doesn’t seriously impact the car’s ride quality.

The 2019 Volvo XC40 is a breath of fresh air, in terms of both its visual appeal and its performance attributes. The 2.0-liter turbocharged four-banger delivers more than satisfactory acceleration without hesitation. Its 8-speed Geartronic automatic transmission shifts with silky smoothness up and down either automatically or with the paddle shifters.

Steering is precise and predictable in each of the driving modes. There’s Eco and Comfort for more relaxed driving, Dynamic, and Off-Road. The XC40 is athletic, with a 6.2-second, 0-60-mph run.

2019 Volvo XC40
The 2019 Volvo XC40 takes on a different design language to its larger XC60 and XC90 stablemates. [Photo: Volvo]

TFLCAR’S TAKE

The Volvo XC40 rides on a new platform for Volvo – one that is likely to find its way into future subcompact models. The XC40 provides 8.3 inches of ground clearance and the Borg-Warner all-wheel-drive system transfers up to 50 percent of torque to the rear wheels. It’s doubtful that the XC40 driver will venture into a serious off-road scenario. However, it is surprisingly capable, as Andre and Nathan demonstrated when they took it up Gold Mine Hill in a blizzard. The 2019 Volvo XC40 can tow up to 3,500 pounds when properly equipped.

 

SPECIFICATIONS: 2019 Volvo XC40 T5 R-Design AWD

On Sale: Now
Base MSRP: $35,200
Price as Tested:
$45,340
Engine: 2.0-liter inline turbocharged four-cylinder
Drivetrain (Layout): Transversely mounted front engine, all-wheel drive
Horsepower: 248 hp @ 5,500 rpm
Torque: 258 lb-ft @ 1,800 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Suspension: Front: Double wishbone

Rear: Multi-link

Brakes: Power-assisted four-wheel discs
Tires: Pirelli Scorpion Zero 245/45 R20 103H all-season
Fuel capacity: 14.2 gallons
Fuel economy (EPA): 23 City / 31 Highway mpg

Dimensions:

Wheelbase: 106.4 inches
Length: 174.2 inches
Width: 75.2 inches (excl. mirrors)
Height: 65.3 inches
Turning Circle: 37.4 feet
Curb Weight: 3,574 pounds

 

Arv Voss
Arv Voss is a Northern California based freelance motoring journalist and member and past officer of several noted automotive journalist organizations who contributes regularly to a number of national and international media outlets. He reviews not only cars, trucks and SUVs, but motorcycles as well.