What is Volvo if not unapologetically safety-oriented? Of course, that’s what the automaker is known for. But, these days, no one should confuse the Swedish company as a one-trick pony. Volvo’s widened its offerings considerably over the past couple years — covering all bases from sedan to wagon to large SUV. The latest segment the company is looking to notch a mark in is small crossover SUV, and the 2019 Volvo XC40 T5 AWD R-Design looks every part like a competent entrant.
In a category that includes the Audi A3 and the BMW X1, in addition to the Mercedes-Benz GLA, the XC40 offers a smooth exterior body language in a smaller package, with a great degree of customization. With fresh packaging and design options available, the buyer’s each taste and preference is spoken and accounted for.
Speaking of control, the XC40 is also available through the Care by Volvo program. This innovative subscription service allows buyers to “subscribe” to a Volvo vehicle. Essentially a lease, this turn-key solution is all-inclusive, featuring insurance coverage, maintenance and a set amount of annual miles (15,000) for one “surprise-free” monthly payment. The customer can upgrade to a newer Volvo model after 12 months.
Our tester’s Black Stone exterior paint was expressive as much as impressive. Volvo R-Design package ($2,500) includes some differentiating features, including 19-inch R-Design wheels. Our SUV was upgraded with 20-inch 5-double spoke matte black wheels ($800). The R-Design includes the contrast roof, which certainly creates a stark, enhancing appearance to play off the exterior color.
Our 2019 Volvo XC40 T5 AWD R-Design/ was also equipped with the Advanced Package ($995) which includes LED headlights and something quite extraordinary with the Automatic Bending Lights. This is a safety enhancement that any night driver will greet with open arms and generally one of those features you forget is there but would sorely miss if it was no longer available.
Volvo engineered a sleek, vibrant newness to the XC40 R-Design thanks to the contrasting roof panel that descends halfway down the C-pillar. Along with thicker tailpipes, this compact crossover SUV has an original stature that screams, ‘hey, I’m a modern Volvo.’
The XC40’s hood does resemble something we’d expect in a Range Rover, but the Swedish automaker’s addition of the tiny Swedish flag on the driver’s side serves a subtle reminder to mark the territory. The XC40 sports a quick backlight, strong posture and signature elongated tail lights. Still, this Volvo’s door and door handles close with a firmness that reminds aptly that this is a Volvo, however new and updated to millennial taste.
The interior of the 2019 Volvo XC40 T5 AWD R-Design cabin doesn’t disappoint with its centerpiece jewel, a 9-inch touchscreen powering an infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The system does seem to lag a bit when booting up — compared to other new Volvos — but it’s not something to cry foul about. The 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster is pragmatic and well-apportioned overall.
The R-Design package ($2,500) features Sensus Navigation Pro, R-Design leather and Nubuck upholstery and a R-Design perforated leather steering wheel. The Premium package ($900) adds even more convenience for the driver and passengers, including a wireless charging pad, Pilot Assist — a semi-autonomous drive system with adaptive cruise control — and HomeLink and compass in the inner part of the rearview mirror.
Buyers can also opt in to the Vision Package ($1,100) which includes blind spot information with cross traffic alert with autobrake, along with Park Assist Pilot and front and rear parking sensors.
In the Advanced package ($995) the XC40 will be outfitted with a 360-degree surround view camera. This “bird’s eye view” camera has become widely popular for parallel parking in most cars. The XC40 camera is among the sharpest we’ve seen and features one of the larger displays, so much so that it’s not hard to call it one of the most impressive 360 cameras we’ve come across.
Outside of these optional packages, the XC40 buyer can also choose to get a panoramic roof ($1,200) and lava carpet, console and door panels ($100). Our tester’s “lava” orange carpet didn’t resonate with us, and is more of an acquired taste or something designed to cater to millennial taste. Either way, the good news is that there are several interior themes to choose from.
For the audiophiles out there, Volvo is offering a Harman Kardon Premium sound system ($800). This system is comprised of the system design, the amplifier, speakers and tuning. The latter aspect differentiates this system from others, as Volvo has optimized the sounds through years upon years of refining the audio experience.
The XC40 carries EPA ratings of 23 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway, which puts it squarely in the average for similarly sized compact crossover SUVs powered by turbocharged 2.0-liter engines. Our actual numbers came out to 19 mpg. We should also note that in Eco mode, which we seldomly used, the XC40’s powertrain is programmed to the optimal efficiency.
The entire family of the XC40 T5s feature all-wheel drive and are powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four engine that generate 248 hp at 5,500 rpm and completes the 0-60 mph run in 6.2 seconds. The 8-speed automatic transmission is culled from the XC60.
Torque delivery is exceptionally strong starting at 1,800 rpm and stays at hand, readily available with every maneuver. The gear change in downshift is smooth, although there’s some middling when going from first gear to second.
The driver can choose from among Comfort, Eco and Dynamic modes, and the XC40 is also equipped with an Individual setting, in which the demanding driver can personalize the steering and powertrain settings, as well as the weight of the brake pedal. The XC40 also comes with an Off-Road setting, but we didn’t have any need to use it during our time with the car.
This Volvo breezes down roads and uneven payment just about as smoothly as any SUV, and sitting on those 20-inch R-Design wheels, it absorbs any terrain abnormality just fine. The steering is sufficient but also doesn’t exactly exert authoritative control of the front wheels.
That doesn’t mean it’s sub-par, as the positives here include virtually no body roll, thanks to the SUV’s superior weight balance and side-to-side agility. The general quality of the ride in this XC40 is exceptional, definitively earning our appreciation and a place among the top-performing compact luxury crossovers.
The 2019 Volvo XC40 T5 AWD R-Design starts at a MSRP of $35,200. With the added packages, including R-Design features, Premium Package, Vision Package, Advanced Package and other extras, the total price shoots up to $45,340.
What we liked: This modern Volvo has amazingly fast acceleration and a smooth 8-speed auto transmission that makes driving fun and enjoyable. This model is offered through an innovative subscription model that makes it appealing to savvy, discerning millennials.
What we didn’t like: While the Lava carpet may be an acquired taste, we didn’t have much appreciation for it and simply could do without it. What does raise a red flag is the lower-than-expected fuel economy for this small SUV.
The 2019 Volvo XC40 T5 AWD R-Design competes head-on in a packed luxury compact crossover segment. Its chief rivals? Try the BMW X1, Mercedes-Benz GLA and the Infiniti QX30. These SUVs have nearly identical EPA figures and base prices — the QX30 has the lowest, starting at $29,950 — but each is very distinguishable by styling and, well, performance. There are plenty of pros and cons for each.
For instance, GLA cedes 5 inches in height to the XC40 and its backseat is somewhat cramped. Yet, it’s nimble and responsive to drive. The X1 has slightly more cargo room and a larger fuel tank, although its exterior styling is a bit dated. Overall, the XC40 crossover SUV is more than a gentle nudge from Volvo — there are lofty ambitions at play to leave a serious mark and change brand perception in the process. Kudos, Volvo.
Photo Credit: Copyright 2019 Victor Mosqueda / Car Fanatics Blog