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2020 Volvo XC40 Review By Larry Nutson

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2020 Volvo XC40
Greetings from Sweden

By Larry Nutson
Executive Editor and Bureau Chief
Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel

In doing this job of driving and providing information and opinion on new vehicles the most usually scenario is that each and every particular vehicle that I experience is good at what it’s designed and intended to do. Today, there are no bad cars!

I appreciate a vehicle for what it is and at the same time recognize that it may not be one that fulfills my own personal needs and wants. Every once in awhile I drive a vehicle and remark that I could see myself owning it.

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The Volvo XC40 is one of those. It has interesting and attractive styling (at least to me), a good amount of interior room balanced by a city-friendly compact exterior, premium interior materials and finish, and refined driving dynamics.

The compact crossover SUV segment is a very lucrative playing ground for an auto maker especially with more and more of the global population re-urbanizing and many cities becoming more densely populated. The XC40 is a premium urban vehicle aimed at a younger demographic. I’m not exactly that, but more the active lifestyle empty nester who lives in a large city….Chicago.

Volvo launched the new XC40 in the U.S. in spring of 2018 and I spent some time with a 2019 model about a year ago. I recall the occasional head nods and thumbs up from some of the younger adults as I went about my business.

This time around I dove a 2020 XC40 configured in the top of the line T5 AWD Inscription trim. There’s also a base Momentum and a mid-level R-Design trim. After introducing a complete new vehicle just last year changes for 2020 are minimal with some equipment adds and deletes, the most significant being the Momentum trim getting cloth upholstery instead of leather.


The 2020 XC40 pricing starts at $34,345 for the premium Momentum. The sport R-Design is priced at $39,950 and the luxury Inscription at $40,450, including the $995 destination charge. The XC40 is available in each trim in either a T4 front-wheel drive or T5 all-wheel drive configurations for an additional $2,000.

A turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission powers all XC40s. The T4 engine is rated at 187 HP and the T5’s at 248 HP. The T5 AWD I drove has plenty of zip and good all around acceleration performance. Zero to 60 mph is in a quick 6.1 seconds and top speed is 130 mph for the T5.

The 8-speed automatic has a manual mode and there’s selectable drive-mode settings ranging from Comfort to Eco, Dynamic, Off-road and Individual. Engine, transmission, steering, ride, and traction calibrations are modified as appropriate for each.

EPA test-cycle ratings for the T5 AWD are 25 mpg combined, or 4.0 gallons per 100 miles, with 22 city mpg and 30 highway mpg. The gallons per 100 miles number is a good one to use to calculate the fuel cost to drive a certain distance.

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The cabin interior is not only good looking but very functional. The Blond Leather interior trim in my XC40 was bright and welcoming. The Orefors Crystal gear shift knob is elegant. Centered in the instrument panel is a large iPad-like touch screen for vehicle settings, climate, audio, infotainment and mobile phone. You swipe left or right to access all that it can do. Purse and shopping bag hooks, under-seat storage, a removable trash bin and a wireless device charging pad add some uniqueness and practicality. A fully digital 12.3-inch driver display houses tach, speedo and information display.

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Keeping with Volvo’s premium position, the XC40 is extremely well equipped with a large array of comfort and convenience features. The XC40 also is very well outfitted with all the latest advanced driver assist safety (ADAS) technology.

As part of the Advanced Package, Volvo’s Pilot Assist semi-autonomous drive systems and adaptive cruise control might just be the thing to have if you do lots of long highway drives. I enjoyed its benefit on some long highway stretches. It helps take off the edge a bit for a more relaxed arrival.

Park Assist Pilot will help park the XC40 for you in those tight on-street parking spaces.

More information, specifications and detail on the 2020 Volvo XC40 can be found at

The latest from Volvo is the new XC40 Recharge, the first of a family of fully electric Volvos. The XC40 Recharge is very much a Volvo, with the addition of a state-of-the-art, fully electric all-wheel drive powertrain that offers a range of over 200 miles on a single charge and output of 402 hp. The battery charges to 80 % of its capacity in 40 mins on a Level 3 fast-charger system.

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Overall, I again found the XC40 to provide an overall very satisfying driving experience. It’s quiet with a nice open and spacious feeling in the cabin, seat design is very comfortable for long road trips, has a smooth ride but yet the suspension is tuned for sporty handling, and the engine provides plenty of zip. In a pinch it’s 8.3 inches of ground clearance will help get you down an unpaved road or through some deepish snow.

I’m not in the market for a new vehicle but if I were the XC40 would be one of my top considerations.

© 2019 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy