Volvo XC40 vs Volvo XC60: which is best?

How much difference is there between these Volvo SUVs? Time to see whether you should go large with the XC60 or save some money with the smaller XC40...

Volvo XC40 vs Volvo XC60 studio pics

The contenders

DOWNSIZE: Volvo XC40 T3 R Design Geartronic

List price £34,080
Target Price £32,117

Our reigning Family SUV of the Year makes the idea of downsizing very appealing

UPSIZE: Volvo XC60 B5P Momentum Geartronic

List price £41,745
Target Price £39,119

A more expensive car than the XC40, but then it gives you more, at least on paper

It could be the most contentious feud between siblings since Cain and Abel.

On one side we have the Volvo XC40, a former What Car? Car of the Year, which costs a little over £32,000 with our recommended engine, gearbox and trim.

Volvo XC40 B4 2021 rear

But on the other we have the Volvo XC60 – a bigger, more practical and more powerful SUV that can still be bought for less than £40k once our Target Price discount is factored in.

So, the question is, should you save yourself some cash and opt for the XC40, or is the XC60 worth the extra if your budget will stretch to it?


Performance, ride, handling refinement

The T5 XC40 uses a turbocharged 1.5-litre petrol engine that produces 161bhp, whereas the entry-level XC60 that we’ve lined up against it here gets 247bhp from 2.0 litres.

Volvo XC40 vs Volvo XC60 sides

It’s hardly surprising that the latter is faster, then, despite being a bigger and heavier car, with 0-62mph taking 7.0sec. The XC40 needs 9.6sec to cover the same sprint, although it still feels perfectly gutsy in most everyday situations – particularly when combined with Volvo’s responsive Geartronic automatic gearbox.

This also helps keep the engine pretty hushed most of the time. And while you hear a fair bit of thrum when you put your foot down hard, you still don’t feel much vibration through the controls.

The XC60 sounds that bit smoother at higher revs, but both cars are similarly refined at a steady cruise, letting in some wind and road noise, but not enough to make them overly tiring on a long drive.

The XC40’s suspension also helps keep you feeling fresh, because it lets the car breeze over ripples and expansion joints on faster roads, while also managing to take the sting out of potholes around town.

Volvo XC60 rear

Curiously, the Volvo XC40 rides particularly adeptly when fitted with the 'sports' suspension, which is standard with R-Design versions; the softer 'dynamic' set-up that you get with other trims allows too much side to side sway, which can leave your passengers feeling car sick.

But what of the Volvo XC60 – is that comfier again? Actually no; expansion joints and ragged potholes tend to send nasty jolts through the car, although the XC60 does still deal well with less abrupt lumps and bumps.

Fortunately, both cars handle perfectly adequately if you drive them in a relaxed manner, even if it’s best to look elsewhere if you want an SUV that feels properly sporty.

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