Volvo XC40 review

Category: Family SUV

The XC40 is a classy, comfortable and practical family SUV with a top-notch interior

Volvo XC40 front right driving
  • Volvo XC40 front right driving
  • Volvo XC40 rear cornering
  • Volvo XC40 interior dashboard
  • Volvo XC40 boot open
  • Volvo XC40 infotainment touchscreen
  • Volvo XC40 right driving
  • Volvo XC40 front left driving
  • Volvo XC40 front cornering
  • Volvo XC40 rear right driving
  • Volvo XC40 right static boot open
  • Volvo XC40 rear static boot open
  • Volvo XC40 boot detail
  • Volvo XC40 interior front seats
  • Volvo XC40 interior back seats
  • Volvo XC40 steering wheel detail
  • Volvo XC40 interior detail
  • Volvo XC40 interior detail
  • Volvo XC40 front right driving
  • Volvo XC40 rear cornering
  • Volvo XC40 interior dashboard
  • Volvo XC40 boot open
  • Volvo XC40 infotainment touchscreen
  • Volvo XC40 right driving
  • Volvo XC40 front left driving
  • Volvo XC40 front cornering
  • Volvo XC40 rear right driving
  • Volvo XC40 right static boot open
  • Volvo XC40 rear static boot open
  • Volvo XC40 boot detail
  • Volvo XC40 interior front seats
  • Volvo XC40 interior back seats
  • Volvo XC40 steering wheel detail
  • Volvo XC40 interior detail
  • Volvo XC40 interior detail
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Introduction

What Car? says...

You've probably read about Volvo's decision to ditch estate cars and sell SUVs only, and the subsequent U-turn when buyers demanded their return. And whatever the future holds for the Swedish brand's line-up, the Volvo XC40 is likely to remain a big-seller.

Indeed, as the entry-point into Volvo's petrol-powered SUV range and a former What Car? Car of the Year, the XC40 is a hugely popular car – but is it still one of the best family SUVs you can buy? After all, there are much newer alternatives to consider now, including the BMW X1, Mini Countryman, Range Rover Evoque and VW Tiguan.

In this review, we'll tell you how the Volvo XC40 stacks up in all the important areas, plus which version we think makes the most sense. Alternatively, if you're in the market for a fully electric family SUV, check out our Volvo EX40 review.

Overview

The Volvo XC40 blends generous passenger space and a practical boot with a superb interior, excellent ride comfort and top-notch safety. That makes it a hugely desirable product backed up by real substance. If you do buy one, we recommend the B3 petrol engine and mid-spec Plus trim.

  • Stylish and high-quality interior
  • Comfortable ride on most versions
  • Comprehensive safety kit
  • Lacks the rear-seat flexibility of some rivals
  • Fairly small infotainment screen
  • Some road noise on the motorway
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Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

Strengths

  • +Supple, comfy ride
  • +Easy to drive
  • +Quieter than many rivals

Weaknesses

  • -Still some wind and road noise
  • -Leans quite a bit in corners

Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox

All Volvo XC40s get a seven-speed automatic gearbox, front-wheel drive and a 2.0-litre petrol engine (unless you go for the electric Volvo EX40 of course).

There are two versions of the engine available: the B3, which has 161bhp, and the more powerful B4, with 194bhp. Both have mild-hybrid tech to aid efficiency.

Our pick is the B3, because it's sprightly enough for most buyers, with a 0-62mph time of 8.6 seconds. It's noticeably gutsier than the 1.5 eTSI 150 engine in the VW Tiguan. The B4 cuts a second off the sprint time, but we don't think it's worth the extra cost.

Suspension and ride comfort

The XC40 is more comfortable than most of its rivals, including the firm-riding BMW X1 and some relatively comfy alternatives such as the Genesis GV70, Range Rover Evoque and VW Tiguan.

On faster roads, the XC40 breezes over ripples and expansion joints and takes the sting out of razor-edged potholes around town – even if you go for the big 20in alloy wheels that come as standard with range-topping Ultra trim.

Volvo XC40 rear cornering

Handling

Most buyers will be driving their XC40 in a relaxed manner, and if you do that you'll find the handling perfectly adequate. This isn't a sporty car though, and when you up the pace you'll notice a fairly amount of body lean though corners and noticeable nosedive under hard braking.

The steering isn't particularly feelsome, although the XC40 actually hangs on more gamely through tight twists and turns than a Mini Countryman or VW Tiguan.

In short, the XC40 is easy to drive but some rivals are more fun. If that's a deal-breaker for you, consider the Cupra Formentor and Ford Kuga.

Volvo XC40 image
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Noise and vibration

You can hear a small amount of turbo whoosh when accelerating enthusiastically, but both XC40 engines (the B3 and B4) are quieter than the rather coarse-sounding engine in the X1 xDrive23i or Tiguan 1.5 eTSI 150.

Whichever engine you choose, you'll hear some mild wind buffeting around the windscreen at motorway speeds. There's also road noise, especially when big 20in alloy wheels are fitted (the Evoque and GV70 is notably more subdued in this respect). Still, the XC40 is slightly quieter overall than an equivalent Tiguan or Countryman, and nowhere near as raucous as the X1 on a motorway.

“Comfort is key for buyers of family SUVs like this, and the XC40 really excels. The trade off is a little more body lean than in rivals, such as the Mini Countryman and Volkswagen Tiguan – but it's a compromise I'm happy with.” – Neil Winn, Deputy Reviews Editor

Interior

The interior layout, fit and finish

Strengths

  • +Lofty driving position
  • +Supportive front seats offer lots of adjustment
  • +Interior quality up with the best rivals

Weaknesses

  • -Compromised over-the-shoulder visibility
  • -Touchscreen is distracting to use while driving

Driving position and dashboard

The front seats in the Volvo XC40 are some of the best you’ll find in any family SUV. There’s a wide range of adjustment, including four-way powered lumbar adjustment on all versions. If you go for Plus trim, you get fully electric adjustment for the driver’s seat.

The driving position is brilliant too. You sit higher than you do in many rivals, including the BMW X1 and VW Tiguan, making the XC40 feel like a proper SUV from behind the wheel, rather than just a jacked-up family hatchback. Among direct rivals, only the Genesis GV70 and Range Rover Evoque feel as lofty.

A digital driver's display is standard and proves easy to read at a glance. Our only criticism is that the minimalist design of the dashboard means you have to delve into the infotainment touchscreen to adjust nearly everything, including the interior temperature. That can be rather distracting when you're driving, and physical controls (like those in the GV70) would be simpler.

Visibility, parking sensors and cameras

The XC40's elevated seating position gives you a good view of the road ahead, helped further by the relatively slim windscreen pillars. You also get fairly large door mirrors, so you can see clearly what’s drawing up alongside, and bright LED headlights are fitted to make driving at night easier.

Over-the-shoulder visibility is compromised by the way the window line kicks up towards the back of the car. Fortunately, all trims include rear parking sensors and a rear-view camera, while Plus trim adds front parking sensors.

Meanwhile, opting for the top-spec Ultimate version gets you a 360-degree camera system to make navigating tight spaces even easier. Ultimate also adds matrix LED headlights, which allow you to keep full beam on without dazzling other road users.

Volvo XC40 interior dashboard

Sat nav and infotainment

Dominating the middle of the XC40's dashboard is a 9.0in portrait-oriented touchscreen, which works in much the same way as a tablet computer. While the idea of a screen that lets you swipe, pinch and scroll might sound good in theory, the reality is that you have to take your eyes off the road for longer than is ideal just to complete simple tasks – changing the radio station, for example.

Matters aren't helped by the fact that some of the icons are small and the screen doesn’t always react immediately to prods. A better alternative is the system found in the GV70. Its rotary controller is much easier to use while driving than any touchscreen and the operating system is super-quick.

Still, the XC40's screen is crystal clear and there are plenty of features included as standard. You get built-in sat-nav (powered by Google Maps), DAB radio and Volvo On Call, which requests an emergency response if you're involved in an accident. Wireless phone-charging is also standard, as is Apple CarPlay. Oddly, despite Volvo’s operating system being co-developed with Android, Android Auto isn't available.

Quality

Volvo now ranks alongside the best premium brands when it comes to interior quality, and the XC40 is no exception. Pretty much everything you touch feels upmarket and ready to stand up to the rigours of daily use, putting the interiors of the BMW X1, Mini Countryman and VW Tiguan to shame.

The great mix of high-end plastics, leather and metal or wood inlays gives the XC40 real panache. It looks and feels so classy inside that the GV70 and Evoque are the only other similarly priced family SUVs that can hold a candle to it.

“Digital dials are clear and easy to read, but I wish they were more configurable. By contrast, the BMW X1 features a number of different layouts.” – Steve Huntingford, Editor

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

Strengths

  • +Plenty of space for tall adults in the back
  • +Thoughtfully designed storage cubbies
  • +Square boot is easy to pack

Weaknesses

  • -Rear seats don't slide or recline
  • -Seatbacks split 60/40 rather than 40/20/40

Front space

There's lots of leg room in the front of the Volvo XC40, and lots of head room too – even if you opt for Ultra trim, with its panoramic glass roof. You won’t be banging elbows with your front passenger either, because the interior is fairly broad by family SUV standards.

It’s also full of thoughtful details. You get a pop-out rubbish bin between the front seats and carpeted door pockets that are each big enough to take a small laptop or two large bottles of water.

Rear space

The XC40 is roomy enough in the back for taller adults to sit comfortably without their heads brushing the ceiling or their knees bashing the seat in front. It’s a bit behind the BMW X1 and VW Tiguan for leg room, but only a carload of giants will have any cause for complaint. 

Thanks to its relatively wide rear bench, three adults can sit side by side fairly easily, with plenty of space under the front seats for their feet. The middle passenger’s legs will need to straddle a fairly big hump in the floor though. As for storage space, there are big door bins and a couple of cupholders in the rear centre armrest.

Volvo XC40 boot open

Seat folding and flexibility

Split-folding rear seats are standard. However, the seatback is split 60/40, rather than the more versatile 40/20/40 arrangement that you get in the BMW X1, Range Rover Evoque and VW Tiguan. 

It's also a pity that – unlike in the X1 and Tiguan – the rear seats don't recline for extra comfort, or slide back and forth. There is a ski hatch in the rear seatback though so you can slot long, narrow items through from the boot between two rear passengers.

Boot space

The XC40has an official boot capacity of 452 litres – less than equivalent versions of the X1 and Tiguan. However, the load bay's commendably square proportions make packing super-easy, and if you don't opt for a spare wheel, you get a big underfloor storage area that makes up for any shortcomings above deck.

We managed to squeeze seven carry-on suitcases below the XC40's parcel shelf, the same as in the Genesis GV70 but one fewer than in the X1. Meanwhile, the Tiguan's boot swallowed an impressive nine cases.

There’s no lip to negotiate at the entrance of the XC40's boot and opting for the Plus model adds a hinged panel midway along the floor. The panel clips up vertically and creates a divider to prevent smaller items from sliding around too much.

“The XC40’s boot is well thought out, and I like the recessed areas which can hold smaller items such as cleaning cloths or a first aid kit.” – Doug Revolta, Head of Video

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

Strengths

  • +Well priced for a premium-badged family SUV
  • +Strong resale values
  • +Performed well in Euro NCAP safety tests

Weaknesses

  • -So-so fuel economy
  • -Reliability record could be better

Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2

As premium family SUVs go, the Volvo XC40 is priced attractively and should hold its value well – if not quite as well as the Range Rover Evoque. Slow depreciation also means the XC40's PCP finance deals are usually competitive – you can check the latest prices on our Volvo XC40 deals page.

The B3 is the least powerful engine, but it's still a turbocharged 2.0-litre and has to haul the sizeable XC40. As a result, fuel economy is respectable rather than brilliant (expect around 35mpg in normal driving).

The most cost-effective version for company car drivers paying BIK tax is the fully electric Volvo EX40 (previously known as the XC40 Recharge).

Equipment, options and extras

Entry-level Core trim provides a decent list of goodies, including cruise control, keyless start, dual-zone climate control, LED headlights, heated front seats and rear parking sensors. It also has 18in alloy wheels and a powered tailgate.

Many buyers will find that enough, but our favourite trim is the even better equipped Plus. It's still reasonably priced but adds keyless entry, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel and blind-spot monitoring.

Luxurious Ultra trim completes the line-up, adding a Harman Kardon sound system, tinted rear windows, a sunroof and 19in wheels, but is rather expensive.

Volvo XC40 infotainment touchscreen

Reliability

As a brand, Volvo finished ninth out of 32 manufacturers in the 2023 What Car? Reliability Survey. The XC40 itself didn’t perform as well in the family SUV class, finishing in the bottom third.

A three-year/60,000-mile warranty, including roadside assistance, comes as standard, as does a three-year paintwork warranty and 12 years of cover against rust. That's par for the course among premium family SUVs but doesn’t match the five-year/50,000-mile warranty Genesis offers.

Safety and security

The XC40 received the top five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP and earned high scores across the board. That’s in part due to the impressive level of safety kit that comes as standard, including an automatic emergency braking (AEB) system that recognises cyclists, pedestrians and large animals as well as cars.

The Evoque received five Euro NCAP stars too, but it’s hard to compare the two scores as the XC40 was tested under a less stringent system back in 2018.

Every XC40 comes with traffic-sign recognition and Oncoming Lane Mitigation (which intervenes if you cross a road's centre line into the path of other vehicles). Plus trim adds blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, while top-spec Ultra adds an assisted driving function, which can steer, accelerate and brake in certain situations – although your hands must always be on the wheel.

“Every trim comes well equipped, but I reckon the Plus trim is worth the extra over entry-level Core.” – Claire Evans, Consumer Editor


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FAQs

  • While the Volvo XC40 plug-in hybrid is no longer offered, the pure-petrol XC40 is very much still on sale. You can also get a fully electric version, which is now called the Volvo EX40.

  • Yes, the XC40 is predicted to hold on to its value well by family SUV standards, which is one of the reasons PCP finance deals are usually very competitive.

  • The XC40 is a brilliant family SUV that offers a great mix of performance, practicality, comfort and interior quality. In short, it's definitely worth putting on your shortlist.

  • We reckon the entry-level B3 is the one to go for. It's a turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol with mild-hybrid assistance, and offers all the performance you're likely to want.

At a glance
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From £29,595
RRP price range £36,310 - £61,855
Number of trims (see all)7
Number of engines (see all)6
Available fuel types (which is best for you?)petrol parallel phev, electric, petrol
MPG range across all versions 134.5 - 42.7
Available doors options 5
Warranty 3 years / 60000 miles
Company car tax at 20% (min/max) £93 / £3,048
Company car tax at 40% (min/max) £186 / £6,097
Available colours