2019 Volvo XC40 First Drive Review in Photos

Volvo's new small premium SUV hits the right notes

Volvo has launched its XC40 small SUV with a strong subscription program.

The all-new 2019 Volvo XC40 is the latest in a string of incredibly likable crossover SUVs from the Swedish automaker. After 10 years in the wilderness caused by a transition in ownership, Volvo’s recent crossover offensive has recaptured lost buyers and captured two consecutive North American Utility of the Year awards. The XC40 is the smallest of the three Volvo crossovers that also include the XC60 and XC90. Rather than call it the “little brother” of the others, its designers view it as a cousin to the larger tall vehicles in the line.

It does have unmistakable Volvo hints in its exterior and interior styling, like the Thor’s hammer headlights, for example. But the XC40 is definitely not a 7/8th-scale XC60. Instead, its exterior styling is more heavily sculpted; the wheels are at the corners; and ground clearance is high, sending a clear SUV message. A playful, sporty note comes with the available contrasting roof colors. (Hear what the Volvo XC40 product planner, Axel Walter, has to say about the all-new SUV.)

A city car that likes the open road

While the XC40 feels completely at home on the open road, it is also a terrific city car. Its tall stance and high seating position offer excellent visibility, and its short wheelbase contributes to its excellent ability to navigate tight turns and slip into narrow parking spaces. Inside, it becomes the driver’s sanctuary with an exceptional amount of storage and flexible seating and cargo options. When it comes to connectivity, digital car sharing, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard as are a host of in-dash applications.

Volvo promises a choice of powertrains for the XC40, but it will launch in the United States with the T5 248-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that enables the vehicle to accelerate with authority. The all-wheel-drive T5 is backed up by an eight-speed Geartronic automatic transmission, and it offers auto stop-start. Later in the model year Volvo expects to introduce the front-drive T4, a milder 187-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine also accompanied by an eight-speed transmission.

Subscribe to your XC40 like a smartphone

Another headline is Care by Volvo, an innovative vehicle subscription service from Volvo Cars that is reminiscent of the way many of us obtain our smartphones. Care by Volvo customers can choose their car online, and over 24 months they will pay a non-negotiable all-inclusive flat-rate monthly fee. As with a phone, subscribers can upgrade to a new car 12 months into the program.

Of course the XC40 wouldn’t be a Volvo without a reliance on innovative safety technology, part of the company’s vision of no fatalities in a Volvo vehicle by 2020. City Safety, standard in the XC40, is the umbrella term for all collision avoidance functionalities in the XC40, which include collision warning with full auto brake, pedestrian and cyclist detection.

Volvo executives expect the XC40 to enjoy price advantages over other premium small SUVs like the Audi Q3, BMW X1 and Mercedes-Benz GLA. The all-wheel drive T5 Momentum has a starting list price of $35,200 plus $995 transportation charge. Arriving later, the front-drive T4 will start at $33,200 with the same $995 transportation charge.

We expect the well-equipped, distinctively styled 2019 Volvo XC40 to do extremely well in its segment, gaining a foothold among urban singles, young families and empty-nesters. The photo gallery below will tell you more.

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About Tom Ripley 54 Articles
Born in Boston, Tom Ripley has been writing about the automotive industry and the human condition for more than a decade. He's a frequent traveller but nominally resides in Villeperce, France.