Over the last four years, Volvo’s CUV/SUV lineup has gone from being one of the oldest (the 12-year old XC90 and 8-year-old XC60) to one that is among the freshest and most innovative on the market. Following the second-generation introductions of both the XC90 and XC60 in 2015 and 2018, respectively, Volvo launched its all-new subcompact crossover, the XC40. We’ve already driven the new XC90 and XC60, and now we’re getting our first crack at this bite-sized CUV courtesy of the 2019 Volvo XC40 T5 in the mid-level R-Design trim level. The subcompact luxury CUV has been on fire recently, and the 2019 Volvo XC40 is going up against some tough competition from the Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class, Cadillac XT4, BMW X2 and Jaguar E-Pace.
2019 Volvo XC40 Exterior
Volvo designers have always taken a key design element and ran with it across the entire lineup, which is why the brand was known for its boxy design language for so long. The latest corporate look for Volvo is far more luxurious and elegant, and it works just as effective on bigger vehicles like the XC90 and S90 as it does on the 2019 Volvo XC40. The XC40 is more than just a shrunken-down version of the XC90 and XC60, though. The face of the XC40 is very sporty with a grille that is set back and angled forward flanked by aggressively shaped headlights that incorporate Volvo’s signature Thor’s Hammer daytime running light treatment. Likewise, the rear of the XC40 reveals a distinctive take on Volvo’s design with boomerang-shaped LED taillights (which still rise up the D-pillars) that are an integral part of the wide rear haunches.
Overall, the style and proportions of the 2019 Volvo XC40 give it an athletic vibe that is arguably more alluring than other subcompact luxury CUVs – a commendable feat among a stylish group of competitors. For even more visual impact, this XC40 added the R-Design trim level with LED fog lights, integrated exhaust outlets and a black roof (not very important on this tester’s Black Stone paint color), but it also added options like the 20-inch five-spoke wheels with a two-tone finish ($800) and LED headlights (part of the Advanced Package).
2019 Volvo XC40 Interior
The floor is lava… literally! This 2019 Volvo XC40 tester came with the optional orange treatment on the carpet, floor mats and door panel inserts. It definitely makes an impactful statement when you open the doors, and added a welcome splash of color to this otherwise-all-black interior. If you like the orange color, it’s a no-brainer option at just $100, but we can’t imagine how hard that light colored carpet is to keep clean over time.
The best part about the XC40 is its cabin, which looks almost identical to the stylish interiors of Volvo’s bigger crossovers. This tech-filled interior is highlighted by the 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster and massive nine-inch vertically oriented screen, although Volvo’s Sensus Connect infotainment system takes some time to adapt to; after a week, I feel like I still hadn’t fully figured the system out. Other than the infotainment system, is a joy to spend time in exhibiting the same level of luxury and quality we’ve come to expect from Volvo’s recent products. Despite its small stature, the XC40 has a spacious interior that can fit five adults in a pinch but is probably better suited for four adult occupants. There’s even a good amount of cargo space with 20.7 cubic feet available with the rear seats up and 47.2 cubic feet after folding the 60:40 split rear seat flat; the cargo area also feature a built-in divider and a 12-volt power outlet.
Volvo includes plenty of luxury and cabin tech in the 2019 XC40, but this particular tester added even more content. The R-Design trim level adds a sportier attitude inside the XC40 with a mixture of perforated leather and suede-like nubuck leather on the seats, more perforated leather on the steering wheel, thigh extensions for both front seats, aluminum inlays, steering wheel shift paddles and sport pedals for the driver; navigation, hands-free power liftgate and dual-zone automatic climate control are also standard on the R-Design. The $900 Premium Package brings power folding rear seats, heated windshield washers, wireless smartphone charging and power-operated rear child door locks, while standalone options included the $1,200 panoramic roof, $800 Harman-Kardon audio system and $750 heated front seats and steering wheel.
2019 Volvo XC40 Powertrain
The 2019 Volvo XC40 is available with two powertrain options. The front-drive XC40 T4 features a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder rated at 187 horsepower and 221 lb-ft of torque, while the T5 uses the same engine but increases output to 248 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque; the XC40 T5 also has the distinction of coming standard with all-wheel drive. With this combination, you’re looking at EPA-rated fuel economy estimates of 23 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway*, which is only a 2 mpg highway penalty compared to the less-powerful, front-wheel-drive base model.
Backing up its athletic looks, the 2019 Volvo XC40 is a full, little crossover especially when equipped with the R-Design and its standard sport chassis, and a promised 0-60 time of 6.1 seconds is smile-inducing acceleration for this small, 3,700-pound Volvo. The XC40 rides on Volvo’s new Compact Modular Architecture (CMA) that will underpin a host of future Volvo, Polestar and Geely products, and is already future-proofed to accommodate plug-in and full EV powertrains. On the XC40, this chassis – factoring in the optional R-Design tuning and 20-inch wheels – is surprisingly smooth to drive in everyday situations, yet it also returns impressive handling on tight, twisty back roads.
2019 Volvo XC40 Safety
The 2019 Volvo XC40 has not yet been tested the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It does come standard with Collision Avoidance by City Safety (able to detect vehicles, pedestrians and even large animals), Run-Off Road Protection and Mitigation, Lane Keeping Aid, Oncoming Lane Mitigation and Road Sign Information. This tester had Volvo’s semi-autonomous Pilot Assist with adaptive cruise control (part of the Premium Package) the $1,400 Vision Package with blind spot information with cross traffic alert an autobrake, Park Assist Pilot with front and rear parking sensors as well as the $995 Advanced Package adding 360-degree SurroundView camera, Automatic Bending Headlights and high-pressure headlight washers.
2019 Volvo XC40 Overall
Volvo has been on a roll lately with all of its introductions, and not surprisingly, the 2019 Volvo XC40 is more of the same. This subcompact CUV is stylish, luxurious, loaded with tech and fun to drive, and yet it’s still extremely affordable. In fact, the 2019 Volvo XC40 is also one of the lowest priced CUVs in its segment with a starting price of $33,700** with this XC40 T5 R-Design tester spec’d up to $45,340. More important than a base price, is how Volvo will be selling the XC40. Customers can get an XC40 using the Care by Volvo subscription service, which is essentially a two-year lease that bundles everything from monthly payments and maintenance costs to insurance and a concierge service.
Make sure to visit your local AutoNation-affiliated Volvo dealership and test drive the 2019 Volvo XC40 today!
* Based on 2019 EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending on specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.
** MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.