- Comically quick
- Real SUV ground clearance
- Strong regenerative braking
- Unimpressive range
- Premium price tag
- Stiff ride
Swede speed or no need? The answer is a mixture. As for the former, the battery-powered Volvo XC40 Recharge’s 402 hp and instantly deliverable 486 lb-ft of torque make for a proper sleeper of a subcompact SUV. At 4.2 seconds to 60 mph, this tiny Volvo tied the Jeep Wrangler 392 for the quickest accelerating vehicle at SUV of the Year.
The XC40 Recharge feels every bit as quick as it is; comments from Detroit editor Alisa Priddle included quips like, “Whoa, mama,” and “Woot woot fun.” Even our ever-sensible buyer’s guide director, Zach Gale, described the electric Volvo as “soooo quick.” With four Os! And considering it’s styled nearly identically to the standard XC40 (which is at least 2 seconds slower to 60 mph), this is a secret speedster.
This conventional form factor calls to mind another advantage the Volvo has over most other EVs in this test: ground clearance. At 6.7 inches, we wouldn’t recommend any rock crawling, but the XC40 Recharge will handle rutted fire roads and deep snow much better than a Ford Mustang Mach-E or Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo.
Handling is typical Volvo: capable and confident but not as engaging as its strongest competitors (looking at you, Mustang Mach-E). Associate editor Alex Leanse noted the XC40 Recharge is “stable and planted in corners” thanks to the low center of gravity afforded by a low-mounted battery pack. We dig the strong regenerative braking, too. That said, it doesn’t rotate or put down power as adeptly as the best-handling EVs, and road test editor Chris Walton mentioned “rather vague steering.” Plus, aggressive cornering results in an alarmingly tight squeeze from the seat belt.
Multiple judges took issue with the ride quality. Guest judge and industry veteran Gordon Dickie described it as “too stiff for some” with head toss and a choppy ride on the highway section. Mexico editor Miguel Cortina noted the Volvo struggled with the undulating pavement on the winding road section at Honda’s proving grounds. The XC40 Recharge was also noisy and choppy over speed bumps and pavement joints.
What really held this electric Volvo back, though, were its driving range and value. The XC40 manages just 208 miles of range from its 75 kWh of useful battery capacity, the shortest of any contender at SUV of the Year. While its range combined with AWD and awesome performance would have impressed a few years ago, it’s sorely underwhelming alongside today’s electric offerings.
Not to mention, the XC40 Recharge starts at a hefty $55,085. That puts this Volvo in the same conversation as the Tesla Model Y and the AWD Ford Mustang Mach-E, both of which provide superior range figures and efficiency. Senior editor Greg Fink put it best: “Unfortunately, the XC40 Recharge’s limited range, lack of efficiency, and high price make this little Vo’ a no-go.”
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