2022 Volvo XC40 Recharge Review: A Voracious Rocket | Expert advice

The verdict: Volvo’s XC40 Recharge is a quick little electric SUV with a few tricks of its own, but it retains the endearing qualities of the well-rounded petrol model it’s based on.

Against the competition: The XC40 is among the fastest EVs on the market and it drives better than many affordable competitors, but modest underlying efficiency compromises its range and charging speed.

The Volvo XC40 is a Cars.com favorite among subcompact luxury SUVs, so we welcomed the news that it will become the brand’s first all-electric vehicle in 2021 after several years of plug-in hybrids across the lineup. . Small SUVs are at the heart of the US market, and when it comes to EVs, you can’t limit the brands you consider buying to just luxury brands – or even high-end or low-end automakers in the market. massive. The lines here are blurry.

Related: 2021 Volvo XC60 Recharge Review

Speaking of blurry lines, the XC40 Recharge we tested was technically a 2021 model… but was it? Like a growing number of new vehicles, the XC40 Recharge can be updated wirelessly in a way that fundamentally changes it. Our tester – which was built for the EV’s inaugural model year (2021) and even badged with its original transmission designation, “P8 AWD” – received such an update before our review. . I’ll explain the resulting changes later, but suffice it to say that in every way that matters for a review, the model we drove had essentially been transformed into an XC40 Recharge Twin, which is how the version 2022 has been named. The same will apply to all other 2021 models already in the hands of first-time buyers.

Like everyone else, we’ve been trumpeting the coming deluge of battery electric vehicles, but it’s all relative. There still aren’t many of them, and once you break them down into their respective types — their claimed body styles and the ones your eyes see clearly — you’re left with only a few models to choose from. As we lamented, all EVs seem to have one or two fundamental flaws: In short, the Chevrolet Bolt EV and EUV are under recall; the Ford Mustang Mach-E does not drive well; the Volkswagen ID.4 is plagued with an overabundance of touch controls; and the Tesla Model Y rides too hard on some roads, has no dashboard, and no longer qualifies for a federal tax credit. (Its price also seems to increase every time you check it.) Ultimately, if you want an EV, you still have to choose your poison. (We don’t have enough experience with the 2022 Hyundai Ioniq 5 or Kia EV6 yet to comment on them.)

If it seems that these models are not direct competitors of the XC40 Recharge, you realize how limited the choices of electric vehicles are. But be aware that except for the bargain VW, all have trims with overlapping MSRPs even if you don’t consider the brands themselves comparable to Volvo’s luxury reputation. In the world of electric vehicles, everything is different.

Apparently all four models we reviewed are SUVs, but the Mach-E gets the most criticism for that designation thanks to its 5.7-inch ground clearance and the fact that it doesn’t look like an SUV (which could be a plus or minus, depending on your point of view). The XC40 Recharge offers a relatively generous 6.9 inches of ground clearance, although its low-slung battery reduces that number compared to the gas-powered XC40’s 8.3 inches.

Technically a subcompact SUV, the XC40 looks relatively small, but by Cars.com’s own accounting of cargo space behind the rear seats of these EVs (including the five-seat Model Y, which can be had with an optional third row), the models mentioned above are all pretty close in this regard. The XC40 has 17.7 cubic feet of space, plus another 0.5 cubic feet in its front trunk. That puts it closer to the VW ID.4, which has 18.9 cubic feet and has no frunk. Combining hatches and frunks, the Mach-E has 17.9 cubic feet and the Model Y leads the pack with 23.8 cubic feet.

As for how the Recharge compares to the regular XC40, which we reviewed in detail when it debuted, its towing capacity is 2,000 pounds instead of 3,500. (For the record, we didn’t tow with this vehicle and have wider reservations about what towing does to the range of any EV.) Otherwise, Volvo’s specs suggest the Recharge is identical inside, so that’s what we have felt – apart from a few items that I will discuss below.

It drives damn well

The XC40 Recharge immediately stood out because it rides reasonably well without any high-tech (and expensive) adaptive dampers. The same cannot be said for the most affordable electric vehicles; whether it’s the nature of the vehicle type or their manufacturers’ attempts to make them sporty, we found that the ride quality of many electric vehicles was poorly suited to the roads around Cars.com’s Chicago offices . The ID.4 is a notable exception, as is the Polestar 2 we tested. To be fair, this XC40 relative is more solidly car than SUV, had manually adjustable shocks, and cost $67,550 as tested. (No longer a launch edition, the Polestar 2’s MSRP dropped to $51,200 for 2022 with destination charges but before federal incentives.)

The XC40 is an unlikely rocket. Compared to today’s gas-powered vehicles, all EVs offer immediate throttle pedal response, and many are quick in a way that surprises unfamiliar drivers. But there are tiers here too, and the XC40 Recharge is on the quicker end of the spectrum, with a manufacturer-estimated 0-60mph time of 4.7 seconds. The Model Y Long Range AWD’s estimate is 4.8 seconds, according to Tesla, while the Performance version is 3.5 seconds. At its “slowest,” the Mach-E hits 60 in about 6.1 seconds, while the new GT Performance version does it in 3.5 seconds. The rear-drive ID.4 is a bit cramped, at VW’s estimated 7.5 seconds at 60 mph, although the AWD version drops it to 5.4 seconds.

By comparison, the fastest gas-powered XC40 hits 60 mph in 6.1 seconds, according to Volvo. The Recharge’s urgent acceleration from its front and rear electric motors, each rated at 201 horsepower, combine with a decent ride and competent handling to create a responsive and engaging vehicle. Where the power of some electric vehicles decreases at highway speeds, the XC40 does not. It even has a proper One Pedal Drive setting that maximizes regenerative braking, meaning you can do most of your braking just by lifting off the throttle. (Some competitors don’t go far enough with regen level(s) even though there’s no reason not to offer drivers more choice.)

The XC40 Recharge does what EVs theoretically do best: combine a comfortable, quiet ride with the potential for equally quiet jaw-dropping acceleration. The best EVs seem to defy logic by doing so without sacrificing efficiency on any level, as gas-powered performance vehicles have always done. Alas, the XC40 Recharge may not be one of those electric vehicles.

So what is the problem?

The XC40 Recharge has an efficiency issue. People tend to ignore the efficiency of electric vehicles, but that may matter more here because range is limited and refueling (charging) is slow. The more efficient an electric vehicle is, the further it can travel with a given amount of electricity and the faster its battery will fill. Thus, as with gasoline, the cheaper it will be to operate.

The XC40 Recharge debuted in 2021 with a very disappointing run EPA Estimated Efficiency Rating of 79 mpg-equivalent in combined city/highway driving, with an estimated range of 208 miles. (The mpg-e seems high compared to petrol, but the spec is only useful for comparing EVs to each other, which we’ll get to in a moment.) The live update mentioned above, version 1.8, boosted the efficiency of all XC40s to an EPA-estimated 85 mpg-e and increased their range to 223 miles.

Volvo doesn’t explicitly talk about what it changed, citing power management, thermal management and software optimization, but it’s fascinating that computer code alone can make such a difference — and that the resulting vehicle remained fun to drive. But there are limits to how much an automaker can affect efficiency through software alone.

Compare the ’22 XC40 EV to its competitors and you will find his mpg-e seems close to the 84 mpg-e of the Mach-E GT, but there are other factors to consider: this rating is for the Mach-E which can reach 60 mph faster than the Volvo (3.8 seconds without the Performance package) and it has a longer range, at 270 miles. the Most Efficient Mach-E is rated at 101 mpg-e combined.

A charged VW ID.4 is also rated higher than the Volvo, goes further and costs less. The Tesla Model Y, even in its fastest version (Performance), is rated at 111 mpg-e combined and travels 303 miles. (Performance and efficiency aren’t mutually exclusive.) The Long Range version, which Cars.com has for long-term testing, can go about 330 miles and is rated at 122 mpg-e. A rear-drive Model Y boasts a combined 129 mpg-e rating and a range of 244 miles.

Note that I led with a Efficiency problem, not a interval problem, as the range buyers need varies widely, especially since EVs are best charged at home, overnight. Over 200 miles of driving a day is a lot. Now, if you’re hoping to take road trips and rely on public charging — and/or the effects of cold temperatures on EV range is a potential issue for you — you might be in the minority of drivers. for whom the XC40’s 223 miles of range won’t be enough. (But it should be noted that I’m writing this as temperatures hover around 0 degrees Fahrenheit, which easily cuts the range of any EV in half.)

To be clear, there are limits to what Volvo can do with computer code, so it’s highly unlikely that an XC40 Recharge bought today will ever receive a software update and magically outpace its competitors. in the various specs above, at least not without a noticeable difference. in the way it works. Future versions, however, with different batteries or motors or other hardware? May be. Don’t be fooled by the update to version 1.8.


Perhaps the smartest thing Volvo did with the XC40 Recharge was to launch it with robust home charging capacity: 11 kilowatts. An EV itself can be a bottleneck, and more power is always better. In the case of the XC40 Recharge, that 11kW helps mask its lack of efficiency, given that the same amount of power delivered to a less efficient vehicle will add less range over the same period. (Perhaps Jaguar didn’t see that coming when it launched the I-Pace EV in 2019, combining just 7kW of charging capacity with a dismal 76mpg-e efficiency. It took 13 hours to charge an empty battery – to better. The 2022 model goes to 11 kW.)

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