Feature rich. In addition to the usual power features, even the base 2019 Volvo XC40 Momentum trim is equipped with 18-inch alloy wheels, aluminum roof rails, LED headlights and daytime running lights, a power tailgate, leather seating, a power driver's seat with memory, aluminum trim, a leather-trimmed steering wheel and shift knob, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, a portrait-oriented 9-inch infotainment touchscreen with Bluetooth, Spotify, Pandora, Baidu, TuneIn, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay capability, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and automatic climate control.
Standard advanced safety features include forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, and emergency responder notifications.
Another striking feature is Volvo's Care by Volvo subscription model. For $700 (Momentum) or $800 (R-Design) a month, subscribers get a XC40 with the T5 powertrain – a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 248 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque and all-wheel drive. Also included are insurance, scheduled maintenance, tire and wheel road hazard coverage, up to $1,000 of excess wear and use protection coverage, and the ability to upgrade to another model after just 12 months.
Youthful styling. Unlike Volvo's other crossovers, the XC40 eschews their formal lines for a decidedly more youthful approach that begins up front where the convex grilles of the XC60 and XC90 are swapped out for a concave version sporting a prominent lower lip.
The side view is even more expressive, with a beltline that kinks up at the quarter window, and deep, trapezoidal-shaped sculpting on the lower door panels. A clear cut line at the upper edge of the taillights marks the division of the lower body and the roof – which, on some trims, is offered in an optional contrasting color.
The interior is equally imaginative and is comprised of high-quality materials, with a minimalist dashboard dominated by a 9-inch center touchscreen, two vertical outboard air vents, and a wide, horizontal, concave aluminum trim strip. The seats are covered in soft leather, the cargo area is spacious, and clever storage cubbies abound throughout the interior – including a flip-top garbage receptacle on the center console.
Nits are few. For one, the rear seat is small – two adults or three children will be comfortable, but three adults, not so much. Secondly, we're still trying to wrap our heads around the concept of a Swedish vehicle with standard leather seats, where heating said seats is an extra-cost option. Finally, much has been said about the XC40's electronic shifter that requires two blips forward for reverse and two blips back for drive (pressing a console button next to it engages park), while a single blip either way engages neutral. Frankly, we never had an issue with it and, with experience, the procedure becomes second nature.
Smooth turbo power. The XC40 is offered with a pair of turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engines. The lesser of the two, found in the T4, produces 187 hp and 221 lb-ft of torque, while the more powerful version, under the hood of the T5, generates 248 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque.
Both engines are matched to the same eight-speed automatic transmission, with power delivered quickly but not too sharply. Although offering less, maximum torque in the T4 is available at just 1,400 rpm, versus 1,800 rpm in the T5, making step-off with the smaller engine feel nearly as quick. Factory-measured zero-to-60 times are 8.4 seconds (front-wheel drive) and 8.5 seconds (all-wheel drive) for the T4, and 6.5 seconds for the all-wheel-drive-only T5.
Comfortable cruising. The XC40 offers a smooth ride in every mode (Eco, Comfort, Dynamic, and Off-Road), with poised handling, precise steering, and well-controlled body motions. The 8.3 inches of ground clearance and an AWD system sourced from BorgWarner (that can shift up to 50 percent of torque to the rear wheels) give it decent off-road chops, while R-Design models with beefier antiroll bars and rear monotube shocks offer a sportier – but not overly harsh – ride.
At the same time, there's not much feedback through the steering wheel, while the stunning 20-inch wheels may give drivers second thoughts about scrambling up rutted trails.
Final thoughts. The stunning-on-the-inside-and-outside 2019 Volvo XC40 brings Scandinavian style, a smart 9-inch touchscreen, a smooth ride, and a wide range of standard safety features to the subcompact luxury crossover class, with the T4 Momentum, in particular, offering excellent value.
On the other hand, the XC40 may be too funky for some tastes, seat heaters – at least in front – should be standard, while rear seat passengers could use more room. Otherwise, we'd call the XC40 near-perfect.
Looking at the competition, the BMW X1 with 27.1 cubic feet of cargo space (back seats up) and 58.7 cubic feet (back seats folded) handily beats the XC40 (20.7 and 47.2 cubic feet, respectively), while the entry-level T4 Momentum falls short of most competitors in the horsepower department.