An exhilarating electric driving experience, with intuitive tech, built-in Google and unexpected power. Our vote for best value goes to Volvo — for now.
Amid the legions of EV SUVs about to roll onto Miami roads — the Teslas, the Jags, the Caddys, the Rivians — the powerful, technologically advanced Volvo XC40 Recharge is the 100% electric that could be overlooked, but it shouldn’t be. The XC40 Recharge delivers seriously sporty handling, immaculate Swedish design — and it’s a blast to drive! Don’t look now, but the XC40 may not just be the best EV SUV value, it may be, for the money, the best buy overall. High-five, Volvo. They’ve quietly introduced a dignified but understated family-friendly EV SUV.
The Volvo nameplate has always been as fashionable as it is practical. The 2021 Volvo XC40 Recharge carries the heritage into a growing market segment. Based on the popular gas-powered XC40 SUV, the XC40 Recharge is Volvo’s answer to the Tesla Model Y and a nod to the Mercedes-Benz EQC. A 75-kWh battery pack powers a dual-motor powertrain with a total of 402-hp and standard all-wheel drive. With that much power it is quick and sure-footed; Volvo claims a driving range of more than 200 miles per charge.
POWER All XC40 Recharge models will come with two electric motors, with one driving the front wheels and the second powering the rears giving it full-time all-wheel drive. Volvo claims makes the XC40 Recharge capable of a 4.7-second zero-to-60-mph time.
The Recharge’s ride can be firm with the available 20-inch wheels, though it’s never too stiff or uncomfortable. Thanks to the placement of the battery pack, the Recharge has a lower center of gravity than the regular XC40. The steering is quick and direct, and a toggle switch in the touchscreen makes it heavier. It’s no performance car, but the XC40 Recharge is a lot of fun on a twisty road.
Because there’s no engine up front, the XC40 Recharge has a front trunk, or “frunk.” At only 0.7 cubic feet in volume, this frunk is by no means huge, but it can accommodate a couple bags of groceries, the kids’ soccer stuff or (perhaps more often) a charging cable. In back, the XC40 Recharge has only 14.6 cubic feet of cargo space (versus 20.7 for the standard XC40). This expands to 47.4 cubic feet when the Recharge’s rear bench is folded.
A Jaguar i-Pace, for comparison, has 25.3 cubic feet behind its rear seat, and 60.0 cubic feet with seat folded. The Audi e-tron, another electric SUV, is a bit roomier, with 28.5 and 57.0 cubic feet, respectively.
While this Volvo isn’t the roomiest compact electric SUV, the 2021 XC40 Recharge does have plenty of power. The front and rear electric motors have a combined 402 horsepower, and they draw power from the same 87-kWh lithium-ion battery pack used by the Polestar 2. According to Volvo, the XC40 Recharge can hit 60 mph in only 4.7 seconds. It also has a maximum towing capacity of 2,000 pounds.
BATTERIES A 75 kWh battery pack is standard equipment, and EPA has given the XC40 Recharge a range estimate of 208 miles per charge. That range promise puts the XC40 Recharge in a position to compete with the Audi e-Tron and the Jaguar I-Pace, but at a disadvantage over the Model Y, which is capable of more than 300 miles per charge. The XC40 Recharge will be capable of charging at DC fast charging terminals as well as at home chargers via a 240-volt outlet.
INFOTAINMENT SYSTEM Rather than using Volvo’s current Sensus Connect infotainment system, the XC40 Recharge will launch with a new generation of software developed in conjunction with Google’s Android Automotive. The XC40 Recharge’s corporate cousin, the Polestar 2, also offers such an infotainment system, which we found to be intuitive and snappy in its functionality. A 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster will also be offered, and it provides several options for customization. Despite the collaboration with Google, the new infotainment system will provide connectivity options for both Android and Apple iPhone devices; a wireless smartphone charging pad is also offered.
The cabin of the XC40 Recharge includes thoughtful cubby storage, a comfortable driving position, and spacious first and second row seating. In the transition to an EV powertrain, the XC40 has lost none of its cargo space, the XC40 will hold 23 carry-on suitcases with its rear seats folded. In addition, the lack of a four-cylinder engine under the hood frees up space for a front-trunk (frunk), which is the ideal space to store the XC40 Recharge’s charging cables.