Really good things come in small blue packages.
Here’s the thing about color: it can sway your mood, perk up a gloomy day, break the ice with a stranger. An all black car says ‘I’m dark, mysterious, maybe a little dangerous.’ A white car says ‘I’m elegant, sophisticated, and focused on details.’ And when it comes to cars, blue is the color of happy. It’s light, lilting, optimistic. And, it makes you happy.
So when the 2019 Volvo XC40 compact luxury SUV rolled into my driveway in a beautiful robin’s egg blue (which Volvo calls Amazon Blue) with a white roof, it was as if a Tiffany box with a white silk ribbon had been delivered. I was so delighted that I had to stop by my friend Rebecca’s house to show it to her; I think this might be her next car.
She was just as taken by the color as I was. In fact, so was everyone I met that week, from an engineer from a competing automaker to friends, my kids and viewers on this Facebook Live stream about the car. And once inside, everyone was equally as smitten.
Who This Car is For
- Singles, couples, or small families
- City drivers
- Drivers who need a small SUV
- Drivers who need all-wheel drive
- Buyers who want flexible cargo space
- Buyers who want top safety technology
What This Car Costs
- XC 40 Momentum base price, which includes 9” touch screen infotainment system, digital driver display, road sign display, Apple Car Play/Android Auto, WiFi hot spot, lane keep assist, forward crash mitigation, leather upholstery, 5 drive modes including all wheel drive and that awesome blue paint color: $35,200
- Premium package adds adaptive cruise control with pilot assist wireless charging, heated windshield washers, smart key keyless entry: $1,400
- Vision package, which adds self parking park assist, blind spot monitors and auto dimming rear and side mirrors: $1,100
- Advanced package adds surround view camera, headlight cleaning system, fog lights and bending LED headlights: $995
- Premium Harman/Kardon sound system: $1,375
- Heated front seats and steering wheel: $750
- Panoramic sun roof: $1,200
- Ice white roof and charcoal headliner (the cloth ceiling cover): $500
- 19” black and white wheels: $800
- Price of the model we test drove including delivery charge: $44,315
Beauty is in the Details: The Interior Design, Materials and Technology Give This Small SUV Its Appeal
It’s not often you find girls standing around talking about cars. But starting with the color of our test model, everyone wanted to talk about the XC 40. People were drawn to the color of course, but they were intrigued by the size and the interior design. From the white upholstery to the streamlined infotainment system with an oversized touch screen, the Volvo’s design language takes a cue from its Swedish roots. The XC 40’s door panels are a minimalist take on traditional doors with a large, wide pocket perfect for a laptop or oversized water bottles. The armrest with window controls floats on a carpeted background, creating a soft, modern effect.
The center console lends to the modern feel with a 9” touch screen framed by long obelisk-shaped air vents and modern aluminum dashboard trim. The touch screen is well organized and holds many of the car’s functions, though climate control icons are a static feature at the bottom of the screen so you can always easily and quickly adjust the temperature, fan or seat heaters.
There are 3 main screens: the center screen organizes the basics, including phone, navigation, radio and a connected phone; these functions are broken down in the next two screens: swipe left for apps and entertainment, swipe right to get settings and safety functions. The function screen lets you access park assist and turn on or off blind spot monitors, lane departure assist and start/stop, which I found helpful in heavy traffic. While I liked that the engine stopped when idling, I didn’t love the shudder it gave off when restarting, so I opted to turn it off much of the time (this has to be done each time you start the car).
Girlfriends (or Family) and Good Times Are Better in the Right Car
The XC 40 is designed to be social. The upright seats are great for face time with your bestie; you can be deeply ensconced in great conversation rather than ensconced in deep bucket seats that make it hard to see your travel companions.
The cabin was quiet and it was easy to carry on a conversation, both on the highway and on local roads. It was also easy to hear and be heard on the car’s phone speaker, too. And, in case the conversation got too deep, Apple Car Play was great for keeping us on track; it kept me focused on the route as much as the journey.
Pilot assist made it easy to relax behind the wheel. This semi-autonomous system not only activates adaptive cruise control to keep your speed consistent with other traffic on the road, but it keeps you in your lane, too. Just press the right arrow button on the cruise control panel and pilot assist is engaged. Between these two functions it was easy to cruise the New Jersey Turnpike—typically a tough traffic challenge—and carry on a conversation.
We also loved the ease of plugging in phones so everyone had a turn at DJ’ing. The car’s two USB ports are under the center console (just under the touch screen) and despite being inset in a cubby, were fairly easy to reach. When people got sick of my Sirius XM choices they could easily put on a playlist and turn up the Harman/Kardon sound system. The shape of the cabin, with plenty of head room, make singing along easy and fun.
An Interior Worthy of the Tiffany-inspired exterior
The car’s interior design evokes a social space, too, but in an elegant, understated way. The white upholstery, ample headroom and panoramic sunroof deliver a flattering, more even light to better see people’s faces (we all look better in this light, too).
And the minimalist approach to the center console, the arm rest, the aluminum accents and even the smaller, less obtrusive size of the gear selector gives the Volvo XC40 an elegant feel.
The design sensibility extends to the cargo area. I LOVED the cargo floor storage area, which is nicely sized for this compact SUV. It easily fits luggage for 3 or 4 people. But it’s the flexibility of the floor that I loved most: the floor has a handle in the center so you can pull it up to reveal an additional storage bin. The floor then props up (there are notches in the side rails to keep it propped up) revealing plastic hooks that you can hang items from, such as shopping bags or tote bags.
This is great to keep plastic shopping bags from splaying open in the cargo area and letting all your canned goods roll around as you drive. There is also an elastic band that stretches across the right side cubby that allows you to strap in larger items that might roll around while driving. It held my milk neatly in place.
Well Proportioned Space for a Compact Crossover
Volvo developed the XC40 to fill a need in the brand’s lineup: While the XC90 and the XC60 have done well, consumers have been voicing a need for a small SUV that is easier to drive and park. The 2019 model is the first of this new model line and is ideally sized for you and a friend up front. While the rear seats are comfortable, leg room isn’t huge; my 5’ 9” daughter found it comfortable for the two+ hour drive to Philadelphia but wouldn’t have loved being in the car much longer. It helps that there is plenty of headroom, but even with the front seats pulled forward there was no stretching out in the back seat.
Peppy and Responsive, No Shortcomings in the Drive Experience
Probably the biggest surprise was the zip in the Volvo’s engine, even with 4 passengers and a full load. The 4 cylinder turbo engine’s 248 horsepower was fine accelerating when pulling out of a parking lot or away from an intersection, but in dynamic mode, it was even better.
I always love eco mode, but found this to be better on the highway and when driving alone than on city streets with my family; it took a little more time to spool up the engine’s power in eco than in dynamic, which is to be expected. Still, even though I drove in all modes, on city streets and highways, we averaged about 24MPG, which I thought was reasonable for the size and power of this little car.
The other drive modes include off road, which we didn’t get to try out but I would love to have on a snowy day, comfort, which is the default mode, and individual, which allows drivers to customize the experience.
Driver Assistance Technology Gives the Driver a Break
Don’t you love it when your co-pilot offers to take over the driving so you can rest? That is sort of what Pilot Assist and adaptive cruise control do: they regulate your speed and keep you in the lane, letting you relax a bit behind the wheel. Volvo has been a leader in this space for a while in keeping with the brand’s commitment to being the safest car on the road, and the innovations keep evolving. The XC 40 includes some features in the base model; a $1400 upgrade adds adaptive cruise and pilot assist, which are well worth the price. All these features, and we highly recommend that drivers invest in them and learn to use them, add up to an even safer car, for both you as a passenger and for cars and people around your car.
And after all, keeping your people safe is a priority, but seeing this pretty car dented and damaged would break your heart.
What We Loved:
- Panoramic sunroof
- Tiffany blue color with a white roof
- Adaptive cruise with Pilot assist
- Capless gas tank
- Apple Car Play
- Wireless charge pad
- Two USB ports and two cigarette lighter ports/power ports
- Harman/Kardon sound system
- Streamlined design
- Heated seats/steering wheel
- Five drive modes (eco, comfort, off road, dynamic, individual)
- Purse hook accessory that hooks onto the glove box
- Large touch screen
- Grocery shelf and milk holder
- Oversized side door pockets
What You Need to Know:
- This is a small SUV
- Seating for 5 but more comfortable for 3 or 4
- Premium fuel recommended; the use of regular fuel may mean reduced fuel economy and power
- Unusual use of interior materials (carpeted door panels)
- 2 USB ports and 3 12V cigarette lighter adapter ports
- 48 month/50,000 mile warranty
- 3 years/36,000 mile complimentary maintenance
- Estimated fuel economy: 23 city/31 highway; we averaged 24 MPG
What We Listened to in the Volvo XC40
This cute little car inspired us to crank up the music and sing along. Here’s what we listened to in the Volvo XC40.
The 2019 Volvo XC40 was provided for this review; all opinions are my own.