2025 Volvo EX 30 First Drive: The Electric SUV, Re-Thought, Luxury-Packed, Budget Friendly

Volvo does it again in the Volvo EX30 electric SUV: Nice power and electric range complement modern design and renewable materials in this most affordable SUV

The Front Of Volvo Ex30
The front of the Volvo EX30. Credit: Scotty Reiss

It’s Like Driving Volvo’s Vision Board 

When I first drove the Volvo XC90, the brand’s flagship SUV, I knew I was was behind the wheel of a design that would win awards and influence automotive design. The simple modernism, the calming color palette, the technology that was at once simple and advanced set a new tone. It was more like the inner salon of a designer’s atelier than a … car. And it was heaven. 

The 2025 Volvo EX30 takes that mission to the next level: It’s the brand’s vision board for its future design, materials and technology. 

Related: How to Decide if an Electric Car Is Right for Your Lifestyle

The Front Cabin Of The Volvo Ex30

The front cabin of the Volvo EX30. Photo: Scotty Reiss

The Big News: This Car Will Cost $35K

The conundrum for car buyers who want an electric car is price: Most EVs carry a 20% – 30% premium over their gas-powered counterparts. Even with the long term savings on gas and maintenance, buying an EV is a lifestyle choice and a statement that may not make financial sense. Why overpay, even if you can afford to?

For Volvo, which has targeted converting 50% of its lineup to electric by 2025, 100% by 2030 and reducing its carbon footprint to zero, this is part of the opportunity. 

Volvo has whittled the price of the base model EX30 to $34,950 yet still loaded it with lots of delightful features and details so as to not feel “base;” it includes crisp LED headlights, adaptive cruise control, Google multimedia system and wireless Apple CarPlay.

You can upgrade to the Plus model for $38,900 and add details like a panoramic sunroof, Harman Kardon sound bar and a digital phone-as-key. And if you really want to go all in, the Ultra model adds power front seats, a 360º camera and Pilot Assist hands free highway driving for $40,600. Heated front seats and a heated steering wheel are not standard but can be added to any model for $500.

Related: What’s new in the 2022 Volvo XC60, and 6 Reasons To Buy It

The Elegant Air Vents In The Volvo Ex30

The elegant air vents in the Volvo EX30. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Clever Interior Details Add to the Premium Feel

The Volvo EX30 features some clever storage and connectivity details that make the space feel smart rather than spare. This includes a lower storage bin that will hold a medium sized handbag or store phones or other things. It has a ‘false floor’ which is where you’ll find the 2 front seat USB-C ports; cleverly, you can plug in your phone and tuck the cord away inside the false floor. 

The center console is topped with an arm rest and cup holders that retract into it; give the front of the console a push and the cupholders pop out. The ‘holder’ portion of the cup holder can also be retracted to turn them into a bin. It’s all really smart. 

Under the arm rest there’s a removable cargo bin that can be accessed from the front or rear seat. It comes fully out of its space so you can take it out and clean it if you need to. I loved this detail.

Related: 13 of Our Absolute Favorite Electric Cars, Hybrids, and PHEVs

The Volvo Ex30S Charge Port

The Volvo EX30s charge port. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Pick Your Power and Electric Driving Range 

Volvo has a particular talent for building electric cars that deliver both a lot of power and a very good electric driving range. Buyers can choose from a single motor rear wheel drive powertrain that generates 268 PH and has a range of 275 miles, or a dual motor all wheel drive model with 422 HP and a 265 mile range. Upgrading to the dual motor model is $6,000, though it’s not available in the base model.

Let me just say, 268 HP bests many much larger SUVs on the road, gas-powered or electric. And a 275 mile range puts the EX30 at the “quite good” level, also at or near the range of larger or more expensive electric cars.

Related: Electric Cars and Winter Driving: What You Should Know

The Harman Kardon Sound Bar In The Volvo Ex30

The Harman Kardon sound bar in the Volvo EX30. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Do You Really Need That? A Completely Re-Thought Driver Experience

When you hop into the Volvo EX 30 and find the gear selector on the right side of the steering wheel, I recommend you take a look around and identify the key functions you’ll need before popping the car into gear and heading out. While you might assume you’ll know where everything is that you’ll need on your drive, you’ll find some surprises. It’s that refreshingly rethought. 

First, unlock the car just by arriving with your key fob or by tapping a card key against a small icon on the door. If you use the card key, it needs to sit against the phone charger pad to start the car. But that’s it; the EX30 is powered. If you activate your digital smart phone key app, the car will unlock as you approach and power up once you’re in the car. 

At this point you might be tempted to look for a start/stop button, but there isn’t one. You don’t need one in electric cars, even though some have them. In the EX30 when the key enters the car, it’s powered; when it leaves, the car turns off. No button necessary.

Next, you should probably take note of your charge level, which isn’t found on the driver information screen — because there isn’t one. All driver information is on the center screen. This screen is divided into 4 areas: At the top is a fixed display of driver information showing battery power level, range, speed and safety systems. 

The center of the screen displays your current selection: navigation, music, seat settings, vehicle settings and more. 

At the bottom a fixed app bar features Spotify, Google voice assistance, front defrost and glove box access.

Below that is a tool bar: Home, apps, seat settings, climate, vehicle settings. Tap any of these and the function pops up on the center portion of the screen. If you’re using navigation, be sure to unmute the voice prompts on so that you’ll still hear your turn by turn directions while your drive partner is scrolling through Spotify playlists. 

The Multimedia Screen With Fixed Driver Feedback, Apps And Toolbar Is Framed By The Elegant Air Vents

The multimedia screen with fixed driver feedback, apps and toolbar is framed by the elegant air vents. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Ask and You Shall Receive 

My conversation with my drive partner Dan went like this: 

Behind the wheel on our first leg of the drive, Dan wanted to turn on his heated seat. He tapped the seat icon on the screen and an image popped up of the seating with control options. 

“Well, I can’t see that,” Dan complained as he kept his gaze on the road. He poked around at the icons without really looking, hoping he’d get the right setting. He didn’t. 

“Let me take care of it,” I said. He agreed. 

“Hey Google?” 

“How may I help you?” the Google lady replied in a crisp British accent.

“Turn on the driver’s heated seat.” “Activating the driver’s heated seat,” she cheerfully said.

And THAT is how you’re supposed to take care of your needs while you’re at the wheel. The Volvo system is designed for both those moments you have time to hunt and peck to find what you need, which you’ll find to be more natural as you learn the system, or simply ask for what you want.

I really like this, and the Google system is particularly good. 

The Door Panel On The Volvo Ex30

The door panel on the Volvo EX30. Photo: Scotty Reiss

We Have to Talk About These Doors 

You’ve probably never seen anything like this. I never have. The EX30’s interior door panels are more like a sculptural concept you might see in a design magazine than an actual functional door. However, they are completely form-meets-function. And so elegant.

It starts with a dual-tone panel that covers the door and features the colors and materials from one of Volvo’s four interior themes: Indigo, Pine, Breeze or Mist. The top and center of the panel are composite made from reclaimed or renewable materials; the lower portion is a darker contrasting color. Across the upper portion of the door panel is a linear slash of metal with a rectangular loop at the forward end that serves as the door handle. 

It’s sublimely designed; you know exactly what it is and how to use it, and yet, you’ve never seen anything like it before. Below it is a floating arm rest. You can fully grab it to close the door or rest your arm on it while driving. The bottom portion of the door panel features a wide bottle pocket carved into the door. 

The door’s simplicity is noted by what you won’t find: no buttons of any sort. No window control buttons, no lock/unlock buttons, no seat buttons. And, no speaker grilles. Those have all been relocated to other places in order to lighten the weight of the door and decrease the carbon footprint of the car. 

The window controls are on the center console and they are dual controls: two buttons control the two front windows, or, tap the “Rear” icon and they control the rear windows. Next to them are the lock/unlock controls. There are rear window controls on the back of the center console for back seat passengers.

The Window Controls In The Volvo Ex30

The window controls in the Volvo EX30. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Reduced Components Mean a Reduced Carbon Footprint

The speakers for the sound system have been replaced in the EX30 by a Harman Kardon sound bar, which is found on the most forward part of the dashboard where it meets the windshield. The sound bar is the only speaker in the entire car and it’s engineered to deliver a holistic sound experience. Turn up the music and you’d never know there aren’t speakers in the doors, pillars or in the rear cargo area where you typically find them. 

This innovation is part of Volvo’s attempt to reduce the number of components in the car, therefore reducing the carbon footprint of the EX30. This extends to the streamlined and lighter-weight doors, fewer screens, fewer buttons and even the elegant and beautifully functional air vents: slender frameless vents with a single tab that adjusts air flow. These might be my favorite aesthetic feature in the Volvo EX30.

Also adding to the reduced carbon mission are the recycled, renewable and reclaimed materials, which are everywhere. From the premium wool seats which contain 70% recycled polyester, to the leatherette made from pine resin, recycled plastic bottles and reclaimed plastics, to the dashboard made of a composite that includes flax or recycled window frames, each is designed with the original materials in mind. Which of these materials is right for you may be a matter of taste or budget, but I found them to all be interesting and premium-feeling (even though… busted up window frames? Who knew!). Breeze is my choice; I loved the light, bright cabin feel it created.

Me And My Drive Partner Dan Carney

Me and my drive partner Dan Carney. Photo: Scotty Reiss

The Drive Experience 

But of course, it all boils down to this: What is the Volvo EX30 like to drive? I’m happy to report, it’s fun. I drove the EX30 out of the city and into the country, along the coast and through villages and towns surrounding Barcelona (yes, it was hard to look away from the scenery). In the city, the EX30 gave me confidence and good command of the road. I like the ground clearance, 6.5,” which is about standard for electric cars. I also liked the diminutive size and near instant torque that lets you zip right along with traffic, quickly merge onto the highway and power around traffic circles. 

One pedal driving, which is a single on-or-off setting, gives you roll-to-a-quick-stop function in the city while improving on your efficiency. One pedal driving isn’t as efficient on the highway or at higher speeds; lift off the accelerator and you feel it somewhat, but not as insistently as other electric cars with one pedal driving. 

I drove both the RWD version and the AWD, which has even more power. Both were fun, though I definitely felt the added torque and power in the AWD version in the city; short on-ramps were not an issue at all; and when I had to stop and wait for a clear spot to merge, I was able to hop right into   my lane with no lag. I really appreciated that, especially since some of my drive was during the high traffic, low patience rush hour.

Either is a good choice for most drivers, though those who regularly face cold, snowy weather.

I Love The Simplicity Of The Steering Wheel In The Volvo Ex30

I love the simplicity of the steering wheel in the Volvo EX30. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Do We Really Need a Driver Information Display?

But a major consideration for the drive experience is the lack of a driver information display. While this is something we are seeing more and more of — in Tesla, VinFast and the last generation Toyota Prius — it’s still controversial. Do we need it? Honestly, I don’t think so. I found that with voice assistance and a large and clear display of speed and navigation on the center screen, I didn’t miss it. 

In fact, when I drive a car without a driver information display, I realize just how distracting they are. Back in the day, drivers needed those gauges to make sure the car wasn’t going to overheat, or that the engine wasn’t being damaged by too-high RPMs. That isn’t the case now. I find that the driver information display is something I reference occasionally and looking over at the center screen was just fine. 

That said, I hope that Volvo decides to offer a head up display in the EX30, which will be an option in the EX90 3-row SUV when it comes to market. A HUD + solid center screen display is all you really need. 

Tail Lights Frame The Rear Window In The Volvo Ex30

Tail lights frame the rear window in the Volvo EX30. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Cargo, Kids Car Seats and Interior Space

Volvo did a nice job with interior space, but if you have kids, car seats or dogs, you may find that it just isn’t big enough. There are 2 sets of rear seat lower anchors but they will best accommodate forward facing car seats or booster seats. You might be able to fit a rear facing car seat or infant seat behind the passenger’s seat but you’d need to push that seat quite a bit forward. Ideally, this car is for solo or duo drivers and a teen, tween or fur baby. 

Rear seat passengers will find bottle pockets in the doors but not cup holders; as with the front doors, there are no buttons for the windows on the doors; they are on the rear of the center console, as are USB-C ports but not air vents.

The cargo area is cleverly large; it’s deep and there’s a bit of additional storage underneath. The rear seats can be folded for even more room; there is 14 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seat and about 32 with the seats folded.

The Rear Of The Volvo Ex30

The rear of the Volvo EX30. Photo: Scotty Reiss

The EX30 Leads Volvo’s Future, and the EX90 3-row SUV

When I first got into the Volvo EX30, I wondered how this car would appeal to the many family drivers in our audience, those who focus on room for the kids, hockey bags, carpools and family vacations. The EX-30 is compact and while it’s big for its size, it’s small. 

It’s great for city drivers who want a zippy drive experience but don’t need a large car. It’s also a great peek into the future of Volvo, including the upcoming EX90, which should arrive mid-2024. This 3-row SUV is expected to have a 300 mile driving range, up to about 500 HP and be slightly longer than the XC90 which has a comfortable 3rd row. 

However, its not expected to carry a bargain price tag and may not be as cutting-edge as the EX30— early photos show it with a driver information screen (though it could go without if you ask me) and head up display (which the EX30 could benefit from).

But I really hope it carries the design, materials and technology that define the EX30. The modern simplicity and fun-to-drive experience are refreshing. To drive a car that is more designer atelier than transportation appliance, well, that’s heaven.

Disclosure: I was a guest of Volvo for this test drive. Travel and accommodations were provided but all opinions are my own. Additionally, A Girls Guide to Cars may earn a commission from affiliate links in this story.

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Journalist, entrepreneur and mom. Expertise includes new cars, family cars, 3-row SUVs, child passenger car seats and automotive careers... More about Scotty Reiss

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