We Saw the Volvo EX30 Compact Electric SUV and This is What You Need to Know 

The Volvo EX30 compact electric SUV is aspirational luxury, top tech, sustainable materials, modern design and a palatable price. Oh, and the luxury of electric driving.

The Volvo Ex90
The Volvo EX90. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Sized right, priced right, outfitted right.

When I first test drove Volvo’s compact SUV, the Volvo XC40 I was infatuated: this SUV had all the features I wanted and needed in a me-sized car that also allowed for passengers or cargo, or some of both in measured amounts. 

Then, Volvo introduced the XC40 Recharge all electric SUV; I was at once happy and disappointed: this fun little SUV was all electric but also, it was super premium. And expensive. It featured Volvo’s most powerful electric system, a dual motor AWD with 402 HP, 223 miles of range and priced form $53K – and the Volvo C40 Recharge electric coupe version of this SUV starts at about $56K. Once again, a delightful electric experience would be out of reach for many.

Related: Volvo C40 Recharge: Recycled materials, Fresh Design and a Peek at the Future of Driving

The View From The Drivers Seat In The Volvo Ex30

The view from the driver’s seat in the Volvo EX30. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Why I’m Excited for the Volvo XC30

When Volvo announced the arrival of the XC30 compact electric SUV, my ears perked up: It’s priced from $35K, built in China (so, no, it won’t qualify for federal tax incentives) and offers many of the things Volvo is known for: fresh, modern design, Google technology and safety. 

And, it offers entry-level luxury that is designed to tease your aspirational tastes for luxury. 

Like a Gucci belt or crossbody bag, this small SUV is designed to introduce you to all the loveliness of Volvo at an affordable price. To let you sink into its thoughtfully designed upholstery, to have its technology at hand and to live the Volvo life with at-your-service roadside assistance, lifetime parts warranty, dedicated charging stations and now, access to Tesla chargers. 

Related: I Visited Volvo’s First U.S. Factory… And Learned to Build a Car

The Retratable Storage Cubby Also Has Cutouts For Holding Cups

The retractable storage cubby also has cutouts for holding cups. And, this is where two of the car’s only 4 buttons are– they are for the windows. Photo: Scotty Reiss

A Better, and Faster, Electric Powertrain 

And hopefully this is a peek into the future. The EX30 introduces a new electric motor that is faster to recharge, offers more miles on a charge and still delivers good-to-great horsepower. 

There are two options for US buyers: a single motor with 298 miles of range and 268 HP, and twin motor system with AWD, 422 HP and 275 miles of range. 

The XC30 is expected to be able to charge to 80 percent more quickly than the XC40, at about 26 minutes at a DC fast Charge station. It should still be able to reach 80% overnight at a level 2 charger, which means buyers can install a larger 240V outlet and fully charge the EX30 at home. 

As Volvo advances its battery performance, they are also advancing our optimism for a high-functioning EX90 full size 3-row SUV, the electric version of the very popular Volvo XC90. 

The Arm Rest Floats Below The Chrome Door Release On The Arm Rest On The Door

The arm rest floats below the chrome door release on the door. Photo: Scotty Reiss

The Luxury of a (more) Sustainable Interior 

Volvo’s approach to the EX30’s interior is a bit of a departure for the brand: designers went with what is becoming conventional in electric car interiors by eliminating a lot of the conventional details such as buttons, dials and even the driver information screen. Instead, there is a single 12” screen that anchors the dashboard and features all the functions you’ll  need, from navigation and climate to radio and phone apps. This is where you’ll also find driver feedback such as speed, charge level and battery range. 

Personally, I’m a fan of eliminating the driver information screen because it reduces the distraction in front of your eyes. Try it, you’ll see. 

The new interior is made of a number of recycled plastics and fabrics, which is good news, but also, part of the trend of electric car makers. What’s surprising is that you’d never know it; plastics, which contain about 17% recycled materials, are designed to feel soft. Upholstery, which includes a choice of all- fabric or a mix of fabric and leatherette, contain a higher amount of recycled materials, including cast-off unused fabrics and wool that don’t make the cut in the production of other materials. Think of this as a clever use of cutting room scraps. And again, you would never guess looking at these interiors. 

Under the exterior of the EX30 Volvo was also able to use some recycled steel and aluminum, which is a great practice — actually, quite a lot of steel is recycled because it is easy to collect, melt and reprocess. Volvo promises that not only are these materials reused, but they are also stronger and more protective of passengers with a stronger passenger cabin frame. 

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

The Rear Seats In The Ex30

The rear seats in the EX30 are covered in recycled woven material and Nordico leatherette. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Cradle to Grave Sustainability 

This might be the coolest part fo the EX30’s sustainability story: Built in a factory that uses 100% climate neutral electricity and boasts high levels of sustainability in other areas to reduce the carbon footprint of the EX30 overall. This means that by the time the EX30 gets to a dealership it’s already ahead of the sustainability game.

Then, the EX30 is designed to be pulled apart and recycled at the end of its life: its components can be recycled, reused or replaced, returning less to the junkyard and landfill.

The View From The Drivers Seat In The Volvo Ex30

The view from the drive’rs seat in the Volvo EX30. See the starter button? No? Because there isn’t one. Photo: Scotty Reiss

The EX30 Advances Volvo’s Technology Game

The first thing you will probably notice in the EX30 is the dashboard anchored by the Tesla-like 12” multimedia screen. And while this might seem a bit minimalist, don’t let it fool you. On that screen is a full suite of features that will keep you focused and connected, from navigation, entertainment, electric charging and usage information, apps and more. It also has voice-activated assistance; just say “Hey Google” and the system responds. 

The system is powered by Google; this has become the standard for many car makers and Volvo was the first. However, some won’t let you use Apple CarPlay and Volvo isn’t one of them: you can connect your iPhone and use CarPlay if you’d like. 

A detail you might have to look closely to see but you’ll certainly hear is the Harman Kardon sound bar; this audio system is designed to deliver concert-hall quality from a single panel of speakers. If you have a sound bar attached to your flat screen at home, you know.

Love This! Lots Of Cute Images That Depict Swedish Life

Love this! Cute images depict Swedish life on the removable rear seat console box. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Serenity, Now! 

Always one to highlight its calm pampering interiors, Volvo even allows you to turn the screen off if you only want to see key driver info. Or if you just want to look at the elegant dashboard.

Clever Storage For Such a Diminutive SUV

This is the puzzle for car designers working with a compact platform: How to integrate storage in a way that delivers, while not increasing the overall size of the car. 

Volvo’s response to this is thoughtful, and hopefully it’ll prove winning when we get to test drive the EX30: there is a cubby under the center arm rest, and when needed, cup holders slide out from the armrest. The glove box below has been relocated to sit the center screen. Rear seat passengers will find phone pockets on seat backs and storage boxes that slide out from under the center console.

Cargo space is compact too, at about 32 cubic feet, but there’s a size guide in the cargo area to help you know if something will fit or not. That’s pretty thoughtful, too.

The Ex30 Logo On The Rear Near The Roof Line

The EX30 logo on the rear near the roof line. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Attainable, Aspirational Luxury is a Welcome Thing

While Volvo hasn’t yet announced pricing for the full lineup of EX30s –and it looks like there will be several trims available when they make their way into dealerships next summer– the fact that it starts at $35K (or actually, just under, at $34,950) is pretty liberating. This means that those who want to go electric and don’t want to compromise on materials and design can do that.

And for Volvo, this gives the brand a way to build a new customer – one that will hopefully move up into other Volvo cars over the years. I’m very much expecting to be happy, and happy, when I finally get to test drive the Volvo XC30.

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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