2021 Volvo XC40

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The Car Connection
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Andrew Ganz Andrew Ganz Senior Editor
March 4, 2021

Buying tip

The XC40 Inscription isn’t much more than an XC40 Momentum with similar options, so shop wisely.

features & specs

Recharge P8 eAWD Pure Electric
T4 FWD Inscription
T4 FWD Momentum
Coming Soon
23 city / 32 hwy
23 city / 32 hwy

The 2021 Volvo XC40 is a high-personality compact crossover with plenty of features for the money.

What kind of car is the 2021 Volvo XC40? What does it compare to? 

The 2021 Volvo XC40 is a small crossover SUV. Consider cross-shopping it with the BMW X1, Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class, and the Jaguar E-Pace. 

Is the 2021 Volvo XC40 a good car?

Review continues below

We bestow upon the XC40 a TCC Rating of 7.0 out of 10. It prioritizes style above all else, but that’s not necessarily a demerit. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

What’s new for the 2021 Volvo XC40?

This year, the XC40 line grows with the addition of the all-electric XC40 T8 Recharge. The new model is Volvo’s first fully-electric vehicle—ignoring the company’s Polestar sister brand—and with the equivalent of 402 horsepower underhood, it’s also one of its most performance-oriented. 

Otherwise, the lineup mostly stands aside from a few additional safety features and new headlights that may improve crash-test ratings. Stay tuned on that last note.

Recharge aside, the XC40 range comes in two variants: The turbocharged T4 that puts out 187 horsepower to the front wheels and the T5 that ups the ante considerably to 248 horsepower delivered to all four wheels. 

An eight-speed automatic transmission is standard across the gas-fueled range. 

All gas-fueled XC40s are pleasant, almost sporty to drive, and they have comfortable, well-wrought interiors that make good use of passenger space. Cargo room is on the light side, but that’s likely a fair trade-off for many shoppers given the city-friendly proportions. 

You won’t find an XC40 without a slew of collision-avoidance tech. This year, Volvo has made blind-spot monitors as well as adaptive LED lights with automatic high-beams standard fare, too. 

How much does the 2021 Volvo XC40 cost?

The XC40 lineup starts a little under $35,000 (add $2,000 for all-wheel drive).

A loaded-up XC40 Inscription inches closer to $47,000, but still strikes us as a reasonable value, all things considered. 

Volvo has not yet priced the XC40 Recharge. 

Where is the 2021 Volvo XC40 made? 

Belgium and China


2021 Volvo XC40


Like a high-top sneaker, the XC40 is stylish if a little unusual.

Is the 2021 Volvo XC40 a good-looking car?

The small footprint that makes the Volvo XC40 a smart choice for urban environments leaves it looking less glamorous than its larger siblings. To compensate, Volvo has added some trendy styling cues. They work, mostly.

The Recharge has slightly different wheels, and its grille—hardly necessary in an electric car that doesn’t have a gas engine to keep cool—is filled in.

The XC40 stretches just 174 inches between its bumpers, which means it’s also rather compact inside. The tall dash is interrupted by an upright 9.0-inch touchscreen, which is oriented the way you probably hold your smartphone. 

Dealers are invariably stocked with XC40s with bland beige and black upholstery. Rise above the rest by selecting a more adventurous hue, like the Oxide Red leather option on some trims.

Review continues below


2021 Volvo XC40


The 2021 Volvo XC40 is zippy with optional all-wheel drive.

How fast is the 2021 Volvo XC40?

A 2.0-liter turbo-4 motivates T4 and T5 versions of the XC40, albeit with two states of tune. The base version has just 187 horsepower, which is enough to give it adequate response around town but may leave drivers wanting more when it comes to highway passing. 

Better yet—and just $2,000 more—is the 248-hp version of the turbo-4 found in all-wheel-drive versions. (Volvo badges these as T5.) The engine can rumble more than some rivals, but it provides ample thrust and generally cooperates with the 8-speed automatic gearbox. 

We haven’t driven the XC40 Recharge, but we expect the impressive acceleration typical of electric cars, as well as near-silent cruising. The Recharge makes use of two 150-kw electric motors, one on each axle, that combine to make 402 net horsepower. A 78-kwh lithium-ion battery pack supplies charge. 

Is the 2021 Volvo XC40 4WD?

It can be. T4 versions deliver power to the front wheels, despite the confusing use of the number four, while T5s shuffle grunt to all four corners. 

The XC40 Recharge comes only with all-wheel drive.

The XC40 has a firm, controlled ride, but its short wheelbase results in busy motions with larger wheel options that include shorter tire sidewalls -- especially those mandatory with the R-Design trim level. Such is the price for vanity. Steering heft is reasonable for in-town use, and the XC40 is entertaining but not a thrill ride when the road opens up.

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2021 Volvo XC40

Comfort & Quality

The XC40 is better for passengers than for cargo.

Passengers will find plenty of space inside the Volvo XC40, and there’s enough room for a weekend worth of luggage. 

The front seats are comfortably sculpted and offer a good range of adjustment, though don’t look for cooled seats on the options list even though leather trim is now standard line-wide. Rear-seat riders have good room for a vehicle of this size, and the bench sits high enough off the ground for reasonable long-distance support.

Cargo space is OK: look for just shy of 21 cubic feet with the second row upright and a maximum of 47 cubes with those seats folded down. 

Small items will find plenty of places to hide, too, thanks to excellent storage in the door panels, dash, and center console.

Review continues below


2021 Volvo XC40


The 2021 XC40 is a safe choice that will do its best to keep you out of harm’s way.

With plenty of collision-avoidance tech standard—and more added to the roster this year—the Volvo XC40 is a good choice for shoppers who prioritize safety. 

Every XC40 rolls into showrooms with automatic emergency braking, plus active blind-spot monitors are newly standard this year. New LED headlights automatically dim when they sense traffic and they bend into corners. 

The NHTSA has granted the XC40 five stars overall. The IIHS gives it a Top Safety Pick+ award. The only point it misses here is for outward vision, which can be difficult to the XC40's rear quarters.

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2021 Volvo XC40


Lots of options making customizing an XC40 a cinch; and they’re priced reasonably, too.

Which Volvo XC40 should I buy?

Gas-fueled versions of the XC40 come in three trim levels, each of which has its own flavor. 

The base Momentum grade offers the most value for the money, and is easy enough to keep below $40,000 with popular options such as an advanced adaptive cruise control system that allows brief hands-free driving and a boomin’ Harman/Kardon audio system.

The X40 R-Design has some sporty touches, but we think it mostly misses the mark by not actually driving much differently.

Spoil yourself with the XC40 Inscription and you’ll be surrounded with fine driftwood inlays, navigation, a panoramic moonroof, front parking sensors, and a number of other features. 

Of note, Volvo offers a unique subscription plan on all of its models, though it touts the all-inclusive payment the most on its XC40. The deal nets subscribers a well-equipped car with insurance and maintenance included for two years, with the option to swap into a different Volvo (and possibly a different payment) after 365 days, at which time the clock resets to two more years. 

How much is a fully loaded 2021 Volvo XC40?

An XC40 T6 Inscription inches upward of $47,000 with every option selected, though it mostly still feels like a good value.

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2021 Volvo XC40

Fuel Economy

The 2021 XC40 can be had with a gas or electric powertrain, but neither is very efficient.

Is the 2021 Volvo XC40 good on gas? 

For a smaller SUV, the 2021 Volvo XC40 is just so-so when it comes to fuel economy. We can say the same—in slightly different words—about the electric range of the XC40 T8 Recharge.

Front-wheel-drive XC40s are rated at 23 mpg city, 32 highway, 26 combined. Despite their extra power, XC40 T5s manage 22/30/25 mpg—in real-world driving, you’re not likely to notice a major difference.

The Recharge comes in with 208 miles of all-electric range, or a 79 MPGe rating. That range is about two-thirds what Tesla delivers in its Model Y Long Range.

Review continues below

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The Car Connection Consumer Review

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MSRP based on T4 FWD Momentum
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Expert Rating
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Styling 7
Performance 6
Comfort & Quality 7
Safety 9
Features 8
Fuel Economy 5
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