When competition includes models from BMW (X1), Mercedes-Benz (GLA-Class), Jaguar (E-Pace) and Audi (Q3), Volvo had to do something different. It has. Welcome the 2019 Volvo XC40.

The new compact crossover is the Swedish manufacturer’s smallest, sportiest and least expensive SUV. It’s positioned as an alternative to the well-respected XC90 and XC60.

The 2019 XC40 is the Swedish manufacturers news and smallest SUV.
The 2019 XC40 is the Swedish manufacturer’s news and smallest SUV.

The base trim, called the XC Momentum, is a misnomer. It has five drive modes and a host of safety and technical features that would qualify it as an upscale model from many manufacturers.

Volvo has always stressed safety, with XC40’s supply helping it to earn top new model honors. Standard stuff includes: forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking and lane-keeping assist. It helps redirect the vehicle when it drifts out of its lane.

The turbocharged, two-liter engine produces 187 horsepower and is matched with an eight-speed automatic transmission. Acceleration is peppy for the segment, achieving the standard 0-60 miles per hour standard in 6.2 seconds.

Standard equipment includes: eight-inch, five-spoke silver alloy wheels, high gloss piano black grille, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, a 9.0-inch touchscreen with Sensus Connect with SiriusXM satellite radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and three USB ports.

Going upscale to the R-Design ($2,500 upgrade), provides: 19-inch double-spoke matte black wheels, sport-oriented grille, aluminum inlays, pedals, three-spoke steering wheel with perforated leather and Nubuck leather upholstery. 

Impressive interior design is a Volvo signature. But rather than remain with traditional Scandinavian design, appealing to younger buyers is now the priority. My review vehicle matched a “black stone” exterior and similarly colored seats with burnt orange interior paneling and carpet. The contrasting color scheme is odd, particularly for a manufacturer known for simplicity, minimalism and functionality.

Still, there’s no mistaken the XC40 as a Volvo. Tall taillights, another signature feature, and the SUVs broad appearance, both remain. But there’s also more playfulness, like a tiny Swedish flag, slightly sticking out of the driver’s side door. It looks like a misplaced laundry tag or maybe leftover wrap from a delivery covering, and it will likely be yanked in parking lots. But it’s permanent, a small symbol of Volvo’s heritage. And it’s cool.

Volvo’s versatility is always impressive. The console has an open bin and there’s a small removable waste container. Door pockets a bag on the glove box and partially hidden cellphone perch are small, worthwhile conveniences. 

The biggest oddity is the XC40’s shifting mechanics. The shifter uses a quick-tap method, and there’s a huge learning curve. It’s best to look at the gear listing on the dash while learning finesse method. The shifter doesn’t respond with traditional practices. It’s an unusual but stress-free system once a light touch is mastered, but it’s not for everyone.

A large, attractive control system isn’t an intuitive as it looks. It’s vertically positioned on the dash like a tablet. It’s home for audio, climate and phone functions. But using the systems involves complicated scrolling and swiping, increasing the likelihood of distracted driving.

Volvo offers vehicles as sturdy as any manufacturer. The XC40 follows suit. It feels solid on the road, nimble while maneuvering. Occupants sit high in comfort and with sufficient legroom and headroom. There’s adequate interior space, 20.7 cubic feet with the rear seats up, 47.2 cubic feet with the seats down.
It’s only an adequate spec for a vehicle that otherwise gives Volvo plenty of robust competition for its rivals.

SPECIFICATIONS: 2019 VOLVO XC40
VEHICLE TYPE . . . 5-passenger AWD small sport utility vehicle.
BASE PRICE . . . $35,700.
PRICE AS TESTED . . . $44,315.
ENGINE TYPE . . . 16-valve 4-cylinder, AWD
DISPLACEMENT . . . 2.0-liter.
HORSEPOWER (net) . . . 248 at 5,500 rpm
TORQUE (lb.-ft.) . . . 258 at 1,800rpm
TRANSMISSION . . . 8-speed automatic w/manual mode.
OVERALL LENGTH . . . 174.2 in.
TURNING CIRCLE (curb-to-curb) 37.4 ft.
CURB WEIGHT . . . 3,756 pounds.
FUEL CAPACITY . . . 14.2 gal.
EPA MILEAGE RATING . . . 23 mpg city, 31 mpg highway.

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