Volvo’s vehicles have for years been unified around a mantra of safety and longevity, and Scandinavian design themes that are stylish and confident but not too over-the-top.
The brand’s first electric vehicle, the Volvo XC40 Recharge, is a finalist for Green Car Reports’ Best Car To Buy 2021. It shows all the signs of carrying over Volvo’s hallmark personality traits, and the company is stepping up to make this model an opening act, not a one-act wonder.
As it arrives gracefully into the world of electric vehicles, Volvo’s definitely talking the talk better than any other mid-size legacy automaker. Overall, there’s a goal to make its entire lineup electrified (at least hybrid) by 2030. Better yet are the recent comments from its CEO that an actual ban timeline for internal combustion would make more sense than credits and incentives, a downward price adjustment for plug-in hybrids, and programs to encourage plug-in hybrid owners to, well, plug in.
2021 Volvo XC40 Recharge
However the brand hasn’t been at the leading edge of efficiency, and while it has a chance to reset that with a move to electric vehicles, so far the XC40 doesn’t exactly do that.
From a big 75 kwh of usable capacity in its battery, it extracts 208 miles of EPA range—which isn’t at all impressive compared to what’s out on the market already. The larger Tesla Model Y manages up to 326 EPA miles from about the same usable energy, and the like-sized Kia Niro EV gets 239 miles out of 64 kwh.
About all we can fault the XC40 Recharge for is that it’s built on a platform for internal combustion vehicles, which may contribute to its hefty 4,800-pound weight, it’s unimpressive efficiency, and a back seat that’s really only good for two.
2021 Volvo XC40 Recharge
The XC40 Recharge has everything else going for it. There are wonderful seats and a comfortable interior, a quiet ride, and a revamped interface—built around Android Automotive OS—that from what we can see helps simplify and keep the clutter out of the experience. It performs very well, with its 402-horsepower dual-motor system delivering 4.7-second 0-60 mph times. And with 150-kw DC fast charging, it can get to 80% in about 40 minutes.
The starting price of $54,895 that can be cut to $47,395 with eligibility for the federal EV tax credit is on par with the market for the interior, features, refinement, and the luxurious feel of the vehicle. Volvo plans to make it available throughout the U.S., starting in January, and the carmaker reports that you should be able to go test-drive it at some dealerships in December.
Geely SEA (Sustainable Experience Architecture) modular EV platform
With a dedicated electric vehicle platform on the way and set to underpin Volvo EVs later in the decade, and an electric version of the big XC90 arriving within a couple of years, this is just the start. And the brand has a strong record for following through on its promises.