Volvo’s XC40 Recharge
When thinking of Volvo – and as a fan, I think of Volvo frequently – I’m always envisioning something upright, useful and durable. Those were the attributes clearly evident in the late ‘60s when trying to talk my folks into buying Volvo’s 142, and was also true while on a press trip in Baja California with Volvo’s then-new XC70 wagon. It’s also clearly evident when studying the footprint and upright architecture of Volvo’s XC40 Recharge, one of the more recent salvos in the EV showroom wars. It is – in short – a runabout that can run, just about anywhere you want to run it.
Outwardly, there’s little different between the gas-powered XC40 and its electrified variant. For this prospect that’s fine; I like the XC40’s take on the more-or-less traditional Volvo vibe. As I wrote some four years ago when first driving that XC40, the newly introduced, not-quite-compact XC40 crossover was exactly what you’d hope a Volvo crossover would be, with a footprint (174 inches in overall length on a wheelbase of 106 inches) that seems just right, comfortable seating for five and 20 cubic feet of stowage with the second-row seat up. And the impression for the driver and passengers was even more positive than the numbers suggest. There is a lightness to the XC40, both visually and functionally, that you simply don’t get from its crossover competition, whether that competition comes from Mazda, Honda or Toyota immediately beneath it, or the Jaguar E-Pace and BMW X1 immediately (I’ll guess) above it.
As with any EV conversion, that lightness – and cargo space – is compromised by a battery pack and the XC40’s two electric motors and all-wheel drive. But you’d be hard-pressed to describe the XC40’s 4,700 pound curb weight (without – you guessed it – gas!) as porky. For comparison, the Grand Cherokee 4xe tested recently weighed 5,400 pounds with its combo of turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, battery and electric propulsion. With that, the Volvo battery’s weight is mounted low in the chassis, and those functions associated with good handling – steering, braking and cornering attitude – are arguably even more sporting than its gas-powered donor.
Behind the wheel you’re confronted by an appropriately time-dated combo of conventional info and EV-specific updates. The most important, of course, is the percentage of charge remaining. Range – and the anxiety that comes with it – is front-and-center in most EV discussions, and the XC40 doesn’t get an exemption. Most reporting suggests a realistic range of 200+ miles, while its competition is inching toward 300. Obviously, if you purchase fast-charging capability for your home or enjoy that same capability at the office, the numbers are almost moot. But if you don’t have one at home, or the chargers at work are plugged into someone else’s EV, the ability to drive an extra day or two between charges becomes important – you don’t want to be pushing 4,700 pounds. Most of today’s commutes are 25 miles or less, and that suggests three days of driving and, if unable to find a charger within those three days, a fourth day consumed by a nervous breakdown.
Priced in the mid-$50Ks, the XC40 was a great buy with a federal incentive of $7500. But like so many EVs with foreign nameplates and origin, new legislation has removed the incentive – the bulk of the investment is on you and your banker. Given Volvo’s well-earned reputation for durability, and both the fun and utility of the XC40’s architecture, you won’t regret the decision once you’ve written that check. Unless, of course, you’re looking for a charger on that fifth day…