2019 Volvo XC40 T5 R-Design new car reviews

The XC40 is Volvo’s new entry info the “compact luxury SUV market.”

But here’s the big news: In addition to traditional buy and lease programs, it’s also available as part of the new Care by Volvo program. This is a 24-month “subscription plan” that includes Liberty Mutual insurance, scheduled maintenance and concierge service. And then, after 12 to 24 months with the vehicle, you get a new one.

Here, the headline from the Volvo release: “Having a new Volvo XC40 will be as hassle free as having a mobile phone.”

“This is simple and clear, everything but fuel is basically included in one flat rate,” said Lex Kerssemakers, President & CEO of Volvo Car USA, in that same release. “This is the next step toward making life less complicated for customers.”

The R-Design that we drove is available for $750 per month–$37,700 is paying via the traditional model. You can save a hundred bucks a month by going with the less fancy Inscription model.

Other staff views

J.G. Pasterjak JG Pasterjak
Production/Art Director

The Volvo XC40 is a car with a LOT of great ideas for driver convenience, interface and usability. Unfortunately, it’s not a car with a lot of great executions for those ideas. So while the ingredients are there for true excellence, the end result is as frustrating and disappointing as it is wondrous.

And, look, initially I was telling myself that I was just being a fussy old man, railing against all this “new-fangled” technology. But the more I drive the thing the more I felt that the implementation of some of that technology was lacking.

Some examples are in order I suppose. Okay, let’s say you want to put the XC40 in “drive.” Simple, right? Well, it’s got one of those new fangled gear selectors, first popularized on the Toyota Prius, where neutral is in the middle, reverse is forward and drive is back. Park is activated via button.

Okay, fine, whatever, time marches on. I’ll get used to it, even if I back into a few things inadvertently while I do.

But there’s a twist! Instead of pulling the lever back a single time for D, you have to pull it back twice! What a shocking turn of developments! Same goes for reverse. Two clicks, please! Why? No clue. Perhaps the next version of Volvo’s dynamically stellar small crossover will force me to enter the entire Konami code to get the vehicle moving, but at least I’ll get an extra guy.

Okay, we’re moving, great. Now let’s set the cruise control on the highway. Oh, I see setting the cruise also activates a semi-autonomous “Pilot Assist” protocol, which keeps the XC40 in its lane while driving downtime highway.

So I let go of the wheel. Then the XC40 kind of drifts unsettlingly back and forth in the lane before telling me to grab the wheel again. Then when I grab the wheel it’s kind of always fighting me, producing some counter torque and not letting me position the car exactly where I want it within the lane. I mean, I guess it’s helping, but it’s the equivalent of a 110 db klaxon sounding off “IIIIII’MMMMMM HELLLLLL-PINNNNNG” every time it activates.

Screw it. I’m just gonna park the thing and listen to NPR. “Oh, you want to change radio stations?” says the XC40 in its terse, Swedish accent. That’ll take about four discrete inputs on the multifunction control panel, and you still won’t be able to see the station numbers changing in real time as you adjust. Is a freaking knob so hard to install?

And I haven’t even gotten to the part where the car slammed itself into Park when I tried to move it over a foot or two in my driveway without closing the driver’s door.

But the truth is I really hate bagging on this thing, because it’s really a brilliant car that suffers because of some needless implementations of technology design to help that just ends up making the experience more clunky. And there’s literally nothing clunky about this vehicle.

A loaded XC40 T5 AWD R-Design like out test car stickers out in the mid $40s, which is a relative bargain for such a feature-rich, premium crossover. The 2.0-liter turbo-four puts out 248 horsepower–more than enough to move it with as much authority as you’ll ever need, while still delivering near-30mpg performance on the highway.

The surfaces, buttons and mechanical components reek of immense quality, and give a tactile feel to the concept of safety that all Volvos stake their reputation on (deservedly so, as testing and real-world data prove over and over). And, not for nothing, it’s one of the best looking crossovers out there, and the “lava” interior treatment is a bold but enjoyable styling cue in a gorgeously designed interior.

It’s a winner in the crossover wars, but dial back some of the clunky technology–or allow the true functionality to catch up with the intent–and it’s a dominator.

Join Free Join our community to easily find more articles.
Comments
View comments on the GRM forums
Duke
Duke MegaDork
7/20/18 10:53 a.m.

That's about what I'm paying (including insurance) for a fully loaded 2017 AWD S60 Inscription with almost nothing down and 0% financing.  At 4 years old it will be paid for outright and will have less than 25,000 miles on it and 10 years of payment-free ownership left.  I do not think I am their target market.

The0retical
The0retical UltraDork
7/20/18 10:58 a.m.

In reply to David S. Wallens :

Considering the effort a lot of people expend on their phone, or at least with the frequency they complain about them, I'm not sure that's the parallel I'd want to draw.

Vigo
Vigo UltimaDork
7/20/18 11:15 a.m.

Eh, car ownership is so passe. You could call this 'too soon', or you could call it cutting edge! Home ownership will be the next to go. This changing economy will eventually 'relieve' people of many of the 'burdens' that come with pesky ownership. DRM is a scary acronym. 

 

To give Volvo credit, it really will be difficult to get yourself killed in their car when you can no longer accelerate or turn at the wrong time (because you don't control it). 

This is probably the golden age of Volvos that are beautiful and perform well and can be owned and operated by the technical minority of the American population that can actually purchase a new car. 

mtn
mtn MegaDork
7/20/18 11:23 a.m.
Duke said:

That's about what I'm paying (including insurance) for a fully loaded 2017 AWD S60 Inscription with almost nothing down and 0% financing.  At 4 years old it will be paid for outright and will have less than 25,000 miles on it and 10 years of payment-free ownership left.  I do not think I am their target market.

 

This is going after the leasers. 

Matt B
Matt B UltraDork
7/20/18 11:34 a.m.

What mtn said.  It doesn't sound that revolutionary.  It sounds like a marketing terminology slapped on bundling insurance with a lease.  I guess that's different, but I'm pretty sure I can manage to get a better rate than whatever Liberty Mutual has averaged out for this program.

300zxfreak
300zxfreak New Reader
7/20/18 12:38 p.m.

Welcome to the latest in a generation of cars designed for 20-something gamers. I have a BMW 328i XDrive that is a great driving car, but a lousy car to operate. Same shift pattern as the Volvo it appears, along with multi-level menus to navigate in order to do something simple like adjust the climate control, or select the audio source, and don’t even get me started on having to push the “Start/Stop” button TWICE to shut off the car, or pull the door handle TWICE to exit the stupid car.

I always wanted a Bimmer, finally got one, and now I’m just ambivalent about the whole experience, next let’s address my favorite: Run Flat Tires..........

I’m much happier driving my 1990 Nissan 300ZX TT..........

Duke
Duke MegaDork
7/20/18 12:50 p.m.
300zxfreak said:

...don’t even get me started on having to [] pull the door handle TWICE to exit the stupid car.

The double pull is because it self-locks when driving, or you are locking it while you are inside.  The first pull unlocks it; the second pull opens it.  Turn the self-locking option off and the doors will open on a single pull.

The double-pull thing is nice if you are the type who drives around with the car locked (like my wife is).  On my TSX I have to remember to unlock the doors first using the switch, then go to the door handle.  On my old E46 all I had to do was make a quick double-pull and I was out.  Much easier.

300zxfreak
300zxfreak New Reader
7/20/18 3:31 p.m.

In reply to Duke : I kind of understand their logic, but all my latest cars have auto lock, and it still only takes one pull to exit.......I think BMW has a case of Hondaitis, they just do some things because they can.

 

z31maniac
z31maniac MegaDork
7/20/18 3:35 p.m.
300zxfreak said:

In reply to Duke : I kind of understand their logic, but all my latest cars have auto lock, and it still only takes one pull to exit.......I think BMW has a case of Hondaitis, they just do some things because they can.

 

I'm not sure you're an objective source considering your professed love for dried out vacuum hoses devil

nutherjrfan
nutherjrfan SuperDork
7/20/18 8:05 p.m.

Looks good in the flesh. Not often I walk over to a new vehicle to check it out.smiley

300zxfreak
300zxfreak New Reader
7/20/18 9:06 p.m.

In reply to z31maniac : I’ll have you know that all my vacuum hoses are perfectly pliable and supple.

Duke
Duke MegaDork
7/21/18 9:10 p.m.

In reply to 300zxfreak :

In more than 50 years of self-awareness, I have never been in a car that just opened from the inside even when it was locked. 

Knurled.
Knurled. MegaDork
7/21/18 9:49 p.m.
Duke said:

In reply to 300zxfreak :

In more than 50 years of self-awareness, I have never been in a car that just opened from the inside even when it was locked. 

Ford has done that for years, the inside door handle also unlocked the door.  Kind of a double-action door handle.

 

This was good, because Ford lock buttons went flush when locked, so you couldn't manually unlock them from the inside, pulling the inside door handle was the only way.

 

They started doing this roughly around the same time that they required TWO hands to get the key out of the ignition.  Right hand on the key, left hand to push the button on the left side of the column that allowed you to rotate the lock cylinder all the way back so you could get the key out.

Aspen
Aspen Reader
7/21/18 9:55 p.m.

In reply to 300zxfreak :

BMW: stop button turns engine off, locking door turns rest off, or it will turn off after 10 minutes, no need to press button twice.   Climate is easy... fan speed button and a temperature knob for 95% of what you want. I find the radio pretty straight forward and no worse than my Sony in the Suby or the Lexus radio, Ymmv

 

You can program locks to unlock when you turn off the engine, needs to be coded by dealer or get coding software if you really can't stand the double pull.

Run_Away
Run_Away HalfDork
7/22/18 12:16 a.m.

How does the insurance thing work?

$750 per month for anybody? So if someone has a terrible driving record it's still $750?

 

Matt B
Matt B UltraDork
7/23/18 8:41 a.m.
Run_Away said:

How does the insurance thing work?

$750 per month for anybody? So if someone has a terrible driving record it's still $750?

 

Someone told me that applicants have to "qualify" for the program, so LM has an out for the truly terrible. That could be inaccurate hearsay though.

Knurled.
Knurled. MegaDork
7/23/18 11:30 a.m.

In reply to Matt B :

Don't you have to qualify for a lease anyway?

Matt B
Matt B UltraDork
7/23/18 11:56 a.m.

In reply to Knurled. :

Yeah, I'm just saying the insurance part is just one more requirement.

Our Preferred Partners
qd0EmlnBcHI9Skwpskm5zUgjUsusdUyGDmZxW69pJogeN1uwWABmYxlrBqturLTh