2019 Volvo XC40 joins Roadshow's long-term test fleet

Premium compact SUVs are all the rage, and this one is arguably the best.

Manuel Carrillo III/Roadshow

There's a huge heap of subcompact luxury SUVs available in America these days, but few of them truly feel premium. The Volvo XC40, on the other hand, really embodies all the great things we like about the Swedish automaker's other products, just neatly packaged in a smaller footprint.

When I first reviewed the Volvo XC40 last year, I called it "my favorite of the bunch," compared to other subcompact offerings like the BMW X1, Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class and even the plucky Mini Countryman. Other Roadshow staffers agreed. So in order to see if we like it so much we'd put a ring on it, we've added a 2019 Volvo XC40 to our long-term test fleet to see how this subcompact Swede holds up after a year of thorough testing.

How we spec'd it

Volvo offers the XC40 in three trim levels: Momentum, R-Design and Inscription. The sporty-looking R-Design and luxurious Inscription trims are lovely, but because I firmly believe that Volvo's base offerings are really the best of the bunch, I ordered our XC40 in Momentum guise, painted in Fusion Red Metallic.

Volvo offers the XC40 in T4 and T5 guises, both of which are powered by a 2.0-liter, turbocharged I4 engine. The T4 offers 187 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque and is mated exclusively to front-wheel drive, but I decided to order our XC40 in T5 spec which, in addition to more power (248 horsepower, 258 pound-feet), adds all-wheel-drive capability. Opting for the T5 setup is a $2,000 upcharge over the XC40's $33,700 base price.

To that, our car adds the $1,400 premium package, which gets us goodies like a wireless charging pad, Volvo's Pilot Assist with adaptive cruise control, automatic climate control, a power-folding rear seat and more. The $1,100 vision package adds blind-spot information, cross-traffic alert, parking assist and other driver convenience features. Finally, a few other options include heated front seats and a heated steering wheel ($750), a panoramic moonroof ($1,200), 19-inch wheels ($800) and the aforementioned metallic paint ($645). All in, including the $995 destination charge, the car you see here costs $42,590.

The XC40's cabin is comfortable and nicely appointed -- even if it doesn't have the cool orange carpet available on R-Design models.

Manuel Carrillo III/Roadshow

The XC40 T5 comes standard with things like a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, as well as a 9-inch touchscreen running Volvo's Sensus Connect infotainment system, with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and a Wi-Fi hotspot built in. This XC40 also has LED headlights, leather seating surfaces, aluminum "Urban Grid" inlays, a power tailgate, tinted rear glass and plenty of other niceties.

The first 1,500 miles

The one word I'd use to describe my time with the Volvo XC40: nice. It's just a really nice little car. The seats are comfortable, the cabin is quiet, it's effortless and enjoyable to drive. The XC40 is a car I never tire of driving -- not because it's super engaging, but because it's just so damn pleasant all of the time. The T5 engine offers plenty of power, and the XC40 moves down the road with great poise. There's excellent outward visibility, and it's a breeze to park in tight city lots.

I like the different drive modes, and I frequently use the Individual setting because I like the steering and brake feel to be in their "Dynamic" tunes. My gripe is, I wish the car would default to the Individual setting every time. The car always starts in its default "Comfort" mode, which is fine most of the time, but having to toggle the drive mode selector down to "Individual" upon each startup is sort of annoying, especially because -- stop me if you've heard this one before -- the Sensus infotainment system isn't always the quickest to boot up upon vehicle start.

The XC40 T5 has a turbocharged, 2.0-liter engine with 248 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque.

Manuel Carrillo III/Roadshow

I'm really enjoying using the Volvo On Call app, which allows me to do things like remotely lock/unlock the car, start the engine, check the fuel level and more. More and more automakers are offering this sort of smartphone tech with their cars -- our long-term Subaru Ascent has this, for example -- and it's a companion I'm happy to have. And hey, it even allows me to keep track of our long-term car's statistics when it's being used by other Roadshow staffers. Not that I'd ever check up on them or anything...

The Volvo On Call app shows me that, after 1,500 miles, our XC40 is averaging just 21.9 miles per gallon, which is a far cry from the XC40 T5's EPA ratings of 23 mpg city, 31 mpg highway and 26 mpg combined. I'll be curious to see how this improves as we add more miles, but it's worth noting that pretty much everyone at Roadshow has had a hard time achieving the EPA fuel economy estimates in just about every new Volvo car.

We'll be keeping a close eye on the XC40's fuel economy over the next 12 months as we pile on the miles, and given how lovely the car is to drive, pile on the miles we surely will. There's lots of techy stuff to uncover with this new XC40, too, including Amazon in-car delivery, and some other fun features. Stay tuned.

Our XC40 T5 Momentum comes in at $42,590, including $995 for destination.

Manuel Carrillo III/Roadshow

Meet Roadshow's other long-term testers: