SUVs

2019 Volvo XC40 long-term update: More efficient than anticipated

It's hauled our gear, amused (and frustrated) our staff and proven to be thriftier than expected. Our long-term Swede has been anything but dull.

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Manuel Carrillo III

After a couple of short visits that left two very different impressions on our Los Angeles-based staff, Roadshow's long-term 2019 Volvo XC40 came to spend a few months at our San Francisco HQ. Since taking delivery of our little Swede, we've put about 5,675 miles on the odometer, averaging 32.59 mpg along the way, which is surprisingly high considering the EPA estimates just 26 combined mpg for the 2.0-liter turbo, all-wheel drive T5 configuration.

Our west coast film crew put the XC40 to work as a production vehicle, using the Swede to transport the gear we need to shoot dozens of video reviews. Downsizing after a year in the spacious Mercedes-Benz Metris took some getting used to, but the compact SUV was up to the task, swallowing up all of our cameras, tripods and equipment without complaint.

Highs and lows

Our staff almost universally hates the XC40's electronic shifter, which requires a weird double pull to engage drive and double push for reverse. It's ridiculously easy to forget the double tap and end up revving awkwardly in neutral. It's particularly annoying -- and, at times, dangerous -- when trying to make a quick three-point turn. There's almost no reason to ever be in neutral during normal driving, so I don't understand why this is the case. If I could change one thing about the XC40, it'd be to fit a normal shift lever.

On the other hand, I learned to love the Volvo On Call app and telematics suite, which I was able to use to monitor the XC40 remotely. The ability to remotely unlock the doors, start the ignition and check the fuel level and economy came in handy when sharing the SUV between two editors and two producers. (I also got a chuckle out of honking the horn from my desk while my colleagues were off filming without me.) 

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We made much use of the XC40's standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay and even loved the telematics. However, almost universally, we never got used to the awkward electronic shifter.

Manuel Carrillo III

I also got a lot of use out of the XC40's Wi-Fi hotspot feature during its stay here. Our shooting locations are often in fairly remote areas where I'd struggle finding connectivity. The Volvo's LTE connection was often much stronger than that of my Google Pixel XL with service by Google Fi, so I was able to make use of the in-car Wi-Fi to answer emails and get work done during downtime between takes.

Have you tried turning it off and back on again?

In June, Managing Editor Steven Ewing took the XC40 for a spin and encountered a hiccup with the SUV's infotainment software. On that morning, turning up the stereo's volume or activating the turn signal caused intermittent white noise to play through the SUV's speakers. Ewing also noted that when stopped at a traffic light, the XC40's parking brake would engage.

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We had one software hiccup during our time so far with the XC40 and it was remedied by a simple hard restart.

Manuel Carrillo III

We parked the XC40 for the day and contacted Volvo to arrange service through the Care by Volvo program. However, by the time we could get the service sorted, the software hiccup had sorted itself right out. A few days later, I started the SUV to confirm the issue and the audio played fine. The turn signal sounded with its soft, familiar click. I drove the XC40 around for a while and the parking brake issue had also disappeared.

The word received from Volvo was that the software had triggered a hard reset when parked for a few days, clearing whatever error it was experiencing -- sort of like rebooting your computer or phone when either one starts acting a little weird. In the hundreds of miles since the glitch, we've not experienced it again. When in doubt, turn it off and back on again...

Winter is coming

After a few months and more than a few miles with Roadshow SF, the 2019 XC40 made the long ride down Interstate 5 to rejoin our Los Angeles team for a few weeks. From there, it'll head eastward to Detroit to spend the autumn and winter months with our team in that neck of the woods. They'll put the Swede's all-wheel drive system (and heated seats) to the test on ice and snow and its suspension through paces on their more... challenging road surfaces.

Will the Swede continue to exceed our efficiency expectations during a Michigan winter? We'll be sharing all of the juicy details along the way, so stay tuned for more updates on our adventure with the 2019 Volvo XC40. You can also check in on the rest of our long-term fleet -- including the 2019 Honda Passport, a 2019 Indian FTR 1200 and the 2019 Subaru Ascent -- to see how they're doing.