2022 Volvo XC40 Recharge review: A great SUV made even better
With attractive Scandinavian design, a luxurious interior, solid driving dynamics and lots of nice tech features, the Volvo XC40 is one of my favorite compact SUVs. But the XC40 has always been let down by its turbocharged powertrains and annoying infotainment system. Luckily, Volvo is on the fast track to full electrification, and the new XC40 Recharge fixes all of the regular XC40's issues with almost no downsides.
A blocked-off grille, lack of exhaust tips and a couple new wheel designs are the only things that visually differentiate the Recharge from a regular XC40. That's fine by me; the XC40 is by far the best looking crossover in its class, especially in the Recharge-exclusive Sage Green. The only no-cost color option is black, with metallic paints like my car's Thunder Grey costing $695. Under the hood is a frunk that has a plastic cover, but it's pretty tiny and can really only fit a small backpack or the car's charging cables.
The Recharge has the same all-black interior as the regular XC40's R-Design trim, save for the lack of a start button -- just get in the car with the key on you and it automatically turns on, then put the gear selector in drive and you're off. The upholstery is a nice mix of real nappa leather and suede with white stitching and piping, and Volvo's seats continue to be some of the best in the business. I wish the Recharge at least got unique trim pieces or a different available color scheme, like the cool backlit trim and leather-free upholstery of the C40 Recharge. And sadly, Volvo got rid of the 2021 model's available Lava Orange carpets.
While the XC40 Recharge is familiar to look at and sit in, the driving experience is much improved over the gas-powered models. It uses the same pair of electric motors as the Polestar 2, which pump out a total of 402 horsepower and 486 pound-feet of torque, slightly less than the Polestar. Volvo quotes a 0-to-60-mph time of 4.7 seconds, nearly 1.5 seconds quicker than the 252-hp XC40 T5 AWD. Acceleration comes with no drama, just addictive instant torque and lots of grip. The regular XC40's turbocharged four-cylinder powertrains can be rough, loud and jerky, but the Recharge has none of those downsides -- it's quiet, smooth and composed, both around town and on the highway.
Making the experience even better is the Recharge's one-pedal drive mode, achieved through excellent regenerative braking. This can be turned off completely, but I don't know why you would; once you use one-pedal driving it's hard to go back. The Recharge's ride can be firm with the available 20-inch wheels, though it's never too stiff or uncomfortable. Thanks to the placement of the battery pack, the Recharge has a lower center of gravity than the regular XC40, and it corners with a lot less body roll. The steering is quick and direct, and a toggle switch in the touchscreen makes it heavier. It's no performance car, but the XC40 Recharge is quite fun on a twisty road.
Where the XC40 Recharge falls short is its driving range. With its 78-kilowatt-hour battery pack, the EPA rates the Recharge at 223 miles, which is quite a bit less than other electric crossovers like the Ford Mustang Mach-E and Tesla Model Y . But that's a boost over the 2021 model's 208-mile rating, though a new over-the-air software update applies the improved range to last year's Recharge, too. The XC40's range is easily achievable -- and even beatable -- without changing my driving style. On a 150-kW DC fast charger, a 0-to-80% charge is possible in 33 minutes, and Volvo partnered with ChargePoint to give owners easier access to over 100,000 chargers in the US.
Assuaging range anxiety is the Recharge's excellent infotainment system. Its Android Automotive operating system is super similar to the one in the Polestar, and it's also now found in other Volvos like the 2022 XC60 and V90 Cross Country . The native navigation system is Google Maps, which is my preferred way to get around anyway, and it looks super slick on the XC40's 9-inch touchscreen. I wish a satellite view was available, though Volvo says that could come via a future update. Inputting a destination gives you an estimated charge for the end of the journey, and if a charge is required on the way it'll reroute you to available charging stations. This removes much of the stress of planning EV journeys, especially if you're the type of person that uses navigation all the time. The standard 12-inch digital gauge cluster can show a full view of Google Maps, and the rest of the display is nice and minimal.
For 2022 the XC40 gets a new Range Assistant app (also available for 2021 models as an over-the-air update) that gives an actual estimated range readout, which is a great addition as the Recharge doesn't actually show the range in the gauge cluster, at least not until you get down to around 25% battery life, and even then it only changes in 5-mile increments. Instead, the gauge cluster just shows the current battery percentage. The Range app also shows total consumption and gauges for what exactly is using up the most energy between speed, driving style and climate controls. A range optimizer function adjusts some climate settings for better efficiency as well.
The rest of the Android system is great, too. It's a lot simpler, more responsive and less glitchy than the regular XC40's older Sensus setup. I'm a staunch iPhone user, and while the Recharge lacks Apple CarPlay I don't find myself missing it. Logging into my Google account via a QR code system is super easy, and I'm able to download media apps like Spotify through the Google Play store. With a Bluetooth connection the Recharge can read out and send text messages, and the Siri-like Google Assistant works great.
As it's based on a more uplevel trim of the XC40 to start, the Recharge comes with a bunch of goodies. Standard features include 19-inch wheels, a panoramic sunroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, active cornering LED headlights, heated front seats, that 12-inch digital gauge cluster, auto-dimming mirrors and rain-sensing wipers. Also standard is a 360-degree camera, blind-spot monitoring, front and rear parking sensors, lane-keeping assist, road sign recognition, automated emergency braking and rear cross-traffic alert.
My test car has the $2,850 Ultimate package, and it's a must-have. This gets you headlight washers, a wireless smartphone charger, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, heated wiper blades, 20-inch wheels, a heat pump that helps conserve energy and range, a bangin' 13-speaker Harman Kardon sound system and Volvo's lovely Pilot Assist driver-assist system that combines adaptive cruise control with steering assistance. The 20-inch wheels are available for $800 if you don't go for the Ultimate pack, as is the $1,100 Climate package that adds heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, heat pump and headlight washers.
The XC40 Recharge starts at $56,395, including a $1,095 destination charge and before any potential incentives or tax credits. That's about $14,000 more than the entry price for an XC40 T5 AWD R-Design, and I think the Recharge is absolutely worth the upcharge. My fully loaded Recharge comes out to $59,940. While it might seem like a lot of scratch for a compact crossover, it's not much pricier than a base Tesla Model Y, and the Volvo feels like more of a complete car despite its range and performance deficit.
As much as I like the XC40, though, I would rather go for the new C40 Recharge, which costs about the same but has even cooler styling. And I don't think I'd have either one over the dual-motor Polestar 2, which is now a couple thousand dollars cheaper to start thanks to reshuffled option packages. The Polestar is a little better to drive and has a more unique design, and I think it's just more interesting overall. But the XC40 Recharge still has a ton of appeal, and you can't go wrong with either. Stylish, great to drive and just quirky enough, the XC40 Recharge is everything I love about a Volvo with a fantastic EV powertrain.