- New fully electric version of the XC40
- Powerful and quick acceleration
- Estimated 208 miles of range
- Based on the first-generation XC40 introduced for 2019
What is the XC40 Recharge?
The 2021 Volvo XC40 Recharge is an all-electric version of the gasoline-powered XC40. It’s the first full EV marketed as a Volvo and the second in the Volvo family following the release of the Polestar 2. Volvo seems to have done its homework before entering the EV space. As with most long-range electric vehicles, the XC40 Recharge features DC fast charging — which can fill the battery from zero to 80% in 40 minutes — or fully recharge in eight hours using a 220-volt home or public charging station. According to the EPA, the XC40 Recharge offers a respectable 208 miles of range when fully topped off.
With few drawbacks and several advantages compared to the traditional XC40, the Recharge is an impressive electric debut for Volvo and bodes well for the future of EVs from this luxury automaker.
How does the XC40 Recharge drive?
The XC40 Recharge employs a pair of electric motors — one at each axle — that are fed by a 78-kWh lithium-ion battery pack mounted below the floor of the cabin. The combined output is a healthy 402 horsepower and 486 lb-ft of torque. Volvo says it will reach 60 mph in just 4.7 seconds, and after our limited time behind the wheel, we’re inclined to believe it. By comparison, we achieved a 6.5-second 0-60 mph time in the range-topping gasoline model, the XC40 T5.
Acceleration is immediate, with the kind of pin-you-to-the-seat excitement expected of sportier EVs. The result is impressive on its own, and even more so when you consider the Recharge weighs more than 1,000 pounds more than the standard XC40. Thankfully, the placement of the extra weight below the passenger compartment keeps the center of gravity low and masks the additional ballast.
With the favorable weight distribution, the XC40 Recharge feels well planted on the pavement when navigating sharp or fast turns. Not only does it instill a sense of confidence on a winding mountain road, but it also provides enjoyable levels of sporty handling for spirited drivers.
Like many EVs, the Recharge allows the driver to select a one-pedal driving mode that increases the level of regenerative braking. This means that you can gently ease off the accelerator — rather than move your foot to the brake pedal — to slow the car gradually. This setup presents a mild learning curve if you’re new to the EV experience, but the extra efficiency is worth the time invested.
How comfortable is the XC40 Recharge?
The Recharge is as comfortable as the regular XC40 in many ways. The front seats are firmly padded but well shaped for easy long-distance trips, though a few editors on our staff have vocalized that the headrests are positioned too far forward and lack adjustments. The Recharge’s suspension is adept at smoothing over bumps in the road, and compared to its gas-powered sibling, you’ll feel fewer bounces from undulations in the pavement. That may be a pleasant side effect of the added weight.
Since there’s no grumble of an engine underhood, the XC40 Recharge is blissfully silent. Even some of the low-frequency tire drone experienced in other EVs is absent.
How’s the XC40 Recharge’s interior?
On first impression, there really aren’t any differences between the Recharge and the gas-powered model, and that’s largely a good thing. We’re fans of the XC40’s distinctly minimalist Scandinavian design and its use of unconventional materials. There’s also plenty of room for tall passengers in the front and back, giving this small SUV a surprising amount of utility. Passenger space is unaffected by the batteries packed into the floor of the vehicle. Outward visibility also earns some points thanks to the large windows and smartly profiled roof pillars. What’s missing, however, is Volvo’s unique engine start/stop knob. The Recharge takes a page out of the Tesla playbook and awakens the car when the driver sits in the driver’s seat.
How’s the XC40 Recharge’s tech?
The 12.3-inch center touchscreen and user interface will be familiar to owners of other Volvos. Though the XC40 uses a new Android-based infotainment system, the layout is similar to the Sensus system throughout the rest of the lineup. It takes a little getting used to but becomes second nature after some experience behind the wheel. However, our preferred method of controlling media continues to be via smartphone connection and standard Android Auto/Apple CarPlay connectivity. Over-the-air software updates aim to keep the interface glitch-free and running smoothly.
How’s the XC40 Recharge’s storage?
On paper, keen-eyed shoppers might notice that the Recharge surrenders some of the standard XC40’s cargo capacity. That’s due to the battery packs that eat up some space underneath the cargo floor, but the overall usability of that space remains strong. A segmented floor panel can be folded to provide a barrier that keeps items secure. It reveals handy bag hooks too.
Helping matters is a secondary cargo space under the hood, where a gas engine would normally reside. It’s a shallow but wide bin that is perfect for keeping the large charging cable hidden until you need it.
As far as interior storage goes, the XC40 Recharge offers smartly designed solutions for your personal effects. There’s an available trash bin that is integrated into the center armrest bin, a clever flip-out hook for the glovebox to hold a purse or takeout bag, and ample door pockets that can accommodate something as large as a laptop.
The 2021 Volvo XC40 Recharge is thoughtfully designed as a chic and versatile subcompact SUV. It may lack the long-distance range of some rivals, but if extended road trips are a rarity for you, there’s little to fault it for. Its overall versatility adds to its sensible nature, while a sporty driving experience means it packs plenty of fun too.