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  • Writer's pictureAlain Kuhn Von Kuhnenfeld

2019 Volvo XC40 T5 R-Design

Updated: Jul 13, 2019

This week we present the 2019 Volvo XC40 T5 in R-Design trim. Our vehicle was assembled at the Ghent plant in Belgium and has an MSRP of $50625.

Fun Factor: 7

Can it Family: 8

Fuel-Friendly: 7

HWY-warrior: 7

Karaoke Friendly: 9

Baby friendly: 7

City Cruising: 6

Before picking up our vehicle from Volvo for this week’s review, we expected that the XC40 would feel and drive like any other premium compact SUV. No it didn’t, and that was a good thing, Volvo didn’t go down the boring route that every other manufacturer uses, utilizing a platform of a bigger vehicle and then shrinking it. Volvo took the time to design something that makes a lot of sense for today's families. The didn't just stop developing and focusing on the looks they also concentrated on the driving experience. If we just take the time to look at the competition some either compromise build quality, space, handling or power. This is not the case with the XC40. Starting with the T5 engine, and no it's not a 5 banger. It’s a 4 cylinder producing 248hp, that is almost class leading to be exact 4hp less than the class leader, the engine producing a whopping 258 LB-FT of torque. Volvo announces an acceleration to 100km/h within 6.7 seconds, those are the same figures as a Porsche Macan that is class leading when it comes to horsepowers. In our test with 20-inch winter tires we’ve achieved 7 seconds flat. Using standard 19-inch wheels & summer tires will easily help launch the XC40 to results under 6.7 seconds to 100 km/h. As for the driving experience, the XC40 doesn’t feel car like other vehicles in the premium SUV segment, I would go as far as saying that the XC40 is currently the only real compact sport utility vehicle in this segment. The higher stance makes it perfect for those who want to use the XC40 off the streets and enjoy its versatile capabilities off-road.

Now a lot of compact SUV’s as mentioned above compromise space either for either the driver, for the rear passenger or even for the trunk space. For the family, the only compromise we found was that the rear seats are a little upright compared to what we are used to. However, after asking our kids and even we driving around the XC40 with our friends in the back seats none complain about them being upright. We decided to sit in them and see why we hadn’t any negative feedback. The reason was relatively straightforward the back seats are as well bolstered as the front seats making no compromise on comfort. Easily forgetting that they were more upright compared to the competition. As for cargo Volvo doesn’t disappoint either, the trunk fits 2 strollers without any hassle. If planning to travel one medium suitcase and a stroller will easily fit thanks to the length of the trunk. Volvo has made it easy and has thought of everything in the XC40 starting with the trunk separation that doubles as grocery hooks are just brilliant. If you need even more space with a simple click of a button from your trunk, your rear seats can be folded and will give you an abundance of space when going to your favorite Swedish furniture store.

As for additional features, the front seats come with 3 level adjustable heated seats and this adjustment is also extended to the steering wheel and in our mind, we think it is the warmest in the industry. The car feels spacious for its size, everything is accessible at eyesight thanks to the light that comes in from the huge panoramic sunroof. One feature we really enjoyed daily with the XC40 was the fast charging capabilities and not needing to charge overnight on top having the option to charge wirelessly.

Now the XC40 does consume more fuel then we would have liked to see. For these results, we do have 2 factors playing against greater efficiency. One of them one was freezing temperature, and 2nd those massive 20-inch tires didn’t help either. Our combined average was 11.9L per 100km, our city average was 13.2L and while our HWY average was 8.9L per 100km. These tests were done over a distance of more than 500km with temperature oscillating between -20c and +4C. Volvo’s figures are 10.3L in the city, 7.5L on the HWY and combined average is 9L per 100km. The XC40 needs a minimum of 91 Octane fuel.

How does the XC40 handle on the HWY? The ride quality of the XC40 is enjoyable even when rocking 20-inch wheels, we expect a harsher ride, being the R-Design version. However, Volvo has delivered a well-balanced ride resulting in a smooth ride on the HWY. What we didn't expect was getting little to no wind noise into the cabin even with speeds of 120km/h. Making conversation easy and pleasant. The “Pilot Assist” is Volvo’s semi-autonomous driving system having had to use BMW’s and Mercedes recently, we found that Volvo's system takes curves in a much more elaborate way then Mercedes, bring more confidence while driving resulting in an enjoyable experience overall. What we dislike on this system and what we also dislike on BMW’s system once it disengages it just doesn’t do anything, no hazard lights or anything in case of no driver input due to sickness.

The Harman Kardon sound system is of premium quality, the only fault we could find is that the bass reproduction wasn’t perfect in certain instances and that is nitpicking. As for the 9 inch Sensus infotainment we thought it was simple to use after just one day of use. If you swipe left, you get the security system features such as activating blis or self parking features and then if you swipe right from the main menu you’ll have access to your entertain features and mapping. Yes, it doesn’t have physical buttons for climate controls. We personally think it isn’t necessary for this day and age, primarily since the temperature is well maintained in the cabin and that once the temperatures are set there is no need to funnel around with it again. Even with temperatures below -20c and being parked outside overnight, the Sensus system booted up very quickly, and a change of temperature was done promptly without any hassle. As for the massive 12.3-inch driver display Volvo continued with its minimalistic looks & design. It has all the information that is really needed on top of having access to a beautiful and polished map in the middle. In our mind, the system actually looks better than the virtual cockpit from Audi as the one from Audi looks pixilated compared to the one from Volvo.

As for the installation of car seats, the system used to hide the ISOFIX is one of the best methods implemented in a vehicle. The flap just opens when in use without having to remove it and when it's not in use it closes quickly without being uncomfortable for rear passengers. The rear doors open wide enough to enter a child seat without having to do acrobatics. The only thing we disliked when installing child seats was the actual ISOFIX port to latch the car seat was far within the seat of the car, making installation of certain specific car seats harder to install then it should. The XC40 could have received an almost perfect score especially since so much thought has gone through designing the ISOFIX ports and the comfort of children.

The XC40 is a great car. However, we think to excel in this city category the XC40 is a little too big for its own good. Combine that with loose steering wheel feel at lower speeds were precision makes a huge difference. Also, the dimensions of the XC40 don’t necessarily help it either. Making rear visibility in the city a challenge even when using all the security features the XC40 offers. Parallel parking isn’t simple since the turning circle is quite small. However, the XC40 will park itself with the click of a button and get out of a parking spot by itself too without any hassle, we would just wish that the placement of these features to be more logically layout on the infotainment. The start/stop feature has well evolved and it comparable to other premium manufacturers now. Especially compared to the first generation of Drive-e engines were we disliked the system so much in stop & go traffic that we just turned it off.

Things we've enjoyed on our XC40: Very comfortable seats, simple interior design, beautiful exterior design, fast charging for smartphones, simple vent design that works, hottest steering wheel in the industry

Things we've enjoyed less on our XC40: large turning radius, high premium gas consumbtion, currently no hybrid version

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