2021 Volvo XC40 Recharge first drive review: The great electric makeover

It’s hard not to love the Volvo XC40. In a growing sea of ​​me-too crossover SUVs, it stands out with an attractive design, fun driving dynamics, a comprehensive safety suite and an interior that looks very similar to Volvo’s other more expensive offerings. Sure, a starting price of around $ 34,000 means that the XC40 is also priced slightly higher than the competition, but spend some time in one and you’ll never doubt where that money has gone.

But what about a version that costs an extra $ 20,000? This is what you will pay to enter the XC40 Recharge. Volvo’s new XC40-based EV is here and costs $ 54,985 after a $ 995 destination charge.

Expensive? Yes, but I’m not angry about it. In fact, after only a few kilometers behind the wheel, I fell in love with this all-electric reinvention of Volvo’s smallest car. Yes, it’s an asking price that budget-conscious shoppers might struggle to swallow, but equally the Recharge manages to deem it more than worthy.

The platform under the XC40, called the CMA for Compact Modular Architecture, was designed from the outset to be electrified. Volvo has finally fulfilled that promise by pulling out the selection of super and turbo engines and putting in a pair of electric motors – and the necessary batteries, of course.

The result? It’s a small spaceship. I previously spent a lovely few months with ours Long-term XC40 T5 and I found it lively and fun. The Recharge is on another planet, with a whopping 402 horsepower and 486 pound-feet of torque, allowing it to accelerate to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds. And thanks to the drivetrain layout, the Recharge does a far better job than the T5 in bringing that power to the ground. Pushing the throttle on a wet road in the normal XC40 often results in wheel spin at the front followed by a tired attempt by an overloaded differential to shift torque to the rear. The XC40 Recharge shoots forward. No drama, no noise, no steering torque, just acceleration. It is addictive.

Tim Stevens / Roadshow

Volvo also offers Recharge adequate driving skills with one pedal, so that you will rarely need to touch the brake pedal. This is my favorite way to drive an electric vehicle and I’m happy to see it here, but for those who would prefer a more traditional way to go, it can be disabled. Unfortunately, there is no selectable regeneration option in between, it’s all on or all off.

Despite the new performance, XC40 Recharge does not give up anything in terms of comfort. This XC40 feels premium inside and out, with a glossy ride quality that feels even more refined thanks to the absence of internal combustion. Volvo engines recently aren’t the most acoustically pleasing, to be honest, and their drone hasn’t been missing here.

Here’s Android.

Tim Stevens / Roadshow

The interior of the XC40 Recharge is clean and refined and largely the same as what you’ll find in other Volvos. Namely, not as stylish as an XC90 but way ahead of most compact SUVs. Plus, it far surpasses anything you’ll find in a Tesla. The panoramic glass roof adds some much-needed light to a cabin that’s a little too dark for my taste. Anthracite leather is the only option for now. However, it is all very calm and collected.

The storage capacity in the Recharge is largely the same as the gas-powered variety, the main change being the addition of a slim compartment under the hood. It’s not a real frunk as you’ll be hard-pressed to fit more than a few rustic multigrain loaves up there, but at least it’s a handy place to store the charging cable.

Outside of what makes the wheels spin, the most significant change comes in what powers the XC40 Recharge’s various displays, both the 12.3-inch instrument cluster behind the steering wheel and the 9-inch vertical touchscreen in the center console. The layout looks the same as the regular XC40, but now Android Automotive is calling the shots. I he wrote extensively about it when I tested Recharge’s country cousin Polestar 2, so I won’t repeat it all here, but suffice it to say I’m a huge fan. This takes a lot of what is fantastic Android Auto but it makes it autonomous. If you are a Google user, all your contacts, calendar appointments, saved addresses and even your playlists magically appear after you sign up. It’s wonderful.

Recharge Volvo XC40 2021

Sometimes the absence of color is the best color.

Tim Stevens / Roadshow

There’s a lot to like about Recharge, but it’s not all sweet. First there’s range: just 208 miles on the EPA cycle from a 75 kilowatt-hour battery. 200 miles is enough for most people most of the time, but that seems a bit scarce for an EV $ 55,000, although federal and state discounts will make things more palatable.

I also wish there was a lighter colored vegan indoor option and I’m sure some potential buyers will want a few more remanufacturing choices but those are little nits to choose from in what is a stellar reinvention of what was already a pretty plant awesome . I, like many of you, will be looking forward to cheaper versions of the XC40 Recharge, but those with the means and the desire for a premium crossover EV will have a hard time doing better.

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