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2021 Volvo XC40 Review

The 2021 Volvo XC40 snags a spot in the top half of our luxury subcompact SUV rankings because of its well-rounded driving dynamics and handsome, spacious interior.

Pros & Cons

  • Solid engine lineup
  • Refined cabin quality
  • Two rows of spacious seats
  • Lots of standard safety and tech features
  • Subpar predicted reliability rating
  • Troublesome infotainment controls

New for 2021

  • Leather upholstery, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, rear parking sensors, and adaptive headlights now standard
  • Heated rear seats newly optional
  • All-electric XC40 Recharge model debuts

8.1

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 8.9
Performance: 8.0
Interior: 7.8
Safety:
This rating isn’t available yet for the current model year. In the meantime, last year’s rating of 9.8 for safety is being used to calculate this vehicle’s overall score.
TBD
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

Thinking of leasing a Volvo XC40?

The U.S. News Best Price Program saves users an average of $3,206 off the MSRP, and a lower price equals lower monthly lease payments. That means you could see a savings of $90 a month on a 36-month lease.

Is the Volvo XC40 a Good SUV?

Yes, the XC40 is a good luxury subcompact SUV. Both turbocharged engine choices deliver solid acceleration, and the XC40 offers a pleasant ride with fairly spirited handling. The cabin has quality materials and a sharp design. Passenger space is good for such a small vehicle. The cargo hold is smaller than many rivals' offerings, but it's still very serviceable. The biggest qualm with the XC40's cabin is a somewhat convoluted infotainment system.

Why You Can Trust Us: 21 Reviews Analyzed

We analyzed 21 Volvo XC40 reviews – along with reliability ratings, fuel economy estimates, and more – to help you decide if the 2021 XC40 is the right new car for you.

This 2021 XC40 review incorporates applicable research for all models in this generation, which launched for 2019.

U.S. News Best Cars has been ranking and reviewing vehicles since 2007, and our staff has more than 75 years of combined experience in the auto industry. To ensure our objectivity, we never accept expensive gifts from carmakers, and an outside firm manages the ads on our site.

Should I Buy the Volvo XC40?

You should buy the XC40 if you’re in the market for a small luxury crossover that provides a lot of bang for the buck. This Volvo has a low base price for the class and comes with an abundance of standard safety and technology features. However, it has a below-average predicted reliability rating, and some rivals have easier-to-use infotainment systems.

Find a 2021 Volvo XC40 for sale near you »

2020 vs. 2021 Volvo XC40: What's the Difference?

The Volvo XC40 gains several standard features for 2021, including leather upholstery, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, rear parking sensors, and adaptive headlights. Heated rear seats are also a newly optional feature. Lastly, a fully electric model dubbed the XC40 Recharge debuts for 2021. This EV will be able to go 208 miles on a full charge.

Compare the 2020 and 2021 XC40 »

Here are the key changes for the Volvo XC40 over its lifetime:

  • 2019: all-new model
  • 2020: leather upholstery became optional; power-folding rear seats discontinued
  • 2021: more standard and available features; all-electric XC40 Recharge debuts

If you're considering an older model, be sure to read our 2019 XC40 and 2020 XC40 reviews to help make your decision. Also, check out our Best New Car Deals and Best New Car Lease Deals pages to learn about savings and discounts you can find on new vehicles.

How Much Does the Volvo XC40 Cost?

The base 2021 Volvo XC40 Momentum starts at $33,700, making it one of the lowest-priced SUVs in its class. There are also R-Design (MSRP: $38,950) and Inscription ($39,450) trims available. Each trim comes standard with Volvo's T4 powertrain, which features a 187-horsepower turbocharged engine and front-wheel drive. Add $2,000 to any model to the get the T5 powertrain, which boasts a 248-horsepower turbocharged engine and all-wheel drive.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Volvo dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Volvo deals page.

Volvo XC40 Versus the Competition

Volvo XC40 vs. BMW X1

The BMW X1 earns a high ranking in the class on the strengths of its large cargo hold and agile handling. Both of these luxury subcompact SUVs have good interior quality, satisfying engine power, and welcoming seating. The Volvo is several thousand dollars less expensive and has a longer list of standard features, such as leather seats and Android Auto, but the BMW has a more user-friendly infotainment system and a better predicted reliability rating. Both SUVs are good choices, but the BMW is a bit better.

Compare the XC40 and X1 »

Volvo XC40 vs. Audi Q3

The Audi Q3 is another standout in the class. It has a refined cabin, a straightforward touch-screen infotainment system, sporty handling, and a plush ride. Advantages such as standard all-wheel drive and a good predicted reliability rating further add to this Audi’s appeal. The XC40 is a little more spacious in its second row, and it returns better fuel economy than the Q3. Additionally, you'll enjoy peppier acceleration from the Volvo thanks to its smoother transmission. Choosing between these two SUVs will likely come down to your priorities.

Compare the XC40 and Q3 »

Compare the XC40, X1, and Q3 »

XC40 Interior: Class Act

XC40 Cargo Space

The Volvo XC40’s cargo space is on the smaller end of the luxury subcompact SUV class. Behind the rear seats is 20.7 cubic feet of room, and that expands to 47.2 cubic feet if you fold down the second row.

On the plus side, it’s easy to load bulky items thanks to the cargo hold’s wide and square opening. You can also opt for storage solutions like a fold-up cargo floor with hidden storage space and dividers.

How Many People Does the XC40 Seat?

Volvo's smallest crossover seats five people. The front seats are comfortable, but a taller driver might have difficulty finding a comfortable seating position. Outward visibility is good in all directions.

The second row has spacious accommodations for adult travelers, with wide door openings that make it easy to enter and exit the vehicle.

XC40 and Child Car Seats

There are two complete sets of LATCH connectors for the rear outboard seats and a dedicated tether anchor for the rear middle seat. The only major problem with this LATCH system is a lack of room to maneuver your hands around the lower anchors.

XC40 Interior Quality

The XC40 doesn't have all of the opulence of its larger – and much more expensive – siblings, the Volvo XC60 and XC90, but it does incorporate the clean lines, minimalist design, and high-end materials from those models. There are a few noticeable plastic surfaces, but that's the case for most vehicles in this class.

XC40 Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

This Volvo looks high-tech and modern thanks to a vertically oriented, tablet-style touch-screen infotainment system. Appearance is the best part of the interface, though it has frustrating controls and a confusing menu layout. Most functions, including climate settings, are adjusted through the touch screen, so physical buttons and knobs on the center stack are sparse. Additionally, the system can occasionally be slow to respond to inputs.

  • Standard infotainment features: a 9-inch touch screen, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth, multiple USB ports, satellite radio, HD Radio, and an eight-speaker premium stereo
  • Available infotainment features: wireless device charging, navigation, and a 14-speaker Harman Kardon premium stereo
  • Additional standard features: automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster
  • Other available features: proximity keyless entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, a panoramic sunroof, ambient interior lighting, and a universal garage door opener

Read more about interior »

XC40 Performance: Silky Smooth

XC40 Engine

Volvo offers the XC40 with either of two turbocharged four-cylinder engines. One puts out 187 horsepower and the other serves up 248 horsepower. That seems like a big difference, but both perform admirably.

Even with the base powertrain, the XC40 scoots away quickly from a stop. It has ample muscle on tap for getting up to higher speeds, but if you jam on the gas hard, you might notice a loud, unpleasant droning from the engine.

The optional engine makes the SUV feel extremely lively, amping up the performance factor. An eight-speed automatic transmission is standard, and it impresses with its refined shifts and eagerness to jump down a gear for more power. The base engine only comes with front-wheel drive, while the available engine only comes with all-wheel drive (AWD).

XC40 Gas Mileage

This Volvo gets average fuel economy for the luxury subcompact SUV class. Models with the base powertrain return an EPA-estimated 23 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway. Models with the optional AWD powertrain are rated at 22 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway.

The all-new electric XC40 Recharge has an EPA-rated range of 208 miles on a full charge. Its 79 MPG-equivalent in combined city/highway driving is below average compared to all other new electric vehicles.

For more information, read What is MPGe?

XC40 Ride and Handling

The XC40 handles with poise, but it isn’t particularly athletic. Body lean through corners is kept in check, and there's a so-so amount of steering feedback. Ride quality is comfortable, for the most part. Models with larger wheels ride a little stiffer, and you'll probably notice some larger bumps in the road.

Read more about performance »

XC40 Reliability

Is the Volvo XC40 Reliable?

The 2021 Volvo XC40 has a below-average predicted reliability rating of 2.5 out of five.

Volvo XC40 Warranty

Volvo covers the XC40 with a four-year/50,000-mile warranty.

Read more about reliability »

XC40 Safety

XC40 Crash Test Results

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2021 Volvo XC40 an overall safety rating of five out of five stars with five stars in the frontal and side crash tests and four stars in the rollover test.

At the time of writing, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has not tested the 2021 XC40. However, the IIHS gave the similar 2020 XC40 the highest rating of Good in all six crash tests.

XC40 Safety Features

Standard advanced safety features:

  • Forward collision warning
  • Automatic emergency braking
  • Oncoming collision mitigation
  • Lane departure warning
  • Lane keep assist
  • Blind spot monitoring
  • Rear cross traffic alert
  • Adaptive headlights
  • Automatic high-beam headlights
  • Rearview camera
  • Rear parking sensors
  • Rain-sensing windshield wipers

Available advanced safety features:

  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Pilot Assist advanced driver assistance system
  • Surround-view parking camera system
  • Automatic parking assist
  • Front parking sensors

Read more about safety »

XC40 Dimensions and Weight

The Volvo XC40 SUV is 14.5 feet long, and its curb weight ranges from 3,627 to 3,837 pounds.

Where Is the 2021 Volvo XC40 Built?

Volvo builds the 2021 XC40 in Belgium.

Which Volvo XC40 Model Is Right for Me?

The 2021 Volvo XC40 comes in three trims: Momentum, R-Design, and Inscription. Each trim comes standard with the T4 powertrain, which is a 187-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine and front-wheel drive. For $2,000, you can upgrade any trim to the all-wheel-drive T5 powertrain and its 248-horsepower turbo-four engine. Volvo is also introducing an all-electric version of this SUV called the XC40 Recharge.

The base model has a long list of attractive luxury, convenience, and driver assistance features that should satisfy most shoppers. Most of the XC40’s optional features are available in the base model, so rather than spring for a higher trim, you're better off purchasing the amenities or packages you want with the standard trim.

Volvo XC40 Momentum

The 2021 Volvo XC40 Momentum starts at $33,700. Standard features include automatic climate control, leather upholstery, an eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat, auto-dimming rearview and outside mirrors, and a power liftgate. Also standard is a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and an infotainment system with a 9-inch touch screen, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth, multiple USB ports, satellite radio, HD Radio, and an eight-speaker premium stereo.

Standard driver assistance features include forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, oncoming collision mitigation, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, adaptive LED headlights, automatic high-beam headlights, a rearview camera, rear parking sensors, and rain-sensing windshield wipers.

The Climate package costs $750 and adds heated front seats and a heated steering wheel. All-wheel-drive models come standard with heated front seats, so with those models, the Climate package features heated rear seats.

For $1,500, the Advanced package includes wireless device charging, adaptive cruise control, the Pilot Assist advanced driver assistance system, a surround-view parking camera system, and ambient interior lighting.

A panoramic sunroof is optional for $1,475, and a 14-speaker Harman Kardon premium stereo is available for $800. You can also get the $2,220 Premium package, which features navigation, an adjustable cargo floor, proximity keyless entry, hands-free liftgate access, power-folding rear headrests, dual-zone automatic climate control, a universal garage door opener, and front parking sensors.

Volvo XC40 R-Design

The Volvo XC40 R-Design retails for $38,950. It comes with upgraded styling, a sport suspension, Nubuck leather upholstery, a panoramic sunroof, an eight-way power-adjustable passenger seat, ambient interior lighting, and the contents of the Premium package.

The Climate and Advanced packages, along with the Harman Kardon stereo, remain available in the R-Design. Automatic parking assist is optional for $200.

Volvo XC40 Inscription

The top-spec XC40 Inscription closely mirrors the list of standard and optional features from the R-Design but with its own unique appearance features. Prices start at $39,450.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Volvo dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Volvo deals page.

See 2021 Volvo XC40 specs and trims »

The Final Call

Few luxury subcompact SUVs stuff as much value and utility into a small package like the 2021 Volvo XC40. While it satisfies in performance, seating space, and cabin quality, you may want to look elsewhere if you prioritize a huge cargo hold or the most straightforward infotainment system.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • "The premium XC40 is one of the most competitive and appealing choices in a fast-growing section of the automotive landscape. Its space, standard features, fuel economy and safety are impressive, and its value stands it apart from rivals that often seem overpriced." -- Autotrader
  • "Even though it sits at the small end of the Volvo lineup, the XC40 offers much of what makes the brand's larger SUVs so desirable." -- Car and Driver
  • "Volvo's subcompact XC40 SUV inherits the brand's familial good looks and packs a lot of charm into a small package. We're smitten by its comfortable ride, spacious interior and excellent optional audio system. While the front-seat ergonomics and touchscreen interface could be issues for some people, overall we think the XC40 is one of the segment standouts." -- Edmunds
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