by Gerhard Horn
Volvo is a bit late to the EV party for a brand that prides itself on being innovative, but the 2022 Volvo XC40 Recharge pure electric crossover is set up perfectly to dominate an entire segment. As the name suggests, the Recharge is based on the XC40, which is a great place to start. This compact crossover has already won numerous awards, including European Car of the Year. Its combination of comfort, practicality, and quality means it doesn't have to back down from competitors like the BMW X1, Audi Q3, and Mercedes-Benz GLA - our only criticism of this exceptional little car is the strained powertrain, which makes the standard XC40 the perfect candidate for electrification. The resulting Recharge has two electric motors driven by a floor-mounted battery pack, producing an astounding 402 horsepower and 486 lb-ft of torque. With specs like these, it's clear Volvo has the Tesla Model Y and the Ford Mustang Mach-E in its sights.
The XC40 lineup is now divided into three trims: Core, Plus, and Ultimate. One welcome change is that the SUV now has a range of 223 miles thanks to updated software, an increase of 15 miles over last year's model. Other than a minor shuffling of features, not much else has changed for the EV.
See trim levels and configurations:
When a manufacturer launches its first EV, it wants to make a splash. Porsche designed an entirely new model, and Ford did the same, even going as far as exploiting its most valuable nomenclature. Volvo doesn't seem too worried about making a big fuss. You could walk right past the Recharge without noticing the slight differences between it and the standard little SUV.
The exterior changes are incredibly subtle and include a blocked-off front grille as there is no engine to cool down. There are also Recharge badges on the flanks and tailgate, and model-specific 19-inch alloy wheels. Active LED headlights are standard, as are the signature Thor's Hammer daytime running light. The mid-range Plus adds a laminated panoramic moonroof. We love the subtle styling, but we're not so sure it will go over well with the hardcore EV crowd - the only thing an EV driver loves more than their car is letting other people know they drive an EV. It's like CrossFit and veganism, but with cars.
The XC40 Recharge shares most of its dimensions with the standard XC40, with the main difference being curb weight. The gas-fed XC40 maxes out at 3,840 pounds, while the dual electric motor and battery pack increases the curb weight of the XC40 recharge to 4,741 lbs. This crossover may have a compact footprint, but it weighs more than the non-hybrid XC90, and that's a much bigger SUV.
Overall, this compact crossover is 174.2 inches long, 65.3 inches tall, and 80.1 inches wide, with the mirrors folded out. Ground clearance is significantly decreased from the 8.3 inches of the standard model, offering only 6.9 inches thanks to the battery in its belly. Finally, the wheelbase is 106.4 inches.
Volvo calls the Recharge's engine the P8 AWD. It has two electric motors, each driving an axle. These motors are driven by a 78 kWh lithium-ion battery, resulting in a massive power output of 402 hp and 486 lb-ft of torque. The transmission is your standard single-speed, and top speed is limited to 112 mph as with all current Volvo cars. In case you were wondering, the EV motors are spinning at 14,000 rpm at top speed. Since you're only allowed to do 80 mph legally in some parts of the USA, that's perfectly adequate.
The XC40 Recharge runs a permanent electric all-wheel-drive setup. The motors aren't connected, but the power is normally split 50/50 between the front and rear, though the car's brain can shift torque instantly depending on driving conditions. The power output might lead you to believe that it's stupid fast, but the Recharge is not that kind of car. The claimed 0-60 mph time is 4.7 seconds. Before modern EVs, that used to be fast, but in a world where a Tesla Model S Plaid can get there in less than two seconds, we need a new set of guidelines. Still, the Volvo XC40 Recharge SUV has instant EV shove. No matter what the speed, you always have immediate feedback from the twin electric motors. It's a tenth of a second quicker to 60 than the Model Y Long Range but the Model Y Performance is comfortably faster. Volvo says the 2022 XC40 Recharge can tow up to 2,000 pounds. That's not much, but it's something.
The Recharge has lost none of the XC40's primary handling and driving characteristics in the electrification process. You can tell it's a heavy car when you're pushing on, but using it as a hot hatch is neither pleasant for the driver nor the vehicle. Instead, you should treat it as a luxury compact crossover that just happens to be quick off the line, and nothing more. Simply revel in the plushness provided as standard. This SUV effectively neutralizes the effect of scarred surfaces, keeping the occupants from being disturbed. In corners, the level of grip is excellent but you can feel the body leaning and the steering remains vague. Still, it's the feeling that this is a serene, quiet luxury cruiser that you remember most.
The big news in this section is what Volvo calls One Pedal Drive. It has to do with the regenerative braking, which, rather refreshingly, only has two settings. It's either on or off, and that's it. When it's on, the braking power when you lift off is quite strong. It took us around two days to build up the confidence, but the resulting deceleration is strong enough not to use the brake pedal in certain conditions. You only use the brake pedal those final few yards to ensure it comes to a halt. If you buy one of these, this driving style will become a habit within weeks. We love using it in the city but prefer to have it off on the highway.
There has been an improvement in the XC40 Recharge's efficiency and range for 2022. According to the EPA, the pure electric Volvo XC40 Recharge is capable of 92/79/85 MPGe city/highway/combined, up from 85/72/79 MPGe last year. Consequently, the range on a full charge is now 223 miles, an increase of 15 miles.
While this improvement is welcome, the Tesla Model Y can go over 100 miles further on a single charge, a difference that's hard not to take into account when considering which of these two vehicles to buy. The Model Y also has a charging rate of 250 kW, while the most the Volvo can manage is 150 kW. That means it takes around 40 minutes to charge the battery from zero to 80% at a DC fast charger. This isn't ideal, considering most modern EVs can do the same in 15 to 20 minutes.
Charging at home is better, however. Using a three-phase 11 kW wallbox, the Volvo adds around 32 to 37 miles per hour. This method will require eight hours for a full charge for a totally depleted battery. However, keep in mind that you're not going to deplete the battery every day, and most of the time, it will be charged from around 40 or 50%. It's the same recharging schedule you follow with your phone. Does that ever go down to zero completely?
The electrification process has no impact on interior space. It fits in nicely in the compact crossover genre, offering plenty of room for a family of four. In the front of the Recharge, passengers get 40.9 inches of legroom and 39 inches of headroom, while rear passengers get 36.1 inches of legroom and 39.1 inches of headroom. The interior can be quite dark because of the black upholstery and thick C pillars, but the available panoramic moonroof does a good job of brightening things up during the day. The spacious cabin is enhanced by attractive charcoal textile upholstery.
As mentioned before, going electric has not harmed space. The Volvo XC40 has 16 cubic feet of cargo space to the top of the rear seatback, 20.4 cubes up to the headliner, and 46.9 cubes when the rear seats are folded down. Since there is no engine up front and the electric motor is mounted low down, you now get a frunk. The XC40's frunk is less than one cube in volume, however. Still, it's a usable space that didn't exist before, and it's big enough to store all the bits you need to recharge at work.
Small items can be stowed in a standard glovebox or under the armrest where there is a sizable bin. Door pockets all around are deep and large, and can hold water bottles. There are two cupholders up front for your Chai Lattes, and two additional in the back of the rear-seat armrest.
The Recharge sits at the top of the XC40 range and is equipped with an extensive array of comfort and driver assistance features. It gets dual-zone automatic climate control, a digital driver's display, cruise control, auto-dimming rearview mirrors, heated front seats with power lumbar support, rain-sensing wipers, a rearview camera, and rear parking sensors. Being a Volvo, the safety spec has been carefully considered, so all models have road sign information, lane-keep assist, and blind-spot monitoring.
The mid-level Plus has a 12V outlet in the cargo area, a HomeLink garage door transmitter, power-folding rear head restraints, and a power front passenger seat. Finally, the Ultimate adds the convenience of adaptive cruise control. This derivative throws in heated seats for those at the back, too.
Volvo has retained the minimalist interior design it created but is now updated for better performance. The Recharge has a nine-inch touchscreen interface with four vertical blocks and traditional button shortcuts underneath the screen. Volvo's older system was starting to show its age, and to make the new system feel more like a smartphone, Volvo did something brilliant. It actually turned to a smartphone developer for help. Oh, happy day. The new touchscreen runs Android Automotive OS, developed by Google. That means you have access to Google Maps, Google Assistant, Google Keyboard, over-the-air updates, and the ability to download more car-related apps from the Google Play Store. In case you're an Apple person, don't worry. The system is compatible with the iPhone as well. A 14-speaker Harman Kardon sound system including a subwoofer is available, but the standard eight-speaker system works just fine. As expected, Bluetooth connectivity and SiriusXM satellite radio are included too.
We have to applaud Volvo for this smart move. Switching between a phone and a car interface has never been easier because they function in the same way. Here's a tip for every other manufacturer: If you want your infotainment systems to work as well as smartphones, go to the guys who design and develop smartphones.
Volvo is quite confident in this product, as the electric motors are sealed-for-life and completely maintenance-free. It makes perfect sense since all Volvos are limited to 112 mph, in which case the Recharge's motors are only spinning at 14,000 rpm. To ICE enthusiasts, this might seem high, but it's still way below the threshold. This doesn't mean that the XC40 is without problems. The 2021 model was recalled three times. The first of these recalls was for a disconnected high-voltage system that can cause a loss of drive power. Two more recalls followed for a seat belt locking retractor malfunction and a missing cross-member bolt in the engine compartment. 2022 models have so far been recalled just once for the same disconnected high-voltage system issue.
The XC40 has an extensive warranty. You get a four-year/50,000-mile limited warranty, a four-year/50,000-mile powertrain warranty, and an eight-year/100,000-mile battery warranty. As a bonus, Volvo also includes a three-year/36,000-mile scheduled maintenance plan.
The NHTSA has not had the opportunity to review the Volvo XC40 Recharge. The gas-powered XC40 returned a full five-star rating from the agency, though, which means the Recharge is likely to be just as safe. The XC40 Recharge has been to the IIHS for a thorough inspection. The review resulted in a Top Safety Pick + award, which is the highest rating a car can achieve. There are also no limitations on this award, and no optional extras are required.
In terms of safety gear, Volvo doesn't shy away from adding everything as standard, which means the XC40 Recharge has collision warning and avoidance, oncoming lane crash avoidance and mitigation, lane-departure warning and a lane-keeping aid, run-off road protection, automatic post-crash braking and door unlocking, fatigue alert, road sign information, blind-spot assist with steer assist, cross-traffic alert with auto-braking, and rear collision mitigation. Optionally, you can add a 360-degree surround-view camera system and the Pilot Assist system with adaptive cruise control. All models have rear parking sensors, and the top two trims get parking sensors for the sides and front as well.
We're slightly confused about the XC40 Recharge's existence, considering Volvo created an entirely different brand for EV vehicles. The XC40 Recharge costs the same as the Polestar 2, yet it's not nearly as accomplished, but more on that later. The price of the 2022 Volvo XC40 Recharge is on the high side. We know EVs usually carry a premium, but it's hard to ignore that the Ford Mustang Mach-E starts at a significantly lower price.
In isolation, it's a great car. The XC40 is good, to begin with, and with an EV powertrain, it's even better. We love the one-pedal driving, but most of all, we like the fact that it just looks like a normal XC40. A lot of ICE loyalists are put off by the EV attitude - that holier-than-thou, look at me, I'm saving the planet mentality. Volvo is also guilty of this. The marketing strategy is based on zero emissions, which strictly isn't true. There isn't a single car that's emissions-free, and the USA really should implement a more extensive harmful emissions rating, starting with the very first piece of nickel mined to make the battery. But this car is perfect for the individual that wants to move over to an EV without making a big fuss about it. Despite intense competition, it has a premium badge, a lovely interior, and an impressive list of driver assistance features.
To start, the price of the Volvo XC40 Recharge is $51,700 MSRP , excluding the $1,095 destination fee. Next is the Plus at $55,300 and, finally, the Ultimate at $58,150. Being a pure electric vehicle, the XC40 Recharge qualifies for a federal tax credit of $7,500.
With three trims available, there is a bit more choice in the Volvo XC40 Recharge lineup this year. The base Core derivative is $3,600 less expensive than the Plus and a substantial $6,450 less that the Ultimate. Despite this, it comes with the same powerful dual electric motors and enough features to keep everyone comfortable and safe. After the tax credit, it becomes quite appealing. Besides, nothing about it screams entry-level; it still has the look of a polished, premium SUV. To this base model, we'd consider the $750 Climate Package with its heated steering wheel, heat pump that acts as a range extender, and heated rear seats. A $2,100 Exterior Styling kit is available, too, that makes an already stylish vehicle even sportier with skid plates and some brushed stainless steel details.
The Volkswagen ID.4 is the perfect example of how mass production is reducing the cost of EVs. The ID.4 is similar in size to the XC40, yet prices start at $41,230. The top-spec AWD Pro S (Statement) will start at $51,305. We opted for the AWD model for two reasons. It increases the performance by adding an electric motor, and it gives the ID.4 a tow rating of 2,700 lbs. That's quite a bit more than the Volvo's 2,000 lbs rating. The ID.4 also has a 30.3-cube trunk, nearly doubling the Volvo's 16-cube trunk.
You do lose out on power, however. The Volvo's 402 hp and 486 lb-ft output trumps the dual-motor ID.4's 295 hp. On the flip side, the ID.4 AWD Pro S comes with a 245-mile claimed range, beating Volvo's 223 miles. Our road test of the ID.4 earlier this year also showed that the ID.4 doesn't discharge as quickly as VW suggests. We estimate the AWD model will sprint to 60 mph in roughly 6.5 seconds, but that's hardly the point of these cars. We're just happy the EV contenders are flooding in, giving US consumers more options to choose from. The ID.4 is more affordable and was designed to be an EV from the beginning. We'd save ourselves a bundle and get the VW.
The Model Y Long Range has become a lot more expensive and now begins at $62,990. The Performance Model retails for $67,990. This makes the Volvo more affordable, especially since it qualifies for a tax credit and the Tesla does not. Performance-wise, the Long Range takes 4.8 seconds to get to 60 mph, which is a split-second slower than the Volvo. The Performance gets there in 3.5 seconds. As for range, Tesla has all its competitors licked. The Long Range will do 330 miles, while the Performance will do 303 miles.
As we know, Tesla continues to struggle with quality. It was easy to forgive when it was the leading player in the segment, but the rivals came in hot and heavy. The legacy manufacturers are still not there range-wise, but they know how to put a car together correctly. The question you have to ask yourself is whether you prefer additional range or quality? When spending this much, we prefer a quality product and that's why we'd choose the Volvo.