2021 Volvo XC40 Recharge First Look Review: 400-HP Electric Punch

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Volvo officially begins a new era.

Over a year ago, Volvo promised to unveil an all-electric model for the US market. True to its word, this week the carmaker introduced the 2021 Volvo XC40 Recharge. This is the Chinese-owned Swedish automaker's first-ever fully electric vehicle and, equally important, the first of its Recharge EV lineup. In other words, more EVs are coming. Volvo has a five-year plan where it will launch a new all-electric car each year. The goal is to make EVs 50 percent of its global sales by 2025. This all starts with the XC40 Recharge.

Does the name XC40 sound familiar? It ought to because the XC40 Recharge is based on the XC40 compact crossover, which is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four gasoline engine. However, the vehicle's platform was designed to be adaptable for an electric motor and a floor-mounted battery pack. Moreover, the XC40 Recharge already has one key competitor in mind: the Tesla Model Y. All-electric crossovers, especially premium ones, are the next big thing and Volvo refuses to be left behind.

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Familiar Styling With Subtle Differences

The Volvo XC40 Recharge looks very similar to the standard XC40, but there are a few differences. Up front, the typical grille has been redesigned as a one-piece unit, sans air inserts. There's no internal combustion engine requiring this amount of direct cooling. A radiator? Also gone. The XC40's LED headlights remain as does the lower fascia styling and fog lamps. And because there's no internal combustion engine, Volvo has redesignated this space to serve as a front trunk, aka a frunk. This is found in every modern EV, from Teslas to the new Porsche Taycan.

The XC40's chiseled body panels remain, most notably on the lower part of the doors and sides. From the side angle, it's hard to tell the difference between the EV and gas-powered versions, but the former does feature a new wheel design.

Rear-end styling is also largely unchanged, with one notable exception: no exhaust system and pipes. There is a unique emblem indicating the vehicle's EV powertrain on the rear liftgate, but Volvo has opted to keep the XC40 Recharge's EV status fairly subtle overall.

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Premium Accommodation

Step inside the XC40 Recharge and the cabin and dashboard will immediately look familiar. If you're a fan of the current XC40's interior design and general layout, then you'll be thrilled yet again. Volvo has not gone into great details just yet about any specific differences, but there will be some minors ones by way of the driver's gauge cluster where necessary information regarding charging status and other EV-related issues will be found. And speaking of screens, the XC40 Recharge is Volvo's first vehicle to feature a brand new infotainment system powered by Google's Android operating system, which is fully integrated with a digital connected services platform called Volvo On Call.

In general, the XC40's high-quality dash, seats, and carpet materials are carried over. There's also a wireless charging pad located below the HVAC controls. Because the XC40 Recharge, like the regular XC40, is a compact SUV crossover, there are only two rows of seats for up to five passengers.

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What's Under The Floor?

The XC40 Recharge is powered by a state-of-the-art fully electric powertrain with standard all-wheel drive. Volvo claims a total output of 402 horsepower.

Like all EVs, the XC40 Recharge's large lithium-ion battery pack is located under the floor, which not only helps preserve passenger and cargo space, but also lowers the vehicle's center of gravity.

This battery, again according to Volvo, can be charged up to 80 percent of its capacity in only 40 minutes via a fast-charger system. Total range is 400 kilometers based on WLTP testing, roughly the equivalent of 200 miles on a single charge, though the EPA has not verified this yet.

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Pricing And Competition

There's no question the Volvo XC40 Recharge has one main competitor in mind: the Tesla Model Y. While at launch, Volvo did not provide a time frame as to when the XC40 Recharge will go on sale, it will now be arriving at the end of 2020 as a 2021 model year. Volvo has subsequently updated us with the pricing of the EV, starting at a base MSRP of $53,990 before state-specific incentives and up to $7,500 in federal tax credits.

Another worthy upcoming competitor will be the larger BMW iX3, a fully electrified version of its wildly popular X3 crossover, and arguably closest in size, the Volkswagen ID.4 and the Nissan Ariya.

Not only is the Volvo XC40 Recharge the beginning of a new electrified era for the automaker, but the Recharge nameplate will also be applied to upcoming new plug-in hybrid models as well, ranging from the XC40 to the next-generation XC90.

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