2022 Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Review: A Compact SUV With Few Surprises
The people of Sweden will not brag. They have even one word for not bragging: Jantelagen. That’s why you probably haven’t heard of Volvo’s all-electric compact SUV, the XC40 Recharge. Sure, you’re bombarded with tweets by Elon and his followers about Tesla Model Y. You’ve also no doubt heard about Ford’s impressive but incorrectly named electric sport utility vehicle, the Mustang Mach-E. You may even be trying to thwart Volkswagen’s attempt to sell its own compact SUV, the ID.4, as the new Beetle. Among all the SU-EV hubbub, Volvo is slowly introducing a dignified but small family and friendly model.
The XC40 Recharge (starting at $ 55,300) is built on the same small platform SUV as the fraternal gas -powered twin, the XC40. It also shares bones with Polestar2, the electrified product of Polestar’s startup, which, like Volvo, is owned by Chinese automaker Geely. The company is pushing hard for power from all its brands.
This electric version of Volvo’s small SUV met my expectations as I climbed behind the wheel. There were also some surprises mixed in, as well as some minor disappointments. But the XC40 Recharge is worth considering if you’re shopping for a small SUV and your budget has a hard time keeping European minds in mind. It’s also pretty classy. It finds it surprising that there is no self -calling, which is, of course, very Swedish.
The Swedish Need
The XC40 Recharge isn’t like something that can take precedence over the power output of a Ford Mustang. But it can, with more than 400 horsepower – 402 to be exact – and 486 pounds of foot torque. Sure, its majestic SUV serves as a signal that it’s ready to take the kids out of soccer practice or violin lessons, and maybe gear around town before the muffins are delivered to the community theater. But there is also the power to do these things very quickly. The Sweden EV has 0 to 60 hours of 4.7 seconds, which is faster than the entry-level Mustang. That speed drop is even more welcoming when alone on the freeway, or at times when you need to get out of a sticky situation and accelerating immediately is more desirable than braking. The energy like that can be exhilarating too. I found myself stabbing the runner just to let out more laughter with all the force snapping my cranium back into the headrest.
Frightening your passengers with a surprise launch in line, you can soothe their nerves by stopping the small SUV, which the XC40 deftly does. The extra weight of a large battery pack means that electric cars are harder to slow down than their gas-powered counterparts. But that will actually work for their benefit, because electric cars use brake replacement; the act of using electric motors to slow down the vehicle can also generate a small amount of electricity that can be returned to the battery.
The XC40 Recharge not only has a lot of braking power, but it also has what I consider to be the best “one-pedal driving” experience on the road today. This is a feature that, if possible in the car settings section of the infotainment system, will bring a car to a gradual stop to get the driver on their foot from the accelerator. It’s a bit like having a pedal brake that automatically depresses the car’s light whenever your foot backs off the accelerator. Many of the other EVs I drive require me to educate myself a few days while I know the right speed-to-distance ratio to stop the car where I want it. The Volvo system, however, is much more intuitive. After a few stoplights, I one-pedal like a pro.
I took the Volvo on an enthusiastic drive through a mountain trail near Calaveras Reservoir east of San Jose, California. Handling the hairpin turn as a tall car is commendable, but it doesn’t surpass a sports sedan or most hatchbacks around the corners. How it achieves these corner gymnastics is its low center of gravity (thanks to the battery pack) and tighter than the usual suspension setup for a luxury SUV. A more severe suspension resulted in the wheels returning to the road as quickly as possible so that the wheels could gain more speed. The drivetrain here has the basics as an all-wheel-drive setup, which really helps keep it tight on the asphalt while enjoying some rear entertainment.