The 2023 Volvo XC40 is the second smallest Volvo on sale in 2023. The smallest being the Volvo C40 Recharge due to its limited rear seat headroom and trunk volume which are both impacted by the sloping roofline. For this model year, the proper small SUV XC40 received a few updates to keep it top of mind and ahead of the competitors from Audi, Mercedes, & BMW.
Engine – The Volvo XC40 is still powered by a 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine but it now has a bit of help from a 48-volt mild-hybrid system with an electric supercharger. There are two variants of this engine with the designation of B4 or B5. The B4 engine produces 194 hp & 221 lb-ft of torque (145 kW & 300 Nm). This B5 version produces 247 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque (184 kW & 350 Nm). In both versions, the electric motor provides 13.4 hp & 29.5 lb-ft of torque (10 kW & 40 Nm) when it’s needed by the engine. Usually this is during transmission shifts or until the turbocharger spools up. Compared to the old T5 powertrain, this XC40 B5 produces the same power & torque but the response of the engine is a bit faster. The acceleration is steady and while it will not set any records, it’s more than adequate for a vehicle of this type. Volvo claims a 0-100 km/h time of 6.4 seconds. There is an off-road drive mode that can be accessed through the infotainment system but there are no other Sport, Eco, or Custom drive modes to choose from. Additionally, the XC40 B5 can tow up to 3,500 lbs.
Fuel Economy – Thanks to the addition of the mild-hybrid system, the B5 powertrain is more efficient than the old T5 powertrain. But only in a city environment. This 2023 XC40 is rated for 10.2 L/100km (23.1 MPG) in a city and 7.9 L/100km (29.7 MPG) on a highway. Compared to the XC40 T5, that is 0.5 L/100km (1.1 MPG) better city fuel economy but 0.2 L/100km (0.7 MPG) worse highway fuel economy. During my time with the SUV, I averaged 9.5 L/100km (24.8 MPG).
Transmission – Both variants of the 2.0L engine are paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission. This gearbox is smooth at changing gears as you won’t really notice them unless you pay close attention to each shift. However, it’s a tad on the slow side when it comes to quick shifting. But that’s ok because Volvo’s are not focused for high performance driving like a BMW M-Performance car. So overall, this is a good transmission.
Braking – The XC40 has a solid braking feel. The brake pedal is easy to modulate but it does feel a bit sensitive when the brakes are cold. Once they warm up after a few applications, it’s like driving an EV XC40.
Handling – This being a small SUV, it does feel more nimble than its bigger XC60 & XC90 brothers. The steering is sharp and precise but a bit light on feedback. The whole car feels planted when going around smooth corners but if there’s a big bump mid-corner, the car shakes a bit as the suspension tries to settle down the body again. It can feel a bit uneasy if you take those corners at high speeds.But otherwise, the 2023 Volvo XC40 is a smooth driving city runabout with a decent turning circle of 11.7 meters.
One thing to note, the B4 and B5 powertrains are only available with AWD here in Canada. In the United States, the B4 is only available as a FWD and the B5 is only available with AWD.
Ride Comfort – The suspension on the 2023 Volvo XC40 B5 is tuned for more comfort rather than sporty driving like some other brands. Small potholes and road cracks are easily absorbed by the suspension, even with the optional 20” wheels. But larger potholes can feel a bit harsh in your seat. Speaking of which, the front seats are very comfortable and provide excellent support for drivers and passengers of any height or body shape.
Interior Space – As it’s usual for front occupants, there is plenty of space even if you’re as tall as myself at 6’4”. Plenty of legroom and enough headroom. I did lower the seat to the lowest position but visibility over the hood, out the side, and out back is still very good. By the way, you can flip down the rear seat headrests through the infotainment system for better rear view visibility.
The back seats provide just enough legroom behind my tall driving position but my knees do touch the back of the front seats. The rear seats are a bit higher up than the front seats, when they’re at the lowest position, so taller adults may find their hair brushing up against the headliner if the car is optioned with the panoramic sunroof. But there is undoubtedly more headroom in this XC40 than the C40.
In the trunk, the XC40 B5 has 578 L (20.4 cu-ft) of cargo space with the rear seats up and 1,328 L (46.9 cu-ft) with the rear seats folded.
Noise, Vibration, & Harshness – This being an entry level luxury crossover, the XC40 doesn’t have quite as much noise isolation as its bigger brothers. So the cabin is a bit noisier with tire noise on highways and a slight whisper of wind noise. However, the engine is a bit quieter than the old T5 variant when you’re poodling around town. Under hard acceleration, the engine noise is much more noticeable and unfortunately, it doesn’t sound too good. On the plus side, the integrated starter/generator provides a very smooth auto start/stop system.
Odds and Ends
Pricing – The 2023 Volvo XC40 B4 starts at $42,250 CAD ($37,645 USD, FWD). The B5 powertrain is an additional $3,500 CAD ($2,000 USD) and this demo vehicle came equipped at a price of $57,950 CAD ($49,095 USD).
Gadgets – The base, or Core XC40, is equipped with heated front seats, power liftgate, a 4 year Google Assistant, Google Maps & Google Play Store subscription, Apple CarPlay, Power driver’s seat with 4-way lumbar and memory, dual-zone automatic climate control, and parking sensors.
Moving up to the Plus trim level adds features such as a panoramic sunroof, keyless entry with hands-free operated tailgate, front & rear parking sensors, leather upholstery, power passenger seat, and wireless phone charging.
Upgrade to this Ultimate trim and it’ll come with features such as surround view cameras, heated steering wheel, adaptive cruise control with Pilot Assist, heated rear seats, and a Harmon/Kardon sound system. These features are packaged differently between the Canadian market and American market.
Interior Design – For the most part, the interior of the 2023 Volvo XC40 B5 is similar to that of other Volvo vehicles. It has the same 9” infotainment display which now runs on the new Android Automotive based infotainment system. Some may find it a bit cumbersome to use but I think it’s fairly straightforward and resembles the old Sensus system. One new thing I’ve noticed in this 2023 model is that if the car is equipped with surround view cameras and you select reverse, it’s the backup camera that is displayed first instead of the full surround view. In previous model years, it would be the surround view that is displayed first. This isn’t too big of a deal but just something to get used to. The climate controls are integrated into the infotainment screen which I am not a fan of as it can be distracting to use while driving. Voice commands are available but they’re hit or miss. The driver display measures 12” in size but it’s not customizable like some other vehicles.
It’s the center console that is different in this XC40 when compared to other Volvo XC SUVs. There’s a decently sized space for a wireless phone charging pad, a simple gear selector, two cup holders, a decently sized center console, and a little trash bin. Unfortunately the center console is covered in a gloss black trim which will highlight dust, fingerprints, and scratches.
Exterior Design – This 2023 model year received a few styling updates in the form of a slightly updated front bumper and slightly restyled headlights. These changes are so subtle that you have to look at this year’s car with previous model years side by side to notice the differences. I think it looks funky and stands out in a crowded crossover SUV market but without being an eyesore.
Safety – The XC40 is equipped with standard automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, and blind spot sensors with cross traffic alert. However, to have driver aids such as adaptive cruise control and Pilot Assist, which is Volvo’s version of lane centering, you have to opt for the Ultimate trim.
Interestingly, the 2022 Volvo XC40 received a Top Safety Pick+ award from the IIHS with a small blemish in an updated side impact test. This 2023 Volvo XC40 B5 did not receive a Top Safety Pick award and it has the same Acceptable rating for the updated side impact test.
Warranty – The 2023 Volvo XC40 B5 has a similar warranty period to other compact luxury crossover rivals. It comes with a 4 year / 80,000 km new vehicle and powertrain warranty.
Conclusion – Although this is not the most engaging to drive crossover SUVs, the Volvo XC40 was not really designed for that. It’s an easy runabout with a lot of the features of its XC60 and XC90 brothers that is also very safe. Which is what Volvo’s are known for. The addition of the mild-hybrid system also makes the XC40 feel much more refined than previous model years. As I’ve said in previous reviews of Volvo vehicles, they’re on a roll in 2022/2023. This updated XC40 further elevates their model range.
Thank you to Volvo Canada for providing the vehicle. www.VolvoCars.com