5 Things You Will Love about the 2019 Volvo XC40 T5 AWD R-Design
While the United States and Japan both have some excellent luxury vehicles, anyone who pay any attention to the global auto industry knows that European brands are often associated with the most impressive luxury vehicles. Brands like BMW, Mercedes Benz and Audi get the lion’s share of attention in European luxury discussions, but with those popular brands come big price tags.
That is where Volvo comes into play, as the Chinese-owned Swedish brand offers a comparable level of luxury as the other European brands, but it does so for a much lower price. When you couple Volvo’s budget-minded luxury approach with the popularity of smaller SUVs in the United States, the XC40 T5 AWD R-Design is an excellent option for someone who wants a European luxury SUV that is efficient, affordable, fun-to-drive and packed with premium technology.
Today, I bring you five reasons why the 2019 Volvo XC40 T5 AWD R-Design is the perfect option for someone who is shopping for a loaded SUV.
Powerful and Efficient
The 2019 Volvo XC40 T5 AWD R-Design is powered by turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder mill that delivers 248 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque with help from an 8-speed automatic transmission and an advanced all-wheel-drive system. In the modern era of big power performance vehicles, those numbers don’t seem impressive, but the XC40 makes excellent use of the available power. Whether you are launching hard from a stop or putting the hammer down to pass slow-moving traffic on the highway, the turbocharged engine is quick to deliver power without any delay. When you use the shift paddles on the steering wheel, you can keep the engine in its peak powerband, providing positive power and crisp throttle response as soon as you hit the accelerator.
Sure, the XC40 could have more power, but at no point in my daily drive did I ever find myself wishing that this compact Volvo SUV was lacking power. I would go so far as to say that the XC40 R-Design is quicker and faster than I expected, while the sport-tuned suspension system makes this Volvo fun to drive on a twisty country road. Under normal driving circumstances, this Volvo is smooth, comfortable and quiet, but for those who like the occasional high performance driving experience, the XC40 R-Design combines comfort with enjoyable driving dynamics.
Also, if you are on a long highway drive, you can engage Volvo’s Pilot Asssit system, which is a semi-autonomous cruise control system. When the system is engaged, you can set your desired speed and from there, the XC40 does all of the driving for you. It keeps you in your lane, even on sweeping highway turns, it handles braking down to a complete stop and, of course, it handles acceleration. With Pilot Assist, I made my 50-mile highway fuel economy drive without doing anything more than resting my hand on the steering wheel and the car did the rest. This is not a self-driving system, but it is as close as it gets and on a long drive, this system is fantastic.
Most importantly for many people shopping for a luxurious compact SUV, the XC40 R-Design gets great fuel economy. The XC40 is officially rated at 23mpg around town, 31 highway and 26 combined. On my 50-mile highway fuel economy test loop, I averaged 32.8 miles per hour and over the course of a week of often-spirited driving. I averaged 25.2 miles per hour – which I consider to be a good number for my driving style.
Stylish and Sporty, Inside and Out
First up, we have the appearance of the 2019 Volvo XC40 T5 AWD R-Design. The outside is predominantly body-colored and black, with a splash of bright silver on the wheels and on the badging. The most striking feature of the exterior is the signature LED lighting, with distinct LED trim in the HID headlights and loads of LEDs filling the huge taillights. With the optional 20-inch wheels filling out the wheel wells nicely and the flat silhouette of the hood and roofline, the XC40 has a naturally sporty shape while the LED trim provides the modern premium touch that comes with most luxury models today.
Inside, the XC40 R-Design has heated sport bucket seats up front which are comfortable during long drives while the deep side and base bolsters keep the driver and passenger rooted firmly in place during stints of spirited driving. While the back seat is a 40/20/40 bench design, the outer seating positions have the same basic appearance as the front buckets, including side bolsters that provide some support and when no one is seated in the middle, it folds down into an armrest that makes far more sense than the tiny seat.
As you might expect, the steering wheel, shift knob, center armrests and other touch-points throughout the cabin are wrapped in plush leather, with gobs of gloss black trim all over the place. What I particularly liked was the “Cutting Edge” aluminum trim that runs through the door panels and across the dash. In the pictures here, these areas are black with small, silver cubes that create a strobe effect, but at night when the sun goes down and the interior lights come on, these areas really look cool. The concave form of these trim bits lead the LED interior lighting to reflect off of the silver cubes in a way that makes each cube look like a tiny light. Essentially, these areas appear to be backlit and at night, this simple trim effect draws the eye.
In terms of styling, materials and layout, the interior and exterior of the 2019 Volvo XC40 T5 AWD R-Design is exactly what buyers expect from a sporty European luxury SUV.
Small Exterior, Roomy Interior
In addition to looking great, the interior of the 2019 Volvo XC40 T5 AWD R-Design is surprisingly roomy for a vehicle of this size. With the wheels being shifted towards the corners, there is a long wheelbase and hardly any overhand, making the XC40 easy to maneuver through tight spots like a crowded mall parking lot or dense Detroit traffic, but that is true of most small SUVs. Where most other small SUVs come up short is on the inside, as they are often cramped in front or rear seats, if not both.
In the case of the XC40, the long wheelbase leads to front seats and rear seats that all offer enough legroom to comfortably seat a six-foot-tall person. This is a vehicle that can serve as a great daily driver for a family of four, but if you carpool with a few coworkers, this small Volvo will comfortably carry everyone in the lap of luxury. In addition to plenty of legroom, the driver and passenger both have plenty of head, shoulder, elbow and hip room and the same is true of the outboard rear seats, at least when the middle seat is serving as an armrest. Putting three adults in the backseat is feasible, but it isn’t comfortable, but if you are driving a few kids to school, the back seat will easily fit three smaller kids.
Also, in addition to the roomy seating areas, the XC40 R-Design also has a cargo area that can accommodate a pair of large travel bags, so you can haul some cargo without compromising comfort, but if you need lots more space, you can flop the rear seats down to make a big enough area to carry larger cargo – all of which is impressive from a vehicle of this exterior size.
Super Premium Infotainment
Finally, while the trim and spaciousness of the XC40 is impressive, the crown jewel of this cabin is the huge infotainment screen mounted high on the dash. Literally everything that you could want to control inside of this Volvo is accessed through the huge touchscreen, from the climate control to the sound system to the vehicle settings. The Volvo screen both looks and functions like a tablet, which is a popular approach, and once you get the hang of this system, it is as easy to use as it is beautiful.
There are some standalone controls below the touchscreen for the sound system and the HVAC system along with more buttons on the steering wheel, but the Volvo infotainment system is best-controlled by the big screen while the various buttons are great for the easy driver access on the fly.
When you combine the fancy infotainment system with the screen-based gauge cluster, the Volvo XC40 R-Design has a very high end look and feel, especially when you take into account the copious amounts of leather, gloss black trim and the unique “Cutting Edge” aluminum trim discussed above. Add in the booming Harman Kardon sound system and you have a technology experience that is fitting of a proper European luxury vehicle.
All of This for Under $44,000
Whether you are behind the steering wheel or sitting in one of the other seats, the XC40 T5 AWD R-Design is a plush, comfortable, compact SUV that checks all of the boxes. I enjoyed driving the XC40 and my passengers were all impressed with the premium features, but what is really impressive is the pricing. The Volvo SUV that I spent a week driving, with everything mentioned above, had an MSRP of just $45,835.
Getting the interior and exterior features of the XC40 T5 AWD R-Design in a similarly sized vehicle from most other luxury brands will cost you far more, making this one of the best options for someone who was a loaded SUV of this size. It should be noted that while this XC40 is very luxurious, the R-Design is the sporty package and if you want more luxury coupled with a smoother ride, the XC40 Inscription might be the model for you. That model starts just $500 more than the R-Design, so anyway you build it, the Volvo XC40 offers excellent driving dynamics and loads of interior space for a compact SUV, along with all of the premium amenities that you could want from a European luxury machine.
Click here for a look at John Goreham's review of the XC60.
Patrick Rall @TheAutoBeard is the Managing Editor of Torque News. Please follow us on Twitter at @TorqueNewsAuto, Facebook and send us tips. You can also Follow Patrick on Youtube.