2022 Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric Review: A compact SUV with some surprises.
People of Sweden does not brag. They even have a word not to brag: Gentleman.. So you may not have heard of Volvo’s all electric compact SUV, XC40 Recharge. Of course, you have been bombarded with tweets from Elon and his followers about the Tesla Model Y. You’re still trying to open up Volkswagen’s attempt to market its compact SUV, the ID.4, as the new Beetle. In the midst of all these SU-EV hubs, Volvo has quietly introduced a dignified but less family-friendly model.
The XC40 Recharge (starting at $ 55,300) is built on the same small SUV platform as its gas-powered twin XC40. It also shares bones with Polstar 2, the electric fruit of startup Polstar, which is owned by Chinese carmaker Gali, like Volvo. The company is pushing for electrification from all its brands.
This electric version of Volvo’s small SUV meets my expectations when I get behind the wheel. There were some surprises, as well as some minor disappointments. But the XC40 Recharge is worth considering if you are buying a small SUV and your budget allows you to think European ideas. It is also quite classic. It manages to impress without paying too much attention to itself, which is of course very, very Swedish.
The XC40 Recharge doesn’t look like anything that can top the Ford Mustang’s power output. But it can carry more than 400 horsepower – 402 precision and 486 pounds of torque. Certainly, its excellent SUV signals that it is ready for children to choose from football practice or violin lessons, then perhaps a device around town before delivering muffins to the community theater. But it also has the power to do things very quickly. The Swedish EV has a time of 0 to 60 and is 4.7 seconds, faster than the entry level Mustang. This high-speed burst is especially welcome when merging on a freeway, or in situations where you need to get out of a sticky situation and speeding is better than applying the brakes. That kind of power can be fun too. I found myself stabbing myself on the accelerator to enjoy all the ridiculousness that forced my cranium to re-enter the headrest.
After scaring your passengers off the line, you can calm the nerves by stopping the small SUV, which the XC40 cleverly does. The extra weight of a large battery pack means that electric vehicles are more difficult to slow down than their gas-powered counterparts. But it actually works to their advantage, as electric vehicles use regenerative braking. The process of using electric motors to slow down a car also generates a small amount of electricity which is sent back to the battery pack.
The XC40 Recharge not only has tremendous braking power, but also what I consider to be the best “one pedal driving” experience on the road today. This is a feature that, when activated in the vehicle settings section of the infotainment system, gradually brings the car to a stop when the car driver takes off his foot from the accelerator. It’s a bit like the brake pedal is automatically lighter than the car whenever your foot pulls back from the accelerator. Of the many other EVs I have driven, I need to train for a few days because I know the exact distance to speed so that the car can stop wherever it wants. However, Volvo’s system is much more intuitive. After some stop lights, I was pedaling like a pro.
Handling the road
I took Volvo on a passionate drive along a mountain trail near the Calvary Reservoir in eastern Jose, California. It was admirable to handle its hair pins as a long car, but it would not be able to overtake a sports sedan or a hatchback in most corners. How it achieves these cornering gymnastics is its low gravity (thanks to the battery pack) and a tougher suspension setup than usual for a luxury SUV. As a result of a severe suspension, the wheels return to the road faster so that the tires get more traction. The drive train here comes as a standard all-wheel drive setup, which definitely helps to hold the asphalt firmly while some enjoy the fun on the roads.