2019 Volvo XC40 T4 Momentum First Test Review: Philosophizing Fashion


For all that softness, the brake pedal is an unusual—although not unpleasant—contrast. It’s firm with medium travel, responsive but not grabby or tricky to modulate. Our 60-0 test produced a 122-foot stopping distance. That’s better than the Cadillac XT4’s 126 feet but not as short as the T5 R-Design’s 120 or Lexus UX 200’s 118 feet. Walton noted some nose bounce and dive under full ABS stops.

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So the T4 Momentum drives demurely compared with the T5 R-Design. Still, both carry similar technology and features with their accompanying perks and foibles.

Start with the key. Minuscule buttons are allocated to the long, narrow edges of the rectangle. They’re difficult to press, made worse by the unused wide, flat side where they could have gone. Volvo provides keyless entry and start, but when a click might help, hunting for the correct button isn’t fun.

The wonderfully modern interior features textured materials quite different than those in other cars—we admire the felt door panels and herringbone headliner. Machined metal trim is divided by tall, slender air vents. It has useful details, too, like a built-in trash can and phone-sized storage slot. Despite the interior’s clever beauty, form precedes function in important areas.

Take the center console lid. It’s padded on top, but a hard edge around its sides is decidedly elbow-unfriendly. Ahead of it, two cupholders with stepped integration look cool but aren’t deep enough to confidently hold vessels taller than a La Croix can. Front seats have flat backrests and wide bolsters that don’t provide much support.

More quirks surface on startup. Pushing the ignition induces a panicked chime that only quiets once the driver’s seat belt is buckled—please, Volvo, spare a moment. Switching between reverse and drive requires a double nudge of the stubby shifter to pass through neutral, which makes it easy to get caught out of gear. Steering wheel controls are marked by glyphs, the functions of which aren’t always immediately clear. Navigating these foibles becomes natural over time, but the XC40 isn’t initially intuitive.

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The driver faces two displays: a 12.0-inch gauge cluster unit that shows key vehicle data, and a tablet-esque 9.0-incher in the center stack for infotainment, climate, and other controls. Both are bright, clear, and responsive, with logically organized menus.

Several cameras are positioned around the XC40’s exterior, including a rearview cam and a 360-degree top-down setup. However, the former’s corners are partially obstructed by bodywork, and the latter’s side cameras don’t quite align with the front and rear, making them less functional than some competitors’ systems.

Adaptive cruise control earned trust with ready reaction to the speed of the vehicle ahead, maintaining a consistent follow distance that’s defensively tight in low-speed traffic. However, the qualms we found with Volvo’s Pilot Assist semi-autonomous driving aid in our long-term XC60 were also present in this test. Whether misjudging lane markers or jolting away from perceived dangers, the system didn’t reduce our work behind the wheel.

Great style is, to a degree, universal. The value assigned to it is subjective. To some it’s unimportant, and only data with proven results solidifies a decision. Those willing to accept compromises for the sake of fashion should check out the Volvo XC40 T4. It may not be particularly thrilling or savvy, but none of its flaws is fatal. And when its styling is considered, those troubles may be excused.

2019 Volvo XC40 T4 FWD
BASE PRICE $34,695
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV
ENGINE 2.0L/187-hp/221-lb-ft turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4
TRANSMISSION 8-speed automatic
CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 3,704 lb (59/41%)
WHEELBASE 106.4 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 174.2 x 73.3 x 65.0 in
0-60 MPH 7.8 sec
QUARTER MILE 16.1 sec @ 86.7 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 122 ft
MT FIGURE EIGHT 27.8 sec @ 0.59 g (avg)
ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 147/102 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.73 lb/mile

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