Volvo hasn't been shy about announcing its move to electrification and has offered plug-in-hybrid versions of many of its models for a few years now. For 2022, Volvo also has a new battery-electric called the C40 Recharge. It is an all-wheel drive, 5-passenger compact wagon that shares a motors, battery, and platform with the XC40 and Polestar 2. The C40 also provides a glimpse into the future with an online-only buying process and Google-based infotainment architecture. Competitors include the Ford Mustang Mach-E, Hyundai Ioniq 5, Kia EV6, Subaru Solterra, and Toyota bZ4X.
All models get a 78-kWk battery pack that can provide a maximum EPA-estimated range of 226 miles. The battery provides power for twin motors (one powering the front wheels and one powering the rear wheels) for through-the-road all-wheel drive. Maximum output is 402 horsepower and 486 lb-ft of torque. The C40 Recharge has a DC fast-charging rate of 150 kW, which Volvo says it will recharge from 10 percent to 80 percent in 37 minutes. An 11kW level 2 charger can fully charge the C40 in about 8 hours.
There is a single trim level with a $56,000 MSRP. It iincludes blind-spot and lane-departure warning, forward-collision alert with brake assist, cross-traffic alert, push-button starting, cruise control and dual-zone climate control. Two packages are offered. For $1,550 the Plus package adds power passenger seat, power-folding headrests, foldable load floor, HomeLink transmitter, park assist, 360-degree camera, and fog lights. The $4,800 Ultimate package brings the features from the Plus package and adds heat pump, heated steering wheel, subwoofer, Harman/Kardon audio system, 20-inch alloy wheels, Pilot Assist, headlamp cleaners, and heated rear seats.
The C40 Recharge is impressively quick. Volvo quotes a 0 to 60 MPH time of just 4.5 seconds. That's quicker than most sports coupes. Mash the accelerator and the C40 will leap away from stoplights and displays impressive mid-range passing punch. Once at highway speeds, though, acceleration is somewhat subdued.
As is the case with most battery-electric vehicles, the C40 Recharge doesn't have a conventional transmission. As a result, there's no shift-shock or downshift delays -- just smooth, linear acceleration. It's also unique in that the all-wheel-drive system really doesn't exist. There are simply two motors (one for the front axle and one for the rear) and a computer controls power delivery to help send power to the wheels with the most grip and limit wheel spin on slippery roads. In practice, yes, it is all wheel drive. But there's no transfer case or low range for off-road slogging.
With 226 miles of EPA certified range, the Volvo C40 Recharge has less overall range than most competitors. It does have fast recharging capabilities though. As an added bonus, Volvo provides C40 Recharge owners a complimentary 250 kWh of electricity at Electrify America's DC charging stations. In typical summertime use, the C40 Recharge is likely to exceed it's EPA-certified range, perhaps offering as much as 250 miles overall. That said, in the winter, expect to see about 180 miles or so of max range.
It should be noted that base-trim buyers in the Midwest will want to purchase the cold-climate package that brings along a heat pump and heated rear seats. It is much more efficient than the standard heater and will reduce the cold-weather impact on range.
Unlike in most other Volvos, the ride/handling balance in the C40 Recharge isn't quite sorted. While not hard riding, the C40 can be a bit ponderous in quick changes of direction and bumps occasionally pound through unfiltered. No doubt this is due to the nearly 5,000-pound curb weight. But also, the 20-inch wheels and low-profile tires don't help either. Thankfully, the electric steering is nicely weighted and accurate, and the brakes provide smooth and seamless stopping power.
Also quite impressive is the C40s regenerative braking setting. Often called one-pedal driving, this mode creates much stronger deceleration when drivers lift off the accelerator and will quickly bring the C40 to a stop. In fact, the system will slow the C40 down to 3 miles per hour before seamlessly handing the complete stop over to the regular friction brakes. It's an effortless and intuitive experience no matter how you drive the C40 Recharge.
One of the hallmarks of battery-powered electrics is the lack of interior noise. While that can make for a near silent drive, road and wind noise becomes more noticeable. It's nothing that can't be covered up with some music, but you will hear the road more than you might expect in a luxury car.
According to Volvo the C40 Recharge is its first offering to have a completely leather-free interior. Other than a slightly unique look, nothing would tip you off that the C40 Recharge interior is created from recycled materials. The overall style and look is quite Scandinavian and feels upscale and modern. The dashboard inlay in the rough style of a topographical map (it lights up at night) only adds to the C40's distinctive style.
Aside from the firm, the C40 recharge offers a comfortable environment for driver and passengers. Seats are quite supportive providing plenty of comfort. Up front, there's good leg room but only modest head room. Same can be said for the rear, where passengers don't have quite the head room they'd have in the more traditionally styled XC40 Recharge. The cabin has an airy feel thanks to the standard panoramic sunroof, but the thick pillars create more than a few blind spots.
Volvo's Google-based in-car tech is offers a mixed bag when it comes to usability. On the plus side, is a very well-integrated voice-activated car management system. Drivers can give the car commands "like make the cabin warmer," "turn up the radio," or "take me home," and the car will respond accordingly. But the system is totally Play Store based meaning you can only operate apps that are found in the Google Play store and are compatible with the C40. Graphics on the 9-inch touchscreen are crisp, and the four-tile home screen is easy to read and navigate. Because of this, Apple Car Play and Android Auto are not supported.
In a neat parlor trick, Volvo offers the Convenient Entry and Start system. With the key in your pocket, the C40 senses when you sit in the driver's seat, turns itself on, and is ready to go without so much as the push of a button. Just select your gear and go. As you might expect, the C40 has an impressive array of advanced driver aids. The most impressive might be Volvo's Pilot Assist. It's a near-autonomous cruise control system that maintains speed on the highway, maintains a safe gap in stop-go-driving, and assist in steering input.
Seats up the C40 offers about 29 cubic feet of storage. Better than just about any sedan, but significantly less than typical crossovers. Fold the rear seats and capacity grows to nearly 50 cubic feet -- again down compared to competitors. There is also a small compartment under the hood that's great for storing the charge cable, though not much else. The power opening hatch is quite large and provides easy access. Interior storage is quite good with lots of cubbies throughout.
Bottom Line -- The C40 Recharge is an interesting first effort BEV from Volvo. Yes, it has compromises and makes design decisions that might turn off some buyers. But there are positives as well. It's comfortable to drive, offers a lot of tech and safety features, and can charge quickly. From a price standpoint, it's no more expensive than other luxury crossover battery-electrics and is eligible for both the federal and State of Illinois EV credits.