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The 2018 XC40 T5 AWD demonstrates its utility credentials. (Volvo)

What we're driving: 2018 Volvo XC40 T5 AWD

Volvo is becoming increasingly technology- and premium-centric. The new XC40 has been designed to demonstrate both.
What we’re driving: Volvo XC40 T5 AWD
Volvo is becoming increasingly technology centric. By the middle of the next decade, it expects to generate half of all sales annually from electric cars, with one third of all its cars sold to be autonomous.

And it has just announced another target: from 2025, at least 25% of the plastics used in every newly-launched Volvo car will be made from recycled material. It’s urging all its suppliers to develop next-generation components that will be “as sustainable as possible."

Volvo has been good at hitting targets. This year, its first 5-door compact SUV,  the XC40, was named European Car of the Year and its President and CEO Håkan Samuelsson, World Car Person of 2018.

But it goes to great lengths not to let its cars hit anything accidentally. So the Ghent, Belgium-built R-design XC40 we’ve been driving in Europe was loaded with safety features, including Run-off Road Protection; Oncoming Lane Mitigation; City Safety; Rear Collision Mitigation; Cross-Traffic Alert with Autobrake,  plus a whole lot more.

In 2.0-L T5 gasoline form it delivers 184 kW ( 247 hp) and gets to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 6.5 s. Its autobox (supplied by Aisin-Warner) has eight speeds. Minimum curb weight is 1626 kg. (3585 lb) on the company’s CMA modular platform shared with products from Volvo’s Chinese parent's Geely brand.

The XC40's packaging is outstandingly good,  with cargo volume (measured to the glassline) at 901 L (31.8 cu3) with the rear seats folded and 260 L (9.2 cu3) in 5-seat configuration. Dogs love it; passengers don’t complain either. Nor should drivers, provided they don’t expect a sporty SUV; the XC40 is more about comfort and space. It also demonstrates another Volvo target: to be accepted as a premium brand. 

Seating is excellent, visibility what it should be and driver information presented via a roomy12.3-in TFT touchscreen display.

First impressions are of a linear, fluid, low-friction chassis and driveline, with plenty of instant low-end torque—max 350 N·m (258 lb·ft) from 1800-4800 rpm. Handling is generally very good, steering is in keeping with expectations, ride on motorways excellent. But the test car’s 20-in wheels didn’t like some lateral road surface ridges and transmitted noticeable road noise, but not to a nuisance level. Continue reading »