2022 Volvo C40 Recharge Review:Driving Impressions

Ron Sessions, Independent Expert | Mar 22, 2022

Introduction - Find the best Volvo deals!

The 2022 C40 Recharge is Volvo's first crossover SUV powered solely by electricity. It's also the first Volvo crossover SUV to feature a "coupe" roofline, which has become more prevalent in recent years with 4-door SUVs and crossovers such as the Audi Q5 Sportback, BMW X4 and X6Infiniti QX55, and Mercedes-Benz GLE and GLC Coupes.

As with its XC40 Recharge compact SUV platform-mate, the C40 Recharge uses a large 78-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery located under the cabin floor, EPA-rated to deliver an estimated range of 226 miles. Volvo's goal is to have an all-battery electric lineup by 2030.

I spent a day driving the 2022 Volvo C40 Recharge over city streets, interstate highways, and twisty two-lane mountain roads in the Palm Springs, California, area.

2022 Volvo C40 Recharge Price and Release Date - Find the best Volvo deals!

In a move that Volvo says it will employ for all its electric-vehicle (EV) models going forward, C40 Recharge buyers can purchase the vehicle online, with retail partners finalizing the sale, including transaction price. Volvo will then deliver sold vehicles to participating U.S. dealers starting in the first quarter of 2022.

The 2022 C40 Recharge is priced at $58,750, plus a $1,095 destination fee. There is just one model offered at launch with the luxury-oriented Ultimate trim and all-wheel drive (AWD). The C40 Recharge is eligible for the full $7,500 federal tax credit for buyers who qualify. Other state and local incentives may also be available, particularly in the West and Northeast.

The C40 Recharge test vehicle reviewed was a 402-horsepower, dual-motor AWD with Ultimate trim and $695 optional Fjord Blue metallic paint. Including the $1,095 destination charge, the total cost was $60,540.

Independent Expert Opinion: Design, Comfort, and Utility - Find the best Volvo deals!

2022 Volvo C40 Recharge Fjord Blue Front  Quarter View

Photo: Ron Sessions

The C40's cabin is somewhat familiar because it shares much of it with the XC40 compact SUV. One area Volvo is doubling down on is the use of sustainable materials. In the case of the C40, that manifests itself in seat coverings and door, dash, and console surfaces devoid of leather—once thought unthinkable in a luxury-branded vehicle.

Similar to what the automaker offers in the Polestar 2, Volvo covers the C40 Recharge's seats in Nubuck textile and suede-like Microtech vinyl that's comfortable and grippy in the corners. Sustainable wool-based seat trim is also available. Another sustainable material used inside the C40, recycled PET plastic beverage bottles are ground up and mixed to make carpeting and soft trim for the console sides and interior door panels.

Getting in and out is easy thanks to the slightly elevated driving position familiar to fans of crossover SUVs. The C40's heated front buckets are the usual excellent, orthopedically correct Volvo mixture of comfort and support. Most interior touchpoints are either soft-touch or padded. However, the outer edges of the center console are hard plastic that can dig into one's knees when bracing for curves and turns. Ultimate trim includes a heated steering wheel.

As is the case with most Volvos from the land of the tall Swedes, legroom is generous, as is front-seat headroom. But due to the sloping coupe-like roofline, rear headroom takes a haircut and is about an inch and a half less than that offered in the Volvo XC40 SUV. Ultimate trim adds heated outboard rear seats.

Other standard C40 niceties include dual-mode automatic climate control and backlit, three-dimensional trim on the dash and doors featuring a stylized topographical map of a Swedish national park that's particularly fetching at night. A standard fixed-glass panoramic sunroof with UV coating brightens the cabin, but there's no sunshade to block the intense solar load for desert dwellers.

A shallow rear window and large rear roof pillars conspire to limit the C40's rearward visibility. There is no rear-window wiper, as found in most other SUVs. The C40 could benefit from an "oven door" back window like that used in the Toyota Prius or a camera mirror that projects an obstacle-free rear view from the outside of the rear liftgate and projects that image in the rearview mirror. However, power-retractable rear-seat headrests included with Ultimate trim help maximize what rearward visibility is available through the back glass when not needed for the anti-whiplash protection of rear-seat passengers.

Storage in the new Volvo C40 Recharge is generous. Up front, there's ample storage in the door pockets, and the console offers dual cupholders, a sizable open bin with a wireless phone charger, and a deep bin under the center armrest. Moving aft, there's 14.6 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seat and more than double that with the 40/20/40 split rear seatbacks folded flat.

Also, another few cubic feet of concealed storage for valuables like a purse or camera are available under the cargo floor. With Ultimate trim, the rear liftgate door is power-operated. The sloping roofline doesn't detract much usable cargo space because few people load items above the beltline that would block the rearward visibility. Additional storage is available under the front hood in the frunk, which offers nearly another cubic foot of handy hidden storage for small items that are easily accessible.

Independent Expert Opinion: Infotainment, Technology, and Safety - Find the best Volvo deals!

2022 Volvo C40 Recharge Interior Dashboard

Photo: Ron Sessions

At first glance, the C40 Recharge's standard 9-inch vertical touchscreen looks like the Sensus system used previously in the XC40 SUV. It features the same layout as before, with four large, driver-selectable tiles and generously sized fonts with high color contrast for easy readability on the fly. And the swipe, tap, and drag functionality to select or rearrange tile content is the same as before.

However, the big change is a move to a new Google operating system that includes a 4-year Google Digital Services subscription with fully integrated maps, calendar content, and a voice assistant that recognizes natural speech for voice prompts. Just say, "Hey Google," wait for the beep, then make your request to accomplish tasks such as adjusting the climate control, operating the seat heaters, accessing maps, making calls, and accessing media such as Pandora, Spotify, and others. The driver can also prompt the Google Assistant using the steering wheel "voice" button or tapping the microphone icon on the infotainment screen.

Volvo encourages the driver to sign in to their Google account to get the full suite of services, such as their calendar and contacts, access to Google Play, and a trove of Google-approved apps usable in the C40. However, phones do not need to be plugged in to access Google Assistant or Google Maps, the latter of which is continuously updated.

Occupants can pair two phones simultaneously, allowing you to keep one for calls and another for data, streaming, and other apps. And good news, Apple fans, the Google OS is compatible with the iPhone, although Apple CarPlay won't be available in the C40 until mid-2022, when Volvo will add it via an over-the-air update. Note that connections are wired, not wireless, at this point. Onboard are four of the faster USB-C ports, two up front and a pair for rear passengers.

The system is easy enough to use, but drivers switching from a vehicle with a more conventional infotainment layout may require some extra time to gain familiarity with the C40s.

In addition to all the streaming options, the system offers FM radio and SiriusXM satellite radio. The audio package upgrades to an immersive 13-speaker, 600-watt Harman Kardon premium surround-sound system with crystal clear fidelity with Ultimate trim.

In the C40 Recharge, Volvo's safety genes are in full evidence with a large trove of standard safety and driver-assistive systems. The automaker includes a forward-collision avoidance system with pedestrian and cyclist detection in addition to automatic emergency braking. A lane-departure warning system vibrates the steering wheel if the C40 wanders outside lane markings.

The standard blind-spot warning system is an attention-getting sweeping crescent across the outboard upper corner of the side mirror. If the driver ignores the warning, the system will intervene with countersteering assistance to help avoid a collision. Similarly, the standard rear cross-traffic warning system will apply the brakes if the driver ignores the auditory alert of an approaching vehicle or pedestrian across the rear of the vehicle.

Also included is a traffic sign information system that displays the current speed limit, a driver alert system, and front and rear park assist with ultrasonic sensors that beep more fervently the closer the C40 gets to an obstacle.

Currently, the C40 is available only in luxury Ultimate trim, which upgrades the standard backup camera to a 360-degree surround-view one. It also trades basic cruise control for adaptive cruise control and adds Pilot Assist, which combines the standard lane-keeping assistance with adaptive cruise control for a reduced-stress hands-on driving aid on well-marked highways at speeds up to 80 mph. This system monitors if a driver is keeping a grip on the steering wheel and beeps and flashes a warning for non-compliance. However, drivers can't see the "hands-on-wheel" prompt at the bottom of the dash display if the driver has moved the adjustable steering column to an upper position.

Independent Expert Opinion: Driving the 2022 Volvo C40 Recharge - Find the best Volvo deals!

2022 Volvo C40 Recharge Fjord Blue Rear  Quarter View

Photo: Ron Sessions

For those buyers not switching from a Tesla or Polestar, one of the biggest revelations is how you start the C40 Recharge: with your butt. A weight sensor in the bottom seat cushion knows when someone has seated themselves behind the wheel. As long as the key fob is in the vehicle or on the driver's person, it illuminates the instrument panel displays and readies the system for propulsion. Then, all the driver has to do is step on the footbrake, move the console shifter to the desired range (Drive or Reverse), and off you go. There is no ignition key or pushbutton to start the vehicle.

As with many luxury-branded EVs, SUVs, and crossovers, the C40 Recharge offers brisk acceleration. With 402 hp and 482 pound-feet of torque from its dual electric motors, Volvo says the C40 Recharge can dash from rest to 60 mph in the mid-4-second range. Equally impressive is its ability for quick squirts to merge onto fast-moving freeways or overtake slower traffic where passing opportunities are limited. The cabin is hushed, the only real sensations of speed being a rise in the pitch of the tires on road surfaces and a slight increase in wind rush noise.

Constant AWD and grippy 20-inch Pirelli Scorpion Zero all-season tires seamlessly get the power to the pavement. Each 201-hp front and rear motor works independently to split drive torque to a default 50 percent front/50 percent rear ratio. It can still shift that to maintain traction and apply a greater percentage to the rear wheels under acceleration. Volvo says the C40 Recharge's top speed is an electronically limited 112 mph.

The C40 doesn't offer fancy adaptive shocks. Instead, Volvo chooses conventional high-pressure gas damping that delivers good vertical wheel control for the MacPherson strut front/multi-link rear suspension that's on the firm side but was never harsh on well-maintained California roads. The C40 Recharge carries the half-ton of the added weight of its big, underfloor 78-kilowatt-hour battery low in the chassis, lowering the center of gravity and enhancing the feeling of stability.

The steering in the C40 Recharge is precise, with quick turn-in and light effort. However, as is often the case with electrically boosted steering, the road feel is a bit muted, and there's little effort buildup or sense of how hard the tires are working in sharper, high-speed turns. That said, even on the serpentine switchbacks on California 74 in the mountains east of Palm Springs, there was nary a peep out of the Pirelli Scorpion Zero all-season tires. However, drivers who prize higher steering effort for performance driving can select a setting with reduced boost. The C40 Recharge corners flat with little detectable lean in corners.

Volvo has a tradition of equipping its products with good brakes, and the C40 Recharge maintains that. The beefy 4-wheel disc brakes provide convincing, fade-free stopping power with a good, firm top-of-pedal response. Regenerative braking further enhances stopping power when the brake pedal is depressed, as it uses dual electric motors as generators to recharge the battery. There are just two settings—on and off—the former being the default setting and enabling one-pedal driving that significantly slows the C40 as the driver eases up on the accelerator. The latter setting results in a more conventional coasting feel when the accelerator is lifted and enables a traditional creep when the driver lifts the brake pedal from a stop. With minimum practice, the max regen starts to feel natural and gives greater confidence, say when lifting the accelerator for a sharp turn without having to switch pedals in a hurry. There is also the obvious benefit of increased driving range, with a baseline EPA-estimated figure of 226 miles.

One can completely charge the C40 Recharge using the onboard 11-kilowatt charger and AC 220-volt outlet in 8 hours, or from zero to 80 percent at a 150-kilowatt DC fast-charge station in 40 minutes.

Independent Expert Opinion of the 2022 Volvo C40 Recharge - Find the best Volvo deals!

Quick and comfortable, Volvo's new fastback C40 Recharge compact crossover SUV adds a stylish touch to the brand's expanding portfolio of BEVs. The fun-to-drive crossover coupe maintains Volvo's high safety standards while advancing on the infotainment front with a new Android-based operating system and crafting a luxurious interior from sustainable materials.

While sacrificing some interior space and rearward visibility with an arching fastback roof, the C40 Recharge upholds Volvo's reputation for comfortable seating and people-friendly ergonomics.

Its 226-mile EPA-estimated driving range isn't class-leading but is solidly in the hunt among compact SUV BEVs.

Ron Sessions is a seasoned vehicle evaluator with more than three decades of experience. He has penned hundreds of road tests for automotive and consumer websites, enthusiast magazines, newsletters, technical journals, and newspapers.

The opinions expressed in this review are the author’s own, not J.D. Power’s.

No portion of these reviews may be reproduced, distributed, publicly displayed, or used for a derivative work without J.D. Power’s written permission. © 2022 J.D. Power

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