2022 Volvo XC40 Recharge Review Update

Jack R. Nerad, Independent Expert | May 02, 2022

Introduction - Find the best Volvo deals!

The 2022 Volvo XC40 Recharge is the brand's flagship in its quest to become a "climate neutral" vehicle manufacturer by 2040. To achieve this goal, the Swedish brand has announced that it will offer a series of zero-emission battery-electric models in the future with an aggressive timetable to sell nothing but battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) in the future. The introduction of the 2022 Volvo C40 Recharge, a sister ship of the XC40 Recharge, is an example.

Unlike many recently introduced BEVs, the Volvo XC40 Recharge does not use a dedicated EV-only chassis. Instead, it rides on the same Compact Modular Platform as the current gasoline-powered Volvo XC40 compact luxury crossover SUV. That said, the XC40 Recharge is a substantially different vehicle from the conventional XC40. In fact, it's fair to view it as a completely separate model. In addition to its battery-electric powertrain, it has other features the XC40 doesn't offer.

While the conventional Volvo XC40 crossover carries over virtually intact from the previous model year, the addition of the XC40 Recharge version changes the character of the entire lineup. The differences between the conventionally powered XC40 and the XC40 Recharge are so stark that Volvo treats the Recharge as virtually a different model.

The most significant changes include:

  • Zero-emission battery-electric powertrain
  • Dual-electric-motor all-wheel drive (AWD)
  • Innovative and unique infotainment system
  • Modular sensor suite for advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS)
  • Redesigned front crash structure

The conventionally powered 2022 Volvo XC40 is available in Momentum, R-Design, and Inscription trim levels. Front-wheel drive is standard, and Volvo bundles AWD with the up-level T5 engine. The R-design trim has a performance look, while the Inscription is the most heavily equipped. The XC40 Recharge is a "monospec" vehicle offered in a single configuration. All XC40 Recharge vehicles come with AWD.

Previously, J.D. Power reviewed the 2021 Volvo XC40. This review focuses on the battery-electric XC40 Recharge and how it potentially impacts the XC40's overall appeal to consumers.

What Owners Say About the Volvo XC40 - Find the best Volvo deals!

2022 Volvo XC40 Recharge Thunder Grey Front Quarter View

Photo: Jack R. Nerad

The Volvo XC40 competes in the Small Premium SUV market segment. According to data collected from verified new-vehicle buyers for the J.D. Power 2021 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study, 57 percent of new Volvo XC40 buyers are female (vs. 56 percent for the segment), and the median age of a new XC40 buyer is 58 years (vs. 57).

As part of the APEAL Study, owners rated the XC40 in 10 primary categories. Listed below in descending order, you'll find their preferences from their most favorite thing about the vehicle to their least favorite:

  • Exterior styling
  • Feeling of safety
  • Driving feel
  • Interior design
  • Powertrain
  • Driving comfort
  • Getting in and out
  • Setting up and starting
  • Infotainment system
  • Fuel economy

In the 2021 APEAL Study, the XC40 ranks highest out of 7 Small Premium SUV models.

What Our Independent Expert Says About the Volvo XC40 - Find the best Volvo deals!

In the sections that follow, our independent expert analyzes an XC40 Recharge that includes the equipment in the XC40 Ultimate package, equipped with the following options:

  • Metallic paint
  • Heated steering wheel

The price of the test vehicle came to $60,090, including the $1,095 destination charge.

Battery-Electric Powertrain

2022 Volvo XC40 Recharge Instrument Display Charging Level

Photo: Jack R. Nerad

Obviously, the key difference between the conventional Volvo XC40 and the XC40 Recharge is the substitution of a battery-electric powertrain for the conventional gasoline-fuel engines and drivetrains. The XC40 Recharge's P8 AWD powertrain employs two identical electric motors, one driving the front wheels, the other driving the rear. This results in permanent AWD with power split 50/50 between the front and rear axles during normal operation. Should a wheel encounter slip, the system can compensate by virtually instantaneously shifting motor torque to the axle with better grip.

Overseeing all this magic is a liquid-cooled electronic controller (ECU) that acts as the system's brains, giving orders in milliseconds to each of the liquid-cooled motors. The ECU also performs the complex task of controlling regenerative braking, enabling the closed system to recapture braking energy and feed it to the battery pack.

According to Volvo, that battery pack has 78 kWh of battery capacity with a usable battery capacity of 75 kWh. The battery has 27 modules, each containing 12 lithium-ion cells. Volvo says it can repair each module individually, if necessary. Based on this battery capacity, the XC40 Recharge offers a range of 208 miles on a charge, according to the estimate by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Performance and Charging

The Volvo XC40 is the most powerful and quickest XC40 model by a substantial margin. The two liquid-cooled electric motors have a combined rating of 402 horsepower and 486 pound-feet of peak torque. That is a considerable increase over the 248 hp and 258 pound-feet offered by the XC40's optional T5 2.0-liter turbocharged gasoline engine.

From a straight-line performance point of view, the difference is stunning. Despite its almost 5,000-pound curb weight, the XC40 Recharge will scoot from zero-to-60 mph in less than 4.5 seconds. That time is nearly two seconds quicker than an XC40 T5. Further, the acceleration is utterly smooth and quiet with no gear changes, just buttery torque.

Given its weight, the XC40 Recharge also handles well. The driving experience also benefits from the XC40 Recharge's ability to facilitate one-pedal driving. In this mode, the vehicle uses an aggressive regenerative braking setting to slow the car when the driver lifts from the accelerator. It will take the XC40 Recharge to a complete stop without using the brake pedal.

To obtain this performance, the driver must accept the vehicle's limitation on driving range and its recharging requirements. The XC40 Recharge has an 11-kWh onboard charger. Using a typical 220-volt Level 2 home or public charger, owners can bring the vehicle's battery pack from zero charge to 100 percent in about eight hours. This suggests that overnight at-home charging is the best bet for day-to-day use.

When driving cross country, XC40 Recharge drivers can utilize DC fast-charging stations. According to Volvo, these Level 3 outlets will bring the XC40 recharge battery pack from a zero-percent charge state to an 80-percent charge in about 40 minutes. Like most EV makers, Volvo doesn't recommend going beyond 80-percent charge with a DC fast charger.

To help preserve battery charge, buyers can opt to equip the XC40 Recharge with a heat pump that uses battery and ambient heat to warm the cabin. It also helps preserve battery life by keeping the battery pack in an optimal operating temperature range.

In terms of fuel-economy equivalency, the XC40 Recharge has an EPA rating of 85 MPGe in city driving and 72 MPGe on the highway. With the T5 engine and AWD, the conventional XC40 is EPA-rated at 22 mpg city and 30 mpg highway.

Technology/Infotainment System

2022 Volvo XC40 Recharge Interior Dashboard

Photo: Jack R. Nerad

Another key difference between the conventional Volvo XC40 and the XC40 Recharge is technology and infotainment. Both the standard instrumentation and the infotainment system are essentially all-new.

The XC40 Recharge features a standard 12.3-inch digital driver information center. It offers several visual display modes: Calm, Navi, and Car Centric. Calm is a minimalist information offering. Navi shows current vehicle position and navigation instructions if a route is in progress. And Car Centric displays information from various ADAS. Of course, also displayed are battery information like state-of-charge, power capacity, and regeneration level.

The digital driving information display is tied directly to the all-new infotainment system that leverages the Android Automotive operating system Volvo co-developed with Google. Drivers access the system via a 9-inch touchscreen placed in portrait orientation in the center of the dash. It uses the now-familiar Volvo-signature four-tile layout used to keep functions separate. But it is faster than the previous system and relies on familiar functionalities like Google Assistant, Google Maps, and access to additional apps through the Google Play Store.

Through Google Assistant, it does an excellent job at natural voice recognition, allowing users to bypass some of the screens and multiple taps required in previous systems. It accepts over-the-air updates, and wireless device charging is optional.

Enhanced Safety

At a glance, the Volvo XC40 Recharge looks very much like the conventionally powered XC40. However, it presented an interesting safety challenge to Volvo engineers. Why? In large part because the absence of the internal combustion engine under the hood and the addition of a substantial battery pack changed the vehicle's dynamics from a safety perspective. In the conventional XC40, the gasoline engine is an integral part of the crash-absorbing front structure. With that gone, Volvo had to completely redesign the vehicle's front structure to maintain the company's stringent safety standards.

The added weight of the battery pack also required Volvo engineers to find ways to absorb more crash energy in the case of an impact. In addition, the engineers had to find a method to assure the battery's integrity in case of a collision.

To accomplish all this, Volvo completely redesigned and reinforced the front structure. Beyond that, the XC40 Recharge has an extruded aluminum "battery cage" placed in the middle of the vehicle. This scheme essentially offers crumple zones around the battery.

Beyond structure, the XC40 Recharge also features new technology to enhance the already robust ADAS available on the conventional XC40. The XC40 Recharge has an all-new ADAS sensor platform. It uses inputs from cameras, radar, and ultrasonic sensors to scope out potential threats to safe motoring.

In comparison to the system in the conventional XC40, the new system is scalable for active safety. Not only is it essentially state-of-the-art currently, but Volvo can also modify and improve it over time. In conjunction with the new sensor architecture, the XC40 Recharge features standard Connected Safety. This system uses the cloud to enable Volvo cars to exchange information regarding potential road hazards like black ice and other road conditions.

Independent Expert Opinion - Find the best Volvo deals!

2022 Volvo XC40 Recharge Thunder Grey Rear Quarter View

Photo: Jack R. Nerad

Given the raft of new technology stuffed into the 2022 Volvo XC40 Recharge, it is tempting to concentrate on all the innovations and ignore the driving experience. But it is in the driving experience that the XC40 Recharge really comes to life. It instantly makes the otherwise very good driving demeanors of the conventional XC40 models seem archaic in comparison.

What immediately becomes apparent to both professional vehicle testers and average consumers is the effortlessness and utter smoothness of the XC40 Recharge's acceleration. At any time and any throttle position (except, of course, full-throttle), the velvety power of the 150-kW permanent magnet synchronic electric motors is immediately available.

Just push the accelerator pedal a little harder if you want more power. The response is strong and silent, just like the leading man in a 1940s movie. The difference between the XC40 Recharge and the conventional XC40s—very good vehicles, by the way—is a revelation.

Of course, there is no such thing as a free lunch, is there? The XC40 Recharge also requires a sea change in how one drives and refuels a vehicle. Its 208 miles of range on a charge is more than adequate for most drivers' day-to-day needs, even if they face a long commute. But to make the XC40 Recharge as convenient as the simplest gasoline-powered subcompact, owners should use home charging or assure themselves of ready access to a public charger in their apartment complex, at work, or very nearby. The 8-hour charge time requires some thinking and planning that gasoline-car owners are unused to. Those who do a great deal of long-distance driving might be frustrated by the XC40's range, which many recent competitors top, and its fast-charge protocols.

But for a buyer who understands the new rules and is willing to accept them, the XC40 Recharge is a superb vehicle. Its Android-based infotainment system is a significant step forward versus the previous Volvo Sensus system that still powers infotainment in many Volvo models. Its safety and driver-assistance systems are top-of-the-line. And the XC40 Recharge offers the same high level of day-to-day utility as the conventional XC40. Plus, it emits nothing. The combination of all these positives is compelling.

Jack R. Nerad has been reviewing cars, trucks, vans, and sport utilities for more than three decades. He managed the editorial efforts of Motor Trend magazine and Kelley Blue Book and currently is the host of the SportsMap Radio Network program America on the Road, which is available on Apple Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, Stitcher, and other outlets.

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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