Driven

Driven: Volvo XC40 Recharge

What are the hot automotive trends these days? SUVs and electric. So, let’s kill two birds with one stone with the Volvo XC40 Recharge. Like its name suggests, this is a pure electric SUV that must be recharged periodically to maintain viability. Exhibiting attractive modern Volvo styling, the XC40 is a good looking mid-sized SUV that uses electric propulsion for eco-friendly, zero-emissions driving.

The XC40 has plenty of interior space to keep the whole family comfortable, even without a third row. A large sunroof makes the cabin seem even more open, and an electric sunshade can block sunlight if it gets too warm inside. The interior features Scandinavian design and nice accents, including leather and alcantara seat covering. The rear cargo area has a large capacity with a tonneau cover and multiple hooks to hang grocery bags or other items. Furthermore, the rear seats fold 40/60 for additional room. A little more storage can be found under the front hood, though it’s mostly taken up by charging wires. There are generous amounts of leg and head room for back seat passengers. Dual zone automatic climate control ensures interior comfort year-round.

The driver faces a gauge display that includes a digital speedometer, a gear selected display and, in the middle, a nice large navigation map. At the top of the dash is a nine-inch screen interface that’s relatively easy to figure out and controls the navigation, audio system and vehicle interfaces. A 360-degree surround camera and front and rear parking assist make parking in tight places a lot easier. You can even adjust navigation and audio settings by voice if you want to—I can’t even get my kids to listen to me, let alone a car.

In one pedal mode, the XC40 Recharge uses regenerative braking, so when you take your foot off the accelerator, the vehicle starts braking on its own. If you have enough room, the vehicle will stop itself after a certain distance, so once you learn how to use it and determine how long it will take to stop, you can almost drive with just the accelerator. However, don’t hesitate to use the brakes if needed. Regenerative braking can add electricity back into your battery, thus extending range. But non-regenerative braking is more precise, allows you to coast and feels more like a non-electric car. Both modes have their relative advantages and disadvantages.

In either mode, there’s very good acceleration at any speed thanks to the instant torque of the electric motors, rated at 402 horsepower and 486 lb ft. of torque. The speed can be deceiving though because of the motor and transmission smoothness and lack of engine noise, so keep an eye on the speedometer. The XC40 has two motors, one for front wheels and the other for the back, thus providing full time all-wheel-drive. Braking is firm and strong, but you have to remember you’re driving a relatively heavy vehicle, so give yourself plenty of room to decelerate. If you want to get off road a bit, it even includes hill descent control.

Being a Volvo, the XC40 includes safety features like “City Safety” blind spot information system with steer assist and cross traffic alert, auto braking and collision avoidance as well as high and low speed collision mitigation which can detect autos, pedestrians and cyclists. It first sends an alert and then automatically brakes if it senses an imminent collision. Automatic steering can help you avoid an oncoming driver in the wrong lane or help you avoid running off the road, as do a lane departure warning and lane keeping aid. A whiplash protection system is provided for the front seats.

All in all, this is an attractive electric alternative if your lifestyle and residential situation allow.

technicals 

Model: Volvo XC40 Recharge

Price: Base: $55,000 including delivery; as driven with options: $60,000

Range: 208 miles

Drivetrain: All electric; all-wheel drive; front and rear motors; 1-speed automatic transmission. Equivalent of 85 mpg city, 72 mpg highway


Robert Paster (robertpaster.com) is also an attorney in private practice, concentrating in estate planning and probate.

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