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The 2019 Volvo XC40 T4 Is Thrifty and Efficient

Car and Driver logo Car and Driver 3/18/2019 Andrew Wendler

a car parked in front of a building: Scandinavian folklore is rife with some pretty messed-up characters. How about Mare, the feminine spirit who gives people nightmares by sitting on them while they sleep. Or Pesta, the old woman in black who roams the countryside spreading the plague? With that type of foreboding imagery permeating its consciousness, one wonders how Volvo manages to routinely come up with heartening and pleasant vehicles such as its XC40 T4 crossover. (Yes, we know Geely controls the purse strings of Volvo cars and that the XC40 is assembled at facilities in Belgium and China, but the black plague recognizes no earthly boundaries.)
Scandinavian folklore is rife with some pretty messed-up characters. How about Mare, the feminine spirit who gives people nightmares by sitting on them while they sleep. Or Pesta, the old woman in black who roams the countryside spreading the plague? With that type of foreboding imagery permeating its consciousness, one wonders how Volvo manages to routinely come up with heartening and pleasant vehicles such as its XC40 T4 crossover. (Yes, we know Geely controls the purse strings of Volvo cars and that the XC40 is assembled at facilities in Belgium and China, but the black plague recognizes no earthly boundaries.)

Research the Volvo XC40 on MSN Autos

a car parked on the side of a road: As Volvo's least expensive crossover, the front-drive XC40 T4 offers unique Swedish character and a solid powertrain in a crowded segment.© Michael Simari - Car and Driver As Volvo's least expensive crossover, the front-drive XC40 T4 offers unique Swedish character and a solid powertrain in a crowded segment.

A Modest Package

Previously impressed with the XC40 T5 with all-wheel drive, we figured it prudent to strap our test gear to a lesser trim level that wears a price tag more in tune with the young buyers that Volvo appears to be courting with its XC40 lineup. For that task we chose an XC40 T4 Momentum, the least expensive version. With a $34,695 base price, it offers a $2000 discount over the XC40 T5 Momentum and forgoes two of the latter's key elements: more horsepower and all-wheel drive. While the T5 extracts 248 horsepower and 248 lb-ft of torque from its turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four and directs it to all four wheels, the T4 produces but 187 horses and 221 lb-ft from the same engine displacement but sends it only to the front axle. Both models feature an eight-speed automatic transmission.

a car parked on the side of a road: The 2019 Volvo XC40 T4 Is Thrifty and Efficient© Michael Simari - Car and Driver The 2019 Volvo XC40 T4 Is Thrifty and Efficient

Although the inline-four in the XC40 T4 produces less grunt than the T5 model, all of its torque clocks in at a low 1400 rpm; the T5's engine doesn't hit peak muscle until 1800 rpm. A small discrepancy, but it illustrates how the T4 utilizes that low-down, off-the-line punchiness to pay dividends in cut-and-run urban driving. As for powertrain deportment and refinement, both the T4 and T5 exhibit an unremarkable exhaust note and a stoic demeanor that can get a touch grainy above 5500 rpm. One minor quibble involves Volvo's gear selector, which does not allow for shifting directly from reverse to drive without first stopping in neutral, complicating the act of simply backing out of a parking space. Perhaps Volvo's intentions are safety-focused, but this design makes performing three- and four-point turns a drag.

Track Times and Fuel Economy

Launching around 1500 rpm at the test track produced a 7.9-second zero-to-60-mph time and a quarter-mile pass of 16.1 seconds at 86 mph. While we weren’t expecting class-leading numbers from the T4, we were a bit surprised to find it 1.7 seconds slower to 60 mph and 1.3 seconds (and 9 mph) in arrears through the quarter-mile. Carrying 236 fewer pounds than the T5, we reckoned that the less-powerful, 3618-pound XC40 T4 might keep within a few tenths of its all-wheel-drive sibling.

a car parked on the side of a vehicle: The 2019 Volvo XC40 T4 Is Thrifty and Efficient© Michael Simari - Car and Driver The 2019 Volvo XC40 T4 Is Thrifty and Efficient

If there is an upside to the XC40 T4's comparative pokiness, it's the 23 mpg we averaged. While that's a few ticks below its 27-mpg EPA combined estimate, it's still 4 mpg better than what the T5 model managed. Both variants earned 29 mpg in our 75-mph highway fuel-economy test. Braking and lateral-grip figures also defied our expectations, this time in the T4's favor. Riding on 18-inch wheels with 235/55R-18 Michelin Primacy MXM4 all-season rubber, the T4 hung on for 0.87 g around the skidpad and stopped from 70 mph in a trim 161 feet. For comparison, the T5 managed 0.85 g and needed 173 feet to stop, despite wearing 20-inch wheels with fatter 245/45R-20 Pirelli Scorpion Zero All Season tires.

In addition to its victory on paper, the XC40 T4 benefits from a smoother ride and fewer harsh impacts, thanks in part to its smaller wheels and slightly taller tire sidewalls. Additionally, our XC40 T4 had Volvo's optional Four-C active chassis setup that allows its driver to select from Eco, Comfort, and Dynamic driving modes to optimize the response of the adaptive dampers. The system works as advertised, and Dynamic mode is fine for all but the most damaged road surfaces. That said, neither of the XC40s are as fun to flog down a curvy backroad as the Mercedes-Benz GLA250 or BMW X1, let alone the more expensive Porsche Macan.

a car parked in a parking lot: The 2019 Volvo XC40 T4 Is Thrifty and Efficient© Michael Simari - Car and Driver The 2019 Volvo XC40 T4 Is Thrifty and Efficient

The Price of Swedish Comfort

Speaking of money and ways to spend it, our test vehicle had but a few options. The aforementioned Four-C suspension added $1000, a heated steering wheel and seats for $750, the Multimedia package (Sensus Navigation Pro and a 13-speaker Harman Kardon audio system) for $1375, and Osmium Grey Metallic paint is a $645 extra. All in, our XC40 T4 cleared the cash register at a reasonable $38,465.

What the Volvo XC40 T4 does best, fortunately for parent company Geely, is be a Volvo. Featuring a solid build, the maker's trademark reserved-yet-modern interior design, and emblematic exterior styling that still manages to conjure the spirit of its Scandinavian heritage, the XC40 T4 offers an alternative take on the premium compact-crossover formula. And it accomplishes all of this while still offering above-average room for rear-seat passengers and cargo. Don't let the rumors of Sweden's dark past deter you from putting it on your short list.

Research the Volvo XC40 on MSN Autos

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