Volvo XC40 Recharge Review 2023

Written by Phil Hall

heycar ratingVolvo's first all-electric car
  • 2021
  • Small SUV
  • EV

Quick overview


  • Looks great inside and out
  • Now comes with a decent range
  • Dual-motor version incredibly quick


  • Boot space not as big as rivals
  • Mainstream competition better value
  • Steering could be more engaging

Overall verdict on the Volvo XC40 Recharge

"Volvo has made headlines for its drive to have a purely electric car range and the XC40 Recharge is the first step. Updates in 2023 have improved the range making the Volvo XC40 Recharge a tempting electric SUV, though you'll pay a far chunk more for it over the standard car."

Volvo XC40 Recharge review 2023

The standard Volvo XC40 has become one of our favourite small SUVs in recent years, with the range continuing to evolve with the arrival of both a plug-in hybrid and Volvo's first dedicated electric car, the XC40 Recharge Pure Electric. With the Swedish manufacturer aiming for all-electric vehicles to make up for half of its global sales by 2025 (with hybrid cars accounting for the rest), our 2023 Volvo XC40 Recharge review will find out just how good it's first EV really is.

Perhaps a little confusingly Volvo's decided to badge both its electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids as 'Recharge'. Electric variants were badged Recharge Pure Electric initially but have since streamlined this and simply call it 'Recharge' whether it's a full electric version or plug-in hybrid. Whatever it's called, the  Volvo XC40 Recharge is the epitome of Scandi cool. 

The Volvo XC40 Recharge uses the same design as the standard XC40, with it's striking 'Thor's Hammer' daytime running lights, clamshell bonnet, heavily sculpted doors and distinctive rear pillars. The only way to tell the difference between the standard car and the electric version is to take a look at the front, with the concave grille of the standard car replaced by a body-coloured panel. It's a sharp design that still looks good a few years on from launch of the original car. 

The Volvo XC40 Recharge was originally launched with a 78kWh battery pack that drives two motors to rocket the car to 62mph in under five seconds and will deliver a claimed range of up to 259 miles. You cannot not be impressed with the performance, but the maximum range was behind key rivals. That's changed for 2023 with a new set of motors and increased battery capacity to deliver an official range up to 334 miles. Much better, and that's without sacrificing any of the sledgehammer performance. 

If that seems like overkill for the school run, there's a new rear-wheel drive model for 2023 that replaces a relatively short-lived front-wheel drive version. Moving the motors to the back is all in the name of efficiency and increases the range from 264 miles to 290 miles, while performance is still pretty swift, taking 7.3 seconds to hit 62mph.

Volvo does very good interiors and the Volvo XC40 Recharge is no exception. Just like the standard XC40 it's spacious and comfortable, leaving you feeling less hemmed in than when sat in some rival SUVs, while the quality and attention to detail is excellent. Adding to the harmonic feel of the Volvo XC40 Recharge is the streamlined central console, with most of the car's controls accessed via the portrait-orientated touchscreen. Volvo's made the switch from its own Sensus interface to Google Android Automotive as well, bringing with it a number of enhanced features including Google Maps and Google Assistant built-in. There's also Apple CarPlay connectivity as well.  

While the Volvo XC40 Recharge's boot capacity has shrunk a little to 413-litres compared to 460 on the standard car, loosing the engine at the front has allowed Volvo's engineers to create a 31-litre ‘frunk’, which should confuse a few people when you drop your weekly supermarket shop in there.

Looking for a used car for sale? We've got 100s of Volvo Approved Used Cars for Sale for you to choose from, including a wide range of Volvo XC40 Recharge cars for sale.

If you're looking for a premium electric SUV, then the Volvo XC40 Recharge has a lot to offer. There are bigger (and pricier) alternatives out there, but if you're looking for a stylish and relatively practical EV for a family of four, then the XC40 Recharge ticks a lot of boxes.  

The twin-motor XC40 Recharge has the best range and best performance, but we'd be inclined to favour the rear-wheel drive single-motor version. The performance should be more than enough people's needs who are looking for an electric SUV, while the range at just under 300 miles should be ample. It's also quite a bit more affordable. 

There are three models to choose from - Core, Plus and Ultimate. Out of the three the Plus gets the balance about right for features, though we probably would miss some of the advanced driver assist tech as standard on the Ultimate. 

The top-of-the-range Ultimate model is aiming to attract premium electric SUV buyers, so will be targeting those looking at the likes of the Jaguar I-Pace and Audi Q4 e-tron. There's also the BMW iX1 and BMW iX3 to consider as well, along with the slightly more affordable Volkswagen ID.4 and Skoda Enyaq

That's not forgetting the Polestar 2 (which is also based on the XC40), the Tesla Model 3 and Ford Mustang Mach-E

Want a Volvo EV but are looking for something with some coupe-style looks? You'll want to take a look at the Volvo C40 Recharge. Based on the XC40 Recharge, the fastback C40 Recharge is a rival to the likes of the Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron

Comfort and design: Volvo XC40 Recharge interior

"When you climb inside the XC40 Recharge, there's nothing brash or ostentatious about the interior. The quality mirrors that of the larger Volvos, with a luxuriously clean and minimalist interior."

Volvo XC40 Recharge review 2023 interior

While the exterior dimensions of the Volvo XC40 Recharge are pretty modest compared to rivals, that certainly doesn't translate to a small cabin. In fact, step inside the XC40 Recharge and it feels very spacious indeed. This is helped by the clutter-free look that's been crafted by Volvo's designers, with the 9.0-inch portrait-orientated touchscreen the gateway to pretty much every element of the XC40's entertainment, convenience and safety functions. 

This streamlined design does have its compromises, as the over reliance on touchscreen controls can make it tricky to use and change settings when on the move. It's not just an issue unique to the Volvo and the XC40, as other manufacturers are just as guilty, so it's worth trying out to make sure you're comfortable with it. Happily though there are still a few physical buttons in the centre console, including front and rear window defrost and hazard warning lights. There's also Google Assistant built-in, so you can ask it to turn the temperature down and it'll happily oblige. 

Just like the standard XC40, Volvo offers a range of interior finishes on the XC40 Recharge, so you can tailor it to your taste. 

Volvo interiors are some of the best around, rivalling those from the likes of Audi and Mercedes, and the interior in the XC40 Recharge is no exception.

It might be the baby of the Volvo range (in terms of size at least), but the interior quality of the XC40 Recharge is excellent. All the touch points feel nicely engineered - there's nothing here that feels like it's going to break or wear easily overtime. It'll certainly stand up to some heavy family use, though the finish is so nice you'll instinctively want to look after it. 

There's some clever thinking here as well. For example, there's no hard plastic surround for the centre console, instead Volvo's played it clever and extended the carpet up the sides. It's a little thing perhaps, but it certainly feels that bit nicer. The same goes for the door panels as well, with bits of carpet adding a greater feeling of luxury than you'd get with plastic door panels. 

When Volvo does use plastics, they're high-quality - there's no sign of cost-cutting here with cheap scratchy plastics, while the other materials used including the metals and leather all have a premium feel. The XC40 Recharge is a car that feels really well bolted together. 

Just as we've seen in other modern Volvos, the dashboard on the XC40 Recharge is a 9.0-inch portrait-style infotainment system. Why portrait format? Volvo's argument when it was first introduced was that people want to see where they're going on a map, not either side of it. 

Volvo's opted to use Google Android Automotive as the car's operating system, just as we've seen with the Polestar 2. This is not to be confused with the smartphone-mirroring Android Auto, as it's a lot more integrated into how you can use the car if you wish. For a start, it allows you to use voice commands to change the car’s settings. As an example, you can say: ‘Hey Google, set the cabin temperature 22 degrees.’ And the XC40 Recharge Pure Electric will happily oblige - which is a good thing, as the only other way to change the climate control is via the touchscreen, and it's a bit of a faff when you're on the move. 

There's also Google Maps as well for navigation (and you can download Waze from the infotainment system's Google Play Store), while there's also access to the likes of Spotify to stream music or access the music on your smartphone via Bluetooth. Don't worry, there's also a DAB radio as well, while Apple users have Apple CarPlay if they prefer.

The standard eight-speaker stereo in the XC40 Recharge is very good, but for those really into their audio, then the 13-speaker Harman Kardon sound system should be ticked on the options list (and standard on Ultimate spec). With the benefit of a subwoofer, 600 watts and Dolby Pro Logic TT surround sound, the sound quality is sensational. 

As the XC40 Recharge is the same design as the XC40, the dimensions are exactly the same as well (4425mm long and 1873mm since you're asking). This makes it a bit shorter than the likes of the BMW iX3 (4734mm) and Audi Q4 e-tron (4588mm) and a little bit narrower than both.

Up front and passengers sit up nice and high, while the front seats are some of the comfiest you'll find on a small SUV. There's some clever storage solutions too. The pockets on the front door panels are large enough to stow a laptop or tablet (if you need too), while the speakers that would normally take up space here have been moved to an air-ventilated dash-mounted subwoofer. Then there's the wide centre console that's perfect for stowing away bits and bobs. 

Moving to the back and the high roofline design of the XC40 Recharge means there's plenty of headroom for passengers in the back. There's a good amount of space across the rear bench to accommodate three adults if needed, but the big hump in the centre will mean the middle passenger will have to straddle this. If you're going to be filling the back with a couple of kids and car seats, this won't be an issue, though they might moan that they can't see out of the window that easily thanks to the slick exterior lines of the XC40 that flicks up at the back. 

The XC40 Recharge offers 413 litres of boot space, which is less than the 460 litres of the regular model. Although, due to the space saved by the absence of an engine, it gains a 31-litre ‘frunk’ storage area underneath the bonnet at the front. Handy for small trips to the shops. 

Handling and ride quality: What is the Volvo XC40 Recharge like to drive?

"We were impressed with how Volvo got the balance of the standard XC40 pretty much spot on for an SUV, and that's transferred across to the XC40 Recharge."

Volvo XC40 Recharge review 2023

This is despite the fact it's that bit heavier than the standard XC40 thanks to added weight of the batteries. Overall the XC40 Recharge is a very assured and relaxed drive.

There's no getting away from the fact though that the XC40 Recharge is pretty tall, so you can expect a little bit of body roll if you chuck it into a corner, but there's still plenty of grip, especially from the to the twin-motor four-wheel drive model. 

There's decent turn of pace there as well, but the Volvo XC40 Recharge hardly puts the Sport into SUV. It'll reward a smooth, flowing driving style rather than constantly attacking corners in it - that's what a hot hatch is for. This level of driver engagement is reflected in the steering. It's not as sharp as some rivals, with the BMW iX3 delivering that bit more feel, though the payoff with the iX3 is a harsher ride.

Don't get us wrong though, the Volvo XC40 Recharge's steering is still nice and accurate both around town and on faster roads, but it excels if you're after a more relaxed drive with lighter inputs. For the times when you do want to have a bit more fun though, dive into the driver assistance menu and find the 'Steering feels firm' option. It does what the name suggests and adds a bit more weight to the steering (and we mean only a bit more).

The Volvo XC40 Recharge launched with a twin-motor all-wheel drive set-up that was followed by a single-motor front-wheel drive option after that. While there was no quibbles around performance, the range let both models down compared to rivals. 

Things have changed for 2023 with the introduction of new electric motors, but it hasn't stopped there. For the single-motor version, Volvo's taken the decision to change the car from front to rear-wheel drive in an effort to increase efficiency and boost range. And it's succeeded, with the new motor new delivering 238PS and 420Nm of torque and increasing the official maximum range from 264 miles to 290 miles. 

For the twin-motor car, the XC40 Recharge Twin gets a battery boost from 78kWh to 82kWh, while the new motors have lead to a change in the distribution of power. It still totals 408PS but instead of an even 204PS split at the front and back, the new 2023 XC40 Recharge has 150PS on the front and 258PS on the rear. Torque has increased to 670Nm (from 660Nm) and as a result the 0-62mph time has shortened to an impressive 4.8 seconds. It's not just about headline grabbing stats though, as this power and turn of speed is readily available when you need it - perfect when you need to make light work of slow traffic on a crawler lane. It's also at home on the motorway, and doesn't feel like it's struggling at higher speeds that's the case with some other EVs. 

With the arrival of new motors and a better understanding of battery cooling efficiency has all combined to see the maximum range of the XC40 Recharge Twin increase from 259 miles to 334 miles. The single-motor XC40 Recharge is now able to travel up to 290 miles on a single charged, up from 264 miles. 

It's certainly a very useable range and now more than a match for rivals. The Audi Q4 40 e-tron is capable of a 322 miles, while the Jaguar I-Pace and Polestar 2 are both good for up to 292 miles on a full charge. 

Just like the standard XC40, the XC40 Recharge is smooth and settled, cruising quietly at speeds. Expect a bit more tyre roar on versions with the largest alloy wheels - something to think about if you're looking at the Twin Pro and its 20-inch alloys, but it doesn't detract from the overall refinement of the car. 

Perhaps a little weirdly for a premium SUV, the XC40 Recharge doesn't have the option of spec'ing it with adaptive suspension. Despite this, we've found it to be one of the more comfortable electric SUVs on the market, even handling uneven town roads and rough country lanes without too much fuss.

Volvo is a byword when it comes to car safety, so it's no surprise to see the Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric is excellent in this area.

The Volvo XC40 was awarded a top-scoring five-stars by Euro NCAP for crash safety back in 2018, with adult occupant protection rated at a near-perfect 97%. Child occupant protection is also very good, too,  at 87%. While the Volvo XC40 Recharge hasn't been tested separately (and it won't be evidently), Volvo claims the electric version to be just as safe as its combustion engine stablemates. 

As you'd expect, XC40 Recharge comes with a heap of standard safety equipment. This includes a full set of airbags, including a driver’s knee airbag and full-length curtain airbags, ISOFIX child seat mounting points for the outer two rear seats (it’s optional for the front passenger seat), an airbag cut-off switch and a seatbelt reminder for all five seats. The front seats also have Volvo’s WHIPS whiplash protection system.

There's also a ton of active safety features as standard on the Volvo XC40 Recharge. You'll find automatic emergency braking (known as AEB and referred to by Volvo as City Safety autonomous emergency braking). This detects cyclists and pedestrians as well as other cars and large animals. There's also Oncoming Lane Mitigation that helps stop the Volvo XC40 Recharge driving over the road's centre line and into danger. 

Volvo also offers blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert as part of it's IntelliSafe Surround package. The XC40 Recharge is also the first Volvo to feature a new version of Pilot Assist, driver-assist tech which supports steering, acceleration and braking. There's also a new Emergency Stop Assist function now included, too, meaning that if the driver is not holding the steering wheel while Pilot Assist is activated, the driver will be warned in different stages until the vehicle is brought to a safe stop.

Charging times: How much does it cost to charge the Volvo XC40 Recharge?

"With a large 82 kWh battery, the XC40 Recharge has a projected range of more than 330 miles."

Volvo XC40 Recharge review 2023 charging

If you're charging at home we'd recommend investing in a 7kW wallbox charger which will charge the Volvo XC40 Recharge in about 11 hours. Based on the average cost for standard electricity last year of 18.9p/kWh (though in some areas that can be more or less), expect to pay around £15 to fully charge the Volvo XC40 Recharge. That's from 0-100% and reality is you don't want to let the battery drop below 10% (with Volvo recommending it doesn't go below 20%). 

The Volvo XC40 Recharge twin-motor has a maximum charging rate of 200kW, which means you'll be able to charge the battery from 10-80% in 28 minutes, while the 130kW charging rate of the single-motor car will take 34 minutes to charge to 80%. 

The Volvo XC40 Recharge's built in route planner can also alert you when to charge before power runs low, while it also recommends when and where to charge

The Volvo XC40 Recharge is still pretty new, but the XC40 is proving to be extremely reliable, so we expect similar from the Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric. The standard XC40 achieved an impressive reliability score of 9.82 in the latest Satisfaction Index. 

The Volvo XC40 Recharge comes with a 3 year/60,000 warranty, while the battery has an 8 year/100,000 warranty.

While standard Volvo XC40 starts in insurance group 18 for the entry-level T2 model, it's quite a bit more to insure the fully electric model.

Insurance for the Volvo XC40 Recharge starts in insurance group 35 for the single-motor Core model, with the twin-motor version in Group 41. Pricier trims will see the insurance group increase. As always, it's worth shopping around when it comes to car insurance.

Because there are no tailpipe CO2 emissions from the Volvo XC40 Recharge, you'll pay nothing in road tax each year. Even with a list price of more than £40,000, the XC40 Recharge is exempt from the premium car tax. That means you could save more than £500 a year in tax compared to a petrol or diesel alternative.

How much should you be paying for a Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric?

"Prices start at £46,505 for the XC40 Recharge with a single-motor in Core trim"

Volvo XC40 Recharge review 2023

If you fancy the dual-motor XC40 Recharge, then you'll be paying around another £5000, with the top-of-the-range XC40 Recharge Twin in Ultimate trim costing over £62,000.

There's a growing number of used Volvo XC40 Recharge models coming onto the used market and some good savings could be made, with a dual-motor car that's less than two years old and with under 10,000 miles covered starting at £37,000.

Volvo's streamlined cleaned up its range in the past year, with the choice of Core, Plus and Ultimate models. 

The XC40 Recharge in Core trim is the most affordable option and comes with 19-inch alloy wheels, heated front seats, active LED headlamps, rear parking sensors and a electrically operated tailgate all as standard. Move inside and the Core trim enjoys a large 12.3-inch digital dash and 9-inch infotainment system that's powered, while there's also wireless phone charging and dual-zone climate control. 

Next up is the Plus model that adds front parking sensors and a rear parking camera. There's also some more creature comforts inside, with electric seat adjustment, a heated steering wheel and heated rear seats. All this starts at £52,555 before options.

The top-of-the-range XC40 Recharge is the Ultimate. This sees 20-inch alloy wheels as standard, a panoramic roof, auto-dimming door mirrors and a useful 360-degree parking camera. There's also plenty of semi-automomous driving tech as standard, including Pilot Assist. Prices start at £56,605. 

Ask the heycar experts: common questions

The Volvo XC40 Recharge is electric. It's as easy to live with as the normal car but it's zero-emissions electric powertrain means it's exempt from paying inner city tariffs like the London Congestion Charge.
The Volvo XC40 is worth the money if you want a small and stylish electric SUV that's practical and very safe. It's a comfortable car to drive and comes with autonomous driving aids that take the sting out of long journeys.
It'll take around 36hrs to fill the Volvo XC40 Recharge's empty battery using a three-pin plug, but just 7.5hrs if you use a 11kW wall-mounted charger.

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