Volvo XC 40Hello, XC40!Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

  • The Volvo XC40 is the carmaker’s compact luxury crossover.
  • The compact SUV segment is ultra-competitive these days.
  • I drove the Volvo XC40 for a week and found it to be a high-tech, premium crossover that was both versatile and thrilling.

The luxury SUV segment is getting crowded.

That’s because consumers, seemingly overnight, have turned against sedans. What this means is that well-established brands, such as BMW and Mercedes, are somewhat saddled with legacy four-doors whose sales are sliding. Meanwhile, brands that are re-inventing themselves have a runway to crank out crossover and surf the trend.

Volvo is one of those re-inventing brands. The Swedish nameplate is now owned by China’s Geely and over the past few years has been rolling out revamped SUVs. The XC90 was Business Insider’s 2015 Car of the Year, while the XC60 was a finalist in 2017. 

Now we have the XC40, Volvo’s compact offering. You could maintain that this is the most important new crossover of them all, because this is where customers will now start with the brand.

For what it’s worth, the start isn’t what it used to be. Decades ago, you bought one of Volvo’s blocky sedans or wagons because they were renowned for safety, looked good dirty, lasted forever, and were anything but German. Luxury was not part of the calculation. 

But it is now. And so is performance, as Volvo seeks to match up with BMW, Audi, and Mercedes. I was lucky enough to try out a performance-oriented XC40 T5 R-Design, with all-wheel-drive, tipping the cost scales at $45,835, after the addition of numerous options. 

Here’s what I thought.

Photos by Hollis Johnson.