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Luxury is more attainable than you’d think, and a high-end SUV doesn’t have to break the bank. Entry-level models like the 2021 Volvo XC40 and 2021 Cadillac XT4 start in the low-to-mid $30,000 range. However, it’s difficult to discern which prestigious subcompact SUV is right for you.

We wouldn’t blame you for being struck by the allure of the XT4, but there are better options on the market. The XC40 is one of the most underrated models in its class, and you owe it to yourself to test-drive one.

The 2021 Volvo XC40 out-performs its American counterpart in several ways. Below, we’ll outline three advantages that are just too significant to ignore.

The 2021 Cadillac XT4 has limited performance options

A blue 2020 Cadillac XT4 driving down a city street
The 2020 Cadillac XT4 on display | Photo via Cadillac

Volvo provides its customers with a wide range of performance options for its smallest SUV. Meanwhile, Cadillac’s XT4 offerings will leave drivers wanting more.

A 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel-drive system powers the 2021 XT4. This powertrain makes 237 hp and achieves an EPA-estimated 26 MPG city/highway combined fuel economy rating.

While this performance isn’t necessarily dull, it’s not all too exciting. Meanwhile, Cadillac’s only upgrade is an all-wheel-drive system, which delivers better traction on slippery roads.

Additionally, the 2021 Cadillac XT4 fails to deliver smooth ride quality. Consumer Reports’ review of the luxury SUV stated that the XT4 does a poor job absorbing road bumps and that its engine is quite noisy. 

These are notable concerns, and it could be one reason why XT4 sales are floundering.

The 2021 Volvo XC40 is an entirely different beast. It’s standard 187-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine matches the XT4’s fuel-efficiency numbers. Plus, Volvo offers an available beefed-up powerplant that’s tuned to kick out 248 hp.

Shoppers can also opt for the all-electric XC40 Recharge. This eco-friendly model delivers thrilling performance without any of the associated guilt.

The 2021 Volvo XC40 mixes style and serenity

A mint and black 2021 Volvo XC40 Recharge parked on the side of the road with a tree, buldings, and grass in the background
The 2021 Volvo XC40 Recharge on display | Photo via Volvo

There’s just something about Scandinavian luxury vehicles that sets the bar for all other automakers. Even though the XC40 is Volvo’s entry-level model, it still retains the brand’s high-quality image.

The 2021 Volvo XC40 features standard leather seats, a nine-inch infotainment touchscreen display, and a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster display.

The top-of-the-line XC40 Inscription comes with an attractive driftwood trim. However, its shift knob, which comprises Orrefors crystal, is the center of attention.

Meanwhile, 2021 Cadillac XT4 owners may wonder if they should have just opted to buy a well-equipped GMC model instead. The U.S. News & World Report criticized Cadillac’s use of hard plastics throughout the interior. The publication stated that these materials “diminish the luxury feel.”

The XT4 has a small standard touchscreen display (eight inches.) Additionally, it only comes standard with leatherette seats and doesn’t. But on the plus side, it comes with wireless versions of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. 2021 Volvo XC40 drivers will have to settle for the wired versions.

Volvo’s safety reputation stands the test of time


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Cliches aren’t always accurate. However, you can bet that a Volvo vehicle is going to be safe. The company that introduced the three-point seatbelt has continued to innovate over the years.

The 2021 Volvo XC40 is loaded with cutting-edge driver-assistance technologies. It comes standard with the features you’d expect, such as automatic emergency braking and forward-collision warning. Plus, Volvo equipped it with blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-keep assist, and lane-departure warning – all features you’d have to pay extra for in the XT4.

Those who want the safest-possible subcompact SUV can add even more smart safety systems. Volvo offers an available Pilot Assist semi-autonomous driver-assist feature. Other available options include adaptive cruise control, automatic parking assistance, front parking sensors, and a surround-view parking camera.