Consumer Reports Recommended the 2021 Volvo XC40 Despite Problems

The 2021 Volvo XC40 is a CR Recommended vehicle, an impressive distinction. However, Consumer Reports also gives this Volvo compact SUV a so-so score of 73 out of 100 and notes a few significant flaws. So although the XC40 earns the consumer site’s recommendation, it’s worth closer scrutiny.

The 2021 Volvo XC40’s performance, features, and price

The Volvo brand hasn’t historically been top of mind among younger consumers. However, the automaker is working to change that with models like the XC40. Notable for trendy two-tone exterior colors and thoughtful design touches like a garbage bin in the center console and a storage compartment under the passenger seat, the XC40 aims to please young buyers. 

Under the front-wheel-drive base model’s hood sits a turbo-four engine that produces 187 hp and 221 lb-ft of torque. It gets 23/32 mpg city/highway. There’s also an all-wheel-drive turbo-five model producing 248 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, along with 22/30 mpg city/highway. And for eco-conscious buyers, the XC40 P8 Recharge may be perfect. This all-electric variant provides a whopping 402 hp and 486 lb-ft of torque from its electric motors. It gets 208 miles per charge.

The interior offers a 9.0-inch infotainment touchscreen and a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration come standard. As should be expected with the safety-conscious brand, advanced driver aids abound on every model. They include lane-keeping assistance, blind-spot monitoring, front and rear automatic emergency braking, rear cross-traffic alert, pedestrian detection, and automatic high-beams. The 2020 XC40 earned the highest Top Safety Pick+ designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

For a starting price of $33,700, the XC40 seems like a pretty solid SUV.

The Volvo XC40’s drawbacks

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Now for the problems. Consumer Reports notes the 2021 Volvo XC40 is stiff and loud, with controls that are challenging to operate. CR’s reviewers assert that a rigid suspension system makes drivers and riders feel uneven roads and that an unrefined steering system impairs overall performance. A tricky gear selector takes time to master and could put new XC40 drivers in dangerous situations. Plus, downshifting also isn’t always smooth. The XC40 is further marred by an infotainment system that makes basic tasks challenging to execute while driving. Phone pairing is also tricky.

And though Volvo has designed a compact crossover with some hip features, the rear roof pillar isn’t one of them. Along with a missing third-side window, the pillar hurts rear visibility, a surprising misstep for the usually safety-conscious brand. There’s also a stop/start system that jolts the car with every start and takes some getting used to.

Despite its pluses, the 2021 Volvo XC40 P80 Recharge isn’t a Green Choice — Consumer Reports‘ designation for environmentally friendly vehicles. More eco-conscious consumers are looking for cars that reduce tailpipe emissions. And, unfortunately, the 2021 P8 Recharge is also the subject of the recall. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows an issue with the XC40 P8 Recharge’s electrical system that can cause a sudden loss of power. Before the recall, the XC40 had earned a 5-star NHTSA safety rating. However, buyers should think twice about the all-electric 2021 P8 Recharge in the wake of this issue.

Why does CR recommend the XC40?

Despite Consumer Reports’ capsule analysis listing more cons than pros, along with numerous and significant issues, the site still gives the 2021 Volvo XC40 its CR Recommended distinction. That begs the question: Why?

CR’s reviewers found much to like about the XC40. Its benefits include the luxurious interior, good fuel economy, cargo space, power liftgate, and hip design touches. The safety features are also a plus, as are its safe handling, including braking performance. These features, especially the interior ambiance, seem to hold more weight with CR’s reviewers. And though a major selling point of this vehicle is its fashionable design, the 2021 Volvo XC40’s numerous flaws might turn off many buyers.

That’s especially when considering they have well-regarded options such as the BMW X1, Lexus UX, and Audi Q3 to choose from.