Finding the perfect size utility vehicle is a tough job even for Goldilocks. Some vehicles are too small, while some are too big. Some have too much equipment and cost too much, while some need more capability. 

The 2023 Volvo XC40 AWD Ultimate is a standout in a highly competitive segment.


But Volvo seems to have solved the problem with the XC40, which seems to be a bit larger than a compact crossover type of utility vehicle. But the XC40 is still smaller than midsized utility vehicles such as the Ford Explorer, which have grown right along with their popularity. 

The XC40 has the right amount of interior space, functional cabin design and premium features to stand up to the competition offered by an impressive list of rivals, which offer models such as the Audi Q3, Mercedes-Benz GLB, BMW X1 and Lexus UX. The XC40 stands up well against some very tough competition thanks to balanced performance and comfort. The brand’s overall record for safety is another plus.


Volvo has earned a reputation over the years for offering solid designs, which emphasize the brand’s long tradition of building safe, comfortable vehicles. The 2023 XC40 borrows heavily on this tradition but adds some finesse so the vehicle. 

The XC40 looks both sporty and refined while offering room for five passengers.

The XC40 looks both sporty and refined thanks to the stylized front fascia, which includes a grille with high-gloss black mesh and a lower outer grille. It also features high-gloss back window trim and matching roof rails. There is also a laminated panoramic moonroof and 20-inch wheels. The overall visual impact of the design is imposing and makes the vehicle appear larger than it is. The grille is distinctive and makes it plain the vehicle is a Volvo.


The cabin of the XC40 has a spacious feel thanks to extra headroom and width, and it is nicely furnished with a good selection of materials, featuring leather, driftwood inlays and bright work. The one drawback is the tablet-style screen, one of the most prominent features in the interior, is beginning to look dated. 

The screen, which is used across the Volvo line, looked impressive once but it beginning to give off a dated vibe. But the touchscreen controls and the buttons are augmented by controls for entertainment system on the vegan leather-wrapped steering wheel. The overall layout of the cabin is spare and quite efficient, while out on the road the interior of the XC40 is very quiet, which helps enhance the enjoyment of the entertainment system.

The cabin of the XC40 has a spacious feel thanks to extra headroom and width, and it is nicely furnished.


Volvo said nearly a decade ago it was shifting all its vehicles with internal combustion engines to 4 cylinders. So, while there is a battery-electric version of the XC 40, the version I drove for a week was equipped with a 2.0-liter engine outfitted with a turbocharger and direct injection. 

It also had an 8-speed transmission, which was equipped with both a stop-start system and an all-wheel-drive system with instant traction. It also is equipped with a mild-hybrid system with regenerative braking, which relies on a 48-volt battery. The powertrain produces 247 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has given the 2023 XC40 a combined fuel economy rating of 26 mpg, including 23 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway. 

Safety and Technology

It is equipped with front, side and curtain airbags plus a driver-side knee airbag.

Volvo has focused on safety for decades and the XC40 benefits from what the company has learned over the years. It is equipped with front, side and curtain airbags plus a driver-side knee airbag. It also has run-off road protection and mitigation as well as low- and high-speed collision avoidance and mitigation capable of detecting pedestrians, cyclists and large animals such as deer, which is an issue in my neighborhood. 

It also has driver assistance features such as blind-spot detection, lane-departure alert and mitigation and rear cross-traffic alert as well as an alert if the driver gets drowsy. It features plenty of other tech, such as the digital service package with Google Maps and Google Assist. It also has a Sirius XM connection, Bluetooth connectivity with audio streaming through the Harmon Kardon sound system and USB ports in the front and rear seating areas.

Driving Impressions

The 2023 XC40 is a pleasant vehicle to drive with solid driving dynamics and more than enough power for the freeway or wide-open country roads. The power steering is quite responsive, and the brakes have plenty of stopping power. 

The ride and handling are nice and calm over all sorts of surfaces thanks to the vehicle’s electronically controlled suspension, even when it is challenged by one Southeast Michigan’s ferocious and notorious, late-winter potholes. The XC40 is easy to park, easy to drive and easy to maneuver and, as I noted earlier, very quiet out on the road, which makes it a good car for commuters or anyone who must spend a lot of time traveling by road.

2023 Volvo XC40 AWD Ultimate Specifications

DimensionL: 174.6 inches/W: 80.1 inches/H: 65.5 inches/Wheelbase: 106.4 inchesWeight3,861 poundsPowertrain2.0-liter, turbocharged 4-cylinder engine w/mild hybrid; 8-speed automatic transmissionFuel Economy23 mpg city/30 mpg highway/26 mpg combinedPerformance Specs247 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torquePriceBase price: $42,250; As tested: $50,190 including $1,095 destination chargeOn-Sale DateAvailable now

Wrap Up

Utility vehicles come in all kinds of shapes and sizes and the entire segment is hugely congested. It is also filled with competing claims from a broad array of manufacturers. But the XC40 seems to cross segment lines, settling into a unique space of its own I suspect many consumers will find attractive and useful. 

Volvo also has one of the industry’s very best records for protecting the driver and passengers, while also delivering solid performance and a degree of luxury. However, at $50,000, the XC 40 is rather pricey for a five-passenger vehicle. 

2023 Volvo XC40 AWD Ultimate ­— Frequently Asked Questions

Is the Volvo XC40 bigger than the Audi Q3?

The Audi Q3 and the Volvo XC40 are very comparable in size. The Audi Q3 is longer and taller at 176.6 inches long and 62.9 inches tall than the 174.2-inch length of the Volvo XC40 and its 65.3-inch height. The Volvo vehicle, however, is a bit wider.

Who makes the engines for Volvo Cars?

Since 2013, all gas and diesel engines are made by Volvo Cars at its Skövde, Sweden facility. This family of VEA engines (Volvo Engine Architecture) is produced for nearly all global markets.

Is Volvo XC40 same size as RAV4?

The new Toyota RAV4 is a larger model, which means it inherently comes with slightly more cargo space than the Volvo XC40. However, the Volvo model offers unique storage options that make up for the smaller area, like a fold-up cargo floor and trunk divider.

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