I Test the All-Electric 2023 Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin AWD Ultimate: Is It a Good EV?

Here's what I think of Volvo's all-electric take on its smallest crossover

Images: Volvo

I fully admit to having a soft sport for Volvos, but there are a few reasons I just can’t embrace the 2023 Volvo XC40 Recharge, but it has little to do with its low range.

The 2023 Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin AWD Ultimate we tested was used in several videos, and gained a few fans for its excellent styling. Indeed, I adore all forms of the XC40, and the Recharge is an interesting alternative from the mundane. As a daily driver, it’s outstanding in many ways, especially its forgiving driving nature. The size and packaging are impressive too, and I think that many will enjoy its utility as well.

As a stylish addition to an upscale urban residence, this little EV is worth checking out. At the same time, you need to know a few issues that are bound to spark deeper contemplation. Oddly, despite the mediocre maximum range of 223 miles, that’s the leas of my gripes.

Battery capacity, charging and performance

In other vehicles, a battery the size of Volvo’s 78 kWh lithium ion pack would give you more range, that’s absolutely true. With that being said, its two motor setup allows for serious energy recuperation when slowing and braking. Perhaps, that’s why they use the “Recharge” name? Meh.

After some real wheel time, I can honestly say that the Volvo XC40 Recharge is a hoot to drive, despite the range. Having two electric motors generating a total of 402 horsepower and 486 lbs-feet of torque makes this Volvo fly. Volvo says it can run from 0 to 60 mph in 4.2-seconds, and I believe them.

One of my issues revolves around charging the XC40 Recharge. Plenty of competitors are offering 250 kW and higher charge rates at supercharges. The 150 kW capacity of the XC40 Recharge is simply insufficient for the price.

Comfort utility and handling

The seating surfaces, which are made from sustainable materials, feels like old-school cloth to me. I am not sure how stain resistant it is, but it’s fairly comfortable on a long run. The maximum cargo space of 57.5 cubic-feet is just a hair less than the Mach-E, but it’s far more usable. In fact, for its size, I think the XC40 is extremely utilitarian. For a vehicle with such a small footprint, it holds a lot of cargo, and its not too shabby for small families too.

Around town and in traffic, the 2023 Volvo XC40 Recharge is comfortable, quiet and well composed. It rides nice, with a nicely weighted steering feel – for day-to-day driving. On top of that, it is a snap to park; MUCH easier than the Mach-E or Model-Y. The parking cameras are quite good as well.

Once you begin to drive it in anger, things change. It feels like the brick it is. There’s enough body lean to make you regret trying to be playful, and it doesn’t communicate to its handler well, through the steering wheel. I’d say that the gas-powered XC40 is happier to be hustled around corners.

Most annoying issue: it wont start or shut off with the conventional button.

You read that correctly. Like using most cellphones, it always appears to be “on.” What I mean by that is the fact that there is no on/off switch in the vehicle. With your key in pocket, one just hops in and shifts into drive. Once you completed your drive, push the “park” button and walk away.

Is it too much to ask for a power button of some sort? The feeling is a bit unnerving, and there are times I want to sit in my electric vehicle and not burn energy. I know I’m not the only one who finds this irritating.

Other gripes

The lack of physical buttons, paired with the anything-but-intuitive 12.3-inch screen are turnoffs for me. Many drivers would rather not have to rely on the screen to activate all of the HVAC systems. It would be nice to have a simple selection of driving modes. In addition, I would rather have a range display that is inline with competitors, in terms of the information it tells me.

Finally, I think that its MSRP of $61,890 is too high. It’s higher than a Tesla Model Y Performance, which out-classes the Recharge in range, performance and handling. It’s on par with the Genesis GV60 EV, and that’s another conundrum for some.

My wife would love one

I know I was a bit harsh on this car, but there are still enough endearing qualities to please one of the toughest critics. My wife is very hard on newer electric cars. In many cases, she finds them to lack a soul, and feel mundane. One thing this little Volvo has is charm, and a lot of it. On top of its happy-go-lucky nature, cute looks and utility, it’s charming enough to have a seat with the big boys.

I think she would love it.

One final note: in its class, it’s hard to find another EV that can match its ground clearance, or it’s surprisingly good off-road prowess!