So this afternoon I found myself over at McLaughlin Motors, shooting the breeze with my salesman friend, Brian Cox. We were talking about everything from the chip shortage to preferred vodka brands, and he mentioned, have you driven the electric XC40 version? I had not. “Well hang on, I’ll bring one around.”
And thus did I drive my first electric vehicle. I am not enamored of electric vehicles. A meme making the rounds lately on social media is when you run out of juice on I-55, you won’t be able to borrow a can of electricity to get back to your destination. Nope. You’ll need a flatbed most likely, to take you to a dealer or recharge station (which might be easy on the West coast but is somewhat more problematic in the Midwest) and hope you didn’t damage anything running it flat.
But I was still interested in trying one out. And although I haven’t owned a Volvo in six years, I still like the brand, despite its current owners. The XC40 itself has been out a few years, built in the Ghent, Belgium Volvo factory, same as the 2006 V50 and 1999 S70 AWD I used to own.
As a result it mostly looks like a normal CUV. The only obvious telltale is the solid body color section where the grille would be on a regular XC40-though the Volvo emblem and ‘slash’ remain for proper marque ID.
Brian said when I found a nice, lonesome stretch of road, to floor it. I did so. Ludicrous Speed arrived in no time. It was a snap to go from 55 to 80. I had perhaps a little too much fun with it. I think I’d get too many tickets in this thing if I owned one.
It’s pretty much standard modern Volvo otherwise, though the start/turn off process confused me at first. There’s no push on/off start button like on the modern Lincolns, instead, you press the brake and move the shifter to drive or reverse.
And as the batteries are beneath the floor, the engine compartment instead has a flush plastic molding with a lid that opens to a space approximately the size of a Coleman cooler. It reminded me of an old VW beetle, only without the spare.
And like many modern cars, there IS no spare, just a tire inflator and patch in the storage space below the rear cargo area-which, incidentally, has a bit more room than the regular XC40 due to no gas tank.
Other quirks include door panel trim made of recycled water bottles, a cordless charger for your phone on the center console, adjustable thigh support for both front seats (a la BMW), and a sunroof open/close button that has no actual buttons. Instead, you sweep the surface back to open it; forward to close it. Like many modern cars it has a panorama sunroof with fabric shade that still lets a small amount of sunshine through it.
Like many modern crossovers/combovers/CUVs, it has a gigantic blind spot on the D-pillar, which is partially mitigated by the BLIS system. Still, I’d have preferred better over-the-shoulder visibility.
I was on I-74 at one point and some variant of silver silvermist Lexus combover was coming up on the right. At first I thought it was some sort of Nissan, a Kicks or Rogue or some other similarly depressing conveyance. But as I got closer I saw it was a Lexus. Geez. I remember the original RX300; it was a nice looking car. Why Lexus has decided to make their cars look cheap and contrived the last 5-8 years is beyond me. Even the ES looks like a long-wheelbase Altima now. Way to attract the country club set. But I digress!
With its large five spoke wheels, two tone and quirky styling, I’m not sure if Volvo is trying to go for a Mini Clubman look, but I kind of got that vibe. Of course, the CUV market is red hot now, and most new cars-those that are actually making it to dealerships lately, anyway-are of this type.
Naturally if I was Ovlov shopping I’d prefer a S60 or S90, because I’m a sedan and wagon guy, but this wasn’t a bad ride. You can still see the family resemblance in the nose, hood and taillights, though I like the XC60 much better, since it is less stubby and has a large rear quarter window instead of the mostly blank flanks of this car. But it was interesting driving an electric car. Probably won’t buy one, but if you do, more power to you. Pun intended.