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Volvo XC40 Recharge electric review: interior, dashboard & comfort

Classy cabin design and latest software is let down by small central screen; rivals feel more modern

Overall rating

4.0 out of 5

Interior, dashboard & comfort rating

4.0 out of 5

The XC40 features the same modern, classy and understated cabin design as everything else in Volvo’s current line-up. That’s all well and good, but when you consider that the setup debuted in the Volvo XC90 way back in 2015, it starts to look a little dated. 

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The screen might be running the latest Google software, for example, but at just nine inches, it can’t compete with the huge display in the Tesla Model Y, or the widescreen infotainment fitted to the latest BMW iX1. At least the Volvo’s system is updatable over-the-air, with new apps being launched on a regular basis.

Further to this, the carpet used on both the floor and doors is created from recycled bottles, which is not only in keeping with the Swedish brand’s sustainable approach, but also reduces the amount of hard surfaces in the car’s cabin. Top-spec Ultimate models get extra chintzy trinkets, but Core and Plus variants represent better value for money.

Volvo XC40 Recharge electric dashboard

The XC40 Recharge’s interior is very much the same as the standard model's – fine, but perhaps a little old fashioned-looking alongside more modern rivals. There’s a nine-inch touchscreen in the middle of the dash, controlling most of the car's features. It’s responsive enough, but it’s dwarfed by the widescreen display found in a Tesla Model Y.

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For the driver, there’s a set of digital dials behind the steering wheel that can be customised to show things like sat-nav directions, plus there are features specific to the electric model.

Equipment, options & accessories

You can get the electric XC40 with either a single or dual-motor setup and is available in three trim levels: Core, Plus and Ultimate. All models feature a nine-inch central infotainment touchscreen that runs Volvo’s Android-based interface. Services include Google Maps, Google Assistant voice control and access to apps enabled for automotive use through the Google Play Store – including, more recently, Waze navigation.

The entry-level XC40 Recharge Core comes with LED headlights, dual-zone climate control, wireless phone charging, a 12.3-inch digital driver’s display, a powered tailgate, rear parking sensors and 19-inch alloy wheels as standard.

Above that is the XC40 Recharge Plus, which comes with Volvo's Pilot Assist system, keyless entry, hands-free power tailgate, heated steering wheel, adaptive cruise control, reversing camera and front parking sensors. It also adds a heat pump that reduces energy consumption when heating up the car’s cabin, for improved range in colder weather. 

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Finally, there's the Ultimate specification. This adds 20-inch alloy wheels, pixel-LED headlights, a 360-degree parking camera system, upgraded Harman Kardon sound system and a panoramic sunroof, plus suede and microtech upholstery.

Infotainment, apps & sat nav

The XC40 Recharge's operating system has been upgraded to come with a full set of Google Automotive services, including Google Assistant and Google Maps, similar to the unit found in the Polestar 2. Despite this, users can still connect their phones via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto if they prefer.

In October 2021, Volvo introduced a Range Assistant app for the XC40 as a part of an over-the-air (OTA) software update. According to Volvo, the app will help you maximise and monitor accurate, real-time electric range. It can optimise energy management and automatically adjust the climate control to a more efficient setting when required. The same app can also be found in the XC40 Recharge’s sister cars, the C40 coupe-SUV and the Polestar 2.

One bugbear of the original XC40 Recharge was the inability to show remaining miles in the digital instrument cluster. While the range always shows as a percentage, only when it drops to 30 miles or less does it appear on the screen. However, 2023 cars get this added functionality at all times and the company says an over-the-air update to include it on older cars is under discussion.

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Richard is editor of DrivingElectric, as well as sister site Carbuyer.co.uk, and a regular contributor to Auto Express. An electric and hybrid car advocate, he spent more than five years working on the news and reviews desk at Auto Express and has driven almost every new car currently on sale.

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