Impressions: Volvo XC40 P8 Recharge

I bought a new car yesterday, a Volvo XC40 P8 Recharge. Actually I bought it over a year ago, or at least reserved one with a deposit, but it was delivered yesterday. It’s Volvo’s first foray into all-electric vehicles (EV’s). The XC40 refers to body size and shape and is consistent with the regular gas XC40, their smallest SUV. The P8 refers to it being all-electric and distinguishes it from the T5 which is a plug-in electric hybrid (PHEV). Both share the Recharge name.

I drove it to the gym and back today, the first time I drove it, although I’d taken a demo model on a test drive a few weeks ago. I’m not ready to give it a real review, but I’ll give some first impressions. Since I’ve been driving a 2011 Nissan Leaf (another EV) for the last 10 years, I’ll do a few comparisons.

The Volvo is small for an SUV but still has a heftier, bigger feel than the Leaf, a hatchback. The suspension feels firmer. I sit higher in the Volvo, and I like that better visibility. The interior is much more luxurious than the Leaf as you would expect at its hefty price tag. The Volvo’s seats are 1: electrically 3-way adjustable, 2. leather, and 3: heated. The Leaf’s are none of the above. The Leaf has a lousy heater, so when I’d go to the gym in my shorts and T-shirt on a cold winter morning I’d shiver all the way there, which is why I always wore sweats and stripped those off once at the gym. Today in the Volvo I needed no sweats. It wasn’t too cold, but chilly enough that I turned on the seat heater. Within a minute, probably less, I was very comfortable. In fact, I had to turn it off after a few minutes.

Driving on local streets, I decided to turn off the one-pedal driving mode, which is Volvo’s version of regenerative braking. I didn’t like it on the test drive with the demo. I’ll discuss that more in another post later after I’ve driven more. One thing I didn’t like is how I had trouble seeing all the controls and indicators. The interior is mostly black. The controls on the door, black buttons on black background, are invisible to me when I’m wearing my sunglasses, which is 98% of the time. I had to park in the sun, take off my sunglasses and put on my regular bifocals in order to adjust the side mirrors. The button for the seat heating is easy to see, but there is a small red light next to it that indicates whether it is on or off. It’s very dim, though, and I couldn’t see that either until I took my sunglasses off. When I pushed it to turn it off, it felt like heat was still on, and, in fact, I had only turned it down. Fortunately, since Volvo’s infotainment system is integrated with Google, I just told Google assistant to turn off the heat seating and it did. Yes, that’s right, the car is an Android device and many function will respond to voice commands. Neat.

When I pulled into the parking spot at the gym the car’s parking assist feature warned me as I got almost up to the tire stop. I really like the 360ยบ camera view feature which makes parking in a tight spot a breeze, even backing up. The Volvo is a much superior car to the Leaf and I’m learning more about it every day. There will be a learning curve. These are my first impressions, and I’ll leave it at that for now. I’ll post more about it from time to time after I’ve driven it more.

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