The ‘Ultimate’ EV Car Package: 2022 Volvo C40 Recharge Review
Launched this year, Volvo’s all-electric C40 Recharge is the brand’s first fully electric vehicle, as it has no gas-powered counterpart in the lineup.
Launched in 2020, Volvo’s XC40 Recharge was the brand’s first all-electric model. Why? The Swedish brand is serious about its commitment to electric vehicles; a year ago, it announced that it would be fully electric by 2030.
The automaker based the design heavily on its gas-powered counterpart, understanding that its fans favor familiarity and reliability. Riffing on that theme, Volvo started with the XC40 Recharge’s powertrain, interior layout, and Google Android-based infotainment system and chopped the top for its newest model, the C40 Recharge.
With sloping, coupe-like styling, the C40 shares a 106.4-inch wheelbase with its sibling XC40 Recharge, and the range for both vehicles is very similar at 226 and 223 miles, respectively.
In short: This zippy crossover has a lot going for it and it not only shows off new technology and design, it’s only available to buy online, which is a major step toward what buyers want.
Volvo also gifts C40 Recharge buyers with a care package that includes service, warranty, roadside assistance, insurance, and home charging options.
Available in just one trim — appropriately called Ultimate — the only thing you have to do is choose the paint color. If you’re someone who doesn’t want to deal with a myriad of choices and wants to buy one complete EV package, this is the vehicle for you.
2022 Volvo C40 Recharge Review
Volvo representatives handed me the key fob to a fully charged C40 Recharge and sent me on a winding route through Palm Springs up to a stunning overlook at Coachella Valley Vista Point.
Over a few hours, I had plenty of battery power to get up the mountain and back down into the valley with no range anxiety. Here are my first thoughts on Volvo’s latest runabout.
Electric Power and Performance
Sharing a dual-motor all-wheel-drive setup with the XC40 and Polestar 2, the C40 Recharge is powered by twin electric motors and a fast-charging 78kWh battery. The resulting output is an impressive 402 horsepower and 486 pound-feet of torque, which propels the C40 Recharge forward with ambition.
Volvo said the battery can be fast-charged to 80% in 40 minutes, and the total range is 226 miles. Manufacturers are seeing the trend toward fast-charging over bigger batteries and longer range, and Volvo believes its over-the-air software updates will improve the range over time.
Just a few weeks ago, the automaker announced a partnership with Starbucks to install an open, public charging network. This summer, the pilot project will kick off about 60 ChargePoint DC Fast chargers at a dozen or so coffee shops along a 1,350-mile route between Seattle and Denver.
Considering the demographic of that area and the popularity of Starbucks stores from its base city, this is a smart move for Volvo to increase the visibility of its EV line.
At-home chargers with a 220-volt outlet will replenish the C40’s 11kW charger in about 8 hours. And Volvo is throwing in a complimentary 250 kWh of electricity at Electrify America’s DC charging stations to further sweeten the pot.
Volvo’s C40 Recharge: The Ride
All-wheel drive is standard on the 2022 C40 Recharge, which gives it an edge in various kinds of weather and some light off-roading duty. Ground clearance rings in at 6.7 inches, which is about the same as Kia’s Sorento PHEV.
Kia entered two of the PHEVs in the 1,500-mile Rebelle Rally last year and both placed in the top three. So, the C40’s ground clearance should be more than adequate for camping out or tackling sand and dirt if you wanted to.
Volvo claims two electric motors (one in the front and one in the rear) can boost the C40 Recharge from zero to 60 in 4.7 seconds. As I carved out canyon roads between Palm Springs and Palm Desert, I found the ride to be even and polished, and the one-pedal driving straightforward and painless.
Each time you lift your foot from the accelerator, it charges the battery with regenerative braking. I found that using the one-pedal drive mode took a second to get used to, but once I figured out how to feel out the rhythm of the pedal, it was a breeze.
When coming to a stop, the friction brakes don’t kick in until you reach 3 miles per hour, and you barely feel the handoff. The 486 pound-feet of torque propelled the coupe forward quickly, and the horsepower was more than adequate to zoom past slower cars on the highway.
At 4,800 pounds, the C40 Recharge is heavy, as Volvo models tend to be as they’re loaded with steel and safety features. Even at that weight, I found it to be easy to control, and it takes the curves very well. Driving the C40 felt comfortable, and I appreciated the simplicity of its controls, which are straightforward and uncomplicated.
In terms of length, the C40 Recharge is 2 inches shorter than a 2022 Nissan Leaf and 10 inches shorter than Toyota’s new bZ4X or a Tesla Model 3. The Volvo is wider than all three, however, at 80.1 inches to the Tesla’s 72.8 inches, the BZ4x’s 73.2 inches, and the Leaf’s 70.5 inches.
The silhouette and proportion are somewhat unconventional for Volvo, with a raked roof and fastback approach. Some elements of the C40 Recharge are familiar and some are new, and Volvo is playing into its base while attracting new customers.
Its taillights animate upon startup, illuminating the sculpted body. The flanks are scooped out on the lower rocker, making the car look lighter and more dynamic.
While it’s more stylish than the boxier XC40 Recharge, the C40 Recharge suffers a bit in total cargo space. The frunk has less than one cubic foot of storage capacity, which might hold a few snacks and water bottles.
In the back, you’ll get 14.6 cubic feet of storage. You could easily store a tent, a few duffle bags, and sleeping bags back there, but planning to pack for a family of four for a week could be challenging unless you pack very light.
Volvo smartly created small-item storage spaces in the C40 Recharge that are usable, like a generous center console, large door pockets to hold beverages and supplies, and cubbies sprinkled throughout.
The designers replaced all the leather with synthetic materials, and I didn’t miss the leather at all. The C40 Recharge displays a modern take on vehicle interiors and I’m all for it.
The C40 Recharge uses a high seating position for better visibility of the road, and passengers in the back benefit from that strategy as well.
Erik Beak, head of design for Volvo USA, said that typically, visibility for children in the back seat is below the beltline and it’s boring for them. “You can only make the backside of a seat so exciting,” he said.
Lifting the seating position gives all passengers a better view and a more enjoyable experience overall, especially when you’re taking a road trip away from the city. There’s definitely a theme of nature and enjoying nature. For instance, Volvo inlaid an illuminated topographical map on the dash, a subtle encouragement to explore.
Unfortunately, the visibility through the back window suffers, as it’s a narrow opening. However, the standard surround-view camera makes up for some of that. With its raked roof and coupe styling, the blind spots are more noticeable in the C40 versus the larger, squared-off XC40.
Big Tech Improvements
Volvo is clearly taking big steps toward electrification and sustainability, and the C40 Recharge is kicking off its next generation of products. The brand’s new partnership with Google is a major leap ahead of what Volvo has included in the past.
Its infotainment system has always been decent but not noteworthy, and the new setup is much easier to use, with intuitive voice controls. Considering Volvo’s reputation for safety, this approach fits well and keeps the driver’s hands on the wheel.
The C40 runs the Android Automotive operating system, and Apple CarPlay will be supported sometime this summer. I found that using the integrated Google apps, especially maps, felt very natural because it mirrors the way I use it on my laptop or phone.
The screen is extremely clear, and the maps are easy to zoom in and out as desired. I was able to adjust the climate, turn on my seat heaters, and call out a destination and the system exhibited no quirks.
Only one thing was missing: you can’t change the satellite stations with voice controls. At least, not yet. (Volvo said they’re working on it.)
Off-Roading in the C40 Recharge
Hidden in the drive settings is an off-road mode, which Volvo describes as an adapted low-speed mode that increases the car’s traction when driving in difficult off-road conditions, on steep hills, and rough surfaces. The mode is only available at low speeds (up to 25 mph), and it’s deactivated once you exceed that number.
This mode activates enhanced engine braking, which makes it easier to control speed on steep hills with one-pedal driving. Would you want to hit the Rubicon Trail in a C40 Recharge? No. But it’s helpful to know that it can do more than suburban streets.
2022 Volvo C40 Recharge: Style and Capability for Active Drivers
Between the new styling, a new focus on technology and infotainment, and one-pedal driving, the C40 Recharge is a great entry point for those considering an EV.
The price is not entry-level at about $60,000, though. But, with that big price tag comes an additional $7,500 federal tax credit (possibly more in your home state), the care package, and 250kWh of fast charging.
To see the Volvo C40 Recharge for yourself, schedule a test drive at VolvoCars.com.