Quick Spin: 2020 Volvo XC40 Inscription
2020 Volvo XC40 Inscription in Denim Blue Metallic

Quick Spin

2020 Volvo XC40 T5 AWD Inscription

Class: Premium Subcompact Crossover

Miles driven: 375

Fuel used: 15.4 gallons

CG Report Card
Room and ComfortB+
Power and PerformanceB
Fit and FinishA
Fuel EconomyB-
Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide's impressions of the entire model lineup.
Big & Tall Comfort
Big GuyB
Tall GuyB+
Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. "Big" rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, "Tall" rating based on 6'6"-tall male tester.
Engine Specs248-hp 2.0L
Engine TypeTurbocharged 4-cylinder
Transmission 8-speed automatic
Drive WheelsAWD

Real-world fuel economy: 24.3 mpg

Driving mix: 65% city, 35% highway

EPA-estimated fuel economy: 22/30/25 (city/highway/combined)

Fuel type: Premium gas recommended

Base price: $35,700 (not including $995 destination charge)

Options on test vehicle: Inscription Package ($6750), Advanced Package ($1400), Heated front seats and steering wheel ($750), Park Assist Pilot ($200), 19-inch black alloy wheels ($800), Harmon Kardon premium audio system ($800)

Price as tested: $47,395


Quick Hits

The great: Functional cabin space within tidy exterior dimensions; youthful-yet-sophisticated styling inside and out; high-end interior ambiance

The good: Comfortable-yet-nimble driving personality

The not so good: Complicated infotainment system; pricey options drive up the bottom-line price

More XC40 price and availability information


CG Says:

The XC40 may be the smaller of Volvo’s two premium compact-crossover SUVs, but it doesn’t short you for choice. There are three trim levels, including sporty or luxury alternatives. All are available with either front- or all-wheel drive, and the choice of drivetrain dictates which of two available engines will be found under the hood.

2020 Volvo XC40 Inscription
Volvo offers the XC40 with a wide variety of color and trim options that are quite effective at changing the looks and personality of the vehicle to suit buyer preferences. Our previous R-Design test vehicle was spunky and sporty; the understated Denim Blue hue and cream-colored interior of our Inscription tester gave it a more traditional luxury feel.

Having just arrived on the scene for model-year 2019, the XC40 is minimally changed for 2020—there’s some alteration of standard equipment, particularly for the base Momentum and sportier R-Design. Consumer Guide took a turn in a luxury-oriented ’20 Inscription with AWD and the more powerful T5 engine, which was the same driveline/engine pairing in the first-year R-Design that we tested.

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2020 Volvo XC40 Inscription
In top-line trim, the XC40’s interior presents especially well, though none of our editors is particularly fond of Volvo’s infotainment-system interface. The Inscription package tacks on a hefty price premium, but adds lots of upscale features, including a navigation system, wireless charging pad, and a classy Orrefors-crystal shift lever.

The greater difference is in how they are outfitted. Striving for a more sophisticated atmosphere, Inscriptions come with leather-upholstered seats and driftwood inlays on the doors and instrument panel. Orrefors Swedish crystal is used for the toggle-style shift lever for the 8-speed automatic transmission. There is a series-specific 18-inch-alloy-wheel design (though the test vehicle had extra-cost 19-inchers), chrome highlight trim for the vertical-bar grille and side windows, and roof rails in bright aluminum.

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2020 Volvo XC40 Inscription
Buttery leather upholstery and comfortably contoured front seats are highlights of the XC40’s interior. Rear-seat room is better than you might expect, given the extra-tidy exterior dimensions.

Among additional standard items are dual-zone electronic climate control, 12.3-inch digital vehicle-information display, 8-speaker audio, satellite radio, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone Integration, Wi-Fi hotspot, wireless charger, voice control, Sensus navigation system, 8-way power-adjustable front seats with driver’s-seat memory, leather-wrapped tilt/telescoping steering wheel, keyless entry, configurable cargo-area load floor, hands-free tailgate, panoramic moonroof, auto-dimming mirrors, oncoming lane mitigation, lane-keeping assist, blind-spot and rear cross-traffic alerts, and front and rear park assist. The T5 Inscription starts at $43,445 with delivery, but it can be had for $2000 less with the tamer T4 engine and front drive. With options, CG’s test truck ascended to $47,385.

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2020 Volvo XC40 Inscription
The XC40’s rear cargo area is a bit on the narrow side, but it still offers decent capacity; there’s 20.7 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats and 47.2 cu. ft. with the rear seats folded down. Inscriptions come with a handy removable/folding load floor that can be pulled up via a handle in its center to create a partition for grocery bags and such.

Once the 248-horsepower T5 engine’s turbocharger spools up after some conspicuous delay the transmission downshifts and power starts to flow easily, albeit not necessarily quietly. “Dynamic” mode modifies engine performance and steering and ride calibrations. The Inscription lacks the sport-tuned suspension we experienced in the 2019 R-Design. Ride and handling were comfortable and alert.

Front passengers enjoy good head- and legroom. Adults—two of them—in the back seat will find decent headroom and a livable legroom unless front occupants need to stretch out. Driver vision to the sides and over the shoulder runs afoul of wide door posts and thick rear roof pillars. Passengers’ needs for personal-item storage are met by a large glove box, a modest console box, and a pull-out tray under the driver’s seat. A bay at the front of the console houses electronic-device inputs and the wireless charger. There are big pockets in the front doors, smaller pockets in the rear doors, net pouches on the backs of the front seats, and cup holders in the console and the pull-down rear armrest.

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2020 Volvo XC40 Inscription
Our XC40 was a T5 model, which gets you standard all-wheel drive and a healthy turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder that puts out 248 horsepower. Nineteen-inch wheels are an $800 upgrade over the standard 18s.

Driving controls display well in front of the driver, but we’re not universally enamored of the vertically oriented 9-inch infotainment touchscreen, with its smartphone-like swiping to access desired information and functions. Some climate settings are on the dash, but most are accessed through the screen. The shifter requires forward pushes to go into Reverse, and back clicks to select Drive, with a separate button to set Park. Volvo newbies will need a little time to get used to this.

Cargo space is good with the rear seats up, and is helpfully configurable thanks to the adjustable folding floor section. The hinged floor panel kinks to form a partition that keeps small items closely contained, or can be inserted at different levels to accommodate varying cargo needs. At one setting, if forms a continuous load floor with the rear 60/40-split seats, which fold absolutely flat. (Unfortunately, remote buttons for lowering the rear seats have been eliminated.) The rear seat incorporates a pass-through for skis and other long items.

Even with options and AWD the Inscription manages to stay on the right side of $50,000. However, Momentum prices start in the mid $30,000s for the same mechanical layout, so no XC40 buyer needs to feel shortchanged.

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2020 Volvo XC40 Inscription
In general, the premium subcompact SUV class is more about style, luxurious cabin trimmings, and upscale comfort and convenience features than delivering the maximum amount of cargo and passenger room for the money. Within those parameters, the Volvo XC40 shines–it offers distinctive design touches inside and out, a fun-to-drive personality, and a broad range of options that allow a high degree of personalization.

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2020 Volvo XC40 Inscription

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