Volvo has fully embraced an electric future. The Swedish automaker offers two compelling EV options to suit different needs – the stylish 2023 Volvo C40 Recharge and the practical 2023 Volvo XC40 Recharge. Both boast technology and performance catered to electric driving, but have distinct designs and strengths.
This in-depth guide compares the new Volvo EVs across all key categories. Read on as we analyze their specs, capabilities and overall value to help you decide if the C40 or XC40 is the better electric SUV for your needs.
Overview of Volvo‘s Electric Lineup
Volvo has developed its first generation of electric vehicles on the Compact Modular Architecture (CMA) platform. This flexible technology allows for different body styles and battery capacities.
The C40 Recharge and XC40 Recharge share the same 78 kWh lithium-ion battery pack and dual electric motor AWD powertrain producing 402 horsepower. This delivers spirited acceleration and strong EV efficiency.
Some key technical specifications of Volvo‘s new EVs:
|Specification||Volvo C40||Volvo XC40|
|Battery Capacity||78 kWh||78 kWh|
|Electric Motors||Dual motor AWD||Dual motor AWD|
|Horsepower||402 hp||402 hp|
|Torque||486 lb-ft||486 lb-ft|
|0-60 mph Time||4.5 seconds||4.5 seconds|
|Top Speed||112 mph||112 mph|
|EPA Range||226 miles||223 miles|
|Max Charging Speed||150 kW||150 kW|
|Charging Time (10-80%)||37 min||37 min|
This high-level parity in powertrain and capacity is important – it puts the C40 and XC40 on equal footing for core performance metrics. But as we‘ll see, they differ meaningfully in design, utility and price.
Exterior Styling and Design
Let‘s start by examining how the C40 and XC40 differentiate themselves on the outside.
The XC40 carries forward Volvo‘s familiar upright, boxy SUV shape. The tall front fascia, squared-off sides and rear hatch align with traditional crossover cues. It prioritizes function over flash.
By contrast, the C40 sports a much sleeker, coupé-inspired design. The gently sloping roofline and lower, wider stance give it a distinct athletic demeanor compared to the more conservative XC40. The C40 definitely makes a bolder styling statement.
Up front, both share Volvo‘s signature Thor‘s Hammer LED headlights and a blanked off grille that leans into the EV aesthetic. Available exterior options and wheel designs allow further customization too.
For buyers that want flair and curb appeal, the C40‘s dynamic shape stands out from the crowd of boxy crossover EVs. It aligns with Volvo‘s ambitions to be a premium EV brand.
Exterior Winner: Volvo C40
Passenger and Cargo Space
Sharing the same platform often results in similar interior dimensions. But smart packaging and design choices can optimize the passenger and cargo space.
Up front, the C40 offers ample room with 39.4 inches of headroom and legroom comparable to the XC40. Seating position feels low and sporty. The sloped roof does cut into rear headroom, which measures 37 inches in the C40 versus 38.3 inches in the XC40.
Cargo capacity sees a larger difference, with the XC40 offering 16 cubic feet behind the rear seats – one cubic foot more than the C40. Folding the rear seats down opens up 57 cubic feet in the XC40 and 47 cubic feet in the C40.
So families or buyers that frequently haul bulky items have an advantage with the XC40. But both EVs provide a useful amount of space for the compact segment.
Interior Space Winner: Volvo XC40
Ride Comfort, Noise and Handling
Sharing similar weight and dimensions leads to comparable ride and handling characteristics between the C40 and XC40. But there are some subtle differences.
Ride comfort and noise isolation are excellent in both models. Volvo tuned the suspension for a refined but sporty balance. Small road impacts are smoothed out, but larger bumps and ruts can still be felt. Cabins stay hushed at highway speeds.
The XC40‘s extra weight (4,967 lbs vs 4,858 lbs) means it feels slightly less nimble than the C40 in corners. But it‘s an active, agile handling crossover overall. Steering precision and response are excellent. The low center of gravity from the battery aids composure.
All considered, the C40 and XC40 are close in terms of ride and dynamics. The C40 has a hint of extra agility, but both deliver compelling electric SUV driving experiences.
Ride and Handling Winner: Tie
Performance and Acceleration
On paper, the dual motor 402 hp powertrain in both EVs promises scintillating acceleration – Volvo quotes a 4.5 second 0 to 60 mph time for each model. How does that hold up in real-world testing?
Car and Driver recorded a 3.8 second 0 to 60 mph run for the C40 Recharge and 4.1 seconds for the XC40 Recharge. A separate test by InsideEVs saw 60 mph arrive in 3.7 seconds in the C40. While not quite as fast as the official numbers, the instant electric torque rocketed both SUVs ahead of most sports sedans.
Power delivery remains smooth and linear during hard acceleration. Handling composure stays intact thanks to the low center of gravity – these EVs can hustle confidently. For all practical purposes, the performance gap is minimal.
Performance Winner: Tie
Electric Range and Efficiency
Range anxiety still tops EV shoppers‘ concerns. The EPA-rated 223 miles for the XC40 and 226 miles for the C40 provide ample buffer for daily commuting and errands. But real-world conditions vary.
Car and Driver testing produced a 206 mile range for the XC40 Recharge and 216 miles for the C40 Recharge at highway speeds. Cold weather and heavy payloads diminish range further. But prudent driving should reliably deliver 180+ miles of use.
Efficiency is rated at 89 MPGe combined for the XC40 and 87 MPGe for the C40. These are strong results for premium electric SUVs. Smart regenerative braking maximizes range by recapturing kinetic energy while slowing the vehicle.
For overall range and efficiency, the Volvo EV duo rate as well-matched. Your driving style and conditions will play a larger role in results than the slightly higher EPA rating for the C40.
Range and Efficiency Winner: Tie
Charging Speed and Charging Network Access
Fast charging capability plays an increasingly vital role for EV convenience. The maximum 150 kW charging rate of the Volvo EVs allows for rapid stops during road trips.
From a low 10% battery state of charge, both SUVs can recharge to 80% in around 37 minutes at special DC fast chargers. Home and public Level 2 charging can fully replenish the battery overnight.
Growing fast charger availability via networks like Electrify America, EVgo and ChargePoint expands access for drivers. Volvo also provides free charging through Electrify America for 2 years with each vehicle purchase.
With parity in charging specs and network access, there are no differentiators between the C40 and XC40 when it comes to refueling with electrons.
Charging Winner: Tie
Safety Technology and Ratings
Safety sits at the core of Volvo‘s brand, and the automaker brings its full suite of safeguards to these electric models. Both achieve top ratings in IIHS and NHTSA crash testing with standard active driver aids.
These include forward collision warning with auto emergency braking, lane keeping assist, road sign information and more. Upgraded packages add 360° parking cameras, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring with cross traffic alert and other aids.
Volvo also uniquely offers LiDAR-based autonomous driving capability via an optional add-on system. When it comes to going above and beyond for safety, Volvo has no peers. You can buy either EV confidently.
Safety Winner: Tie
Infotainment, Technology and Connectivity
Volvo partners with Google to provide an excellent in-car experience through Android Automotive OS. This powers a center touchscreen with embedded Google Maps, Voice Assistant, Play Store and automotive-specific apps.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard (wireless connectivity optional). The digital driver display provides configurations like mapping as well as driving data. Options like phone-as-key and over-the-air updates add functionality over time.
With identical software and displays in both EVs, technology offerings are on par. Volvo does offer luxury touches like a Harmon Kardon audio upgrade and head-up display optionally. Either Volvo EV delivers excellent tech integration.
Technology Winner: Tie
Cost of Ownership and Value Analysis
Here is where the Volvo EVs diverge – the 2023 XC40 Recharge starts at $53,990 versus $59,845 for the C40 Recharge before any tax credits or incentives. That‘s a sizable $5,855 price gap.
Adjusted for potential Federal tax credit benefits and state incentives, the XC40 could cost $13,000+ less than the C40 over a 5 year ownership period.
Given the near identical performance, utility and technology, the XC40 Recharge clearly provides better value and long-term ownership costs. The C40 does command a premium for its stylish design, but needs significant discounts to match the XC40‘s value.
For budget-focused buyers, the XC40 Recharge is the obvious value choice in Volvo‘s new EV lineup. Only those that strongly prefer the C40‘s looks should pay extra for essentially the same vehicle.
Value and Cost Winner: Volvo XC40
The Verdict: Volvo XC40 is the Best Electric SUV Choice
The 2023 Volvo XC40 Recharge emerges as the winning pick in this detailed comparison. It gives up very little in terms of technology, performance and practicality versus the C40 Recharge, but costs thousands less.
While the C40 touts sleeker styling, the XC40‘s extra cargo room, similar driving dynamics and lower price tag make it the stronger overall package. For an optimal blend of utility, luxury and value, the XC40 Recharge is our top recommendation.
Either Volvo EV delivers compelling electric technology focused on performance, safety and sustainability. But smart shoppers should opt for the XC40 to get the same great experience while keeping more money in their wallet. Volvo has two winners, but the XC40 stands above its stylish sibling.