Henry Payne | In town with stylish, expensive and masked Volvo Recharge twins

DETROIT – One of my favorite SUV personalities is the Volvo XC40. Cleverly designed inside and out, unique look, Android OS, legroom, storage galore.

And now it has a pair of electric 2022 Recharge siblings. Although it’s hard to beat the 355-mile gas model. On a wintry April day in Detroit, I had to make a day trip with my son, future daughter-in-law and wife to Charlevoix, Northern Michigan, via Traverse City to experience a place of wedding. With its good rear legroom and smart amenities, I was eager to show off the XC40 Recharge to the clan – but with just 223 miles of electric range, Recharge would complicate our estimated 560-mile round trip.

If we recharge from 10-80% of battery life (charging over 80% becomes very slow) with fast chargers, we should make four charging stops of about 35 minutes each per day with a busy and tight schedule to meet florists, caterers, pastry chefs (yum, I love weddings) and more. Fast chargers were all over I-75 from Meijer parking lots to Burger Kings, but I didn’t even bother to trace the route. It would be far too embarrassing.

So I took a good old diesel Cadillac Escalade instead. Range: 440 miles. A full five minutes, no worries.

Lesson? Buy the XC40 Recharge if you have a gas box in the garage for long trips. Then use Recharge as your everyday means of transportation, as most EV owners do.

Although it will be hard to beat the Polestar 2.

The Polestar 2, of course, is the first sedan from Volvo’s new electric brand and it’s a head-turner with a sleek body, hatchback utility, big-screen interior and a longer range of 270 miles. Recharge sports familiar Swedish styling cues from the XC40 with a boxy body, floating rear roof, boomerang-shaped taillights, Thor’s hammer-shaped headlights and the Volvo badge ‘n’ stripe logo on the grille.

Well, where the grille was. Requiring no air to power a gasoline engine behind, the grille wears a face covering over its mouth as if dressed for the pandemic. Embarrassing (especially since Sweden has never imposed masks). Brands are still struggling to present their EV faces.

The maskless Polestar gets a more attractive grille design to differentiate its EV brand. But for those who like Recharge’s higher seating position and familiar Volvo styling cues, the XC40 will get the green light.

And for those who like the coupe looks of the Polestar, well… XC40 Recharge has a C40 Recharge twin with a sharply tapered roofline and C-clamp taillights like a Volvo sedan. Be warned: the fastback reduces rear window visibility to a military pillbox. Both Recharge models offer unique and eye-catching 20-inch wheels.

Refills are fast. Sporting the same big-battery all-wheel-drive system as the Polestar, our friends at Car and Driver clocked a hearty 0-60 of 4.3 seconds – just short of the more aerodynamic Polestar’s 4.1. ZOT! I pulled a Detroit red light in the XC40 Recharge in front of an unsuspecting Mustang. Lookit this shoebox go!

Don’t overdo it on the next 90 degree turn. Despite the battery anchored low in their bellies, the Recharges have little interest in firing G-sides. Easy and warm foot.

Standard all-wheel drive comes in handy when it snows in Detroit, which happened on April 11. That didn’t happen when I lived in Virginia and pulled my sports cars out of the garage in March with summer tires. It’s different here in Michigan, and the Volvo was up to the task, rolling down I-96 as the blizzard blew.

Where Recharge really earns its love is on the inside. The interior is familiar Volvo, not sci-fi Polestar, but it shares the same Android operating system with a screen that’s as intuitive to use as my phone. The instrument display is a digital beauty and the adaptive cruise control is quite competent, at least when the snow isn’t blinding it. The standard panoramic roof is easy to operate – just slide your finger along a keypad in the direction you wish to open/close it.

Smart storage is everywhere – most impressive in the “fish box” as the Swedes like to call it. It’s a removable trash can for us Yanks. It’s useful for storing sticky gum, chewed-on lollipop sticks, and other trash you don’t want sticking in door pockets. Remove and empty when it fills up. Why don’t all cars have them?

Side pockets run the full length of the door, and a hidden hook unfolds from the glove compartment to hang everything from plastic grocery bags to purses.

To complement the spacious rear seats (for a subcompact SUV), passengers also benefit from side storage trays. The cargo hold has more fold-down grocery bag hangers and a hidden underfloor where you can store that bulky blind when not in use. More storage? It is an electric vehicle, so there is a frunk where the motor was used for the charging socket or a case. My C40 Recharge tester also came dressed in blue felt interior trim to match the exterior. Stylish Swedish.

Although it’s going to be hard to beat $45,935.

That’s the price of a comparably equipped turbo-4-engined XC40 gas model, which is $15,000 south of my $60,000 Recharge twin. The $7,500 federal tax credit will recoup some of that amount, but it’s a high premium to pay for a vehicle with limited metropolitan range.

For Volvo fans, XC40 and C40 Recharge will have obvious advantages. Along with those clever features, the dual electric motors provide a silky-smooth driving experience – which, uh, can be a little jerky with the petrol model’s multi-cog eight-speed gearbox.

And Recharge offers a favorite feature of electric vehicles: regenerative braking so you can drive around town with just one pedal. It’s a tough market for EV adoption, but it helps to have an outgoing Volvo Recharge personality.

Volvo XC40 and C40 2022 recharge

Type of vehicle: Five-seat SUV with all-wheel drive, battery-electric

Price: $52,795 base, including $1,095 destination fee ($60,090 XC40 Recharge Twin Ultimate and $60,540 C40 Recharge Twin Ultimate tested)

Powertrain: 75 kWh lithium-ion battery driving two electric motors

Power: 402 horsepower, 486 lb-ft of torque

Transmission: Direct Drive

Performance: 0-100 km/h, 4.3 seconds (car and driver, XC40 charging); top speed: 113 mph

Weight: 4,791 lbs (XC40 Recharge as tested)

Fuel economy: 223 mile range

Report card

Tops: Clever interior; fast on the line

Weak: limited autonomy compared to competitors; $15,000 north of gas XC40

Overall: 3 stars


Henry Payne is an auto critic for The Detroit News. Find him at hpaynedetroitnews.com or Twitter HenryEPayne.

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The 2022 Volvo C40 Recharge fastback features C-clamp taillights that are different from the boomerang lights of the XC40 Recharge sibling. (Henry Payne/The Detroit News/TNS)


The 2022 Volvo XC40 and C40, shown, Recharge both use a Google operating system that helpfully displays your phone and range information on the center display. (Henry Payne/The Detroit News/TNS)


The 2022 Volvo XC40 Recharge comes with a useful bin in the console that can be removed and emptied. (Henry Payne/The Detroit News/TNS)


Frunk-adelic. The 2022 Volvo XC40 Recharge offers a front trunk for small bags and charging cords. (Henry Payne/The Detroit News/TNS)

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