Free Press automotive critic Mark Phelan takes a look at Volvo’s compact SUV.
Taking a page from smartphone subscription plans, Volvo aims to change the way people buy vehicles with its new XC40 compact SUV this spring.
“Care by Volvo” leasing will let owners upgrade to a new vehicle every 12 months, set up their lease and arrange delivery online and more.
Deliveries begin in April, shortly after the first XC40s arrive in U.S. dealerships. Test drives will be available at dealerships in March, but a few committed Volvo fans have already plunked down a $500 deposit, said Peter Wexler, the executive in charge of the program for the U.S.
“It’s an alternative to the traditional model,” Wexler said. “Consumers subscribe to Volvo. There’s no haggling, just a fixed price with one monthly payment that includes insurance, maintenance, tire and wheel insurance and replacement of parts that wear out, like windshield wipers and tires. The lease covers 15,000 miles a year.
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The basic package is a 24-month lease, but customers can upgrade to a new model year XC40 after 12 months. Volvo plans to have other vehicles to which owners can switch by the time the first Care by Volvo customers hit 12 months. Customers can also renew their lease for another 24 months after the first year.
The XC40 is Volvo’s first compact SUV. It will compete in one of the hottest segments of the market, facing models like the Audi Q3, Buick Envision, Jeep Compass and Lexus NX.
XC40 prices will start at $35,400, but the T5 Momentum and R Design models available through Care by Volvo are loaded with safety features, 19-inch wheels heated steering wheel and seats, and more.
The MSRP for a Momentum equipped for the subscription plan would be $41,400, while the R-Design will go for $45,400, Wexler said.
The monthly charge, including maintenance, insurance and the rest of the package will be $600 for the XC40 T5 Momentum and $700 for an R-Design. That’s comparable to a conventional lease for similar vehicles.
2019 Volvo XC40 (Photo: Volvo)
The XC40’s styling is similar to Volvo’s bigger XC60 and XC90 SUVs, but the compact looks sporty, particularly in the optional two-tone paint schemes, one of which include striking white-painted multispoke aluminum wheels. The headlights sport a new version of the company’s signature “Thor’s Hammer” running lights.
The interior carries over the larger vehicles’ Scandinavian modern design, with a large, tablet-style touch screen and light colored materials. There’s plenty of headroom and numerous storage bins and cubbies.
Features range from big-deal, big ticket items like City Safety, which includes pedestrian detection and autonomous emergency braking for oncoming vehicles and cross traffic to an innovative little hook that folds out of the dash board to secure bags of carryout food.
Power comes from a 2.0L four-cylinder engine that generates 248 hp with a turbocharger and 185 without. An eight-speed automatic transmission is standard.
The XC40 is based on Volvo’s Compact Modular Architecture. Volvo will build a number of other vehicles based on CMA, but don’t be surprised if the XC40 is the only one sold in the U.S. Buyers here aren’t exactly clamoring for compact sedans, hatchbacks and station wagons. Volvo’s owner, China’s Geely Automobiles, will also make vehicles based on CMA.
You can learn more about Care by Volvo at volvocars.com. It takes 5-10 minutes to order a vehicle, Wexler said. The $500 deposit is applied to the first month’s payment. The SUV buyers get won’t come from dealer stock that they test drive. Volvo will keep them at four ports around the country.
“We hope to be able to deliver cars within a week of ordering,” starting in April, he said.
Contact Mark Phelan: email@example.com or 313-222-6731. Follow him on Twitter @mark_phelan.
Volvo XC40 at a Glance
Compact luxury SUV
On sale in March.
Base price: $35,400 (A less expensive FWD model goes on sale in the summer.)
Engine: 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder
Power: 248 or 185 hp
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Assembly location: Ghent, Belgium
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