Throughout the ages, everyone has known what Volvos are like. They’re safe, comfortable, good at carrying out the more mundane things in life.

But the times they are a -changin’, and Volvos are now far more than just practical and safe – they’re also cool.

No longer will you feel the need to wear tweed with leather elbow pads just to get inside the Volvo showroom. But in appealing to the younger market, has Volvo forgotten everything it stood for in the past?

What’s it like inside?

The XC40 has a clear digital instrument display and portrait-style infotainment touchscreen
The XC40 has a clear digital instrument display and portrait-style infotainment touchscreen

The interior is the epitome of Scandinavian chic, with clean lines, beautiful materials and subtle yet effective technology.

The two people up front have plenty of space, so they won’t feel hemmed in on long trips, and there’s good headroom, even if the car has the optional Panoramic sunroof.

Things aren’t quite as luxurious farther back, however, with legroom a bit in short supply, so you’ll need to check your gangly teenagers will be happy before purchasing.

The boot is a reasonable size and shape, although some rivals have more space.

What the Volvo’s rivals will struggle to match, however, is the feeling of quality, which is superb. Everything moves with a sumptuous feel, and all of the materials used are beyond reproach.

Every XC40 is fitted with a clear digital instrument display, a sizeable portrait-style infotainment touchscreen, cruise control, automatic LED headlights and a DAB radio,. If you go for a model that has ‘Pro’ in the name, it will also have heated seats, adaptive LED headlights, a heated windscreen and electrically adjustable front seats.

How does it drive?

Clean lines, beautiful materials and effective technology are characteristic of Volvo quality
Clean lines, beautiful materials and effective technology are characteristic of Volvo quality

There is an enormous range of engines available in the XC40, but the best for tow car buyers is the D4 diesel, which produces 187bhp and 295kb ft of torque.

However, Volvo dropped diesel in 2020, so if you want a newer XC40 to tow with, we would recommend the T5 Recharge plug-in hybrid model.

The Volvo, either diesel or PHEV, is great as a towing machine, because it has a fairly high kerbweight and doesn’t struggle at all getting a trailer up to speed. It stops well and stays utterly stable in lane changes. The electronic handbrake and strong automatic transmission make light work of hill starts, even on battery power.

The XC40 is great to drive solo – it’s brisk and changes direction well. Being relatively small, it’s easy to manoeuvre and park.

There can be a little too much road noise at speed, and the diesel is vocal when your foot is down. Otherwise, all is peaceful. The PHEV is quiet when the engines working, and silent on electric power.


The Volvo XC40 may be a comparatively small car on the outside, but it’s a fine tow car for a family of four – good enough, in fact, to win its weight category at the 2018 Tow Car Awards.

It’s strong and stable while towing, and good to drive when not hitched up.


No struggle getting a trailer up to speed, and it stops well and stays stable in lane changes
No struggle getting a trailer up to speed, and it stops well and stays stable in lane changes

What will it tow?

  • Kerbweight 1735kg
  • Towing limit 2100kg
  • Noseweight limit 110kg
  • 85%match 1475kg
  • (Figures for 2018 2.0 D4 R Design)

Running costs (2.0 D4 R Design)

  • Insurance group 29
  • Annual VED £140
  • Average economy 55.4mpg
  • Interim/full service £95.44/£152.86
  • (Servicing prices supplied by Servicing Stop, 0844 324 5262,

Trouble spots

The Volvo XC40 has been subject to a few recalls throughout its life, and a couple involved safety-critical items, so ensure they’ve been done.

One recall concerned a software problem, which could have prevented the automatic emergency braking system from working, and in another, some of the brake booster fastenings were either missing or had not been done up tightly enough.

A full list of the XC40’s recalls can be found at

What to pay

  • High: Price £46,500 Model 2021 1.5 T Recharge Miles 1500
  • Sweet Spot: Price £31,300 Model 2019 D4 R Design Miles 22,500
  • Low Price £23,600 Model 2018 1.5 T3 Momentum Miles 32,000

Or you could try….

Audi Q3

Audi Q3
Audi Q3

The Audi Q3 is a strong and high-quality rival to the XC40 that’s well worth a look. The petrols are very thirsty when towing; we’d go for a diesel. Still, the cabin is roomy, more so than the XC40’s, and the boot is a good size.

It’s quiet and comfortable when unhitched, but is also not that pleasurable to drive. However, the four-wheel-drive will make the Q3 very capable on slippery campsite surfaces.



The X1 may be BMW’s smallest SUV, but you would struggle to notice from the inside. The interior is spacious, and the boot dwarfs that of most rivals, including the XC40. Our preferred xDrive 25d X1 is also seriously rapid, and strong torque means that it copes easily with a trailer.

However, the ride quality is a touch uncompromising, and there’s too much road noise when driving at speed.

Volkswagen Tiguan

Volkswagen Tiguan
Volkswagen Tiguan

VW’s Tiguan is a very capable tow car. It gets up to speed quickly, and holds motorway speed easily. It’s also utterly stable when changing lanes.

When you’re driving solo, the Tiguan is a comfortable and quiet companion, that has a seriously high-quality interior and space for five adults and all of their luggage.

The Tiguan is also notably cheaper than the XC40 to insure, sitting six or seven groups lower than the Volvo.

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