- The EX30 is a new, very small SUV in Volvo's electric lineup.
- Estimated range of up to 275 miles.
- It's surprisingly accommodating, comfortable to drive and desirable.
2025 Volvo EX30 First Drive: When Less Is More
It's a tiny SUV, but the EX30 is huge on convenience, style and affordability
The 2025 EX30 is a diminutive new electric SUV from Volvo. Its modus operandi is to be small but clever and an excellent value. Priced from around $36,000 including destination, it's cheaper than a Tesla Model 3, but has an estimated range of up to 275 miles and strong performance. When it arrives in early 2024, it will lack any obvious rivals and seeks to seduce a new generation of Volvo customers.
Volvo also sells its electric XC40 Recharge and C40 Recharge SUVs but these are based on existing models that can also be gasoline-powered. The EX30 is electric only and is the second EV to bear the new EX nomenclature after the three-row 2024 EX90, which is also due early next year. By 2030 Volvo will only be making EVs.
How small is small?
To give you some sense of context, the EX30 is 3 inches shorter than the already mini Mini Countryman SUV and 18.1 inches shorter than a Tesla Model 3. In Europe, where the roads were built for the horse and cart, this is a virtue, but it remains to be seen whether small is mighty in the Midwest.
Cynicism aside, the EX30 isn't as compromised as you might think. Not having to accommodate a gas engine does help liberate extra space for passengers. There’s plenty of head and elbow room in the front and a multi-adjustable driving position. The seats — always a Volvo strong point — are comfy too, although tall drivers might bemoan a lack of under-thigh support.
In the back it would be wrong to describe it as commodious, but two 6-footers can sit in tandem in reasonable comfort. Headroom is generous, even on trims with a glass roof, but sitting three abreast will be cozy.
The cargo area is adequate for a week's worth of groceries and there's a removable cargo floor to provide a flat load area. The rear seats also split and fold for some extra versatility and Volvo has even included a pictogram to show you what, in theory, should fit. The capacity of 14.1 cubic feet is comparable to the rear trunk space in the trunk of a Model 3 sedan, and it extends to 31.9 cubic feet with the rear seats folded. But unlike the Model 3 or a few other EVs, there's no frunk (front trunk) to speak of.
What else do I need to know about the interior?
Volvo was doing Swedish minimalism before Tesla was even born and it's taken to a new extreme in the EX30. Pretty much everything has been simplified or rethought to reduce costs, reduce the carbon footprint and/or optimize the passenger space.
For example, Volvo has replaced the traditional front door speakers with the kind of soundbar you might typically find in front of your TV. By also moving the window switches to the center of the car, they’ve created a door that's both cheaper to produce and has a bigger storage bin — clever. Other nice features include cupholders that slide out individually from the center armrest and a glovebox that now resides in the middle of the car so you don’t have to get touchy feely with your passenger to reach your sunglasses.
Almost all of the EX30's controls are routed through a 12.3-inch touchscreen, which is mounted centrally in a portrait pose. This handles everything from adjusting the door mirrors to the music to the climate. Volvo has neatly combined Google tech, including navigation, with music apps such as Spotify, and Apple CarPlay. There's even the promise of YouTube to alleviate the boredom of charging.
What about safety?
Volvo also offers abundant driver assist tech in the EX30. New features include a driver attention monitor that monitors face and eye movements — as well as hands-on detection for the steering wheel. Volvo says the system can determine whether the driver is fatigued or distracted, possibly before the driver has realized it.
Other highlights include the new intersection auto brake feature, which will detect cars crossing the driver's path and bring the EX30 to a stop to help prevent accidents. And finally, a new door open alert will warn you if a cyclist or other vehicle is approaching the EX30's door.
The only surprise given Volvo's commitment to safety is the absence of a speedometer in the driver's natural line of sight. To check the speed you have to glance at the central screen. This is a frustration in a Tesla Model 3 and it's frustrating in the EX30.
What's it like to drive and ride in?
Volvo's approach to driving dynamics is refreshing. The engineers don't pretend that every family SUV is built for the racetrack. Instead they focus on providing sensible, comfortable transport and the EX30 is a fine example of the ethos. The suspension feels a little more softly tuned than most other SUVs and the EX30 leans a little more when you go around corners, but the trade-off is an excellent ride quality and a level of comfort that many much larger cars struggle to match. A Tesla Model 3 feels more sporting to drive, but it's much less comfortable. Given the condition of the roads in most U.S. cities these days, this is definitely an advantage.
You can have either a single-motor version with rear-wheel drive or a dual-motor version that adds a power unit at the front to deliver all-wheel drive. The latter has 422 horsepower and is seriously rapid. Volvo claims it's the quickest-accelerating car it's ever produced, sprinting from 0 to 60 mph in 3.4 seconds. To put that into context, that’s the time we recorded for a Porsche 911 Carrera at the Edmunds test track.
It’s fun in a silly way, but utterly pointless and not at all in keeping with the car's cute and cuddly persona. Volvo also hasn't re-tuned the suspension in any way so this is more Swedish drag racer than hot hatchback. We suspect that few customers, especially those with a family, will ever use its full potential.
The single-motor version is a much better all-rounder. It has 268 hp, which might not sound like much by comparison, but it’s plenty whether you’re in town or on the highway. Volvo says even this model will achieve 0-60 mph in 5.1 seconds, which was sports car fast even a decade ago.
What about the EV bit — range and charging?
Both versions promise to go plenty of miles on a single charge. We’ve yet to subject it to the famous Edmunds EV Range Test, but Volvo says the single-motor version will travel 275 miles between trips to the plug, 10 more than the dual-motor version. That’s comparable to the EPA estimate of 272 miles for the base Model 3, though we've found in our real-world testing that Teslas typically come up short. The other Volvo EVs we've tested have exceeded their EPA estimates.
Volvo also says it’ll charge at up to 153 kW at a DC fast charger, which isn’t as powerful as some but quick enough for most needs. Volvo says that when plugged into a station delivering the EX30's maximum charging rate, the EX30 will take approximately 27 minutes to charge from 10% to 80% capacity. In the future, Volvos will have access to Tesla’s industry-leading Superchargers, but not just yet.
What trims are available?
Three different trims are available: Core, Plus and Ultra. Even the entry-level car has a decent array of kit including LED headlights, wireless Apple CarPlay for smartphone integration, rear parking sensors, lots of safety features and adaptive cruise control, which manages your distance to the vehicle ahead.
Upgrading to the Plus adds nice-to-haves, such as a Harman Kardon sound system, a power-operated tailgate, a panoramic glass roof and storage between the front seats. The Ultra takes this a stage further with power-operated front seats, more help with parking and Volvo’s self-driving system, which can help take the stress out of highway driving.
The world needs more affordable electric vehicles and the EX30 is a fine example of the breed. For a price that’s around $10K less than the average cost of a gas car in the U.S., you get a stylish, desirable EV with an impressive range from an upmarket brand. It is small and this is likely to deter many U.S. buyers, but if you can convince yourself that less really is more, it’s an enticing choice.