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Driven: The 2024 Volvo XC40 and C40 Recharge Are Better With One Motor

A new single-motor version brings better range, faster charging and a lower price

2024 Volvo XC40 Recharge and C40 Recharge front
  • The Volvo XC40 and C40 Recharge have been updated and improved for the 2024 model year.
  • There’s a new single-motor trim with almost 300 miles of range and faster charging speeds.
  • After driving both cars' twin- and single-motor variants, we have a clear favorite.

Volvo entered the all-electric crossover arena with the adorable-looking XC40 Recharge in 2021. Just a year later came the C40 Recharge, a mechanically identical twin with sleeker styling and an oh-so-trendy sloping roofline. Volvo has only offered one powertrain configuration for these EVs: two motors and all-wheel drive. Our expert testing team has already driven and reviewed both vehicles, but this drive marked our first chance to sample the refreshed 2024 models.

This year, a single-motor trim with rear-wheel drive joins the existing twin-motor variant for both vehicles. The single motor’s improved range, faster charging and lower starting price look enticing on paper. And after a brief drive around Volvo’s headquarters in Gothenburg, Sweden, I can confirm that this is way to go.

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2024 Volvo XC40 Recharge front

Single motor, several benefits

Believe it or not, this marks the first time since the 1990s that Volvo will sell a rear-wheel-drive car. And if you’re thinking that the company has gone through a massive change of heart with a new emphasis on driver engagement and fun … you’d be wrong. Instead, the reason for rear-wheel drive is all about the brand’s ongoing love affair with safety.

Decades of experience that we’ve gathered from driving internal-combustion-engine cars in bad weather tells us that power only at the rear axle tends to be bad for traction. According to Volvo engineers, RWD is actually preferable to FWD in electric vehicles for two reasons. The mass of the batteries creates a more balanced weight distribution and lower center of gravity, so the car won't naturally want to rotate around the front. And the front wheels have difficulty solely dealing with massive amounts of immediate torque from the motor. Any driving excitement gained from this switch is really just an added bonus.

The motor itself is also exciting for Volvo as it’s a new unit designed completely in-house for the first time. Powered by an 82-kilowatt-hour battery pack, it produces 248 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque. Volvo also tweaked the battery pack's chemistry to improve the charging speed for XC40 and C40 Recharge models with the single motor. Volvo says single-motor cars can juice up from 10% to 80% battery capacity in 28 minutes — six minutes faster than the twin-motor cars. The peak charge rate for the single-motor is also improved at 200 kW compared to 150 kW for the twin-motor.

All of that is well and good, but the most obvious selling point is the better range. When equipped with the single-motor, Volvo expects the C40 to get an EPA-estimated range of 297 miles and the XC40 Recharge right behind it at 293 miles. For context, that’s a 40-mile improvement over the more powerful twin-motor cars. Based on prior testing, I think that over 300 miles is a definite possibility when we complete our Edmunds real-world range test. Stayed tuned on that front.

2024 Volvo XC40 Recharge profile

Out on the road

During our half-day drive, Volvo offered us seat time in single- and twin-motor versions of the XC40 and C40 Recharge. I immediately snatched the keys to a single-motor XC40 Recharge, eager to try the new powertrain around the absolutely spectacular Swedish countryside.

After about eight minutes behind the wheel, I looked over at my passenger and said, “Yep, this is the one to get.” If you’re deadset on wanting a legitimate performance EV, there are better-suited options out there, but otherwise this little Volvo ticks a lot of boxes.

Don’t let the somewhat modest 248-hp figure fool you; this pint-size EV can boogie when you give it the beans thanks to a healthy amount of torque available at a moment’s notice. Getting the car up to highway speed was a breeze, and when a little extra was needed to make a pass the Volvo obliged without any stress. Volvo says 60 mph should happen in 6.9 seconds — compared to an Edmunds-tested 4.5-second sprint for its dual-motor variant — but it feels quicker than that from the driver’s seat.

Volvo’s one-pedal driving is smoothly integrated, so slowing the car down to a stop just requires a gradual lift of the foot. I’m not as pleased by Volvo’s odd two-stage steering settings; the Normal mode is far too light and the sportier option is full of artificial weight that comes off as unnatural. Even with RWD, this isn’t an EV that’s begging to be pushed hard. The XC40’s personality on the road is much more tame than that of its Polestar 2 cousin.

Instead, consider the single-motor XC40 Recharge a very well-sorted commuter EV. Its non-adaptive suspension is tuned with comfort in mind, soaking up bumps big and small. The sound insolation is fantastic, so you only hear the outside world at high speeds. This little Volvo is a phenomenal companion for everyday driving.

2024 Volvo C40 Recharge rear

So what about the C40?

Though the C40 is effectively identical to the XC40 Recharge when it comes to powertrain and interior, it wears a different shape. It’s effectively Volvo’s attempt to join the other cool kid SUVs, such as the Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron.

And frankly, the C40 has the same drawbacks as the other “coupe-overs.” It’s very difficult to see out of, it’s more expensive than the XC40, and, as I learned very quickly, it gets hot inside because the glass roof doesn’t have a shade. Some car shoppers will veer toward the C40 because of its more avant-garde looks, but do yourself a favor and check out the XC40 before you commit.

2024 Volvo XC40 Recharge interior

Are there any other changes for 2024?

Aside from the mechanical improvements, the 2024 XC40 Recharge and C40 Recharge are largely the same as before. Volvo offers a few new paint colors to choose from, along with a fresh 19-inch wheel design.

Inside, the electric pairing still looks handsome and sophisticated. I adore the plush wool seating fabric, and little touches like the center console trash compartment are beyond thoughtful. The 9-inch infotainment screen has Google integration that runs the maps and other applications. If that’s not your jam, Apple CarPlay is standard, albeit only with a wired connection.

Edmunds says

The only piece of the puzzle missing is the money. Last year, Volvo priced the XC40 Recharge and C40 Recharge at $54,650 and $56,395, respectively (with destination and twin-motor configurations only). We expect these versions to stay at roughly the same price for 2024, with perhaps a slight bump in cost. It wouldn't surprise us to see the single-motor versions start under $50,000.

Putting money aside for a moment, the single-motor XC40 and C40 are the best versions of these EVs to date. And with the competition getting better by the year, Volvo made the right choice to implement these updates sooner rather than later.

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