XC40 teaser - Volvo Cars’ User Experience Lab

Volvo XC40 Targets Urban Dwellers, City Commuters

Volvo’s upcoming new SUV, the XC40, aims at staying in the premium segment while it heads downward, size-wise. SUVs, for all their functionality and popularity, have some hitches in their armor, especially when it comes to in-city usage. Size is obviously what I’m talking about here. Have you ever seen a Hummer in a crowded, downtown environment? Of course you have.

Don’t be that guy. Seriously. But that’s where the latest batch of smaller, yet still upscale, SUVs comes in. And this is where the new Volvo XC40 will fit this fall.

Urban Logic

Volvo, beloved Swedish automaker of all things boxy and very safe, says it right up front: “Volvo Cars’ new XC40 delivers a confidence-inspiring SUV designed for city living.” City living. This one is aimed right at you young urban hipster over-earners that are newly married with a baby on the way. And, since this is a Volvo and it is a Scandinavian company, it’s kind of hard to argue with their logic. Volvo wants the XC40 to make your daily, urban commute less stressful and more enjoyable.

To that end, there’s a whole suite of integrated stuff to go along with the vault-like design and build quality. Say hello to safety, connectivity, and infotainment technologies with a Swedish bent.

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Volvo Cars’ User Experience Lab. Photo: Volvo Car Group.

Solid Foundations

The new XC40 is the first car built on Volvo’s Compact Modular Architecture (CMA). It includes a range of ground­breaking technologies that Volvo first introduced in the 90 and 60 Series sedans. And all of that Compact Modular Architecture stuff is based on Volvo’s larger Scalable Product Architecture (SPA). See, it is scalable.

The overall look, feel, and daily livability of the XC40 flows from Volvo’s lifelong approach to safety and integrated user experience philosophy. Volvo calls it the “Circle of Life,” and no, I am not making that up and don’t blame me if you’ve got that Disney song stuck in your head now. Volvo calls this Circle of Life deal “a constant improvement of standards and technologies, based on consumer insights and real life data.” Okay, sounds good to me (apart from that Herrgårdsosty name they gave it).

Safety & Security

Since the starting point for each new Volvo is the forward-thinking safety – and it has been that way since the company’s inception – they are not shy about adopting newer strategies for driver assistance systems. In other words, the new XC40 also gets a healthy dose of the safety and infotainment goodies found in its larger stablemates.

The safety and driver assistance goodies are, as you would expect from Volvo, numerous and sensible. The new XC40’s gizmos incorporate Volvo’s semi-­autonomous Pilot Assist system (take that Elon!), the latest generation of City Safety, and Run­off Road protection and mitigation; all to keep you from sweeping up wayward pedestrians and, uh, driving the thing off the road. There’s also the now-more-common Cross Traffic alert with auto braking, plus a 360° camera that helps you maneuver your XC40 into tight parking spaces.

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Park and Pay application in the Volvo XC60. Photo: Volvo Car Group.

Connectivity & Interactions

Like its larger XC60 and XC90 brethren, the XC40 features Volvo’s connected Sensus infotainment system. This Sensus stuff is focused around the large, portrait oriented touchscreen that should be familiar to many modern car shoppers. Volvo says Sensus is easy and intuitive to use because the interface allows drivers to access a host of functions and services.

“We built a confident, easy-to­-use, and convenient everyday user experience based on real­-life interaction and research, starting from our foundation of leading safety,” explained Ödgärd Andersson, Vice President, Vehicle Software & Electronics, Volvo Cars. “The XC40 is a car for a generation of consumers that expect full connectivity. All screens have been optimized for a safe, easy, and efficient interaction, to support active city driving,”

And, may I also point out that the “Son of Anders” has not one but two umlauts in her totally rockin’ first name and if Ödgärd Andersson is not in an after-work Swedish heavy metal band, I will be disappointed.

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Safety and user experience via Volvo cars. Photo: Volvo Car Group.

Segment Expansion

Volvo is taking this urban SUV trend seriously.

“The XC40 is our first car in this rapidly growing segment and has a clear focus on navigating today’s hectic city environments,” said Håkan Samuelsson, President and Chief Executive Officer, Volvo Cars. “Building on Volvo’s heritage as the leader in safety, the new XC40 will offer the best possible safety standards combined with an easy-to-use interface and convenient connected services.”

Håkan Samuelsson is also a cool, rockin’ name.

Malin Ekholm (whose name is more pretty than rockin’) is Vice President of the Volvo Cars Safety Centre. She summed up the company’s whole approach thusly: “Modern city life presents complex challenges for drivers, pedestrians, cyclists, and other road users. With the XC40, we aim to reduce the so-­called cognitive load on the driver. While our safety and driver assistance systems actively identify and mitigate potential conflicts, you as a driver can relax more and therefore enjoy city driving.”

And you know, she’s not wrong about any of that. And it’s fair to say Volvo knows how to add all these new safety gizmos and infotainment bric-a-brac without it getting in the way of actually driving a car. The upcoming XC40 aims to keep it that way.

Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He means well, even if he has a bias toward lighter, agile cars rather than big engine muscle cars or family sedans.

Photos & Source: Volvo Car Group.