PINEHURST, NC and YONKERS, NY — The 2019 Volvo XC40 T5 AWD INSCRIPTION is Volvo’s first compact SUV and it’s up against some pretty stiff competition with the Audi Q3, BMW X1 and the Mercedes GLA. Pricewise, it’s comparable. The MSRP for the base model Volvo XC40 is just under $34k; the T4 Momentum is $35,200 and the Inscription, which we drove, starts at $39,750 but fully loaded, can run up to $50k. This youthful, AWD vehicle has got that great Swedish styling that, even at a glance, says, without a doubt, that it’s a Volvo and has everything you can expect — all the luxury, all the features, all the comfort and the responsive handling that is one of the great hallmarks of a Volvo driving machine.
Under the hood, it’s as beautiful a machine inside as it is out. The eight- speed automatic transmission engages a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder, 248hp engine seamlessly and without a smidge of lag. Mileage is great — the XC40 gets 22 mpg city and 31 mpg highway and has a 14.2-gallon fuel tank capacity. The digital touchscreen monitor is an impressive notebook-sized 12.3-inches. More on that in a minute …
The XC40 T5 AWD INSCRIPTION literally comes in seven shades of grey – – well, actually, six and one white. And among all those “bells and whistles” are the features you expect (and that are increasingly becoming standard in all vehicles.) There’s what Volvo calls the “blind spot information system,” steering assist and cross-traffic alert with autobrake, collision avoidance, run- off road mitigation, lane departure warning, auto-leveling headlights, traction control, electronic stability control, daytime running lights and so much more – – all the things that has rightly earned Volvo its reputation as the manufacturer of the safest car on the road. In no particular order there’s rear window privacy glass, roof rails, panoramic sunroof, automatic open and closing rear, press-and-release fuel cap, optional 20-inch alloy wheels with beautiful rim styling, and Pirelli Scorpion tires. There’s LED bending headlights (which means, as you turn, the lights automatically track the direction you’re going); a tremendous 250 watt high-performance audio system that you can control from the dash as well as on the steering wheel, wireless cellphone charging deck with the Homelink® premium package, a 360-degree surround camera, heated front seats and steering wheel, Volvo’s newly designed leather key box ‘intelligent entry’ fob, power folding mirrors, seat extensions for the driver’s and front-passenger seat that gives added comfort to long-legged folk, leather- covered steering wheel, adaptive cruise control, voice commands…am I going on and and on? Well, there’s more: soft padded door trim around the windows and arm rests to add a nice extra touch of comfort, beautiful light wood paneling; carpet inside the doors, which keeps whatever you’ve stuffed into the door wells from rattling; well-positioned gauges and center display, GPS navigation, Bluetooth, Carplay, Travelink, parking assist…
Now, back to the touchscreen display: you can control all of the features in the car on that pad. You can even drop the rear seat headrests (assuming no one’s sitting there) for better visibility. As you’d expect, there’s a slew of different applications installed for android auto, individual front seat climate controls, and you can even access the complete owner’s manual on the touchscreen display rather than leaf through the physical copy that’s in the glove box. You can program the car to run in “comfort,” “dynamic,” “eco” and “off road.” There are 12-volt outlets, USB ports. As you’re backing up, you can what’s going on alongside you in your rearview mirrors. The padded armrest opens to allow ample storage compartment and there’s even a removable trash can. Seats are comfortable seats, I never could adjust the comfort headrests so I actually was comfortable. The auto dim rearview mirror, SOS call controls, LED interior lighting, LED vanity mirrors, roomy second row seats with a fold- down armrest with cup holders, and LED interior lights over doors. The trunk opens automatically by touch or with your fob. What doesn’t this Volvo have, by golly?
It doesn’t have all the enthusiasm I wish I could give it. And remember, I’m Volvo’s greatest cheerleader. So, what’s bothering me?
Well, it’s pretty much just one thing: the gear shift. It’s gorgeous, it’s unique and believe it or not, its handblown Orrefors crystal. You heard me right — the Orrefors glasbruk (glassworks) company that was founded in 1898. It’s as lovely as any vase or goblet they’ve ever blown. So, no — I’m not faulting Orrefors. What I do find fault with is the gear shift. It’s not your usual gear shift. In fact, it’s not anybody’s usual gear shift except for Volvo’s. Let me try to explain — you go two clicks up for…um…then one click down to drive…or is it to reverse…I dunno. Problem is, you have to look to the control panel (or do you look at the display screen) to see just where/what/how you’ve engaged the shift. To put it politely, it’s “a learning process” that “takes some getting used to.” To put it less than politely (and I’m referring to me, not to my own dear sweet husband), sometimes, just sometimes, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” That’s not to say that given time, I couldn’t instinctively work the shift without stopping to think about it, like I did, for…oh, several minutes. If you’re at a light and it’s just turned green and you’ve got a stack of cars waiting behind you, those minutes just seem like hours, don’t they?
Johnny and I often make a point on our radio show, “Driving Me Crazy,” on the Blog Talk Radio Internet platform broadcast of “Westchester on the Level with Hezi Aris” heard “live” or “on demand”, that whenever an auto manufacturer attempts to change something that’s been in the same place for, say, generations — like the gear shift, the ignition system… why, just the other day we test-drove a car that had no door lock mechanism on the doors. (We’ll save that one for later.) Thing is, when you are in traffic or, God forbid, you are in a potentially dangerous driving situation, you need to be as sure as the sun rises and sets where your controls are. You don’t have time to wonder where car designers decided to put it. There’s an old New England saying — and I’m going to be a bit unladylike here — that goes, “If they piss in the pot, they think it tastes better.” This may be rather strong language to attribute to Volvo’s new, innovative gear shift — but then, the point I’m trying to make is this: car designers need to take into consideration how the average driver drives, what instincts she or he tends towards given a split second’s notice; what “driving genes” are as bred into our driving habits as the color of our eyes.
So, for all the wonderful, splendid things that Volvo has achieved in this fabulous compact SUV they’ve launched; this dream of a compact SUV that will be the delight of city-dwellers and suburbanites the world over; this perfect gorgeous machine that rides so quietly, smoothly, and responsively– what I say is, unless you can happily adapt to Volvo’s new gear shift with the beautiful Orrefors crystal knob, then you might want to check out the competition. Because at the end of the day — and Volvo, I assure you, would be the first to agree — it’s all about safety, and whether you feel safe behind the wheel of the car.
Closed at 8:00 PM
29 miles to Pinehurst, NC
2012 Skibo Road Fayetteville, NC 28314
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54 miles to Pinehurst, NC
1375 NW Maynard Rd. Cary, NC 27513
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56 miles to Pinehurst, NC
966 Southpoint Auto Park, Durham, NC 27713
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7.96 miles to Yonkers, NY
500 Tarrytown Road, White Plains, NY 10607
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14 miles to Yonkers, NY
565 11th Avenue, New York City, NY 10036
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Listen to Diving Me Crazy with John and Laurie Wiles on the BlogTalk Internet Radio platform broadcast, “Westchester On the Level with Hezi Aris”, this and every Thursday morning from 10-10:30am. The access code for the Thursday, September 26, 2019 broadcast is accomplished by clicking onto the following hyperlink “Westchester on the Level with Hezi Aris”. If you have a comment or a question, please call the broadcast at 347-415-4326.
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2019 Volvo XC40 T5 AWD INSCRIPTION — “Driving Me Crazy”B y John and Laurie Wiles. Copyright © 2019 by John and Laurie Wiles, Pinehurst, NC. First North American serial rights to HeziMedia, Inc-Yonkers Tribune & Westchester on the Level.