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2024 Volvo C40 Recharge Single Motor Rear-Drive Ultimate review: The one to get

The new single-motor, rear-drive Volvo C40 Recharge has way less horsepower and torque than its all-wheel-drive counterpart, there’s half as much traction and the acceleration is dramatically slower. But despite these considerable downsides, the rear-drive C40 Recharge is still the best version of this coupe-like SUV to buy.

The big story for the latest model year is the availability of this single motor, rear-wheel-drive model, the first rear-drive Volvo sold in the U.S. in some 25 years. Aside from that, this version of the C40 Recharge also has a new battery with greater capacity and significantly improved DC fast charging capability.

This SUV’s new energy reservoir is a lithium-ion pack with a gross capacity of 82 kilowatt-hours, up from the 78-kWh unit that’s still employed in all-wheel-drive models. That capacity increase bumps EPA-estimated range to an impressive 297 miles (293 for the nearly identical, though boxier XC40 Recharge). DC fast charging now peaks at a stellar 200 kilowatts, a huge bump over the old battery, which maxed out at just 155. This charging performance is enough to take you from 10 to 80% in around 28 minutes.

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The C40 Recharge is a handsome, coupe-like SUV. Photo credit: EV Pulse / Craig Cole

Other than those powertrain enhancements, the rest of this swoopy SUV is nearly the same as before. The exterior design is attractive – especially with Cloud Blue paint, which can look light gray or even white depending on lighting conditions; that sloping roofline adds some drama to the profile, even if it cuts into rearward visibility and backseat space; the elongated, vertical taillights are distinctive and just as gorgeous as ever; and the aerodynamically tuned 20-inch wheels fitted to this range-topping Ultimate model are cool and classy, though the 19s fitted to other trims look great, too.

The C40 Recharge’s available Pixel Technology headlights incorporate Volvo’s signature Thor’s Hammer motif and are extremely effective at night, their 84 LEDs cutting through darkness with a brilliant spread of crisp, white light. These lamps also adapt to oncoming traffic, so they don’t blind other drivers, and this SUV also has cornering lamps, to help you see around turns at low speeds, a handy feature to have.

A small vehicle with a curt 106.4-inch wheelbase and an overall length of just 174.8 inches, the C40 Recharge is far from the most versatile SUV you can buy, though it still provides a respectable 49 cubic feet of cargo space with the second-row backrests folded. There’s also a small front trunk that’s large enough to hold the charging cable and a few other tchotchkes, but not much else.

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The interior of this vehicle is, for the most part, lovely. Photo credit: EV Pulse / Craig Cole

As with the exterior, there are no surprises inside the 2024 C40 Recharge, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. This vehicle’s cabin is well built, quite comfortable and incorporates plenty of premium materials.

In Ultimate models, both front seats are both power adjustable, feature four-way lumbar and include manual cushion extensions, which are great for taller motorists. These bucket-style chairs are supportive and exceptionally comfortable on long drives, something we put to the test not long ago while testing Volvo and Starbucks’ new charging network.

While still livable, the C40 Recharge’s backseat isn’t quite as nice. Legroom and headroom are on the tight side and there’s a gigantic tunnel in the middle of the floor. At least with the Ultimate trim, the outboard seat positions are heated.

This range-topping model also comes with a range of other amenities including a heat pump in the HVAC system, which helps improve vehicle efficiency, particularly in cold weather. There’s also an air purifier that filters particulate matter down to 2.5 microns, you get an incredibly effective steering wheel heater that will roast your fingers, there’s a premium Harman Kardon audio system and the available wool-blend fabric is absolutely lovely. This material is different from what you get in other vehicles these days and it feels super premium.

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The C40 Recharge’s front seats are great, but the backbench is a bit snug. Photo credit: EV Pulse / Craig Cole

On the center of the dashboard is a 9-inch touchscreen. Yes, this panel could be a little larger, but it still works well. A Google-based infotainment system lives in this panel, and it is unquestionably one of the best multimedia arrays available in the automotive industry today. This setup is not only incredibly responsive – seriously, it absolutely flies when you zoom in and out on the map – plus it’s amazingly intuitive. After just five minutes of use, you’ll have a good understanding of where controls are located how everything works.

This vehicle’s infotainment system also gives you access to Google Maps, the Google Assistant and Google Play Store. For Apple users, there’s also CarPlay, though make sure to bring a cable because it does not connect wirelessly. The C40 Recharge also comes with four USB ports, two type-C sockets up front and another two at the back.

Naturally, this vehicle does have a few downsides, and one of the biggest is the panoramic glass roof. This panel is tinted, which helps, but there’s no shade and if you’re sensitive to glare, you probably won’t like this “amenity.” The C40 Recharge also has some cheesy looking backlit trim on the dashboard and door panels. Despite the topographic pattern that’s inspired by a mountainous area of Sweden, this stuff looks incredibly cheap, totally out of place in an otherwise lovely cabin. Additionally, some of this Volvo’s secondary controls are a bit confusing, though with ownership you’ll learn how they work relatively quickly. And finally, the 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster is also easy to read and looks great, but it offers almost no customizability. You can switch between having a map in the center of the cluster or just an empty, black space. That’s it.

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Volvo’s Google-based infotainment system is one of the best in the business. Photo credit: EV Pulse / Craig Cole

Aside from the larger battery pack, faster charging and greater range mentioned above, the C40 Recharge single-motor, rear-drive model also features a new permanent-magnet electric motor that was developed in-house by Volvo. This dynamo delivers 248 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. Those figures can get you from 0 to 60 in as little as 6.9 seconds, a perfectly acceptable performance for everyday driving. Like other EVs, this Volvo has lots of scoot off the line, but its vigor wanes a little at higher speeds.

The C40 Recharge is far from the newest or fanciest EV available today, but damn if it isn’t great to drive. This SUV is impressively refined in all areas and feels about as solid as a granite countertop. The ride is slightly firm, but very well isolated and the body remains planted and stable, even when traversing undulating pavement at speed. Beyond that, the steering is nice and weighty plus the brake pedal is easy to smoothly modulate.

The Ultimate model also gets you adaptive cruise control with Pilot Assist, which is basically lane centering. This setup controls the vehicle’s speed, right down to a stop, and it does much of the steering, though it is not a hands-off solution like Super Cruise or BlueCruise. Volvo’s adaptive system with Pilot Assist works extremely well, particularly in stop-and-go traffic, where it’s silky smooth and immediately confidence inspiring.

This Volvo also comes with a range of other driver aids, things like blind spot monitoring, lane-keeping assist, rain-sensing windshield wipers, road sign recognition and more. It’s a good thing the C40 Recharge features amenities like these because rearward visibility is quite compromised thanks to the roofline slope and small backlight. The 360-degree camera system that’s included with the Ultimate model makes this issue much less of a worry.

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There are many significant reasons to consider a rear-drive C40 Recharge. Photo credit: EV Pulse / Craig Cole

An affordably premium vehicle, this Volvo costs $59,995 including $1,195 in destination fees. Unfortunately, since 50% of this SUV’s components are sourced from China, the drivetrain was built in Sweden and final assembly completed in Belgium, it’s no surprise the C40 Recharge is not eligible for any U.S. tax credits. But still, 60 grand for the top-shelf model isn’t too bad and the base Core trim level is, of course, a few grand less. If you want all-wheel drive, it will cost you $1,750 more, though you’ll also lose out on numerous benefits the rear-drive model offers.

There are certainly a few areas where this coupe-like utility vehicle could be improved, but overall, the 2024 Volvo C40 Recharge is still a delightful, highly likable EV. Thanks to its excellent blend of range, DC charging speed and respectable performance, the new single-motor, rear-drive variant is the one to get.

At a glance

  • Year: 2024
  • Make: Volvo
  • Model: C40 Recharge
  • Trim: Ultimate
  • Type: Coupe-like all-electric SUV
  • Horsepower: 248
  • Torque: 310 lb-ft
  • MPGe ratings (city/highway/combined): 118/96/107
  • Range: 297 miles
  • Pros: Improved range, excellent DC fast charging performance, good ride and handling, comfortable front seats, industry-leading infotainment tech, attractive design
  • Cons: Lack of rooftop sunshade, restricted rearward visibility, somewhat tight backseat, some cheap-looking interior trim
  • Estimated Base price: $55,000
  • As-tested price: $59,995 including $1,195 in destination fees

Watch our review video

Written by Craig Cole

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