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I REALLY enjoyed the petrol engine Volvo XC40 that I previously tested with my family AND I am a big fan of hybrid and electric cars so when I was offered the 2021 Volvo XC40 plug-in hybrid (PHEV) I thought we should be on to a winner for my family of four! Let's see if it lives up to expectations and how good it is as a BabyDrive…

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Well the 2021 Volvo XC40 PHEV did not disappoint! It's a modern feeling little SUV that is great to drive, with enough room for my family of four AND I charged it using the power of the sun, which felt pretty fantastic for my purse and the planet!

The Volvo XC40 PHEV is very nice to drive, like the petrol model I tested previously, it feels strong and robust on the road but not brutish and it is light to steer. The XC40 PHEV is even more quiet and peaceful to drive because it has an excellent hybrid engine, which is so quiet.

I hardly used any fuel in my week with the XC40 PHEV because I charged it using the solar panels on my home which kept it topped up for most of my driving throughout the week with school and daycare runs or weekend shopping and beach trips.

That said, it did have to use petrol for motorway trips to Brisbane and you can choose to use part of the petrol power to charge the battery up during longer journeys so you can run on electricity once you are in a town or city (or need to stop with the aircon running while your little ones finish their sleep).

The media screen in the XC40 PHEV is portrait orientation and it does have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

You swipe left to access the radio, Spotify, Apps etc. I do find the media system is a little harder to use than other more minimal systems, mainly because the icons are so small it's hard to see them at a quick glance while driving.

You swipe right to access the battery and charging screens and all the cars settings, like lane departure etc.

The usual Volvo touches are there like the handbag hook from the glovebox…

…and the carpet lined door pockets which stop anything in them from rattling while driving.

Storage wells next to the rear seats are also handy when you have kids water bottles etc.

There is also a handy extra storage shelf in the front for a phone on the side of the central console and a wireless phone charging well in the front.

The Volvo XC40 T5 Recharge PHEV I tested had rear air-conditioning vents which are really needed when you have little passengers in the back. The heated rear seat buttons are located below the rear vents and out of the way of little passengers who might be tempted to fiddle with them!

There is room for two child seats in the back of the Volvo XC40 PHEV. It is really spacious back there but the rear seat base has a gap at either end, which the VW Tiguan has too, that I understand is designed to give some distance between the second-row occupants and the rear doors in the event of a side-impact collision.

I could fit two forward-facing or two rear-facing child seats in the outer seats really nicely but found there was not really enough room for me to squeeze between them and I'm 162cm.

2021 VOLVO XC40 PHEV space between two child seats installed in the second row

Legroom is good in the Volvo XC40 PHEV and we could fit a 184cm driver or passenger in front of a rear-facing child seat.

2021 VOLVO XC40 PHEV legroom with rear-facing child seats installed in the second row

The boot of the XC40 PHEV is also a practical size, holding twelve shopping bags from empty. That's the same as the VW Tiguan, one more than the Jaguar E-Pace and one more than the BMW X1 or Audi Q3.

2021 VOLVO XC40 PHEV boot space for shopping with two rows of seats in use

The previous model XC40 I tested had a fold-down boot floor to allow for extra storage depth but the PHEV had a space-saver tyre instead.

I could still fit the same amount of shopping bags and a twin stroller still fits but with less depth of space for if you are carrying bassinets for example.

2021 VOLVO XC40 PHEV boot space for twin side by side stroller pram and shopping with two rows of seats in use

A tandem pram fits but with one less shopping bag than the 2019 XC40 petrol I tested where the boot floor dropped down about 10cm (shown in the photo below).

Overall we find the 2021 Volvo XC40 PHEV is a practical and enjoyable family car for our family of four. The boot space and cabin space are ample for transporting us and the relevant equipment for two kiddies. The media system is not the orientation I enjoy using but the camera quality and Apple CarPlay mean it has everything I need.

The most enjoyable part for me is using so little fuel when driving the XC40 PHEV. I loved that I was charging it using solar power and doing most of my daily driving using the electric motor and hardly using any fuel. The transition between the electric motor and engine was smooth and quiet and I could choose when I was recharging the battery when driving through the media screen.

The Volvo XC40 gets a five-star ANCAP safety rating and has seven airbags as standard.


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