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Henry Payne: Out on the town with stylish, expensive, masked-up Volvo Recharge twins

Henry Payne, The Detroit News on

Published in Automotive News

DETROIT — One of my favorite SUV personalities is the Volvo XC40. Cleverly designed inside and out, unique looks, Android operating system, legroom, storage aplenty.

And now it has a pair of electric 2022 Recharge siblings. Though it’s gonna be tough to beat the 355-mile-range gas model. On a wintry April day in Detroit, I had to make a day’s round trip with my son, future daughter-in-law and wife to Charlevoix, in northern Michigan, via Traverse City to check out a wedding venue. With its good rear legroom and clever amenities, I was eager to show the XC40 Recharge off to the clan — but with only 223 miles of electric range, Recharge would complicate our estimated 560-mile round trip.

If we recharged from 10-80% of battery life (charging over 80% gets reeeeeal slow) at fast chargers, we would have to make four charging stops of about 35 minutes each on a day with a demanding, tight schedule to meet florists, caterers, cake makers (yummm, I love weddings) and more. Fast-chargers were everywhere up I-75 from Meijer parking lots to Burger Kings, but I didn’t even bother to chart the course. It would be much too inconvenient.

So I took a good ol’ diesel Cadillac Escalade instead. Range: 440 miles. One five-minute fill-up, no worries.

The lesson? Buy the XC40 Recharge if you have a gas ute in the garage for long trips. Then use Recharge as your daily commuter, as most EV owners do.

Though it’s gonna’ be tough to beat the Polestar 2.


The Polestar 2, of course, is the first sedan from Volvo’s new electric brand and it’s a head-turner with a sleek bod, hatchback utility, big-screen interior and longer 270-mile range. Recharge boasts familiar Swedish XC40 styling cues with squared-off bod, floating back roof, boomerang tail-lamps, Thor’s-hammer headlights and Volvo badge ‘n’ stripe logo on the grille.

Well, where the grille used to be. With no need for air to feed a gas engine behind, the grille wears a face-covering over its mouth as if dressed for the pandemic. Awkward (especially since Sweden never mandated masks). Brands are still struggling with how to present their EV faces.

The mask-less Polestar gets a more appealing grille design to differentiate its EV brand. But for those who like Recharge’s higher seating position and familiar Volvo styling cues, XC40 will get the nod.

And for those who like the Polestar’s coupe-like looks, well ... XC40 Recharge has a C40 Recharge twin with heavily tapered roof-line and C-clamp tail-lights like a Volvo sedan. Be warned: the fastback reduces rear-window visibility to a military pillbox. Both Recharge models offer unique, eye-catching 20-inch wheels.


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