Larry Printz: Volvo’s all-electric 2024 EX30 is its fastest SUV — and its smallest

Tribune Content Agency

MILAN, Italy — As Southern soul chanteuse Bettye Swann’s recording of “Little Things Mean a Lot” played, Volvo Cars rolled out its newest battery-electric sport utility vehicle, the 2024 Volvo EX30. It’s not only the company’s smallest SUV, it’s also its fastest, with a 0-60 mph time of 3.5 seconds.

“It was designed to be driven in the city,” said Volvo’s global chief executive at the model’s reveal in Milan on Wednesday. “It’s a big deal for our customers and it’s a big deal for us at Volvo Cars. It’s our smallest SUV, but it’s no less of a Volvo.”

Indeed, it’s a mere 166.7 inches long, a full eight inches shorter than the fastback 2024 C40 Recharge, and an inch shorter than the 2013 Volvo C30 T5 hatchback. While European eyes are accustomed to such small Swedes that’s not the case stateside, where the midsize XC60 SUV was Volvo’s most popular model in 2022. It’s followed by the full-size XC90 and compact XC40. But as Volvo introduces smaller models to the U.S. market, including the aforementioned XC40 and C40 Recharge, consumers may start to consider Volvo as more of a player across all SUV segments.

The Volvo EX30’s exterior design cues are similar to the XC40, where a grilleless front is bracketed by LED “Thor’s Hammer” headlamps, while C-clamp-shaped taillamps and a black roof finish its familiar wardrobe. Side sculpting looks familiar, but the XC30’s window shape, while similar to the XC40, seems a bit generic.

Inside, there are the sort of clever touches that are always present in small cars. Instead of audio speakers on the doors, designers employed a soundbar at the base of the windshield, freeing up storage space on the door. Given the lack of a hump in the middle of the floor, they used the extra space to relocate the glovebox to the center, where it’s easy to reach. And rear seatback map pockets feature smartphone holders for rear seat passengers.

Designers have opted to scrap such traditional premium finishes as leather, opting for a range of recycled materials, including denim and flax. The overall ambience is industrial in feel, like a postmodern city loft. The recycled surfaces lend the interior a youthfully funky, downtown vibe — the perfect environment for a metropolitan denizen.

But salvaged materials are used elsewhere as well, as Volvo has made liberal use of recycled steel, aluminum and plastics. The company says the EX30 produces the least amount of waste of any product in its line-up. Then again, it is the smallest one as well.

As with an increasing number of manufacturers, Volvo has opted to employ a single, large, center-mounted screen for both its infotainment and gauge readouts. There is no instrument cluster in front of the driver, nor is there a head-up display to compensate, even as an option. Usually, it is. However, the infotainment system is powered by Google, features over-the-air software update capability and wireless Apple CarPlay. But neither Android Auto nor Amazon Alexa are included. Thankfully, it does come with a digital key, allowing you to leave your key fob at home, using your smartphone instead.

As you’d anticipate, the new EX30 includes a wide range of safety systems, such as frontal collision warning with automatic emergency braking and passive structural design components meant to absorb accident energy. It also has a new system that warns passengers not to open their doors if there is a vehicle or bicycle coming up from behind them.

When it comes to power, the single-motor, rear-wheel-drive EX30 produces an estimated 275 miles per charge. With 268 horsepower and 253 pound-feet of torque, it runs from 0-to-60 mph in 5.1 seconds. Opting for the all-wheel-drive EX30 Twin Motor Performance package provides more punch: 422 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque, cutting 0-60 time to 3.4 seconds. The flipside is 10 fewer miles of range.

Once you make liberal use of the EX30’s electrons, the Volvo EX30’s battery pack can be recharged from 10 percent to 80 percent state-of-charge in as little as 26 minutes when connected to a DC fast charger, according to the automaker. The automaker didn’t reveal recharging times when using a 240-volt plug.

Volvo also revealed a twin-motor EX30 Cross Country edition with more lower body cladding, bigger wheels, better ground clearance, and skid plates, which means it should be able to perform light off-road chores, although the launch date was not revealed.

But Volvo did say that ordering was open, with deliveries expected in the U.S. market sometime in the second quarter of 2024. Prices start at $34,950, but the company is expected to offer leasing and subscription options as well. Initially, the vehicle will be built in China, which suggests most U.S. buyers may lease it rather than buy it to take advantage of the $7,500 federal tax credit.

But the EX30 brings a fresh face and attitude to the Volvo lineup.

“It’s a distillation of everything that’s good about Volvo, but in a smaller package,” said CEO Rowan. “We like to say that small is mighty, because it delivers on everything that you would expect from Volvo.”