Volvo’s basic brief for the new EX30 crossover was brief: Build a small, desirable electric vehicle with a usable range of more than 250 miles, and a price tag of less than $35,000 (before destination and not including government rebates). As far as we can tell, by immersing ourselves in the sweet car for two days at Volvo’s headquarters in Sweden, I achieved that goal. The EX30 is adorable and interesting. He must also be an amazing performer. The top-spec all-wheel-drive Twin Motor Performance model has 422 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque, enough, Volvo claims, to accelerate the smallest SUV (declared weight: 4,140 pounds) from zero to 60 mph in 3.4 seconds. . From the passenger seat, our first experience with the EX30 on Volvo’s test track, it felt solid and solid.
“All our cars should have a clear Volvo character,” says Egbert Bakker, the brand’s technical director for vehicle dynamics, as he leads us through a myriad of thrilling maneuvers that made us glad we skipped the herring for breakfast. “This means it should feel predictable, controllable and comfortable.” The remit of this entry-level electric vehicle, a new category for the brand aimed at attracting new customers, also includes two other descriptors: confidence and agility.
For a base model, Volvo relied on the parts fund — and electric vehicle R&D — of its overlord, Chinese industrial group Geely, but then worked hard to hammer out the deal. “We’ve received a system,” Packer says euphemistically of the car’s underpinnings. “But we made them ourselves – the dampers, the tires, the steering, the anti-roll bars. All of these things are unique to Volvo.”
Despite the short wheelbase, which can easily transfer pitches and jumps into the cabin, the EX30 feels well in control, even over broken pavement, choppy expansion joints, and undulating dips on long stretches of Volvo’s test track that mimic the tattered tarmac of America. Rebounds feel stable and free of bumps and bumps, and the isolation is great, even compared to the brand’s big, beautiful XC40. All of this is achieved without computer-controlled air springs or adaptive dampers. “This is not really a class convention,” Packer explains, in the inimitable manner of a seasoned engineer. A host of advanced driver assistance systems, including Blind Spot Assist and Volvo’s Pilot Assist (Lane Keep Assist, plus adaptive cruise control), are standard, as you’d expect.
Handling is aided by having the 64.0 kWh battery pack on the floor, lowering the center of gravity of the short EV (which is roughly the size of a Volkswagen Golf, albeit about three inches longer). Volvo’s recent switch to virtual rear-wheel drive for its all-wheel drive EVs also helps. The front axle only engages when rear slip is detected, the accelerator pedal is depressed deeply, or Performance mode is engaged. (The entry-level 3,858-pound extended-range single-motor model is rear-wheel drive only and pumps out 268 horsepower and 253 pound-feet of torque, delivering a zero-to-60 time of 5.1 seconds.)
The exterior design is a more striking and somewhat eccentric version of Volvo’s contemporary design language, with a slightly subtle iteration of the arched brow of the Thor’s Hammer T-shaped headlights flowing into a more solid, grille-free front fascia. The beltline swings up at the back to meet the beefy C-pillar. The long taillights flow through intricately divided reflectors, extending to the height of the arched tailgate. The body seals are simple but designed to reflect and exceed the vehicle’s manufacturing budget.
The interior is where Volvo’s cost-saving efforts are clearly evident. As in the Tesla Model 3, the dashboard is completely empty except for a large central screen. There is no toolkit. The display handles all driver functions from the speedometer to navigation and climate control. (Budget upsides: less wiring and cheaper shifting from RHD to LHD configurations.) Structurally simple HVAC vents are machined into the dash to provide seals and material. A sound bar at the base of the windshield replaces the individual speakers. The interior is almost absent of traditional luxury connotations such as leather, wood and metal. They are replaced, depending on the decorative scheme you choose, with molded materials made from recycled or upcycled plastic bottles, fishing nets, window frames, pieces of linen, wool or denim.
These humble sources—which have been woven, pressed, multifaceted, polished, perforated, and otherwise transformed—create interesting surfaces that demand caress and inspire delight, while drawing careful attention to their apparent virtue. The experience is both simple and tactile, enhanced by the brand’s decision to use a wide range of colours. Misty sky blue, oceanic dark indigo, pine green and cloudy silver replace the eye-catching black and beige colors that dominate the industry. USB-C ports abound, as do particularly clever storage elements: a central glove box, stacked layers of sliding bins, giant door pockets, floor-mounted lockers, a trunk, and an adjustable rear cargo floor.
A spear of polished steel encased in a large, antique-looking metal door handle, like something out of a modern Scandinavian under-counter refrigerator, is the interior’s only jewel. The effect is initially annoying but eventually soothing. We deserve a new, more interesting interior materials language to reflect our changing definition of what a car can be, one that goes beyond the Tesla big-screen/Hacker House Bedroom gaming chair aesthetic. If it is in the service of driving us towards greater sustainability, we reject that too.
Of course, in order to achieve this price point, Volvo will not be manufacturing the EX30 in union-strong Sweden, but rather in lower-wage China. How this affects quality and durability is now an open question. So does the question of how the EX30 drives. As for the last question, at least, we should be able to answer it soon. The EX30 arrives in US showrooms in the first half of 2024.
2025 Volvo EX30
Vehicle type: Rear or front- and rear-wheel drive, rear or four-wheel drive, 5-passenger, 4-door wagon
Single-engine extended range, $36,145; Dual Engine Performance, $40,000 (grandfather east)
Single rear-wheel drive motor: permanent magnet synchronous AC, 268 hp, 253 lb-ft
Four-wheel drive front motor: permanent magnet synchronous AC, 154 hp
Four-wheel drive rear motor: permanent magnet synchronous AC, 268 hp
Combined power: 422 hp
Joint torque: 400 lb-ft
Battery Pack: Liquid-cooled lithium-ion, 64.0 kWh
Peak DC fast charging rate: 153 kW
Transmission, F/R: direct drive
Wheelbase: 104.3 inches
Height: 166.7 inches
Height: 61.1 inches
Passenger Size, F/R: 55/38 ft3
Payload volume behind F/R: 32 feet/TBA3
Curb weight (grandfather Estimate: 3900-4150 lbs
performance (grandfather east)
60 mph: 3.3-5.0 seconds
1/4 mile: 12.0-13.0 seconds
Maximum speed: 150 mph
EPA fuel economy (grandfather east)
Combined/City/Highway: 130-139/140-145/120-125 mpg
Range: 265-275 miles
Brett Burke (He/she) is a former preschool teacher and early childhood center director who spent a decade as a youth and family researcher and now covers children and the auto industry for publications including CNN, The The New York Times, Popular Mechanics And more. He published a book on parenting, The Gay Uncle’s Guide to Parenting, Since 2008 he has driven and reviewed thousands of cars for Car and driver And Road pathWhere he is a contributing editor. It was also written for Architectural Digest, Billboard, ELLE Decor, Esquire, GQ, Travel + Leisure And Vanity gallery.