The small, entry-level electric SUV Volvo’s been teasing for weeks now is finally official. It’s called the EX30, and it’s not just the least expensive path to an electric Volvo; it’ll be the least expensive Volvo in the U.S., period, with a base price of $34,950 when it goes on sale before the end of the year.
That’s not exactly a bargain, though it could be worse at a time when the average cost of a new car is creeping ever closer to the $50,000 mark. For about $1,400 less than the gas-powered XC40 — currently the most affordable Volvo in the lineup — the EX30 offers an estimated 275 miles on a charge (manufacturer figures, not the EPA’s) from a 268-horsepower motor on the rear axle. Buyers who want the fastest-accelerating Volvo ever made can spring for the dual-motor variant, which takes the total up to 422 hp in exchange for a 10-mile range penalty. With 400 lb-ft of torque on tap, all 4,140 pounds of the EX30 Twin Motor Performance can hit 60 mph from a standstill in 3.4 seconds.
Inside and out, the EX30 is lean and unfussy. The exterior essentially looks like if you melted down every current Volvo and/or Polestar, then poured that mixture into a really small, pressurized mold. There’s not that much to it, but the result leaves no doubt to the origin. I reckon the most distinctive design cue is the split taillight situation out back, evoking the pillar-high pods of the company’s SUVs and wagons going back forever. Only now with a techier, blocker feel.
Likewise, when we saw the teaser of the EX30's interior last week, we pretty much saw it all. There’s a vertically oriented touchscreen; eye-catching, speckled, recycled plastics lining the dashboard; a wide soundbar bridging the A pillars; and a steering wheel that is mercifully round(ish) and not a yoke.
The fully capacitive controls represent the only real disappointment in the cabin. For a brand centered on elegant practicality, there’s nothing especially practical about ditching physical buttons wholesale. There is something financially prudent about it, however, and the EX30 is supposed to be the Volvo everyone can buy, after all.
The EX30 is loaded with tech, as you’d expect. It can park itself, and you can replace its fob with your smartphone. The interior offers different ambient lighting profiles inspired by Scandinavian vistas. Volvo’s infotainment platform remains built atop Google’s Android Automotive OS, and the automaker promises it’ll bring “the best possible user experience.” That’s not saying much if you really think about it, though maybe in the EX30 Volvo and Google’s best is better than before.
Finally, in the marque’s classic tradition of safety, the EX30 can actually sense when bicyclists and runners are approaching the side of the vehicle to warn you before you open your door.
Order books for the EX30 are open today, but Volvo’s already teasing a Cross Country version, equipped with skid plates, the requisite black cladding and increased ground clearance, due in 2024. Pricing for the Cross Country and Performance variants is unknown, but at $35,000 at the low-end, the EX30 competes with similarly priced internal-combustion SUVs that are ostensibly luxurious.
It also starts about $12,000 and $15,000 less than the slightly larger Tesla Model Y and Audi Q4 E-Tron, respectively, and even a couple grand below the base Volkswagen ID.4, albeit before the latter’s $7,500 federal tax credit. That’s very compelling on paper. As for real life, it’s too early to tell. Overseas, Volvo is enthusiastically marketing the EX30 with a monthly 600 EUR all-in subscription, which it hopes will corral younger, first-time customers. While the company’s quietly offered the Care by Volvo program Stateside for years, it’s unclear how or if it will apply to the EX30 this side of the pond.
I happen to be on the ground at the unveiling in Milan, and while I can’t drive the thing yet, I can seek out answers to any burning questions you may have. You know what to do down there in the comments.