Volvo XC40 Snow and Winter Driving (Solved & Explained)

The Volvo XC40 is a luxury subcompact SUV, known for its seamless fusion of innovative design, comfort, and advanced technology.

If you’re contemplating one as your next vehicle, understanding its winter capabilities is crucial.

In this article, we will explore the XC40’s performance during the colder months in full detail.

Here is the short answer to whether the Volvo XC40 is good for snow and winter driving:

The Volvo XC40 excels in the snow with its Haldex AWD system, 8.3 inches of ground clearance, safety features like City Safety and DSTC, heated seats and steering wheel, and the potential for improved performance with winter tires. It’s a reliable choice for challenging winter conditions.

Is the Volvo XC40 Good in the Snow?

The Volvo XC40 stands out as an excellent vehicle for snow and winter driving, thanks to its well-designed features tailored for challenging conditions. It’s equipped with a Haldex all-wheel drive (AWD) system, which significantly enhances grip and stability on slippery surfaces. 

One of the XC40’s advantages in winter conditions is its ground clearance of 8.3 inches, higher than many of its class competitors, enabling it to manage moderate snow effectively.

Comfort during cold weather is also a key feature of the XC40. It offers heated seats and a heated steering wheel, ensuring warmth and comfort for occupants even in freezing temperatures. The interior is thoughtfully designed with an efficient climate control system, maintaining a warm and comfortable cabin environment.

The XC40 has an excellent safety record, being the only small SUV to achieve a “Good” rating in every category of the IIHS’s updated moderate overlap 2.0 test. This forms part of Volvo’s long-standing success in safety tests, contributing to its status as the top IIHS TOP SAFETY PICK+ brand in 2022.

For winter tire selection, the XC40’s performance can be significantly improved with the right choice of winter or snow tires, crucial for enhanced grip and stability on icy and snowy roads.

In snowy conditions, the most crucial aspect of safe driving is adapting your driving style, including reducing speed, maintaining a greater following distance, and using smooth, gentle maneuvers to prevent skidding and maintain control.

What Do Owners Say?

XC40 owners are praising their vehicles for performing exceptionally well in snowy conditions, with solid traction, minimal slipping, and favorable comparisons to other vehicles in the snow.

“Had about 6 inches of snowfall today. Vehicle was as expected, solid, no slipping on pretty icy, snowy roads and hills.” –

“I think [the XC40] will do very well in the snow especially because of the supposedly constant 50/50 front/rear drive.” –

“Had our first real snow drive today in MN and the XC40 handled like a champ. Our 2017 Bolt was awful in snow, so this is a real treat.” –

“I have Michelin Ice snow tires (c/w snowflake). I was skeptical about OPD in the snow but it is amazing so far.” –

“First snow in our XC40 and it handled like a dream, going 55mph on highway roads caked in snow.” –

Related: 6 Best & Worst Volvo XC40 Years (Pictures & Stats)

What Features Improve Winter Driving?

Haldex All-Wheel-Drive System

The Volvo XC40, equipped with an advanced all-wheel-drive system, known as the Haldex Instant Traction AWD. significantly bolsters its winter driving capabilities. This feature, standard on many XC40 model years, plays a crucial role in its strong performance in snowy conditions.

  • Adaptive Power Distribution: Volvo XC40’s Haldex AWD system dynamically alternates power between front and rear axles. It primarily uses front-wheel drive for fuel efficiency, switching to rear-wheel drive as necessary for traction.
  • Enhanced Traction and Stability: Optimizes grip in conditions like snow or ice, improving vehicle stability and control, and reducing skid risks.
  • Improved Cornering: The system adjusts power during turns for responsive handling, enhancing the driving experience on curvy roads.
  • Seamless Operation: Transitions power between axles smoothly, providing a comfortable ride without noticeable changes to the driver.
  • Efficiency: Designed for front-wheel drive efficiency under normal driving, reducing the typical fuel economy loss of AWD systems.
  • Off-road Capability: Offers increased capability for light off-road and rough terrain driving, adding to the XC40’s versatility despite not being a primary off-road vehicle.

Dynamic Stability and Traction Control (DSTC)

Volvo’s electronic stability control system is typically referred to as the Dynamic Stability and Traction Control (DSTC). DSTC is a key safety feature in Volvo vehicles, designed to enhance driving stability and traction under various road conditions.

The DSTC system works by:

  • Detecting Skidding: It monitors the vehicle’s motion and compares it to the driver’s inputs through the steering, brake, and accelerator. If it detects that the car is starting to skid or lose traction, the system intervenes to help stabilize the vehicle.
  • Applying Brakes Independently: The system can apply brakes to individual wheels to help correct oversteer or understeer, and bring the vehicle back in line with the driver’s intended direction.
  • Reducing Engine Power: In addition to braking, DSTC can also reduce engine power temporarily to help regain traction and control, particularly useful in slippery conditions.

Heated Comfort Features

The Volvo XC40 features heated front seats and a heated steering wheel as available options, enhancing comfort during cold weather and providing a warm, enjoyable driving experience.

Automatic Climate Control

The XC40 comes with automatic climate control, allowing the driver and passengers to maintain a comfortable and warm cabin environment, essential during winter months.

Volvo Drive Mode Settings

The XC40 includes customizable drive modes, allowing drivers to adjust the vehicle’s characteristics to suit different scenarios, including winter conditions. These settings help to optimize the vehicle’s response, improving control and stability on snowy roads.

These are some of the common modes drivers can select:

  • Comfort Mode: This mode is designed for everyday driving, offering a balance between performance and fuel efficiency. It prioritizes a smoother ride and easier handling.
  • Eco Mode: Focused on maximizing fuel efficiency, Eco Mode adjusts the engine’s performance and other systems like the air conditioning to reduce fuel consumption.
  • Dynamic Mode: Also known as Sport Mode in some models, this setting sharpens the vehicle’s performance for a more engaging driving experience. It adjusts the engine response, transmission, and sometimes the steering and suspension systems for sportier handling.
  • Off-Road Mode: This mode adjusts various vehicle settings for better traction and stability on rough or slippery surfaces, such as gravel, snow, or mud. It’s typically intended for low-speed driving in challenging conditions.
  • Individual Mode: This allows drivers to customize various settings to their preference, combining elements from different modes. For example, one could combine the engine settings from Dynamic Mode with the steering response from Comfort Mode.

Safety Systems

Below is a list of relevant safety features of the XC40:

  • City Safety Collision Avoidance Technology: This system helps to prevent or mitigate collisions with other vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists, and large animals, both during the day and at night.
  • Lane Keeping Aid: This feature assists in preventing the vehicle from unintentionally drifting out of its lane, alerting the driver and gently steering back into the lane if necessary.
  • Road Sign Information: This system recognizes and displays various road signs such as speed limits, no passing zones, and other traffic-related signs on the driver’s display.
  • Run-off Road Protection: This system helps protect occupants in the event the vehicle unintentionally leaves the road, by tightening the front safety belts and, in some cases, deploying the energy-absorbing seats to reduce vertical forces on the occupants.
  • Oncoming Lane Mitigation: This feature helps to reduce the impact of a head-on collision by steering the car back into its own lane if an oncoming vehicle is detected.
  • Driver Alert Control: This monitors the driver’s behavior and steering inputs to detect signs of distraction or fatigue, providing a warning if it senses the driver may be becoming too tired to drive safely.
  • Automatic Emergency Braking: In critical situations, this system can apply the brakes automatically to prevent or mitigate a collision.
  • Rear Collision Warning with Braking: This system can detect if a rear-end collision is imminent and tighten seat belts in advance to protect the occupants. It can also activate the brakes to prevent secondary impacts.
  • Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) with Cross Traffic Alert: BLIS alerts the driver to vehicles in the blind spot, while Cross Traffic Alert warns of cross-traffic when reversing.
  • Whiplash Protection System (WHIPS): In the event of a rear-end collision, WHIPS cradles the spine and neck to reduce the risk of whiplash injuries.

LED Headlights with Active High Beam

LED headlights with active high beam in the XC40 provide excellent illumination in winter, enhancing visibility during darker, shorter days and adverse weather conditions.

Heated Windshield and Side Mirrors

Heated windshield and side mirrors on the XC40 ensure clear visibility by preventing frost and ice buildup, crucial for safe driving in winter weather.

Volvo On Call with Remote Start

The Volvo On Call app, available with the XC40, includes remote start functionality, allowing drivers to warm up the car before getting in, a convenient feature during cold winter mornings.

Related: How Long Do Volvo XC40 Last? (Solved & Explained)

Does The Volvo XC40 Have a Snow Mode?

The Volvo XC40 does not come with a dedicated “Snow Mode.” However, it features a sophisticated all-wheel-drive system (Haldex AWD), capable of adapting to slippery conditions like snow. 

The vehicle’s drive modes, including the ‘Comfort’ and ‘Off-Road’ settings (available in some versions), adjust the car’s response to enhance traction and stability. 

While ‘Comfort’ mode ensures smoother handling, ‘Off-Road’ mode is particularly useful in lower-speed, challenging conditions, optimizing the car’s systems for better grip. 

It’s recommended to pair these functionalities with winter tires for maximum safety and performance in snowy environments.

Can You Install Additional Snow Gear on The Volvo XC40?

The Volvo XC40 can be equipped with various performance upgrades.

  • Snow Tires: Recommended for optimal grip and control in snowy conditions.
  • Studded Tires: Provide additional traction on ice, but usage may be regulated in certain regions.
  • Snow Socks: Lightweight and easily installable for a temporary traction boost on tires.
  • Snow Chains: Offer extra grip in deep snow or icy conditions, with usage guided by the vehicle’s manual and local regulations.
  • Winter Wiper Blades: Specially designed to prevent snow and ice buildup, ensuring clear visibility.
  • Roof Racks and Cargo Boxes: Expand storage capacity for winter sports gear or additional luggage.
  • Block Heater: Keeps the engine warm, aiding in easier starts in extremely cold temperatures.

Important Considerations: Always consult the Volvo XC40 owner’s manual for guidance on compatibility with any additional snow gear. Local regulations regarding the use of studded tires and snow chains should be adhered to for safe and legal driving.

How Much Snow Can an XC40 Handle?

The Volvo XC40, with its ground clearance of approximately 8.3 inches, is adept at managing light to moderate snowfall. It can effectively handle snow depths of up to around 8 inches. 

However, in situations involving deep snow or severe winter weather, cautious driving is recommended. In such extreme conditions, considering the use of additional snow gear or alternative means of transportation may be prudent.

Navigating in deep snow with the XC40 may pose challenges such as reduced traction, an increased risk of getting stuck, and difficulties in maintaining control, especially when the snow depth exceeds the vehicle’s ground clearance capabilities.

How Do XC40 Handle Low Winter Temperatures?

The Volvo XC40 is well-equipped for optimal performance in cold weather, thanks to its turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, designed to operate efficiently in freezing temperatures. 

Key features like effective cold-start systems, proper engine lubrication, and advanced heating mechanisms ensure reliable functionality even in sub-zero conditions.

In extremely cold climates, the use of an engine block heater is recommended for the XC40. This aids in easier engine starts, reduces wear on engine components, and improves overall fuel efficiency during cold starts.

For the best performance of the XC40 during winter, adhering to regular maintenance schedules and using the recommended fluids is crucial. These measures help to ensure that the vehicle remains responsive and efficient, regardless of how low the mercury drops.

Can a Volvo XC40 Drive on Ice?

The Volvo XC40, equipped with Haldex all-wheel drive (AWD), is capable of handling icy conditions, but caution is always advised. The AWD system enhances traction by dynamically adjusting power distribution between wheels, crucial for stability on ice. 

However, for optimal safety and control, fitting the XC40 with winter or studded tires designed for ice is recommended. 

These tires, combined with the vehicle’s advanced traction control systems, improve grip and handling. Drivers should maintain controlled speeds and allow for longer stopping distances on icy surfaces to navigate safely.

Does the XC40 Have 4WD?

The Volvo XC40 is equipped with an advanced all-wheel-drive (AWD) system, primarily using the Haldex technology, rather than a traditional four-wheel drive (4WD) setup. 

This AWD system provides improved traction by dynamically distributing power between the front and rear wheels as needed, enhancing the vehicle’s handling and stability, especially in challenging conditions like snow or slippery roads. 

It differs from conventional 4WD systems, which typically distribute power equally to all four wheels and often require manual engagement.

Do Volvo XC40s Need Snow Tires?

The effectiveness of a vehicle in snow and ice heavily depends on its tires. The Volvo XC40 manages adequately with standard all-season tires, but for the best safety and handling in winter conditions, switching to specialized snow or winter tires is recommended.

Choosing established brands such as Michelin, Bridgestone, Continental, or Pirelli is advisable, as they offer superior traction on snowy and icy surfaces. It’s important to select tires specifically made for winter, featuring a design and rubber composition suited for colder climates. This provides enhanced control and grip, ensuring safer handling during snowy and icy weather.

Can You Mount a Snow Plow on an XC40?

Attaching a snow plow to a Volvo XC40 is not advisable. The design and structure of this vehicle are not suitable for the rigors of heavy-duty snow plowing.

Further, equipping an XC40 with a snow plow can adversely affect the vehicle’s warranty, its overall performance, and key safety features. This can lead to undue strain on parts that are not built to handle such tasks.

Therefore, it is recommended to consider other options, such as hiring professional snow removal services or using vehicles specifically designed for snow plowing, for your snow removal requirements.

What Essential Items Should I Carry in My Volvo?

  • Spade
  • Ice scraper
  • Initial aid box
  • Batteries and a rechargeable power pack
  • Hand warmers
  • High-protein, non-perishable sustenance (e.g., energy bars)
  • Thick cardigan and sweatpants
  • Face mask and gloves
  • Extended thermal undergarments
  • Road signal flare
  • Crisis thermal sheet



  • Ian Sawyer

    Growing up with a father who was a mechanic I had an appreciation for cars and motorcycles from an early age. I shared my first bike with my brother that had little more than a 40cc engine but it opened up a world of excitement for me, I was hooked. As I grew older I progressed onto bigger bikes and...