Kelley Blue Book names Volvo XC40 SUV its Best New Model for 2019

  • The Volvo XC40 subcompact luxury SUV is Kelley Blue Book's Best New Model for 2019, the industry-tracking group said Monday.
  • The choice of a subcompact SUV signals the shift of consumer taste and the automaker's investment toward the rapidly growing segment.
Volvo XC40
Source: Kelley Blue Book
Volvo XC40

The Volvo XC40 subcompact luxury SUV has won Kelley Blue Book's Best New Model award for 2019, the group said Monday.

The group cited the vehicle's tidy styling, contrasting paint choices, flexible storage and Volvo's famous commitment to safety features as the main criteria that pushed the vehicle above competitors in an increasingly crowded segment.

"When we look at vehicles for our Best Buy coverage, we are looking for vehicles that are not only priced well and have low costs over a 5-year ownership cycle, but also vehicles that are just really cool to drive and cool to own," said Micah Muzio, Kelley Blue Book's managing editor for video.

One of the traits that set the car above competitors was its safety features that come standard with the base model. The $34,000 base price includes features many other cars would only offer as options, such as forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking and lane-keeping assist, which helps redirect cars that drift out of their lane.

The car also looks cool, Muzio said. "We really liked the overall vibe," he said. "It is very much a Volvo. It has a distinct aesthetic." He said the car has a unique roof design and little touches, like small strategically placed Swedish flags.

"It really feels like you are driving something special," Muzio said.

One of the things the team considered was the fact that customers can subscribe to the car for a price starting at $650 via Volvo's Care subscription service.

All-inclusive subscription services that roll up car payments, maintenance costs and insurance are a new model for the auto industry, and some have had mixed results. Cadillac in November confirmed plans to suspend its subscription program. But Volvo's subscription model is a strong value for customers, Muzio said.

This is the fifth year of the Kelley Blue Book Best Buy Award, and the survey has already expanded and changed to reflect the shifts in consumer tastes toward SUVs and trucks. For example, this is the first year the group has offered a luxury subcompact SUV category, Muzio said.

The Best New Car awards rank vehicles in 14 different categories, such as best compact, pickup truck, minivan and luxury car. Other category winners included the Hyundai Veloster N in the performance category, the Ford Expedition in the full-size SUV category, and two Audi SUVs, the Q5 and Q7, in the compact and mid-size luxury SUV categories, respectively.

"The trick with buying a car is that it really is a bit of a journey, and we want to give people a good place to start," he said.