Car Reviews

WHY I LOVE MY VEHICLE: 2021 Volvo XC40 R-Design

Tried, tested and true/upgrading through downsizing. Downsizing for family needs doesn’t mean compromising on everything this couple loves about their Volvo

By Renée Suen Wheels.ca

Oct 2, 2021 4 min. read

Article was updated 2 years ago

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When it comes to cars, Shalenie Aguinaldo — a human resources manager — favours the ability to lease. Partly driven by her early experiences with hand-me-downs cars that tended to break down, Aguinaldo finds the concept of getting a new vehicle every few years appealing.

While Aguinaldo and her partner, Brent Hodgson, loved their Volvo XC60 for its style and safety features, they traded down to the XC40 at Volvo Cars Mississauga. The reason? The SUV was more appropriate to their needs, especially when Aguinaldo’s mother – who is of similar petite stature – moved in. Aguinaldo and Hodgson tell us why they love their Volvo XC40.

“The XC60 was pretty challenging for Shalenie’s mother to get in and out of from a height point of view,” explained Hodgson. “We decided that the XC40 made sense because it has many of the XC60’s features like the display, ease of use, internal and safety features, but it’s more accessible and offers her mother a little more comfort without the problems that an elderly person would typically go through.”

2021 Volvo XC40 R-Design

Although the discrepancy in dimensions between the models aren’t drastic (such as a 0.3-inch height difference), Aguinaldo notes a difference: “I actually find the XC40 fits me better even when driving it. The model is a little bit smaller, a bit more comfortable, and I feel like I can see more.”

“The length of the front hood is more appropriate for Shelanie’s height,” Hodgson continued. “There’s little difference between the cabin’s cubic volume, so we still get the space to enjoy as a family, but the front hood and the engine size is smaller on the XC40, so it requires less length.”

“I wouldn't want people to think, ‘Oh, if you're short get this car,’” said Aguinaldo. “I mean we like to do daytrips where we pack the car with stuff, and have my mom and sister there, so we still need the cabin space. It’s still a bigger car but it just fits me and my mom better.”

2021 Volvo XC40 R-Design

This article was edited for space and clarity. Want to be featured in Why I Love My Vehicle? email us at wheels@thestar.ca

Renée S. Suen is a Toronto-based lifestyle writer/photographer and a freelance contributor for the Star. Follow her on Twitter: @rssuen

A CLOSER LOOK: 2021 Volvo XC40 R-Design


Since consolidating to one vehicle for the household, the couple shares their appreciation for the ability to create driver profiles, which they can link to individual remote keys.

“It does make a difference that we can cater the car to our individual needs because we're sharing it now,” said Aguinaldo.

“I like the fact that the console in the car is very intuitive; it operates very much like your cellphone and you can put all the features and things of that nature based on the profile that you want to set,” explained Hodgson.

“For example, Shalenie likes a certain style of how the odometers, pedometers and colors look in the car and she can program that to her fob. I can do something totally different, so the car looks and feels like it's mine when I get in to drive it.”


“The Volvo has a very nice radar system and a braking protection program,” said Hodgson, referencing the brand’s standard safety features, which include driver-assistance tech and automated emergency braking. “To be honest, it bugged me in our first Volvo because it wouldn't do things I wanted it to do —like letting me advance unless my seatbelt was on — because it was trying to keep me safe but I’ve come to value it. It has a speeding indicator so you can set the speed limit and it warns you if you go over it. The indicators on both sides of the vehicle are really great and would alert me when I am getting too close to something or something in front of me.”


The R-Design has athletic styling, glossy black detailing, dark-tinted windows and a panoramic roof.

“We chose the sport design because it's got a nice sleek classic look to it – not too crazy and outrageous,” Hodgson said. “I like the profile from the side: It's got really large tires (20-inch) for a small car and they’re low profile tires, which makes it look very sporty with nice rims on it. If you take a look at it from the front, it's very clean and sophisticated with beautiful LED lights.”

“And then when you're in the car, we’ve got a nice 600-watt [Harman Kardon Premium Sound] stereo system. So I guess I’m that old guy going down the street listening to 90’s hip-hop with everybody thinking what the heck you doing, and me not caring [laughs].”

The vehicle was provided to the writer by the automaker. Content and vehicle evaluations were not subject to approval.




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