Fun Stuff

Exploring Palm Springs in a 2022 Volvo C40 Recharge

We recently had the pleasure of driving the 2022 Volvo C40 Recharge around Palm Springs, Calif., and this mid-century paradise seemed to be the perfect backdrop with this handsome electric vehicle.

Here are some highlights of our trip and some suggestions on what you can see if you’re ever in the area!

For such a hot place, Palm Springs, California, is eternally cool, thanks to its history as a playground retreat for the glamorous stars of Hollywood’s golden age. We take Volvo’s uber-cool 2022 C40 Recharge electric crossover and explore Palm Springs’ mid-century architecture and its surrounding natural wonders. This is the “Swiss Miss House” designed by Charles Du Bois in 1958.

No dinosaur juice for the C40. This swoopy crossover is Volvo’s first dedicated all-electric vehicle. Granted, under its rakish skin the C40 Recharge is mechanically identical to the electric version of XC40 crossover, but unlike the latter, the C40 will never have a gas engine. With its twin electric motors (one front, one rear) producing a combined 402 horsepower and 487 lb-ft of torque, the C40 will outrun a T-Rex no problem.

Priced at $72,600, the C40 comes in only one generously featured trim that includes all safety systems and driver aids, heat pump, 13-speaker Harman Kardon audio, and a panoramic glass roof. There’s no retractable shade for this, but even under the hot California sun the cabin isn’t a sauna. Cool.

The Dinah Shore House was designed by Donald Wexler in 1964. Its windowless exterior stone wall creates a long, lean, and imposing silhouette, while also providing privacy for its occupants.

The C40’s effortless, silent, and one-pedal driving make it a perfect foil for cruising palm-lined neighbourhoods and taking in Palm Spring’s mid-century modern wonders. Known as “That Pink Door,” this house has earned its own Instagram hashtag. Lurking behind most of these facades are sprawling properties with pools and lush gardens.

Some of these streets appear more like movie sets than actual residential communities. The early-’60s Studebaker Avanti is period perfect.

Like the Polestar 2 and Volvo XC40 Recharge, the C40 uses a 78-kWh battery pack. It can be charged from zero to 80 per cent in 37 minutes from a 150-kW DC charger, and in about eight hours for 100 per cent charge on a Level 2 charger. Volvo Canada and Volvo US have partnered with ChargePoint. The ChargePoint in-car app eliminates the need to swipe a card to unlock a charging station, and it consolidates multiple charging network accounts into one.

While the sight of a steakhouse will surely instill terror in a cow, the 2022 Volvo C40 will not. Being the first fully leather-free Volvo, it is udderly bovine-friendly.

The seat fabrics, door cards, and floor mats are made from 100 per cent recycled plastic bottles – 71 in all, Volvo tells us. And, of course, being a Volvo, the front buckets deliver a magical blend of comfort and support.

Another cool feature of the C40’s sustainable cabin – engraved recycled plastic trim panels on the front doors and dash that are inspired by a topographical map of Abisko Park in northern Sweden. While they don’t look like much in daylight, soft backlighting at night creates an ethereal vibe.

While in Palms Springs, one must visit Gypsyland at 2675 N Palm Canyon Drive for a deep dive into all things mid-century modern and camp. Owner Wendy Woodward has everything from clothing to household items to furniture. All you need for that swingin’ Rat Pack party.

When you’ve had enough of civilization, take California Scenic Highway 74 out of town and head for the hills. Actually, the mountains. This winding stretch of smooth tarmac ascends through the scenic desert landscape to some wonderful vistas. It shows off the C40’s competent handling and decent steering feel. The little EV’s ride quality is good, too.

With a claimed range of 364 kilometres, the C40 trails the current crop of more affordable EVs coming to market. So you certainly don’t want to be looking for outlets in all the wrong places, like out here in the desert.

One of the scenic stops along California Scenic Highway 74. The C40’s instant point-and-shoot torque, willing chassis and one-pedal driving make for a fun time on this fab road. It’s no sportscar and its 2,185-kg mass is evident when tucking into a bend, so best to back off a bit and enjoy the ride.

Fun things to do the Palm Spring area include off-road rentals, and trail riding at the Smoke Trees Stables

You’ll find the Forever Marilyn sculpture in the Museum District. This piece was designed by Seward Johnson in 2011 and has been travelling the country. She seems perfectly at home here in Palm Springs.

There is much discussion as to how green electric cars really are, when looking at what it takes to manufacture the batteries, and where the electricity ultimately comes from to power them. Volvo tells us the “break even” carbon neutral point for the C40, when using the average global electricity mix, is about 100,000 km. Here in the Coachella Valley, where almost all the electricity comes from wind and solar, it’s about half that.

The 2022 Volvo C40 Recharge is slick, quick, and chic. It’s a premium offering and the price reflects that, and while its range is not wholly competitive, the C40’s nod to sustainability and unique Swedish aesthetic make it mighty compelling.